The stone building – a train station with a station restaurant – was constructed in the middle of the forest. The building is known as the “Spekulationsbau” (speculative building) because it was built before the route was known.

Grimsel or Gotthard?

The big question in the mid-19th century was whether the north-south connection should be built through the Grimsel or the Gotthard. Countless options were discussed and other routes were also considered.

For the project through the Grimsel, the tracks were planned far from Meiringen. The route led from Lungern through a tunnel at the top of the Brünig Pass, further along the Hasliberg towards Nessental and back on the other side of the valley around the Pfaffenkopf to Guttannen and to the north portal of the Grimsel Tunnel on the Handegg. The south portal was planned for Oberwald and additional tracks were planned through the Gerental into the Bedrettotal to Airolo, where the line would have continued in much the same way as today’s Gotthard route.

The project was planned without consulting the Meiringen population, as the planned route left that community unconnected. Also, the arrival of steam locomotives in Haslital was a threat to the mule transport across the Grimsel.

In the cantonal referendum of April 1870 on the approval of a subsidy of CHF 1 million for the Gotthard company, the people made it clear that they wanted a different route. Ultimately, the Gotthard route won the race for the north-south axis. According to tourism experts at the time, the Oberland region felt it was being marginalised. Various individuals from the region took up the cause of a Brünig railway. With the invention of a toothed rack system by Niklaus Riggenbach, it became possible to construct a railway with a steep gradient over the Brünig Pass without a summit tunnel. The section from Brienz to Alpnachstad was opened in the summer of 1888, followed a year later by a connection to the tourism hub of Lucerne. This paved the way for greater revenue from the tourism industry in Haslital too. Guests from Switzerland and the rest of the world were eagerly awaited.

The region’s subsequent success story is well known. The railway still takes many interested visitors over the Brünig Pass today, but it doesn’t stop at the little train station with its station restaurant, alone in the middle of a pristine landscape.

Paper edition of the magazine “hin und weg” – also available as a subscription.

This is an article from the magazine “hin und weg”. You can find the printed version at the train stations in Engelberg, Sarnen, Stans and Meiringen, in all Travel Centres, as well as on trains. We will also be happy to send the magazine to your home address. Send an e-mail to with the subject “Subscribe to hin und weg magazine” and include your postal address in the body text of the message.