The Albula and Bernina lines between Thusis and Tirano are excellent and technically innovative examples of how the high Alpine landscape has been opened up and they form one of the most spectacular narrow gauge railways in the world. The Rhaetian Railway forms the backbone of the Albula/Bernina landscape. The Albula railway was completed in 1903, the Bernina railway in 1910.
The Albula railway was recognised as a masterpiece of engineering from the outset. The Bernina railway (St. Moritz – Pontresina – Tirano) became the model for many planned and several executed projects throughout the Alps. Today it holds a unique position worldwide: it is the highest-altitude transalpine railway in Europe and one of the steepest adhesion railways in the world.
The surrounding landscape is an essential aspect of the exceptional importance of the Albula and Bernina lines. The railway structures themselves perfectly reflect the direct link with the landscape, as the railway runs through an extremely varied and rich cultural landscape. The railway engineering structures merge with the extraordinary topography to form an integral whole. The choice of routing was motivated by the wish to make the route particularly appealing for tourism, i.e. to emphasise the attractions of the landscape. The cultural features of past and present interact with an Alpine and high Alpine natural landscape of spectacular beauty.