Golden Pass trains - what to expect, how to plan, tips

Golden Pass

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Golden Pass train at the railway station of Montreux.

The Golden Pass

The Golden Pass is a train route that starts 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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The Golden Pass route in detail.

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A journey on the Golden Pass

Unlike the Bernina Express and Glacier Express, the Golden Pass is not a direct train. It's a scenic route, serviced by several very special trains. You need to switch trains in Interlaken and Zweisimmen. The switch in Zweisimmen will no longer be necessary from December 2017.

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.

The train

There are different train types on each section of the route. One reason for this is that three different railway companies operate on the Golden Pass line. There's the Zentralbahn between Lucerne and Interlaken Ost, the Bern–Lötschberg–Simplon railways (BLS) between Interlaken Ost and Zweisimmen and the Chemin de fer Montreux–Oberland Bernois (MOB) between Zweisimmen and Montreux.

Between Lucerne and Interlaken Ost there are modern air conditioned trains with large panoramic windows and a restaurant. This train is referred to as the Luzern-Interlaken Express.

From Interlaken Ost to Zweisimmen there are regular but comfortable trains.

You can choose between Golden Pass Classic and Golden Pass Panoramic trains between Zweisimmen and Montreux. The Classic train has Belle Epoque coaches with a historical luxurious atmosphere. The modern Panoramic trains have panoramic windows, and some of them have 8 first class VIP seats in the front of the train, offering the same view the driver has. Apart from these, there are regular local trains as well.

Check the timetable to see exactly which train offers what services.

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 the snow covered landscape.

Regular trains versus Golden Pass trains

You are not required to travel with the trains that are marked as Golden Pass trains in the timetable. There are regular train services on the same line 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.

Insider tips about the Golden Pass

  • The Golden Pass 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 Golden Pass 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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