Chemin de fer du Montenvers

The Montenvers Railway or Chemin de fer du Montenvers is a rack railway line in the Haute-Savoie region of France. The line runs from a connection with the SNCF, in Chamonix, to the Hotel de Montenvers station, at the Mer de Glace, at an altitude of 1,913 m (6,276 ft).

Chemin de fer du Montenvers
Train leaving Montenvers station by the Mer de Glace
Typerack railway
LocaleHaute-Savoie region of France
OwnerCompagnie du Mont-Blanc
Operator(s)Compagnie du Mont-Blanc
Line length5.1 km (3.2 mi)
Number of tracksSingle track
Track gauge1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
Electrification11 kV 50 Hz Catenary
Highest elevation1,913 m (6,276 ft)
Maximum incline22%
Rack systemStrub


The line is 5.1 km (3.2 mi) long and has a track gauge of 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in). It is a rack and adhesion railway, using the Strub rack system to overcome a height difference of 871 m (2,858 ft). Except for the terminal stations, which are operated in adhesion mode, the line has a gradient varying from 11% to 22%.

The line is operated by the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc which also manages the Mont Blanc Tramway and many ski lifts in the Mont Blanc region. The first section of the line as far as Caillet opened in 1908 and the line was completed in 1909.[1]

The trains originally were drawn by steam locomotives built by SLM who supplied six 2-4-2T locomotives between 1908 and 1923. By 1953 the line was electrified, using an overhead line at 11 kV AC and 50 Hz, and service is provided by six electric railcars and trailers and three diesel locomotives, all from SLM. Trains run at 14 to 20 km/h (9 to 12 mph) and take 20 minutes for the journey.[2]

A cable car connects the station at Montenvers with the glacier which is tunnelled out at that point enabling tourists to walk inside the glacier.[3]


On 25 August 1927, the locomotive and the first car of a two-car train derailed on the Montenvers viaduct, killing 15 people and injuring 30 others.[4]

See also


  1. "Mer de Glace & Montenvers Cog Railway, Chamonix". Chamonet. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  2. Young, Edward (1979). Shell Guide to France. London: Michael Joseph. p. 352.
  3. "Montenvers - Mer de Gace". Chamonix Valley official website. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  4. "Incidents - Accidents" (in French). November 2004. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012.

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