A train that can go up mountains!


Have you ever wanted to stand on top of a mountain, but don’t fancy the climb? If you go on holiday to the Bavarian Alps, you could save yourself lots of effort and take the train. But this is a railway with a difference – it’s a Zahnradbahn! (cogwheel railway).

Normal trains can only run on relatively flat surfaces, as their wheels would slip on the rails if they had to climb a steep hill. As the Zugspitze is not just a steep hill but a very big mountain, the Zahnradbahn has cog wheels (wheels with teeth) which grip on a special rail and pull the train up the steepest part of the track.

The Zahnradbahn line starts at Garmisch-Partenkirchen and is 19 kilometres long (11 miles), climbing 1,880 metres from start to finish. It first opened in 1929, and two of the original trains are still in use today, hauling goods up the mountain – not bad for a vehicle that’s over 80 years old!

Did you know …?

  • A journey from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to the top takes about 1h 20 min.
  • The first train from Garmisch leaves at 8:15am and the last one going down from the mountain leaves at 4.30pm. The train runs every hour.
  • The adult fare for an ascent and descent is 52€ (£38). 16-18 year-olds pay 38€ (£28) and 6-15 year-olds 30.50€ (£23).
  • Germany has four cogwheel train lines in total. One of them is in Stuttgart.

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der Zug train
die Bahn railway
die Zahnradbahn cogwheel railway
der Berg mountain
steil steep