In car-free Zermatt, delivering parcels to the teeming Bahnhofstrasse is a real challenge. We make it happen with just one horsepower.
High Alpine, cosy, beloved, unique and car-free – Zermatt is all this and more. Traffic is steadily increasing here as a result. On some days, the 5,430 residents rub shoulders with up to 30,000 tourists, with 500 electric vehicles carrying goods and tourists. This can lead to some serious bottlenecks in the narrow streets of this hotspot in the Valais Alps. The local authorities have therefore tightened traffic regulations considerably: between midday and 7:00 pm, all distribution services are prohibited on Bahnhofstrasse – even for residents.
This may make it easier to walk about the village, but for the logistics of supplying its many shops, boutiques, restaurants and pubs, it is a nightmare. Unless, that is, you bet on the right horse.
Talking to Nils Planzer one day, Zermatt Council chairwoman Romy Biner-Hauser joked: ‘Why don’t you just deliver parcels with a horse and carriage?’ After all, horses are exempt from the traffic ban on Bahnhofstrasse. Now, if you’re at all familiar with the innovative spirit of our logistics company, you will know that bringing crazy ideas to life really fires up our ambition. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Planzer and its subsidiary Alpin Cargo created the first and as yet only vacancy in the family-owned company for a well-shod four-legged colleague. By Christmas 2019, carriage horse Benny was already delivering his first parcels of up to 30 kg to Bahnhofstrasse.
This Polish stallion is literally the driving force behind the parcel delivery service at Alpin Cargo, which delivers parcels to Zermatt on behalf of Planzer Parcel. Weighing a majestic 800 kg and with the composure typical of his breed, Benny is virtually made for the job. He truly embodies the power you need for top-quality, sustainable city logistics high up in the Swiss Alps. From Monday to Wednesday, carriage driver Tereza leads Benny and his parcel carriage through the busy shopping precinct of Zermatt – with what seems like a thousand pictures taken along the way.
Like so many other Alpin Cargo and Planzer employees, Benny is multitalented. Rather than taking the second half of the week off, he takes weekend visitors and Zermatt fans on tours. He is harnessed to an elegant Victoria carriage, named after Queen Victoria of England (1819-1901). It offers up to six seats, two of which can be covered on request, and was once used on festive occasions. The curved mudguards positioned over the wheels at the sides protected guests’ luxurious clothes from splashes. The carriage weighs 500 kilograms – no problem for a draught horse like Benny.
You can watch Benny’s daily routine with his carriage and find out how he spends his spare time in a series of cheeky short films. In season 1, we learn how Benny keeps everything on the trot. The camera follows him as he goes on his rounds, with tourists and parcels in tow. The series also shows how Bernese Oberland company Trauffer produces models of Benny in wood, which you can order from the online store. Series two is a romantic, funny and slightly sad love story, featuring Lina the mule. Benny falls in love with the longest pair of ears in the world, and learns something about goods transport with beasts of burden in the Valais region, the whinnying of mules, sheep, sheepdogs and himself. Interesting fact: Lina is voiced by Valais-born musician and songwriter Stefanie Heinzmann.
Benny is not just a tourist highlight or the nostalgic finishing touch to a High Alpine landscape. He is also a genuine alternative for CO2-neutral parcel delivery in car-free towns and therefore a figurehead for sustainable urban logistics. Because we are convinced that making city logistics fit for the future means always putting your best hoof forward.
Starting with the 2021/2022 winter season, our horse-powered carriage can be booked for events, from a leisurely ride that ends with a fondue in a lodge, to a joyride for newlyweds or a romantic outing by the light of the full moon under a canopy of stars. For these and any other equine enterprises, Benny can count on the support of his working buddy Charles. For more info on booking the carriage, please go to www.derbenny.ch.