Disabled access to mountain trains in Switzerland

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Johnny
Johnny
6 posts
new member
Jan 24, 2018 - 12:29 PM

How easy/difficult is access to mountain trains for someone with limited mobility or agility?

Lucas
Lucas
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Jan 24, 2018 - 2:13 PM in reply to Johnny

Hi Johnny and welcome to MySwissAlps!

What are the limitations? Can steps be navigated? Where are you planning to visit? Most cable cars etc are level platforms, some trains have three good steps to climb but there is usually not a big hurry to do so (except the odd commuter train at rush hour).

Johnny
Johnny
6 posts
new member
Jan 24, 2018 - 4:44 PM in reply to Lucas

Hello Lucas, Thank you for your response to my post. I have to use crutches but can walk about half a mile before a break, depending on terrain and gradient. Steps are ok if handrails are available, and not too deep and fairly wide. (or with my wife to help!,). If the steps on to the train are fairly wide and not too steep, and with hand holds to pull on I should be able to manage with someone nearby (my wife, probably) to be in attendance and to hold my crutches. (Obviously I cannot carry baggage). Might there be someone official in attendance.

We are staying in Wengen - Belvedere Hotel - with 4 excursions to the usual features. The main line journies via Basle and Interlaken should be ok, but I was worried about the boarding of the excursion trains, and didn't want to be a burden to anyone else.

Thank you for your help with this, and any advice would be appreciated. Johnny

Lucas
Lucas
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moderator
Jan 24, 2018 - 5:33 PM in reply to Johnny

I don't think you would have too much of a problem with your wife on-hand. Though some stairs onto trains are narrow and steep.

Assistance getting on and off trains can be requested though! Read through Swiss railways FAQ page here: https://www.sbb.ch/en/ station-services/passengers-with-reduced-mobility/faq.html

When you use the SBB railways timetable to plan out trips hit the advanced search button and scroll down to "Barrier-Free Travel" and click restrictions apply so you can only search for low-floor trains.

This page may also help:
https://www.sbb.ch/en/ station-services/passengers-with-reduced-mobility/travelling-autonomously.html

Johnny
Johnny
6 posts
new member
Jan 24, 2018 - 6:03 PM in reply to Lucas

Thank you very much,Lucas. That's encouraging and we'll go ahead with our booking! Johnny.

Removed user
Removed user
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Jan 25, 2018 - 12:21 AM in reply to Johnny

Hi Johnny,

>> How easy/difficult is access to mountain trains for someone with limited mobility or agility?

Further to the info from Lucas, you can see a map of the routes where trains have wheelchair-accessible compartments. These trains will have easy access for people with limitations to their mobility, whether or not they use a wheelchair. Look for a wheelchair graphic on the carriage door of mainline trains for level access to a carriage (see attached picture).

www.sbb.ch/content/dam /infrastruktur/trafima ge/karten/karte-handicap-de.pdf

Information in the following threads might also be of assistance. If they raise any further questions, please feel free ask:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/luggage-service-worth-it

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/switz-tour

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/getting-around-in-switzerland-with-4-wheel-walker

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/help-with-itinerary-switzerland-and-austria-20d

Does the Belevedere Hotel in Wengen have a lift? Or have you discussed your access needs with them? They will most likely transport you and your luggage between the station and the hotel on the days of arrival and departure.

In walking between your hotel and the station on a daily basis, the road is fairly level until you get to the fork at the end of the main street (Dorfstrasse), where there is a chemist on one side of the street and the Hotel Schönegg on the other side. There is a short steepish hill there, with a handrail on one side for assistance if needed. I'm not sure about the gradient for the rest of the way to the hotel.

When you know which specific mountain transport you would like to use, let us know, and if we have any further information about them, we can pass it on.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jan 25, 2018 - 12:28 AM by Removed user
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Johnny
Johnny
6 posts
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Jan 25, 2018 - 5:21 PM in reply to Removed user

Thank you very much for your message, Alpenrose. I am most grateful for your help. We are coming with a recognised tour company with a tour guide, so I think the mainline scheduled train service should be straightforward. I will alert them to my limitations.

