Europe's first mountain Railway

The cogwheel system

The Rigi Bahnen have a well deserved reputation as mountain railway pioneers. Today, we still give our all to live up to this reputation and proudly restore and maintain our unique fleet of modern and vintage trains.

The cogwheel system
Gleis Technik

THE COGWHEEL SYSTEM - EUROPE'S FIRST MOUNTAIN RAILWAY

«I want to make it possible for all people to travel up into the mountains, so that everyone can enjoy the glory of our magnificent country!» proclaimed Riggenbach in 1863 when he patented his new invention in France, a cogwheel system that enables trains to climb uphill.

THE COGWHEEL SYSTEM - THE RIGGENBACH SYSTEM

When Niklaus Riggenbach patented the cogwheel system in 1863, no-one could have predicted how quickly this system would spread in the years to follow.
Rigi Bahnen led the way with the launch of Europe's first ever cogwheel mountain railway in 1871 and subsequently added additional routes to its rail network.
During the first half of the 20th century, Mt. Rigi's cogwheel railways were gradually electrified.

The cogwheel system installed in 1871 is still in use today. The racks and other technical elements are carefully restored and maintained on a daily basis. Regular inspections and quality control of the rail network guarantee the highest standards of safety and a ride that's still as much fun as it was back in 1871.

TECHNICAL DETAILS: COGWHEEL TRAIN FROM GOLDAU

Commissioning4. June 1875
Start of electric operation
  
1. May 1907
  
Systems for electric operation
 
Rectifier substation2
Alternating current supply15 kV/50 Hz
Direct current traction power1'500 V
Rectifier substation output4`000 kW
Track standard gauge1'435 mm
Track length8'551 m
Cogwheel systemIng. N. Riggenbach
Steepest gradient200 o/oo
Medium gradient144 o/oo
Smallest radius (main track)120 m
Schönenboden tunnellength: 67 m
Pfädern tunnellength: 48 m
8 bridgestotal length: 368 m
  
Altitude of the stations
 
Goldau518 a.s.l.
Rigi Klösterli1'315 a.s.l.
Rigi Kulm1'752 a.s.l.

 

Vehicles

 
Electric traction vehicles 
Electric push-pull trains4 à 508 kW
Electric push-pull train1 à 824 kW
Electric railcar
(world's oldes electric cogwheel railcar, built 1911)
1 à 390 kW
Electric railcar1 à 449 kW
Electric locomotive with electric rotary snow plough1 à 449 kW
Passenger carriages4
Freight wagons, service vehicles, snow ploughs etc.10

 

Speed

 
Electric traction vehicles 
Uphill21 km/h
Downhill  0-144 o/oo17 km/h
Downhill 145-200 o/oo14 km/h
Travel time Goldau - Rigi Kulm40 minutes
Transport capacity1'000 people per hour

 

TECHNICAL DETAILS: COGWHEEL TRAIN FROM VITZNAU

Commissioning 
Vitznau - Rigi Staffelhöhe21. May 1871
Rigi Staffelhöhe - Rigi Kulm23. June 1873
Start of electric operation3. October 1937

 

Systems for electric operation

 
Rectifier substation3
Alternating current supply15 kV/50 Hz
Direct current traction power1'500 V
Rectifier substation outputVitznau 2`000 kW, Romiti 2`000 kW, Staffel 2'000 kW
Track standard gauge1'435 mm
Track length6'975 m
Double track Freibergen - Rigi Kaltbad (since 1874)1'883 m
Cogwheel systemIng. N. Riggenbach 
Steepest gradient250 o/oo
Medium gradient190 o/oo
Smallest radius (main track)120 m
Schwanden tunnellength: 67 m
7 bridgestotal length: 97 m

 

Altitude of the stations

 
Vitznau 439 a.s.l.
Rigi Kaltbad1'453 a.s.l.
Rigi Kulm1'752 a.s.l.

 

Vehicles

 
Electric traction vehicles 
Electric locomotive1 à 331 kW
Electric motor carriage4 à 331 kW
Electric motor carriage1 à 824 kW
Electric push-pull vehicles2 à 824 kW
Rotary snow plough1 à 309 kW
Steam locomotives2 à 368 kW
Passenger carriages9
Freight wagons, service vehicles, snow ploughs etc.13

 

Speed

 
Steam locomotives9 km/h
Electric traction vehiclesUphill: 18/23 km/h
Downhill: 12/14 km/h
Travel time Vitznau - Rigi Kulm30 minutes
Transport capacity850 people per hour