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No, the highest railway bridge is the Sitter viaduct (mentioned some pages before). Here another photo of that one from 1967:



by Brian Stephenson/railpictures.net

The longest however is currently under construction, the 1156 m Letzigraben bridge in the center of Zurich.
A RABe 511 is running under the new bridge on the S-Bahn line from 1990, on the right bottom the main line to Bern/Basel is visible.
(Date of photo: December 04, 2013)

 

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Were the big old tunnel lines in Switzerland (Gotthard, Lötschberg, Simplon) electrified from their opening to rail traffic, or have they ever tried to run steam locos there?
 

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The Gotthard railway opened in 1882 and thus initially operated by steam trains. It was electrified starting from around 1920.

The Simplon railway was opeend in 1906 and electrified in three-phase AC from the beginning, but only from Iselle to Brig (the Simplon tunnel itself), electrification has been later extended to Sion with the same system and everything converted to single-phase AC around 1925 (with electrification extended to Domodossola).

The Lötschberg railway is electrified at 15 kV AC since its opening in 1913.

The Albula line was also initially steam operated, including the 6 km summit tunnel.

The Jungfrau railway is electrified with three-phase AC since its opening in 1912.

The 8 km Ricken tunnel was initially steam operated.

I don't remember about the Hauenstein Base and Grenchenberg tunnel, each around 8 km long.
 

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It's not a great link for sure, but the reason it has taken so long to upgrade is that it connects one the least densely populated areas in Switzerland with the same in Austria. There is more than 200 km from St Gallen to Innsbruck, the first sizeable Austrian city, over mountainous landscape.
What are you talking about? Vorarlberg, especially the Rhine valley, is one of Austria's MOST densely populated regions.
 

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Yes. The first phase would offer 4 stub tracks reached by a 3,5 km tunnel from Ebikon (Zug-Zürich line). Later they would be connected to the line to Olten building another tunnel. When this will be constructed is not known, but I seriously doubt the first phase will open before 2030.
 

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I hadn't heard about that project, must be really a long term idea…

Swiss like to tunnel :))) so I think after GBT and CBT are in operation some other major projects will be discussed more seriously.
 

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The Swiss probably keep the TBM manufactures busy with constant orders.

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Since the Germans started electrifying their network much later than the Italians, why have Switerland railway companies picked the odd 15kV 16.7Hz AC instead of something compatible with Italy or even France?
 

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Since the Germans started electrifying their network much later than the Italians, why have Switerland railway companies picked the odd 15kV 16.7Hz AC instead of something compatible with Italy or even France?
I'm pretty sure Swiss were the first to electrify significant parts of rail network so you might ask why Italians or French didn't pick something compatible with us. :)
 

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Since the Germans started electrifying their network much later than the Italians, why have Switerland railway companies picked the odd 15kV 16.7Hz AC instead of something compatible with Italy or even France?
The system wasn't odd at the time - as you know, the DC systems have lots of limitations and very material-consuming, and standart-frequency locomotives can't be mass produced at reasonable prices at that time tech. level, so loq-freq. AC was the best moment back in 30s.
And the main downside of low-freq/ electrification - need for conversion from grid frequency to catenary frequency aren't that great problem for Switzerland, due to structure of electric generation - big numbers of hydro-plants, some producing low-frequency AC specially for railways.
 

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Since the Germans started electrifying their network much later than the Italians, why have Switerland railway companies picked the odd 15kV 16.7Hz AC instead of something compatible with Italy or even France?
The Swiss started about the same time as the Italians, and before the French, so couldn't have chosen something compatible with France...

Italian three phase electrification did at one time extend in to Switzerland all the way to Sierre if I'm not mistaken. However, the good experience with the 16 2/3 Hz electrification on the Lötschberg line prompted the SBB to choose that for its main line electrification program.
In 1909 the Chemin de Fer du Midi in France decided to electrify using the 16 2/3Hz AC system as well. But then later the French government mandated the use of 1500V DC, as Germany was also using 16 2/3 Hz AC, and the French railways could not be allowed to be compatible with the Germans...
So it's not Germany and Switzerland that are responsible for the incompatibility.
Italy later abandoned multi phase AC, and went DC.
25Kv, 50Hz AC really only started to gain ground in Europe after the 1950ies, when rectifier technology had improved sufficiently.

Anyway, there is a lot on the subject on Wikipedia, amongst other things the reason why 16 2/3 Hz was choosen for AC electrification in the early 20ieth century...
 

