Travel and Adventure

Take a Dizzyingly Steep Ride on a Swiss Alpine Train

Wednesday, 4 April

Switzerland's Mount Pilatus offers a dazzling view across Lake Lucerne. A destination for mountain climbers since at least the 16th century, the summit became accessible for casual visitors in 1889, when the Pilatus-Bahn began operation.

The railway runs between the town of Alpnachstad and Pilatus Kulm, the peak—a trip of less than three miles. But what made it noteworthy then—and now—is its steep ascent. The maximum grade is 25.6 degrees, or 48 percent, meaning it gains 48 feet in elevation for every 100 feet due forward, disregarding incline. That's far steeper than any conventional railroad. Hence its very particular record: the world's steepest cogwheel railway.