Official Map: Rhätische Bahn, Switzerland
The Rhätishe Bahn (or Rhaetian Railway) is a publically-owned Swiss railway*, serving the huge and mountainous canton of Graübunden. The Swiss Federal Railways extend only a few kilometres over the cantonal border to the capital at Chur, as seen at the top of this interesting little map. Placed underneath the window on trains, between facing rows of seats, this map features something I’ve never seen on a diagrammatic map before: elevation contours.
Four colours — green, brown, blue and white — signify four bands of elevation, all the way up to 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) above sea level! Because of this, it’s quite easy (and very interesting!) to see how the railway mainly runs along valleys at lower elevations, and where tunnels are needed to cross from one valley to the next.
* Corrected a previous version, which stated that the railway was privately-owned, which it is not. This is why you shouldn’t always believe everything you read on Wikipedia, kids!
Official Map: Jungfraubahnen, Switzerland
Another stunning panoramic painted rail map from the Alps of Switzerland — its very similar to this one of the Zentralbahn (Nov 2012, 4 stars), which can actually be seen on this map entering from the lower left and terminating at Interlaken.
The map shows the railways around the Jungfrau mountain, operated by different companies, but marketed together as “Jungfrau — the Top of Europe”. The Jungfraujoch station sits almost three vertical kilometres higher than Interlaken, and is the highest railway station in Europe. The last 7 km of the trip is all within a tunnel through the massive mountain range (shown as a dashed line on the map above): two intermediary stations have panoramic windows to observe the spectacular scenery.
The map is quite beautiful, making the absolute most out of the spectacular landscape, although the sheer lushness of the illustration can make some of the text a little hard to make out. As an added bonus, other connecting services outside the Jungbahn network — be it rail or aerial cable car — are also shown in black.
Just in case this map has inspired you to head off to Switzerland to catch the next train, be warned that this trip is not cheap. The trip from Kleine Scheidegg station (the start of the actual Jungfraubahn to the summit) costs 120 Swiss Francs (roughly €100, or $US130). If you want to come from Interlaken Ost, that’s a mere 196 CHF (€160/$US211). Ouch!
Our rating: Stunningly beautiful illustrated map. Four stars.
Official Map: Zentralbahn, Switzerland
Here’s another unusual transit map - this one for the narrow-gauge, rack-assisted Zentralbahn railway in central Switzerland, serving the cities of Lucerne, Interlaken, Engelberg and points inbetween. Before a tunnel was built in 2010, the grade between Grafenort and Engelberg reached a staggering 25 percent — hard work even for a rack-assisted engine!
Totally appropriately for a system that serves an alpine area, the map looks as if it would be completely at home in a Swiss ski resort, with a detailed painting of the majestic Alps that’s reminiscent of the the famed James Niehues. Over this, the route lines are simply overlaid in red. Stations are labelled in blue boxes, while other destinations — many accessible through other alpine cog railways — are labelled in white ones.
The map has been rotated to show the best view of the valleys that the trains travel along, but the icon in the bottom right corner shows the true relation of the lines, with north properly towards the top of the page.
Our rating: Unusual, but appropriate and highly effective design that definitely evokes as sense of place. Four stars.
(Source: Official Zentralbahn website)
Official Map: City of Zurich Night S-Bahn and Bus Network, Switzerland
One type of map we haven’t covered yet here at Transit Maps is the night services map, often considered a very poor relation to the main map. However, there are some excellent examples out there, especially this black and yellow beauty from the city of Zurich in Switzerland.
Have we been there? No.
What we like: Graphically very striking with its black and yellow colour scheme. Good differentiation between bus and train services accomplished by use of thick and thin route lines, and some subtle work at stations: train stations are white, major bus interchanges are a light tint of yellow, and minor bus stations are a darker tint of yellow. Fits seamlessly into the next map up in the series, showing night services in the Canton of Zurich (PDF).
What we don’t like: The way the S-Bahn tracks disappear between the Hauptbahnhof and Bellevue (re-emerging only to cross the river on a bridge) may be logical - the tracks are in a tunnel - but it breaks the flow of the route badly.
Our rating: A great example of the night services map genre. 4 stars!
(Source: Official ZVV website)