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 1,000 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. 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 1,000 metres are indicated in small letters.

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 2,320 m, highest railway outside the Americas before the opening of the Qinghai Railway in 1984
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 Cogwheel 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
Andermatt–Chur Switzerland Alps Oberalp Pass 2,043 m (6,703 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
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
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 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 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 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 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 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.

Higuest adhesion and standard gauge railway in Spain. Name of the location of the highest point (if it has any) needs to be confirmed by reliable sources. If the location of the highest point hadn't a specific name, the kilometer point on which is located could be an alternative.

Monastier La Bastide-Saint-Laurent-les-Bains France Massif Central Allenc 1,215 m (3,986 ft) 2.7 % 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Erzberg Austria Alps Präbichl 1,204 m (3,950 ft) 7.1% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Veynes–Briançon 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
Canfranc Railway Spain Pyrenees Canfranc International Railway Station[9] 1,194 m (3,917 ft) 1,668 mm No Dead end rail

(see remarks)

A former rail crossing between Spain and France. Nowadays rail traffic on the Spanish side ends at Canfranc International Railway Station.
La Robla Railway Spain Cantabrian Mountains Alto del Cristo del Amparo 1,192 m (3,911 ft) 1,668 mm No Rail crossing
Lyon-Perrache - Marseille-Saint-Charles France Alps Col de la Croix Haute 1,174 m (3,852 ft) 2.5 % 1,435 mm No Rail Crossing
Torralba-Soria[10] Spain Iberian System Miño de Medinaceli Railway Station 1,162 m (3,812 ft) 1,668 mm No Rail crossing Not electrified
Aigle–Sépey–Diablerets Switzerland Alps Les Diablerets 1,155 m (3,789 ft) 6% 1,000 mm No Dead-end rail
Figeac - Arvant France Massif Central Le Lioran 1,151 m (3,776 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Gotthard Switzerland Alps Gotthard Tunnel 1,151 m (3,776 ft) 2.7% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Prundu Bârgăului-Vatra Dornei Romania Carpathian Mountains Pasul Tihuta 1,145 m (3,757 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Aranjuez-Valencia Spain Sierra de los Palancares Los Palancares Railway station? Approximately:

1,132 m (3,714 ft)

1,668 mm No Rail crossing Highest point and its altitude need to be confirmed with reliable sources.
Salamanca-Ávila Spain Central System Ávila Railway Station[11] 1,132 m (3,714 ft) 1,668 mm No End rail

(see remarks)

Not electrified

The line ends in Ávila but trains can continue (and most of them continue) to Madrid using the Madrid-Hendaye line.

Brocken Railway Germany Harz Brocken 1,125 m (3,691 ft) 3.3% 1,000 mm No Dead-end rail Not electrified
La Chaux-de-Fonds–Ponts-de-Martel Switzerland Jura Mountains Above L'Abbaye 1,120 m (3,675 ft) 1,000 mm No Dead-end rail
Ausserfern Austria/Germany Alps Lähn 1,106 m (3,629 ft) 3.75% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Zamora-A Coruña Spain Galician Massif Approximately:

1,100 m (3,609 ft)

1,668 mm No Rail crossing Higuest point and exact altitude need to be confirmed with reliable sources.

Part of the line, including the highest parts, isn't electrified.

León-A Coruña Spain Montes de León Brañuelas Tunnel Approximately:

1,100 m (3,609 ft)

1,668 mm No Rail crossing Exact altitude needs to be confirmed with reliable sources.
Madrid-Barcelona Spain Iberian System Approximately:

1,080 m (3,543 ft)

1,668 mm No Rail crossing Higuest point and exact altitude needs to be confirmed with reliable sources.
La Chaux-de-Fonds–Le Noirmont–Glovelier Switzerland Jura Mountains Hotel de Bellevue 1,071 m (3,514 ft) 1,000 mm No Rail crossing
Yverdon–Ste-Croix Switzerland Jura Mountains Sainte-Croix 1,066 m (3,497 ft) 4.4% 1,000 mm No Dead-end rail
Snowdon United Kingdom Snowdonia Snowdon 1,065 m (3,494 ft) 800 mm Yes Dead-end rail Highest railway in the British Isles
Béziers - Neussargues France Massif Central Les Monts-Verts 1,056 m (3,465 ft) 3.35 % 1,435 mm No Rail Crossing
Ploiești–Brașov Romania Carpathian Mountains Predeal 1,054 m (3,458 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Vallorbe–Le Brassus Switzerland Jura Mountains Le Lieu 1,050 m (3,445 ft) 2.3% 1,435 mm No Dead-end rail
Laqueuille - Mont-Dore France Massif Central Mont-Dore 1,050 m (3,445 ft) 3.5 % 1,435 mm No Dead-end rail
Neuchâtel–La Chaux-de-Fonds–Col-des-Roches[12] Switzerland Jura Mountains Les Convers 1,048 m (3,438 ft) 3.1% 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Monthey–Champéry Switzerland Alps Champéry (north station) 1,044 m (3,425 ft) 13.5% 1,000 mm Yes Dead-end rail
Tenda Italy/France Alps Tenda Tunnel 1,040 m (3,412 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Interlaken–Grindelwald Switzerland Alps Grindelwald 1,034 m (3,392 ft) 12% 1,000 mm Yes Rail crossing
Saint-Germain-des-Fossés Nîmes France Massif Central La Bastide-Puylaurent 1,025 m (3,363 ft) 2.5 % 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Dovre Norway Scandinavian Mountains Hjerkinn 1,024 m (3,360 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Nice - Digne France Alps Thorame-Haute 1,015 m (3,330 ft) 1,000 mm No Rail crossing
Aosta–Pré-Saint-Didier Italy Alps Pré-Saint-Didier 1,004 m (3,294 ft) 1,435 mm No Dead-end rail
Brünig Switzerland Alps Brünig 1,002 m (3,287 ft) 12% 1,000 mm Yes Rail crossing
Vimperk - Volary Czech Republic Šumava near railroad station Kubova Huť 1,001 m (3,284 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing
Saint-Georges-d'Aurac - Saint-Étienne-Châteaucreux France Massif Central Fix-Saint-Geneys 1,000 m (3,281 ft) 1,435 mm No Rail crossing

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
  9. ^ See es:Estación Internacional de Canfranc
  10. ^ See es:Ferrocarril Torralba-Soria
  11. ^ See es:Estación de Ávila
  12. ^ See fr:Ligne Neuchâtel – La Chaux-de-Fonds – Le Locle-Col-des-Roches