List of highest railways in Europe

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A Bernina Express crosses the Bernina Pass, the highest rail pass in Europe.[1]

This is a list of highest passenger railways in operation in Europe. It only includes non-cable railways[2] whose culminating point is over 1,200 metres above sea level. Most of them are located in the Alps, where two railways, the Jungfrau and Gornergrat railways, exceed 3,000 metres and nine other exceed 2,000 metres, including four railway crossings. The Pyrenees, which come second in height, include several railways above 1,500 metres.

In the Alps, the tree line and the permanent snow line lie respectively at about 2,000 and 3,000 metres.[3] Because of the harsh weather conditions that prevail at those higher altitudes, maintaining working railways there is an expensive and difficult task. Snow, avalanches, rockslides and wind, added to the absence of protection by the forests, pose a challenge in every season. Lower elevation railways (even well below the tree line) are also exposed to more severe weather conditions in winter. Many of the high-elevation railway lines rely on heavy protection infrastructure with some of them built partially underground, notably the Jungfrau and Zugspitze railways.

This list includes both railways carrying primarily tourists and railways connecting actual localities. The former are typically the highest and the steepest, while the latter are generally longer lines with larger gauges. Railways that are both adhesion and standard gauge or wider, therefore part of the main European/Iberian rail network, are boldfaced in the list. Countries where the line is below 1,200 metres are indicated in small letters. For a list focusing on the highest railway stations, see list of highest railway stations in Europe.

List[edit]

