The Furka line closed in 1981 because a new Furka base tunnel was opened allowing the Glacier Express route to run year round and the original Furka pass route was no longer used.
In 1983 a number of Swiss railroad retirees conceived an idea to re-activate this historic railway line Furka cogwheel line and started a Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway Club. One of the first steps was to start gathering funds to refurbish the track and rolling stock.
The financial support, came pouring in, especially from nostalgic Swiss expatriates living in the United States.
But a major challenge was the disappearance of most of the locomotives. By going into the archives, the Furka Club found several of the old Swiss-built engines had been sold to French-ruled Vietnam.
The steam and rack locomotive SLM HG 4/4 No. 40-308, seen here in the 1960s on the line Krong Pha – Da Lata, was delivered by Schweizerische Lokomotiv und Maschinenfabrik Winterthur in Vietnam in 1930.
However when the Swiss went to look for the locomotives in the 1980’s this is what they found.
The challenge was to negotiate with the North Vietnamese to purchase and transport back to Switzerland.
It was a laborious process and took millions of dollars to finally land the rusty steam engines back in Switzerland. Now more millions of dollars were needed to bring the steam engines back into working order.
Eventually the club attracted thousands of members, from across Europe, who invested their own time – about 200,000 working hours – and millions of Swiss francs. The actual work took many years and all done by Swiss volunteers.
Today the most all of the people associated with the running of the Furka Steam Train are volunteers. The ticket prices do not cover all the operating expenses of the Furka train line so there is a Foundation Furka Mountain Line providing the additional funds to keep the rail line open. View Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway on Wikipedia.
Currently ECHO Rails & Trails is the only US based company offering the Furka Steam engine, Furka pass experience.
Our 12 day Swiss Alps Grand Train Tour includes 11 of the world’s most legendary trains, including the Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Voralpen Express, GoldenPass Line and the Furka Steam Train.