Period IV newsletter

Oberalppass, end of the track. Photo: TES.

Swiss Railway

Basel had the first Railway in Switzerland. Trains ran via Saint-Louis to Strasbourg in 1845 and to Paris in 1852. The “Spanisch-Bröstli-Bahn” between Baden and Zurich opened in 1847 .

In 1850, the country had only 25 kilometers of railways and just three stations in Basel, Baden, and Zurich. Europe had more than 20 000 kilometers and more than 700 stations.

The sovereign cantons were unable and unwilling to develop the network until 1848.

The new Confederation and the visionair Alfred Escher  (1819-1882) made it possible.  Around 1860 there were 650 kilometres of railways, 1 300 kilometres in 1864 and 2 730 kilometres in 1870, mainly in the north of the country.

The Alpine region was different. The Gotthard was the first breakthrough. The Gotthardgesellschaft was founded in 1871, Alfred Escher was president. The tunnel was ready in 1882 and in 1902 the Swiss Railway Company (SBB, CFF, FFS) was founded. The arduous feat of the Gotthard Tunnel was repeated in 2016.