Jun 23, 2018 - 9:06 AM
I agree with 1960man - I've found the ordinary regional trains to be a more rewarding experience, on the Golden Pass, Glacier Express and Bernina Express lines.
I've travelled on these 3 routes several times over the last month with both dedicated panoramic seating (as part of a package rail holiday) and with my later Interrail pass. The pass excluded a small number of titled panoramic trains on the Bernina line, roughly half the trains on the Glacier Express route and - as far as I could tell - no trains were exempt on the Golden Pass route, though there were plenty of carriages marketed as Golden Pass. These three routes each had roughly an hourly service of stopping Regional trains.
Though my experience was possibly skewed through travelling in a quieter season, the difference between the occupancy rates of the dedicated and the ordinary trains was quite remarkable. The dedicated carriages or trains were generally full, the Regional trains usually modestly or sparsely filled, and on several occasions I had a carriage to myself on the stopping service.
I much prefer the carriage stock on the ordinary trains. The panoramic carriages are rather like travelling greenhouses and can get quite warm, even stuffy, in the sunshine, and for those with issues around skin cancer it is difficult to avoid the direct sunlight. I'm sure the the glass panels are UV efficient, but it doesn't feel that way.
You are much more likely to get freedom to roam in a traditional carriage, many of which still have pull down windows for photography and that famous Swiss fresh air. I did note, however, that on the smart Allegra units of Rhaetian Railways I could not pull down the huge windows - they seem to have been locked. These units have a spacious wheelchair friendly step free entrance and matching disabled toilet.
I also like the fact that the regional trains are going about everyday business, stopping at request stops, the chatter of Schweizer-Deutsch, Italian or French, a party of excited local school kids going a few stops up the line with their teacher, or a large contingent of the Swiss Army using a branch line to get from A to B.
The trade off for using the regional services is that they are generally a bit slower because they stop more frequently, and that you are unlikely to find that refreshments are available, but you can stock up at very many stations or adjacent Co-op or Migrolina stores. I enjoyed my travels on the dedicated panoramic services, but would always choose ordinary trains in future.
Last modified on Jun 23, 2018 - 12:08 PM by JohnYorks