This Record-Breaking Passenger Train Is Over a Mile Long

The Swiss locomotive clinched the world record last weekend

Aerial photo of the world record attempt
Aerial photo of the world record attempt Philipp Schmidli

As it traveled through the Swiss Alps last weekend, a 1.2-mile-long locomotive set the record for the world’s longest passenger train.

The Rhaetian Railway company clinched the record to honor the 175th anniversary of Switzerland’s first railway, and to highlight some of Switzerland’s most impressive engineering feats, railway director Renato Fasciati tells the Associated Press.

The locomotive was made up of 25 electric trains connected to each other. Each of those had four carriages, which brings the train’s overall total to 100 carriages.

Crowds gathered to see the world's longest passenger train
Crowds gathering to see the world's longest passenger train Philipp Schmidli

It wound through tunnels, mountains and valleys along the Albula Line, which was designated a protected site by Unesco World Heritage in 2008. Over the course of an hour, it traveled just about 15 miles through some of the Swiss Alps’ most stunning passes.

“Combine this with a route with notoriously tight curves, steep gradients, 22 tunnels and 48 bridges over deep valleys and the challenges become obvious,” writes CNN’s Ben Jones.

Train lovers and members of the press perched atop hills or waited in scenic valleys to watch the train make its leisurely trip through the track’s undulating curves. At a festival organized by the railway company, 3,000 ticket holders gathered in the village of Bergün and followed the journey via a live video feed.

Members of the public capturing images of the Rhaetian Railway's world-record attempt Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

To prepare for the journey, Swiss engineers have been conducting trial runs for months, testing communication and safety features to ensure a successful trip. Technicians even rigged a custom intercom system to ensure that all seven train drivers could communicate about speed and incline while making their way through the Alps.

“After intensive preparation, we are overjoyed to have achieved this world record,” says Fasciati in a statement. “Not only did we have a wonderful railway festival here in Bergün, but we were able to present ourselves around the world as a fascinating and innovative mountain railway.”

record-breaking train
The record-breaking train with 100 cars passing near Bergun on October 29 Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

Andreas Kramer, lead train conductor, tells CNN that the team knows the route well—“every change of gradient, every incline”—and that they all went through the plan many times over.

“We need to be 100 percent synchronized, every second,” he adds. “Everyone has to keep their speed and other systems under control at all times.”

The Albula Line was completed in the early 20th century—and until then, travelers could only access the area via horse carriages and sleighs.

Before last weekend’s trip, the National Belgian Railway Company set the previous record in 1991.

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