Impressive size in front of the Matterhorn: the new Xrote 3933 snow blower from ZAUGG.

Zaugg on the Gornergrat

Consumption rather than compression

The old snow blower on the Gornergrat railway was pushed into the snow. By contrast, the new ‘Zaugg’ eats its way right through the white wall – and pulls the cog railway with it.


One tooth at a time, the Gornergrat railway works its way upwards to the Gornergrat from the famous swiss holiday resort of Zermatt. The cog railway has been travelling to the viewpoint at 3,029 metres since 1898 – conquering a height of 1,494 metres and a distance of 9.3 kilometres. The route runs through high Alpine terrain and three-metre-high snow drifts on the tracks are therefore not uncommon.


The six snow clearers have to be mobilised with corresponding frequency. “In the winter, we are often out and about every morning from five until seven, to clear 15 kilometres of track,” snow blo- wer operator Thomas Perren says. since this winter season, a new, especially designed snow blower from swiss manufacturer ZAUGG has been helping with this task.


Its name? Xrote 3933. The 20-tonne machine replaces a snow blower from the 1970s, which was in service for 50 years and has now reached the end of its life. “The old snow blower was pushed into the snow by the drive unit. by contrast, the new ‘Zaugg’ in characteristic orange paint eats its way right through the white wall – and pulls the cog railway with it,” Perren is pleased to report.

This is due to the sheer size and functions of the new snow blower: cutting performance of 3,000 cubic metres per hour, the dimensions of a modest terraced house, a weight of over 18 tonnes, a clearing width of four metres and four large cutting reels together with sharp teeth make the Xrote 3933 an impressive machine. The price? A fair four million francs.

Comfortable work

However, it is not only the cutting performance that has improved by comparison with the previous snow blower: the comfort and safety of staff are also signifi cantly better. “Previously, we had to stand up and we had only a small, round windscreen. Visibility was therefore very poor,” Perren recounts. sometimes the snow clearer had to travel blindly for 400 metres.


Now, the snow blower operator sits in front of a large, heated screen – and next to the train driver. “This makes com- munication much easier. before, the engine driver sat behind the machine and the snow blower operator in front. They were able to talk to each other only with difficulty,” the clearing specialist says. Perren is also pleased with the electronic control, which replaces the hydraulic control:

With a cutting performance of 3,000 cubic metres of snow per hour, the new snow blower is a powerful machine. Photo: Gornergratbahn

“At points, bridges and bottlenecks, we had to raise the smow blower or change its width. With the clever con- trol, this work has become more relaxed and easier.” The cutting behaviour of the Xrote 3933 also makes a difference here. “The ‘Zaugg’ eats through the snow much more smoothly and better than its predecessor. This makes it safer for us snow blower operators,” Perren is convinced.


Before commissioning, the new snow blower was aligned to the track on numerous profiling runs; the motors and reels in particular were adjusted precisely. Furthermore, the snow blower ope- rators were trained by employees from ZAUGG – both important factors for smooth deployment of the Xrote 3933.


“It now runs in tiptop condition,” Perren is pleased. The ‘Zaugg’ will soon have its first winter season behind it – and many more will follow. If everything sinks under snow white, the ‘orange’ will clear it up. ts

Technical specifications

Xrote 3933

Electric motor power   300 kWClearing performance    3.000 t/h

Total weight                  18,750 kg

Fan volume flow            12,200 m3/h

Air discharge speed       600 km/h

Air ventilator speed max.     4.200 rpm

Fan drive power                   75 kW

Top cutting reel                  DM 900 mm

bottom cutting reel             DM 1,200 mm

Impeller                             DM 1,250 mm

Clearing width with cutting unit retracted           3.100 mm

Clearing width with cutting unit extended          4.100 mm

Clearing width from rail top edge lowered unit       2.860 mm

Clearing width from fully rail top edge raised unit         3.260 mm