Railway Country Range Highest point Highest elevation Maximum incline Gauge Rack railway Type Notes
Jungfrau Switzerland Alps Jungfraujoch 3,454 m (11,332 ft) 25% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail Underground above 2,350 m, one of the highest railways in the world at the opening
Gornergrat Switzerland Alps Gornergrat 3,090 m (10,138 ft) 20% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail Highest open-air railway in Europe
Zugspitze Germany Alps Schneefernerhaus 2,650 m (8,694 ft) 25% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail Underground above 1,640 m, biggest height difference (1,945 m (6,381 ft))
Mont Blanc France Alps Nid d'Aigle 2,372 m (7,782 ft) 24% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Bernina Switzerland/Italy Alps Ospizio Bernina 2,253 m (7,392 ft) 7% 1,000 mm No Rail crossing Highest rail crossing in Europe, open-air railway with the biggest height difference (1,824 m (5,984 ft)), highest point in Italy: 522 m
Brienz–Rothorn Switzerland Alps Brienzer Rothorn 2,244 m (7,362 ft) 25% 800 mm Yes Dead-end rail Not electrified
Riffelalp Switzerland Alps Riffelalp Resort 2,222 m (7,290 ft) 5% 800 mm No Dead-end rail Not electrified, highest tram line in Europe[4]
Furka Steam Railway Switzerland Alps Furka railway station 2,163 m (7,096 ft) 11.8% 1,000 mm Yes Rail crossing Not electrified, seasonal operations
Pilatus Railway Switzerland Alps Pilatus 2,073 m (6,801 ft) 48% 800 mm Yes Dead-end rail Steepest railway in the world[5]
Lauterbrunnen–Kleine Scheidegg–Grindelwald Switzerland Alps Kleine Scheidegg 2,061 m (6,762 ft) 25% 800 mm Yes Rail crossing Rail crossing usually involves change of train at Kleine Scheidegg, the highest railway hub in Europe
Andermatt–Chur Switzerland Alps Oberalp Pass 2,033 m (6,670 ft) 11% 1,000 mm Yes Rail crossing
Montreux–Glion–Rochers-de-Naye Switzerland Alps Rochers de Naye 1,968 m (6,457 ft) 22% 800 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Schynige Platte Switzerland Alps Schynige Platte 1,967 m (6,453 ft) 25% 800 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Vall de Núria Spain Pyrenees Núria 1,964 m (6,444 ft) 15% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail Highest railway in Europe outside the Alps
Artouste France Pyrenees Station d'Artouste 1,940 m (6,365 ft) 500 mm No Dead-end rail Accessible only by cable car
Montenvers France Alps Hotel du Montenvers 1,913 m (6,276 ft) 22% 800 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Les Montuires–Emosson Switzerland Alps Les Montuires 1,822 m (5,978 ft) 1.46% 600 mm No Dead-end rail Part of the Parc d'attractions du Châtelard[6]
Albula Switzerland Alps Albula Tunnel 1,820 m (5,971 ft) 3.5% 1,000 mm No Rail crossing
Cercedilla-Cotos Spain Central System Cotos Railway station 1,818 m (5,965 ft) 1,000 mm No Dead-end rail Highest railway operated by RENFE
Bex–Villars–Bretaye Switzerland Alps Bretaye 1,806 m (5,925 ft) 20% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Schneeberg Austria Alps Schneeberg 1,792 m (5,879 ft) 19.6% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Pontresina–Scuol-Tarasp Switzerland Alps Pontresina 1,774 m (5,820 ft) 2.5% 1,000 mm No Dead-end rail Lowest point at the terminus station (Scuol-Tarasp)
Rigi Switzerland Alps Rigi Kulm 1,752 m (5,748 ft) 25% 1,435 mm Yes Rail crossing at Rigi Staffel, dead-end rail to the summit Oldest mountain rack railway in Europe, rail crossing involves change of train at Rigi Staffel
Chur–Arosa Switzerland Alps Arosa 1,739 m (5,705 ft) 6% 1,000 mm No Dead-end rail
Schafberg Austria Alps Schafberg 1,732 m (5,682 ft) 25.5% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Wendelstein Germany Alps Wendelstein 1,723 m (5,653 ft) 23.7% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Kukushka Georgia Lesser Caucasus Bakuriani 1,700 m (5,577 ft) 900 mm No Dead-end rail Narrow-gauge railway line linking the town of Borjomi (820 m) to the ski resort of Bakuriani (1,700 m)
Grütschalp–Mürren Switzerland Alps Mürren 1,639 m (5,377 ft) 5% 1,000 mm No Dead-end rail Accessible only by cable car
Landquart–Klosters–Davos Switzerland Alps Davos Wolfgang 1,625 m (5,331 ft) 4.5% 1,000 mm No Rail crossing
Visp–Zermatt Switzerland Alps Zermatt 1,605 m (5,266 ft) 12.5% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Monte Generoso Switzerland Alps Generoso Vetta 1,601 m (5,253 ft) 22% 800 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Cerdagne France Pyrenees Bolquère-Eyne 1,592 m (5,223 ft) 6% 1,000 mm No Rail crossing
Portet-Saint-Simon–Puigcerdà France/Spain Pyrenees Porté-Puymorens 1,562 m (5,125 ft) 4% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing Highest adhesion and standard gauge railway in Europe
Brig–Andermatt Switzerland Alps Realp 1,538 m (5,046 ft) 1,000 mm Yes Rail crossing
Ripoll-Puigcerdà (es) Spain Pyrenees Toses tunnel 1,494 m (4,902 ft) 1,668 mm No Rail crossing Highest adhesion and Iberian gauge Railway in Spain
Aigle–Leysin Switzerland Alps Leysin Grand Hôtel 1,450 m (4,757 ft) 23% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Göschenen–Andermatt Switzerland Alps Andermatt 1,436 m (4,711 ft) 17.9% 1,000 mm Yes Rail crossing
Panoramique des Dômes France Massif Central Puy de Dôme 1,406 m (4,613 ft) 20% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Mont-Blanc Express France/Switzerland Alps Vallorcine 1,384 m (4,541 ft) 9 % 1,000 mm No Rail crossing Operated by the Martigny–Châtelard and Saint-Gervais–Vallorcine railways
Brenner Austria/Italy Alps Brenner 1,371 m (4,498 ft) 2.5% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Vevey–Les Pléiades Switzerland Alps Les Pléiades 1,360 m (4,462 ft) 20% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Madrid-Hendaye (es) Spain/France Central System Herradón-La Cañada Railway station[7] 1,360 m (4,462 ft) 1,668 mm No Rail crossing
Tatra Slovakia Tatra Mountains Štrbské Pleso 1,350 m (4,429 ft) 15% 1,000 mm Yes Rail crossing
Fréjus Italy/France Alps Fréjus Tunnel 1,338 m (4,390 ft) 3% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Arlberg Austria Alps Arlberg Tunnel 1,311 m (4,301 ft) 3.1% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Villalba-Segovia (es) Spain Central System Gudillos tunnel 1,300 m (4,265 ft) 1,668 mm No Rail crossing
Montreux-Oberland Bernois Switzerland Alps Saanenmöser Pass 1,279 m (4,196 ft) 7% 1,000 mm No Rail crossing
León-Gijón (es) Spain Cantabrian Mountains La Perruca tunnel 1,278 m (4,193 ft) 1,668 mm No Rail crossing
Sulmona-Isernia[8] Italy Apennines Rivisondoli-Pescocostanzo 1,268 m (4,160 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Septemvri-Dobrinishte Bulgaria Between Rhodope and Rila Mountains Avramovo 1,267 m (4,157 ft) 3.2% 760 mm No Rail crossing Highest railway in the Balkan Peninsula
Ritten Italy Alps Rappersbichl 1,255 m (4,117 ft) 1,000 mm No Dead-end rail Accessible by cable car
Lötschberg Switzerland Alps Lötschberg Tunnel 1,240 m (4,068 ft) 2.7% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing Highest adhesion and standard gauge railway in Switzerland
Bergen Norway Scandinavian Mountains Finse Tunnel 1,237 m (4,058 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing Highest railway in Scandinavia
Nyon–St-Cergue–La Cure Switzerland Jura Mountains Col de la Givrine 1,228 m (4,029 ft) 6% 1,000 mm No Dead-end rail Highest railway in the Jura Mountains
Tauern Austria Alps Tauern Tunnel 1,226 m (4,022 ft) 3% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Sagunto-Zaragoza (es) Spain Iberian System Puerto Escandón railway station 1,218 m (3,996 ft) 1,668 mm No Rail crossing
Madrid-Barcelona high-speed rail line Spain Iberian System Somewhere between Layna and Arbujuelo during the brief pass of the line through Castile and Leon 1,217 m (3,993 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing Highest high-speed rail line in Spain.

