Savoring some mighty fine Eichhof beer at an outdoor cafe. The beer is brewed locally using fresh spring water from Mt. Pilatus. This was after we flew all night from Miami to Zurich in cockpit jumpseats on an Arrow Air DC8-62 (N8969U) charter, and checked in to the crew hotel near the airport. We then rode a train down to Lake Lucerne where we caught the Pilatusbahn, a mountain railway that is the steepest rack railway in the world with a maximum gradient of 48% to the terminal in the background. The altitude is 6994 feet.
The line is 4.6km (2.9mi) long, climbs a vertical distance of 1629m (5344ft), and has a rail gauge of 800mm (2ft 7 1/2in). The line was opened using steam traction in 1889. The maximum gradient of 48% meant that none of the then available rack designs were up to the job, and the line's engineer, Eduard Locher, developed a rack design specifically for this line. In the Locher system, the cog wheels on the train are mounted on a vertical axis and their teeth engage with gear teeth cut in the sides, rather than the top, of the rack rail. Because of this system, there are no conventional points or switches on the line, only rotary switches and traversers. The line was electrified in 1937, using an overhead electric supply of 1550 volts dc.