I am more concerned about any difficulty I may have in boarding the mountain excursion trains. Lucas said some of these have steep steps with narrow treads. The tour company did not seem to be able to answer this for me. My difficulty is that I have a muscle-wasting disease causing reduced strength in my legs, and balance is impaired. If there are convenient hand-rails I can pull on and with my wife's help I should manage. I should have mentioned that I am 78 and by then my wife will be 80! We have, however, good health and strength apart from my problem.

The Belvedere web site does state that there is a lift, and that they provide a baggage service. The tour operators have already mentioned that. Johnny

Removed user
Removed user
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Jan 26, 2018 - 5:24 AM in reply to Johnny

Hi Johnny,

>> I am more concerned about any difficulty I may have in boarding the mountain excursion trains. Lucas said some of these have steep steps with narrow treads. The tour company did not seem to be able to answer this for me.

Which mountain excursion trains exactly?

Alpenrose

Lucas
Lucas
9613 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 26, 2018 - 7:03 AM in reply to Johnny

Hi Johnny, it isn't necessarily the mountain trains/cable cars that have steep stairs (I don't know which ones you are going on) but the regional city-city trains do as well sometimes.

Johnny
Johnny
6 posts
new member
Jan 26, 2018 - 3:43 PM

Hello Alpenrose and Lucas, Thank you for your continued help with my problem.

We travel via Paris and Strasbourg, changing at Basle and Interlakenhoheweg, where we join the Bernese Oberland Rly. to Wengen.

During the week there are excursions to 1 Mannlichen Cableway and Grindelwald Cableway & train return to Wengen. 2 to Jungfrau Rly. to Jungfraujoch & return. 3 Cablecar to Schilthom & return via Stechlberg.

The Jungfrau trip seems the highlight of the week and the only one entirely by train.

We will have a railcard to use as we wish on the free days - depending on our experiences earlier in the week. Many thanks, Johnny

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Jan 27, 2018 - 3:10 AM in reply to Johnny

Hi Johnny,

>> We travel via Paris and Strasbourg, changing at Basle and Interlakenhoheweg, where we join the Bernese Oberland Rly. to Wengen.

The Höheweg in Interlaken is the main street that runs between the Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West railway stations. I imagine you will be changing trains at Interlaken Ost railway station. Access to the platform is via a ramp with handrail.

The trains that run up to Wengen are of two types. Some are low floor, others have several steps. If you get the more modern low-floor train, boarding/alighting at Lauterbrunnen (and I think also Interlaken Ost) is level with the platform, and at Wengen you have one small step up or down.

When I was there in September 2016, I encountered only the low floor trains on the Wengen side, but some trains with steps on the Grindelwald side. In December the same year, the trains on both sides were mostly those with several steps. Unfortunately, I don't know how to tell which trains will be used on any given connection.

>> During the week there are excursions to ... Mannlichen Cableway

Boarding the cable car from Wengen to Männlichen is level, but there are steps up to reach the cable car platform. However, it is designated as wheelchair-accessible, so there must be a lift somewhere. You can make enquiries by email to info@maennlichen.ch

Seating in the cable car is limited (bench-style, against the walls/windows). However, with crutches, I'm sure someone will offer you a seat if all seats are already taken when you board.

>> and Grindelwald Cableway

This is a gondola, which seats 4 people. Gondolas move constantly, never stopping, but they move extremely slowly in the boarding and alighting areas so people can step on and off. I doubt you would manage this with crutches, especially getting off. However, it is not all bad news ;-)

This service is also designated as "Wheelchair-accessible, prior notification required". The prior notification has to be made at least 2 hours beforehand. Contact details from the timetable are:

Phone 033 854 80 80

Email mail@maennlichen.ch

I'm not sure how they manage this, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that they have a few bigger cabins they can attached to the cableway for passengers who are unable to use the standard cabins.

