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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue gained a new attraction Wednesday, as authorities revealed the latest Swiss-engineered train to scale the mountain.

Since the train’s inception in 1884, it has gone through several different iterations. However, as the statue grew in global prominence, it came to rely on safer Swiss manufactured vehicles in 1979.

Rio's new Swiss-engineered train is now fully electronic (Photo: C.H. Gardiner)
Rio’s new Swiss-engineered train is now fully electronic (Photo: C.H. Gardiner)

The state of the art train was presented to the public in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, October 9th, which also marks 135 years since the line was inaugurated.

The Corcovado concession contracted Swiss Company Stadler Rail to custom manufacture the train. The company is one of the last with the technical expertise to custom build trains technically suitable to climb to Rio’s most iconic monument. The total investment is around R$200 million ($50 million.)

Stadler Rail’s Urs Wieser said that the manufacture of the train relied on know-how that is becoming nearly impossible to find.

“In 1997, the company that built the last generation of trains for Corcovado was sold. Stadler bought a small part of this company, and with it, we acquired the drawings, the license, the know-how, and some people who came to work with us so the train could go on,” said Wieser.

According to Wieser, the new trains provide a better and more comfortable viewing experience for passengers with more significant window space. The trains will also redirect energy from the descent to conserve nearly 75 percent of electricity necessary for the climb.

Corcovado’s train relies on one of the last instances of the Riggenbach rack system – a distinctively Swiss method for trains to scale steep mountains. The system has been in use since 1884 when Don Pedro II commissioned the train. It was later used to ferry supplies to the top of the mountain during the construction of the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

Swiss Ambassador Andrea Semadeni and representatives of the Corcovado Train Concession hold ribbons represents Switzerland and Brazil's Flags. (Photo: C.H. Gardiner)
Swiss Ambassador Andrea Semadeni and representatives of the Corcovado Train Concession hold ribbons representing Switzerland and Brazil’s Flags. (Photo: C.H. Gardiner)

President of the concession company Sávio Neves said that the production of the train relied on a close working relationship between the Brazilian and Swiss companies. Neves said that the new system makes the train one of the most advanced in the world and will be an investment that pays off for years to come.

Neves and Swiss ambassador Andrea Semadeni jointly christened the new train with champagne and cut a ribbon in the colors of Brazil and Switzerland’s flags to celebrate the partnerships in the endeavor.

In previous years tourists have complained of long lines to ride the train, but with the added capacity, the wait is expected to reduce sharply.

Australian tourist Benjamin Sheppard was one of the first to ride the train as it was made available to the public for tests earlier in the day. He said he enjoyed the ride. “It’s my first time on the train, but it was very comfortable. With the fog, it was a bit like riding in the clouds as you get closer to the top,” he said.


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