Switzerland and its Railway passion
It is as if as children, the Swiss did not play enough in trains.
In Fact, in many polls, when asked about the name of the most popular Internet site in the country, many Swiss, without hesitation, answer sbb.ch - what could be more important than train schedules, great deals and convenient connections?
The Swiss Travel System is a matter of national pride and worship in this country.
They really have something to be proud of. Swiss trains are virtually silent, comfortable and clean, they are fed, and, of course, they go strictly on schedule with convenient connections. The only thing that cannot be done in Swiss trains is smoking. The train can be rented and choose any route of the trip, for several hours or for the whole day.
And each trip is looking forward to the appearance of a colorful character with a trolley - a sort of Swiss Santa Claus who transports a trolley with soda, sandwiches, sweets, bars, chips and other things that are forbidden in ordinary children's life, and therefore more desirable food.
Of course, the Swiss could not stop simply by selling tickets from one city to another, in class 1 and 2 cars. And came up with a variety of travel. For example, a Swiss Pass ticket, in addition to regular trains, operates on panoramic routes and on all types of public transport in all major (and not so) cities of the country.
For owners of Swiss Pass / Swiss Flexi Pass, there is also a 50% discount on many mountain trains and cable cars. In late spring and autumn, the second Swiss Pass / Swiss Flexi Pass for 4 days is offered to travelers free of charge (when buying one ticket, the second one is issued at no extra charge, in 2012 this offer is valid until November 30).
The travel system of the Swiss travel system is a kind of "all-terrain vehicle": it is enough to show it, and you will not have to pay for entrance to the museum (more than 470 museums in Switzerland participate in the action).
A train ride across Switzerland is not just moving from point “A” to point “B”. Numerous panoramic routes - Golden Pass, Glacier Express, Wilhelm Tell Express and other “express trains” invariably are among the most popular excursions in Switzerland. “The slowest express train in the world” - this is how, with poorly concealed pride, the Swiss speak of the panoramic train Glacier Express (also known as the “Glacier Express”).
In the classic version, this train goes from St. Moritz (or Davos) to Zermatt (and back) along the Rhine and Rhone, overcoming 291 bridges and 91 tunnels on its way: the journey takes about 7.5 hours.
However, the most impatient can travel part of the route, for example, from Zermatt to Brig or Chur or from St. Moritz to Visp, in this case the journey will take significantly less time.
Swiss travel system passes operate on all panoramic routes, but you need to book in advance. A clean (and large) windows in panoramic trains allow you to get beautiful photos even through glass.
On the way, you will be told (headphones and a brochure are attached to each seat on the train) about the sights and interesting facts. And, of course, not without the favorite entertainment of all travelers - food and drinks. First, they will feed Swiss dishes and offer Swiss wine (we almost don’t know about it, but in vain), then they will demonstrate a rather effective way of serving local liqueurs (kirsha, abrikotin, vilyamina, etc.).
For some reason, tourists from Asia are especially pleased with this attraction, and there will be plenty of them in the carriages: traditionally a trip to the Glacier Express and other panoramic trains is considered one of the most prestigious, this is a real must when traveling in Switzerland.
And of all the beautiful and very beautiful roads of Switzerland, the Rhaetische railway stands alone. In 1904, a section of the road was built with the Albula tunnel, and a route later appeared which connected St. Moritz and Tirano. In 2008, the Albula and Bernina railways were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A part of the Reti Railway is part of the Glacier Express route.
The Jungfrau Train
At the beginning of the 20th century, the idea of launching a train over passes into narrow gorges, where there was no regular road, seemed to be something of a fantasy. But not for the Swiss. The railway, later recognized as a genius of engineering, includes many incredibly beautiful viaducts, tunnels and bridges. It is truly unique, and not only because it passes through incredibly beautiful places, forcing tourists with cameras and camcorders to rush from one panoramic window of the train to another.
At one time, this road became the highest in Europe (until the railroad to the Jungfraujoch was built) and today is still one of the steepest in the world. The train winds through the mountains and valleys, then going up, closer to the snow-capped peaks, then going down just below, to the cozy villages.
Driving through tiny stations and looking at bright red trains and cars, I can’t get rid of the feeling of “déjà vu”. And, having rummaged in memory, you begin to understand what popular railway models were copied from. Here is the station building and the station, here are different types of trailers and electric locomotives, viaducts, bridges, junctions - it seems that, as if by magic, the railway layout, with all its details, toy houses and trees, was enlarged and increased tenfold.
Why drag on a resort by train, if there are cars, a skeptic will ask. In some cases, traveling by car in Switzerland is really justified - for example, if you plan daily trips to a new ski area, it is more convenient to have a car on hand.