Almost every time I have been on a gondola, I have experienced it stopping mid-journey for a minute or two, but have never known why that was. Perhaps they are stopping it to allow someone with reduced mobility to board or alight at one end or the other.

>> train return to Wengen

I assume this will be from Grindelwald Grund to Wengen, either via Kleine Scheidegg or Zweilütschinen. There is a bit of a walk from the gondola valley station to Grindelwald Grund railway station (about 450 metres, mostly flat), but there is also a bus service. I have attached a timetable.

For details about boarding and alighting at Kleine Scheidegg, see below.

Depending on the train used, Zweilütschinen can be a difficult station to board at if you have reduced mobility (no raised platform). If you had the option of going all the way back to Interlaken Ost, and then up to Wengen, I would take that option, or else go via Kleine Scheidegg (more expensive).

Otherwise, there is apparently boarding and alighting assistance for passengers in wheelchairs at Zweilütschinen, which you might be able to make use of. The only contact number I can find for Zweilütschinen station is that for baggage services: 033 828 74 51. Perhaps they could redirect you.

>> 2 to Jungfrau Rly. to Jungfraujoch & return ... The Jungfrau trip seems the highlight of the week and the only one entirely by train.

I have been up to the Jungfraujoch three times, and as far as Eigergletscher an additional time. All the trains I have been on had several steps, but there are rails you can use for assistance.

Although these trains might have steps, they are designated in the official timetable as wheelchair accessible. Perhaps they have ramps or some other equipment to facilitate access. The number given in the timetable for enquries is 0800 007 102.

There is also the following information on the Jungfrau website:

It is possible for wheelchair users to travel by rail to the Jungfraujoch Top of Europe. Reservation for groups is essential. Maximum 10 persons per group (max 3 wheelchairs per train composition). Please inform the railway personnel at the station of departure so that a member of staff is available to assist with changing trains at Kleine Scheidegg. The Jungfraujoch is also wheelchair accessible. The entrance to the Ice Palace is fitted with a stair lift.

www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/faq/general-tips/

>> Cablecar to Schilthom & return via Stechlberg.

Which way are you going up?

Lauterbrunnen-Grütschalp-Mürren-Schilthorn?

or

Lauterbrunnen-Stechelberg-Mürren-Schilthorn?

Boarding the cable cars is level, but there are steps to reach the cable car platform. However, the Stechelberg-Mürren-Schilthorn service is designated as wheelchair-accessible, so there must be a lift somewhere. The number for enquiries is 033 826 00 07 or 033 856 21 41.

>> We will have a railcard to use as we wish on the free days - depending on our experiences earlier in the week.

Let us know what you decide to do, in case we can offer any additional information.

I hope you can report back after your trip and fill us in on your experiences getting around Switzerland with mobility limitations. It would be good to be able to give better information to other people who have this question in the future.

I have attached some photos to illustrate some of the comments I have made above.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jan 27, 2018 - 7:19 AM by Arno
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Johnny
Johnny
6 posts
new member
Jan 27, 2018 - 4:54 PM

Hello Alpenrose, Thank you so much for all the information and trouble you've taken. I don't know the detailed programme for the trip, but wait to hear from the tour organisers. I'll pass on some of the valuable info you have given me. We won't be coming until September, arriving on Sept 23rd.

What weather might we expect then? Best wishes, Johnny

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Jan 28, 2018 - 3:11 AM in reply to Johnny

>> We won't be coming until September, arriving on Sept 23rd. What weather might we expect then? Best wishes, Johnny

In the alps, you need to be prepared for warm days, cold days and rain, so dressing in layers is the key. I wouldn't expect it to be bitterly cold at that time of year, but you can always get a cold snap, especially at high altitudes. If there is any snow (unlikely, but can't be ruled out), I would expect it to melt within a day or so. A cap, scarf and gloves are small and convenient to carry, and will make mountain-top visits more comfortable.

The summer crowds will have gone home, which will make your trip more pleasant!

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jan 28, 2018 - 3:11 AM by Removed user

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