Two Terrific Swiss Trains.
As is the case just about everywhere in Europe, passenger trains will take you almost anywhere you wish to go. Even small towns have rail service. Azey-le-Rideau in France, for example, is a town of about 3500 people, but it has a train station and six trains a day stop there.
Switzerland is a bit of a different case because of the extremely mountainous terrain. But even there, the Swiss get around their country rather easily by passenger trains.
However, there are two very special trains in Switzerland that are well worth the time it takes to seek them out.
The Glacier Express is the better known of the two trains. It operates between the towns of Zermatt and St. Moritz and, with good reason, it’s known as the slowest express train in Europe, completing its 181-mile route in just over eight hours. That’s an average speed of less than 23 miles-per-hour. But—trust me on this—you won’t want to hurry on this train ride. Mere words can’t adequately describe the scenery.
But there’s another Swiss train that must be mentioned. It’s lesser known than the Glacier Express, but the scenery is at least as spectacular and this train—the Bernina Express—originates in the town of Chur, but heads off in a southwesterly direction, passes through a great many tunnels and comes within 100 yards of an actual glacier.
Like the Glacier Express, this train operates at the same slow pace, but there are any number of places along its 90-mile route where it picks up the pace and exceeds its average speed of just over 22 miles-per-hour . . . but not for long and not by much.
The Bernina Express’ terminus is the town of Tirano in northern Italy which is where rail connections can be made with trains that will, in just a few hours, take you south to Florence or Milano where there are connecting trains to . . . well . . . to Italy!
The Bernina Express equipment is essentially the same as is used on the Glacier Express—modern and comfortable with huge windows that are—what else would you expect on a Swiss train—spotlessly clean.
Both trains go up and down what would be impossibly steep grades for conventional trains, aided by a gear-like device under the locomotive that grips a saw-tooth center rail in the track.
Interesting equipment . . . extraordinary experience. Put both of these incredible trains on your to-do-someday list.