Highest adhesion and standard gauge railway in Spain.

According to Google Earth, around N 41.1085°, W 2.3673°, the line is at 1,230 m AMSL. Name of the location at the highest point (if it has any) needs to be confirmed by reliable sources. The kilometer point on which it is located could be an alternative.

Monastier - La Bastide-Saint-Laurent-les-Bains (fr) France Massif Central Allenc 1,215 m (3,986 ft) 2.7 % 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Erzberg (de) Austria Alps Präbichl 1,204 m (3,950 ft) 7.1% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Veynes–Briançon (fr) France Alps Briançon 1,203 m (3,947 ft) 2.5% 1,435 mm No Dead-end rail
Madrid-Valladolid high-speed rail line Spain Central System Guadarrama Tunnel 1,200 m (3,937 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing High-speed rail line


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nicola Williams, Damien Simonis, Kerry Walker. Switzerland (ebook Edition). Lonely Planet
  2. ^ For a list of funiculars, see List of funicular railways
  3. ^ These lines are lower in Scandinavia and higher in southern Europe
  4. ^ "Riffelalp Tram". Riffelalp Resort. Archived from the original on 2014-03-03. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  5. ^ Engineering Magazine, Volume 14, p. 81
  6. ^ See fr:Parc d'attractions du Châtelard
  7. ^ See es:Estación de Herradón-La Cañada
  8. ^ See it:Ferrovia Sulmona-Isernia