But renting a car does not always make sense: the fact is that at most ski resorts a car is simply not needed. Moreover, in some villages you cannot use cars - you will have to leave them in the parking lot at the entrance to the resort or next to it. In particular, such resorts include Zermatt and Saas-Fee, as well as Wengen (it can only be reached by train), Betmeralp and Riederalp.
If you absolutely do not want to drag a ski case and a suitcase into the bargain, you can assign the Swiss railways to do it for you - the Fly Rail service allows you to do so so that your luggage arrives at your destination without you, straight from the airport, you do not even have to wait for your luggage.
This is especially convenient if on the way to the resort (or back) you are going to spend a day or two in Swiss cities. Details and delivery rules can be clarified atsbb.ch site .
The Inside on the Bernina Train
Swiss Pass (valid for all modes of transport throughout the country without restrictions): € 222 for 4 days (Grade 2). Children under 16 travel with one of their parents for free (if the parent has a travel ticket). There are also tickets with discounts for young people, for a fixed number of days (Swiss Flexi Pass). For a trip only from the airport to the resort and back, it makes sense to purchase the Swiss Transfer Ticket (sold only outside Switzerland, from tour operators and travel agencies, or you can order it in advance with delivery on the sbb.ch website): from € 108 (class 2, ticket to both sides).
Glacier Express ("Glacier Express")
Route: Zermatt - Brig - Andermatt - Chur - Davos / St. Moritz
Journey time: 7.5 hours. Runs throughout the year. The winter schedule is valid from 9 December to 8 May. The trip passes along 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and the Oberalp Pass at an altitude of 2033 meters.
Advance booking of seats in the Glacier Express car is compulsory and implies a surcharge of 13 CHF in winter, 33 CHF in summer.
Golden Pass ("Golden Pass")
Route: Lucerne - Brynig Pass - Interlaken - Zweisimen - Montreux (/ Geneva)
Travel time: 5.5 hours. Runs year round.
Two languages, three worlds, six lakes, one route - all this is the Golden Pass. The route connects central Switzerland and Lake Geneva. The train sets off from historic Lucerne via the Brünig pass along Lake Brienz to Interlaken, then through to the Lavaux vineyards.
Between Montreux and Zweisimmen runs the train "Golden Pass Classic" (Golden Pass Classic) with cars, stylized as the famous "Orient Express".
Reservations are recommended.
Bernina Express ("Express Bernina")
Route : Chur - St. Moritz - Bernina Pass - Poschiavo - Tirano (- Lugano)
Travel time: 4 hours. Run year round.
This route connects Chur (Canton Graubünden) with Tirano. The total length of the route is 145 km. The train rises to the Bernina Pass, at an altitude of 2,253 meters, crosses 196 bridges and passes through 55 tunnels. From Tirano (Italy), you can continue the route on a modern bus through Veltlin to Lugano (only in summer).
Reservation in the train and bus is required.
Swiss Chocolate Train ("Swiss Chocolate Train")
Route: Montreux - Gruyere - Brock and back.
Time: 8 hours. Runs from May to October.
The Swiss Chocolate Train is a joint project of GoldenPass Services and Cailler-Nestle. Going on a journey in the "Belle Epoque" or modern panoramic car, you can see the picturesque terraces of vineyards above Montreux and the medieval town of Gruyères, the birthplace of the famous cheese. After the excursion, the train goes to Brock, where the famous Swiss milk chocolate factory is located. The price includes the following services:
• seat reservation
• coffee and croissants on the train
• bus from the train station in Gruyere to the village and back
• visit to Gruyere castle
• visit to the cheese factory in Gruyere
• video presentation, production visit and tasting at the Nestle confectionery factory
Schedule: May, June, September and October: Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, July-August: daily. Departure from Montreux at 9.12, return to Montreux at 17:40. Price: CHF 99.- for adults, CHF 69.- for children and discount card holders.
Reservation is required.
Wilhelm Tell Express Express "Wilhelm Tell"
Itinerary: Lucerne - Lake Lucerne - Flüelen - St. Gotthard - Bellinzona - Locarno / Lugano
Travel time: 5 hours. Run year round.
Speed is not what to expect from the William Tell Express. The route begins in Lucerne, aboard a historic double-deck paddle steamer, the same as more than a hundred years ago. After that, you can transfer to a panoramic train to continue your journey to Locarno, Ticino - the Italian part of the country. The road to this canton goes through the famous St. Gotthard pass.
Reservation is required.
Where to buy tickets for the Swiss train?
Swiss travel system tickets can be bought from accredited tour operators in Russia. Their full list: here , ticket prices are no different from Swiss. Some types of tickets, in particular, Swiss Tranfer Ticket, can only be bought outside of Switzerland.
Tickets for single trips and some types of travel can be booked in advance via the Internet: sbb.ch .