Dolderbahn, Zurich’s Rack Railway

The Dolderbahn is a metre gauge rack railway in Switzerland’s largest city. Opened in 1895, originally as a cable hauled funicular, the 1.3km line runs from Romerhof, adjacent to lines 3 and 8 of the Zürich tramway up an 18% gradient on the Adlisberg mountain. It climbs 162 metres (530 ft) to the summit, where there’s a large wooded recreational area including an ice rink, golf course and tennis courts, and the 5 star Dolder Grand Hotel.

In 1973 it was converted from funicular operation to the Strub rack system, and extended further up the hill. The original cable drum can be seen mounted on the wall of the top station.

There are two railcars, powered by overhead lines running at 600 volts DC. The line operates from 06.30 to 23.30 each day, at 10-15 minute intervals. The passing loop in the centre has a sliding turnout feature where the entire set of three rails slides across to change direction.
You can see the switch moving in this photo

The railcars, built in 1972, are set to be replaced in 2024, with two new ones on order from Stadler Rail. It operates as part of the Zurich Zürcher Verkehrsverbund or ZVV public transport network and its integrated fares system, along with the S Bahn, buses and trams. The entire Zurich S Bahn is also included in the Interrail ticket, along with a long list of Switzerland’s mountain railways.

If you’re thinking of visiting Zurich, check out the accomodation available at This affiliate link gives me a small commission that helps to pay for the upkeep of this site and doesn’t cost you any extra.

When the left luggage point at the station isn’t convenient I use Radical Storage. The network of shops and other outlets worldwide keeps your bag safe and it’s all managed through the app. So if you arrive in a city with no local currency and the station lockers don’t take card payments, Radical Storage will work. This is an affiliate link that earns me a small commission when you join.

Thanks for reading. Check out my other posts on travel, heritage railways and more.
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