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And the main downside of low-freq/ electrification - need for conversion from grid frequency to catenary frequency aren't that great problem for Switzerland, due to structure of electric generation - big numbers of hydro-plants, some producing low-frequency AC specially for railways.
Don't forget also that in the early 1900 any railway considering electrification had to plan to produce the electricity itself anyway...
 

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The Italians started trials soon, in 1899 with battery EMUs and the years after with third rail DC and three-phase overhead. Three-phase AC spread quickly in mountaionus areas (a big network in Piemonte and Liguria regions, Trans-Appennine lines up to the first Bologna-Firenze, Valtellina line, Brennerbahn and Roma-Sulmona).

However the first real electrification with the now standard system of 3 kV DC was the Benevendo-Foggia line, in 1928 (again a mountain route). Note that some Italian flat main lines (Torino-Milano-Venezia, Milano-Bologna) were electrified directly in DC only around the 1950s/1960s (when nearly all the Swiss network was already electrified).

On the other hand the Swiss standard system of 15 kV 16 2/3 Hz began mainline use in 1913 on the Lötschbergbahn (first trial line Seebach-Wettingen, 1907, a branch line).

As the 15 kV 16,7 Hz* system has basically the same advantages of 25 kV 50/60 Hz, and as Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Sweden and Norway already have a functioning supply network, there is no need to change them.

Also other non-standard voltage-frequency combinations (like the 12 kV 25 Hz in the USA) are comparable to 25 kV 50/60 Hz, and all are superior to DC electrifications (which in turn, 3 kV is better than 1,5 kV overhead, which is betetr than 750 V DC third rail). By the way, a third-rail AC electrification was ever conceived?

*note that 16 2/3 Hz is different from 16,7 Hz (old and new official D-A-CH frequency), however explaining why needs some more technical skills

In 1909 the Chemin de Fer du Midi in France decided to electrify using the 16 2/3Hz AC system as well.
But at a lower tension, 12 kV instead of 15 kV, IIRC.

Source (in Italian, so that Suburbanist can read it!): www.aising.it/docs/ATTI II CONVEGNO/0223-0236.pdf

I hadn't heard about that project, must be really a long term idea…
Search for Tiefbahnhof Luzern on the web (I can't do it myself now).
 

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View at different day times to the traffic hub Brig:







And the photographer's remarks:
Night fall down in the upper Valais. Our view is from the newly (in September of this year) opened section of the hiking trail "Lötschberg Südrampe" between Lalden and Brig, about 200 meters above the valley floor, down to Brig (right) and Naters (left), divided by the river Rhone (which is called “Rotten” here in the German-speaking part of the Valais) and Ried on the mountainside. In the background from the left Klein Huwetz (2838 m), Fülhorn und Folluhorn mountains, on the right Wasenhorn (3245 m). The light on the mountain’s crest probably comes from the mountain restaurant Fleschbode. In the town of Brig you can see the collegium church and the Stockalper palace. The extensive trackage field of the transport node and border station to Italy, Brig, is characterized by the warm glow of track lighting. In the upper left corner of these track layout is the portal of the 19,8 kilometer long Simplon Railway tunnel from 1906/1921 (two single bores) to Iselle in Italy. Brig is starting and terminating point oft the SBB passenger trains to Geneva, Basel, Romanshorn and Domodossola (Italy) and of the RegioExpress „Lötschberger“ of the BLS over the mountain line to Berne. Car transporting trains are rolling through the Simplon tunnel to Iselle. Freight trains often change drivers or simply wait for a slot to Italy. About 400 standard gauge trains are passing the station a day, which has about 200 switches and 130 main signals. Next to the station building on the right, on the station square, you can see a train of the 1 meter gauge Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn, which makes the connection to Zermatt and the Goms Valley towards Andermatt. During the 120-second exposure a RegioExpress "Lötschberger" of the BLS leaves the station via the Rhone bridge in the foreground towards the Lötschberg mountain route to Goppenstein, Kandersteg, Frutigen, Spiez, Thun and Berne and draws a light trail in the darkness. Now, it has become bitterly cold up on the mountain slope. An hour later, the photographer sat in the warmth of the double-deck dining car of an InterCity 2000, enjoying a hot meal and a glass of wine, traveling without change in 2 3/4 h across Switzerland back to his hometown.
all pictures by Georg Trüb/railpictures.net
 

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