Swiss Railways really do run like clockwork! We have never been delayed, ever, and our tests have involved many trips.
By far the best way to see Switzerland is by train, with them running to most places and no reservations needed, except on the Glacier Express. It is very easy to connect from Geneva to Zurich, which takes about three hours and provides wonderful views on the way.
The on-board service is always professional and the trains’ crew will always provide assistance and advice. Swiss Railways is how rail travel should be, in contrast to many countries’ railway systems, where customers are seen as in convenience.
Swiss Railway trains have first and second class carriages. First class will cost about 50% more, but you gain wider seats and a quieter cabin. However, we have not had any issues with second class travel and only at peak times on city commuter trains have we had difficulty in finding a seat. Announcements are made for where to stand on the platform to ensure that you are in the correct section for first or second class.
Single train tickets are expensive, so, if you are intend to be travelling for a few days, buy a Swiss Pass, or a Youth Pass if you’re under 26-years-old. The Swiss Pass is also valid on Post buses and provides access to the remoter parts of Switzerland. The Swiss Pass is available for 4, 8, 15 or 22 days.
Train stations are at both Zurich and Geneva Airports, where all tickets can be purchased. Trains are the ideal way to reach the city centre.
All trains are comfortable and the inter-city services have a restaurant car or mobile mini bar. The inter-city trains also have a family car.
Where there is no available train station, switch to the Post Bus that connects with Swiss Railways. Another alternative is to hire a bike; these are available at many stations. If you have a bike, they can be carried on any trains that have the cycle symbol, but there is a small charge.
It is possible to check in at the railway station for some flights, using a system called Fly Rail Baggage. We have not tried it and would be interested to hear how it works.
The Glacier Express is, perhaps, the slowest express train in the world, travelling at just 35 kilometres per hour from St Moritz to Zermatt. As it climbs out of St Moritz, the train passes mountains, glaciers and villages, and travels in and out of tunnels. At Fusilier, as you leave the tunnel, you pass over a high viaduct spanning the Landwasser Gorge. The highest point is the Oberalp Pass at 2,033 metres, then a descent into Andermatt along the Rhone Valley until you finally reach Zermatt, with a view of the Matterhorn.
The Bernina Express connects Chur with Tirano, in the Italian Veltin, via the Bernina Pass. It climbs to 2,253 metres above sea level, goes through 56 tunnels and across 196 bridges. On this service, the coaches have panorama windows.
The Golden Pass Line travels from Montreux to Lucerne, passing eight lakes and providing views of Alpine peaks. Views of Lake Geneva are easily seen on trains between Montreux and Geneva.
A few images of Swiss Railways