The Bernina Line

The steam-powered monster

The steam-powered monster - The Bernina Line

Snow cannot always be used to insulate the rails - sometimes it needs to be removed from the track: in winter, it takes a crew of up to ten to pilot the steam-powered snowplough Xrot 9213 through walls of snow which may be several metres high along the Bernina Line.

The RhB possesses the world’s only steam-powered snowplough still in operation. This 60-ton monster is over a hundred years old. On the Bernina Line the three-ton rotating blade of the Xrot 9213 has no problem in casting the snow aside. In an emergency this ancient snowplough can even force its way through places where there has been an avalanche and free the track of rocks or whole trees. However, as far as the employees are concerned, working inside the monster is not a piece of cake: the driver and the stoker are confronted by smoke and steam everywhere, poor visibility, unbearable heat and the need to keep shovelling coal.

That’s an experience not to be missed! And with the RhB it all comes true. For vintage railway enthusiasts, a trip on this unique piece of railway history dating from 1910 is a must: here, you can experience the battle against the snow close up. A member of staff will explain the technical processes - from lubrication to firing up. And the trip is worthwhile in more ways than one: this stretch of railway has UNESCO World Heritage status. The trip with the snowplough train takes you from Morteratsch to Alp Grüm or from Cavaglia to Ospizio Bernina. At the Ristorante Albergo Alp Grüm you can enjoy Engadin specialities: the train and its passengers have earned a break.