Dolderbahn cog railway in Zürich

The Dolderbahn in Zürich was opened as a funicular railway in 1895, but was lengthened and converted to a cog railway (aka rack railway) in 1973. This means that the two cars are no longer joined together by a cable (as on the Polybahn, for example) but can be operated independently and can go up and down steep slopes because they have cog wheels that mesh with a toothed “rack rail” in the center of the track.

Close-up of the cogs, between the two rails

Each car has its own electric motor and also a human driver. When both cars of the Dolderbahn are in operation they pass each other at a passing point on separate tracks which are accessed by movable switches. But in slack periods only one car goes up and down and the other simply remains parked at the top station. (This is not possible in a funicular like the Polybahn, because in a funicular the two cars counter-balance each other so they both have to be operated at the same time.)

One of the two electric cars on the Dolderbahn

The journey up- or downhill on the Dolderbahn now takes about five minutes, including stops at two intermediate stations along the way. The Dolderbahn is a part of Zürich’s integrated transportation system, so normal ZVV tickets can be used.

Dolder Ice-Skating Rink

Not far from the upper station of the Dolderbahn is a large sports complex, including the Dolder Ice-Skating Rink, which they claim is the largest artificial ice-skating rink in Europe. It was built in 1930 and has an area of roughly six thousand square meters. The sports complex also includes an outdoor swimming pool and a mini golf range.

Going back down to the city on the Dolderbahn

My photos in this post are from 2010. I revised the text in 2022.

See more posts on Zürich, Switzerland.
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8 thoughts on “Dolderbahn cog railway in Zürich”

  1. I didn’t even know that Zurich had a cog railway. I love the one in Lucerne to Pilatus and the one to Mt. Rigi. I have a great fondness for both and always have a trip on one or the other when I’m in Lucerne. I remember going to a cheese farm a short way from the top of Rigi, I can’t remember the name but the cheese was great!

  2. Getting back to reading my feed and travel blogs, I cannot tell you how much I miss being on the move. The last two years have robbed us of opportunities to see more of this world. I hope you have got to travel some however. Be well. Peace out. Arundhati.

  3. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve ridden this railway. I used to stay at a hotel mid-way up the track during the week on business then spend the weekend at the Dolder Grand. Happy Days!

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