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TOP NOTCH:Green light for gondola, and other Swiss news

A trip to the “Top of the Europe” in Switzerland will be quicker than ever thanks to a new gondola opening this week, with the Eiger Express set to shave about 45 minutes off the journey to popular “Jungfraujoch.”

Part of the Jungfrau Railway’s mammoth V-Cableway Project, which has been dubbed the “most innovative and exciting construction project in the Alps,” the heaviest tri-cable gondola in the world launches on Saturday (Dec. 5) whisking riders from a new gateway terminal at Grindelwald to the top in only 90 minutes.

The quicker ascent time will be a “huge advantage for skiers,” Dario Gross, Sales Manager at Jungfrau Railways Management AG said in a recent Switzerland Tourism webinar.

But, also for year-round visitors to one of Switzerland’s top attractions.

Gross notes that capacity of the state-of-the art gondola is 2,200 passengers every hour with cabins amenities including WiFi, info-tainment screens, and heated seats and windows, the latter to eliminate fog to ensure optimum viewing and “perfect pictures” of the Eiger Mountain’s north face.

The gondola ends at the Eigergletscher station, where skiers depart “to the right” and those continuing to Jungfraujoch continue “to the left” to transfer to a train for the rest of the journey.

Last week, Switzerland’s health minister announced that ski resorts could remain open during the current pandemic situation if proper health and safety protocols were maintained, but Jungfraujoch is also an all-season destination where year-round snow lends itself to winter activities (such as tubing) in summer, plus the popular Ice Palace, carved out of the glacier.

“It’s a winter wonderland in summer,” enthuses Gross, who notes that visitors can also hike, drink and dine, shop, or simply stand on the glacier for a selfie.

The highlight, however – no pun intended – is the view from the Sphinx Terrace outdoor platform, looking out over the snow-covered alps and valley below from a height of about 3,750 m. On clear a day, visitors and see as far as France and Germany.

“Of course,” Gross says, “with every Swiss top highlight, there’s always a chocolate shop somewhere,” and Jungfraugoch is no different courtesy of the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven, which includes an interactive museum to see how chocolate is made.

“And next to it,” he adds, “is the outlet store and you can get chocolate 40 percent cheaper. It’s way, way cheaper than in the duty free at the airport.

“And that,” he smiles, “is a secret tip from me!”

Jungfraujoch/Top of Europe


New Alpine Transversal: With the completion of the 15-km Ceneri Base Tunnel in December, the rest of Europe will seem a little closer together. After the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in 2016, the Ceneri tunnel completes the New Alpine Transversal (NEAT), making the continuous flat railway from Altdorf to Lugano a reality. Since trains can reach top speeds of up to 240 kph on this new line, the travel time from Zurich to Milano is shortened from 3:40 hr to 3:17 min. Also, new direct connections to Genoa and Bologna are being planned.

The Circle: The new district at Zurich airport includes two new Hyatt hotels, plus a host of dining and shopping options.

The Road to Switzerland: Switzerland Tourism held its first-ever virtual B2B event for the North American travel trade in mid November, with close to 80 buyers and travel agents joining over 30 Swiss suppliers and tourist board executives for “a trip to Switzerland from home.”

Switzerland Tourism director for the Americas Claudio Zemp told attendees that the country, known for its wide open space and safe, clean reputation, is the perfect post-pandemic travel destination, while Canadian director Pascal Prinz, maintained, “The love of Canadians for Switzerland will not stop during this pandemic.”

The event took place over two days – the first in the eastern time zone, the second in the West. Agents were invited to check out for all the latest news.

First published at Travel Industry Today

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