Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Switzerland 2012 - When plans are derailed!

Oh dear, as suspected, Andy Murray had his plans to become Wimbledon Champion derailed last weekend by the ice cool Swiss.  Great match but in the end the right result for Herr Federer.

I'm reminded of last year when my plans were derailed - quite literally - by the Swiss and their usually impeccable railway system! 

We had hoped to take a trip on the Glacier Express but unbelievably, on two occasions in the same week, we got our timings wrong and on one of the occasions I managed to snap the train as it left the station in Ilanz - the train we'd hoped to board!  

Notice the large windows allowing you to see the glaciers and mountain tops without breaking your neck!  A number of years ago I took a trip on the Bernina Express, on a similar train - outstanding!

So we gave up on the Glacier Express experience completely and decided to take a trip to Arosa in the Graubunden Region.  We took the train from Ilanz to Chur, where we picked up the train to Arosa, which at the very beginning of the journey, is an experience in itself.  How often do you expect to share the road with a train -! 

I can only imagine what visitors must think when driving in Chur for the first time, expecting to share the road with the usual suspects, and perhaps, for the first time, trams.  But how must it feel to have to squeeze past a hulking big train coming at you - perhaps having only just got used to driving on the right-hand side of the road?!

We set off from Chur, winding our way up the narrow railway track - which didn't leave much room for manouevres! 

Through some tunnels,

across a bridge or two,

past some very brave workmen working at great height,

climbing ever higher with the low hanging clouds looking ominous.

As we approached Langwies Train Station we spotted the Langwieser Viaduct

Gulping at the thought of the possibility of crossing this viaduct, and getting slightly more nervous the nearer we got to it, as we slowly pulled into the station

and whilst I was capturing a close-up of the viaduct

which, yes, we were definitely going to cross, there was this almighty screeching noise and as if in slow motion I turned around, camera still in hand and captured the derailment of one of two of the goods' carriages that were bringing up the rear of our train.

Spewing its contents on the other side of the track.

The ticket collector and a passenger went off to investigate -  we stayed put!

In such an isolated place, with few people around we were pretty much at a standstill with little information of what would happen next.  Eventually the decision was made to decouple the goods' carriages and we continued on our journey

across the viaduct

at a great height.  

We were told later that this incident was a very rare occurrence and could potentially have had disasterous consequences.   Because we were travelling at a slow speed and there were two carriages carrying equal weight, the first of the carriages potentially saved the rest of the train from flipping off the rails.   Had this happened around 200 meters later than it did there was the possibility that we could have just turned the corner and been approaching, or even been crossing, the viaduct when the carriage flipped -  and who knows how things could have turned out. 

In the end, we arrived safely in Arosa - to torrential rain and low temperatures (in June)

Arosa appeared to be deserted.

I am sure it  is a lovely place but on that day it wasn't worth the stress of getting there!

We managed to find a very quiet restaurant serving hot soup and sandwiches, which we scoffed, then made the long journey home - bus replacing train until we got beyond the site of the derailment.

Not one of my best experiences of Switzerland - but thankfully we lived to tell the tale!