How about a double railway adventure that takes you through the Swiss mountains?
The Furka Pass and Base Tunnel are the perfect place to do this!
The Furka Base Tunnel is a 15-kilometre-long underground electrified railway line that connects Oberwald and Oberwald.
However, in summer, another rail route is possible via the Furka summit. The choice is yours!
Once you have entered this impressive tunnel, your journey begins from the Rhone Valley to the Reuss Valley* and promises picturesque landscapes, historic tunnels and lakes reflected on the icy walls.
In the beginning, a railway line over the Furka Pass
The “Furka Mountain Railway by steam train”, Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke AG, formerly known as the Oberwald Bahn, crosses the Furka Pass from Oberwald to Realp.
History of the railway line
The construction of the railway project from Gletsch to Disentis began in the 1910s, but it was not opened to the public until 1936, with a rack and pinion railway over the Furka summit.
The initial route comprised 11 stations, including the Furka station at an altitude of 2,160 metres, 5 tunnels, 8 bridges and a viaduct. The trains were pulled by steam locomotives, before electrification in 1942.
This line is characterised by its exposure to difficult winter weather conditions: risk of avalanches, frost, snowstorms forcing recurrent seasonal closures.
Due to the costs associated with maintaining the services, a tunnel project was launched in the 1970s, with an inauguration in 1982, the year the summit railway line was closed.
The revival of the summit train
After a complete dismantling, which was avoided thanks to a group of enthusiasts who formed an association(Verein Furka-Bergstrecke), the Furka-Bergstrecke Railway Company (DFB) was transformed into a non-profit company.
Since 1992, the DFB has been renovating and operating the line section by section. The Furka rack-and-pinion railway is now a tourist route through one of the peaks of the Swiss Alps between the Rhone and Rhine.
The Furka Mountain Railway uses the same route as in the original and runs for 18 kilometres between Realp and Oberwald through the 6 km rack railway long Furka Pass tunnel through the spectacular Alpine landscape.
The line consists mainly of a single ﬁne ramp with an ascending gradient that rises to 118 ‰ and requires additional traction provided by rack-and-pinion machines specially designed to navigate this section.
The trains that run on this section are conventional locotractors with a panoramic compartment that has a transparent roof offering passengers a panoramic view of the Alpine landscape.
Furka base tunnel
Built from the 1970s onwards with prohibitive delays and costs, the Furka base tunnel was opened in 1982.
Using piggyback transport (car shuttling), it allows vehicles to travel between Oberwald and Realp under the Leckihorn summit, with traffic possible all year round, even in winter.
The dimensions of the new tunnel are adapted to the needs of trucks, allowing faster and safer goods transport without seasonal breaks.
The car transport service
Operated by the Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn (MGB), the tunnel offers passengers a pleasant and comfortable journey. Cars can be loaded directly onto the train, making it a very convenient experience to travel from the canton of Valais to the canton of Uri towards the central Alps.
The train timetable may vary depending on the weather conditions in the Furka tunnel section. Fares depend on the type and number of people and vehicles involved in the journey.
The Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn network
In addition to the Furka base tunnel, the MGB* network extends over 144 kilometres between the Rhone and Rhine valleys.
Map of the MGB network
Furka Pass and tunnel
Which routes to choose?
Although the two valleys are connected, the comparison is not necessarily relevant, but both routes are worth doing for those who enjoy railway experiences.
The beauty of the summit route is undeniable, as much for the view of the Alpine peaks as for its engineering structures, tunnel, bridges and viaduct. However, it can only be used outside the winter season.
The Furka base tunnel, on the other hand, allows you to cross in all seasons and takes much less time, with the possibility of transporting your vehicle.
Travel times vary considerably depending on the route chosen. The total travel time using the summit route is directly related to the speed of the train, which cannot exceed 28 km/h at its fastest.
The journey time between Realp and Oberwald via the mountain route is between 1.5 and 2.15 hours.
The journey time between Oberwald and Realp via the new tunnel is about 30 minutes.
The tunnel also contributes geothermal energy*. Since the tunnel was built, around 5,400 litres of hot water have been used to supply Oberwald with energy every day.
Direct access to the official website, train timetables and ticket reservations.
Consult the timetable, conditions and prices for the Furka tunnel:
Pass and tunnel by train
You can directly access the information website of the two lines mentioned above:
The train in Switzerland
- Map of the Swiss railway network and timetables by station:
- Reservation and train tickets for all destinations in Switzerland directly with:
- History of the summit line, ALSF (French)
- Base tunnel, Boowiki (French)
- The network MGB network in Switzerland
- Geothermal energy and tunnels, GS (French)
- Map of the Rhône river
- Where to sleep (French) in the Rhône valley?
- Weather along the Rhône
- Taking the train in Switzerland and France
- Rhône road by bike
- Activities and leisure in Switzerland