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The GoldenPass trains and route in Switzerland explained


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GoldenPass train near Lungern

A GoldenPass train approaches Lungern.
© H. Heij

The GoldenPass

The GoldenPass is a train route that starts (or ends) in Lucerne. Along the way to Montreux you'll see the Brünig Pass, the lakes of the Bernese Oberland, the Simmen valley, upper-class Gstaad and Lake Geneva.

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A journey on the GoldenPass

Unlike the Bernina Express and Glacier Express, the GoldenPass is not one direct train. It's a scenic route, serviced by several special trains. You need to switch trains in Interlaken and sometimes in Zweisimmen.

The entire route takes almost 5.5 hours. It's ideal for travelers who enter Switzerland by plane and only plan a short stay. Zurich airport is just one hour from Lucerne, and Geneva airport is just 75 minutes from Montreux.

The route

You can travel from Lucerne to Montreux or the other way round. The train route consists of three sections: Lucerne to Interlaken Ost, Interlaken Ost to Zweisimmen and Zweisimmen to Montreux. Travelers on the GoldenPass Express will have an ongoing connection between Lucerne and Interlaken.

The train

There are different train types on each section of the route. That's because different railway companies operate on the GoldenPass line. There's:

  • the Zentralbahn between Lucerne and Interlaken Ost;
  • the Bern–Lötschberg–Simplon railways (BLS) between Interlaken Ost and Zweisimmen;
  • the Chemin de fer Montreux–Oberland Bernois (MOB) between Zweisimmen and Montreux;
  • a cooperation of BLS and MOB for the GoldenPass Express between Interlaken and Montreux.

These are the trains operating on each section:

  • Between Lucerne and Interlaken Ost there are modern, air-conditioned trains with large panoramic windows and catering. This train is referred to as the Luzern-Interlaken Express.
  • Between Interlaken Ost and Zweisimmen there are regular but comfortable trains.
  • Between Zweisimmen and Montreux you can choose between GoldenPass Belle Époque and GoldenPass Panoramic trains. The Belle Époque train has coaches with a historical, luxurious atmosphere. The modern Panoramic trains have panoramic windows, and some of them have a few 1st class VIP seats in the front of the train, offering the same view the driver has. There's limited catering service. Apart from these, there are regular local trains as well.
  • Between Interlaken and Montreux, there's also a direct GoldenPass Express train, available from December 11 2022.

From December 11 2022: the GoldenPass Express, Interlaken-Montreux

From December 11 2022, there's an ongoing 3h15-connection between Interlaken and Montreux with new rolling stock: the GoldenPass Express. It can switch from standard gauge (beween Interlaken and Zweisimmen) to narrow gauge (between Zweisimmen and Montreux). If you travel with this train, you don't have to change trains in Zweisimmen anymore.

The GoldenPass Express train has these features:

  • There are 3 classes: 1st, 2nd and Prestige.
  • All travelers will benefit from large windows with reduced reflection and a comfortable, modern interior.
  • Drinks and snacks are available in all classes. Additional catering packages can be reserved in advance. Some packages are available in Prestige class only.
  • The Prestige area offers heated seats that can be rotated on request. They're raised by 40 cm compared to 1st and 2nd class seats, for an even better view of the scenery.
  • From 2024, there will be low-floor coaches for easy access with wheelchairs and prams.

This is the GoldenPass Express timetable until June 2023:

  • There is 1 daily connection in each direction from December 11 2022 to June 10 2023.
  • The GoldenPass Panoramic and GoldenPass Belle Époque trains that require a change in Zweisimmen will remain available too.
  • From June 11 2023, the GoldenPass Express schedule will be expanded to 4 daily connections in each direction: 2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon.
  • Please find more details here.

What's the best season?

You particularly need good, clear weather, and that could be in any season. Spring is wonderful as nature is green and fresh in the valleys and there's still snow at higher altitudes. Summer is a beautiful time around the several lakes. In fall, the brilliantly colored trees make the trip a special experience. Winter is great for a snow covered landscape.

Regular trains versus GoldenPass trains

There are regular train services between Interlaken and Montreux as well. The regular trains may not offer the the same level of comfort, but they're still comfortable to travel with and allow you to see the landscape just as well.

Combine the GoldenPass and the RegioExpress Lötschberger

If you are based in the Bernese Oberland you can consider this round trip:

  • Take a GoldenPass train to Zweisimmen and Montreux.
  • Spend some time in Montreux.
  • Take a train to Brig.
  • Board the RegioExpress Lötschberger train via Goppenstein and Kandersteg to Spiez.
  • Take a train back to your base town.

Combine the GoldenPass and the Voralpen Express

The GoldenPass line starts or ends in Lucerne. That's where you can get on or off the Voralpen Express as well.

Combine the GoldenPass and the Gotthard Panorama Express

The GoldenPas line starts or ends in Lucerne. That's where you can get on or off the Gotthard Panorama Express too.

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Insider tips about the GoldenPass

  • The GoldenPass line starts and ends relatively close to the airports of Zurich and Geneva, so it's ideal for plane travelers with a limited timeframe.
  • The VIP seats in the front of the train provide a unique experience.
  • Although the GoldenPass trains are very special, you can travel on the same route by regular trains too. Rail passes are valid for any train type.
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