About us | Contact | n%2Fa | n%2Fa
Home Get in touch Forum Incident on MGB train between Andermatt and Sedrun
MySwissAlps features ads, commercial and non-commercial links.

Incident on MGB train between Andermatt and Sedrun


Print this page
Posts: 10 
This thread is closed. You are welcome to log in and submit a new thread.
Gunzel
Gunzel
241 posts
active member
Sep 29, 2019 - 10:49 PM

Yesterday (29 September 2019), I returned home to Melbourne, Australia, after my Europe trip that included a wonderful 10-day "Tell Pass" itinerary based on Brunnen.

I am planning to do a "trip report" to place in the appropriate section of this forum (possibly covering one day at a time!) but there was an unfortunate incident on the very first day that I would like to share with you here.

My partner Robyn and I chose to visit Realp and Sedrun on the first day. These are the extremities of the "Tell Pass" validity on what most people on here would know as the route of the "Glacier Express".

The weather was beautiful.

The train on the section from Andermatt to Sedrun had some older carriages that had windows that opened. We were sitting towards the end of one of the carriages. I lowered the window a little to allow me to take some pictures of the magnificent scenery.

After a few minutes a man came from the other end of the carriage and started screaming at me. When I say screaming mean screaming. He was about 70. The man certainly invaded my personal space. The screaming continued. I was certainly taken aback and feared for my personal safety. My partner Robyn was shaking.

Still screaming, he pushed me aside and gestured violently towards the window. It became clear he wanted it shut! Reluctantly, I complied, not wanting any physical violence - certainly any directed towards my partner Robyn.

As he strode back to his seat, I could see the people with him (Swiss mature age hikers) were clearly pleased with his performance. I think they may have clapped! Other passengers near him (who may have been Americans) were dumbfounded.

It's fair to say I was shaking. I decided to make some inquiries later in the day and was told Swiss people do not like open windows. (Not that many trains these days have windows that open!). Local culture is that "whatever force is needed" is acceptable to ensure that windows remain closed! I was told that physical force would be quite acceptable particularly if it was directed towards a person not from Switzerland.

The behaviour I experienced would be unacceptable in Australia but when in Rome do as the Romans do!

The remainder of our trip was wonderful and I look forward to sharing our experiences on the trip report page.

Paul in Melbourne (Australia)

Last modified on Sep 30, 2019 - 5:12 AM by Steph
Steph
Steph
2293 posts
top member
Sep 30, 2019 - 5:17 AM in reply to Gunzel

Hello Paul,

Nice to hear you're safely back in Melbourne.

What a horrible story you're sharing here..I am astonished and shocked.
As everywhere, also here in Switzerland you will find people without any respect for others, sadly. Nevertheless I would say, that in a normal case, with a normally acting person, this situation could and of course should have taken place differently. Believe me, if I had been there in that carriage I would have interfered!!
I can imagine that you were scared with somebody having such a go at you for no obvious reason, so you did the only right thing, get out of the way of such people!
Nevertheless of course I hope, that that's not the main thing that will stay in your memory about Switzerland, and that you will be back sometime in the futures.

Looking forward to your trip report, whenever you have time.

Best and take care,
Steph

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7567 posts
expert
Sep 30, 2019 - 1:59 PM in reply to Gunzel

Hi Gunzel -

You ran into an interesting Swiss custom, presented in an unfortunate manner.

The Swiss in general are at least as afraid of drafts as you have noted.

<<"You'll never catch a cold from being too warm" is one way it was expressed when I was trying to understand the dimensions of the issue with well-travelled and sophisticated Swiss friends.

On a l0cal near Frauenfeld a few years ago, it was a hot June day. The train sat in the sun while waiting to fill up and depart. Everyone opened their windows while in the station. Everyone closed their windows as soon as we began to move.

I compromised. In those older trains, there was a pull-down screen sunshade that covered the window. I left my window part way open and pulled down the screen.. It tended to confine the horrible nasty draft to my locality. I was tolerated. Since it was the time of the All-Confederation Jodlerfest, perhaps they expected some odd and peculiar people on the trains.

It is unfortunate that the person who accosted you did not have better manners....but, he obviously had the support or at least sympathy of his fellow Swiss. Many conservative older Swiss from the rural areas in particular are not fond of the high density of tourists these days. Actually, many Swiss in general are not, either, but they understand that their economy runs on tourism, and in my experience, generally make allowances and try to help when tourists display common courtesy.. They actively appreciate the business that tourists bring. Even when the tourists are rude, as I have seen on occasion. Perhaps he had had his fill on that day. Common politeness should have applied, but, as I understand it, you were actually threatening the health of the Swiss passengers.. At least in his mind. You were possibly (in his mind) being more than rude. ;-(

As you note: "When in Rome...."

Slowpoke.

Gunzel
Gunzel
241 posts
active member
Sep 30, 2019 - 6:53 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Yes; that confirms what I was told later. Apparently, any form of verbal or physical abuse is OK within the culture. I wonder what would have happened in a society where citizens carry guns in case they meet "bad people". I have no doubt the man would have beaten the shit out of me if I had have resisted. And possibly physically attacked my female partner.

Travellers to Switzerland need to be aware of this culture?

Paul in Australia

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7567 posts
expert
Sep 30, 2019 - 8:01 PM in reply to Gunzel

Your version is much more extreme than I had heard before. I'd check a couple more sources before I generalized from it.

Slowpoke

Gunzel
Gunzel
241 posts
active member
Oct 1, 2019 - 2:13 AM in reply to Slowpoke

I am just reporting the situation as I experienced it.

I am not exaggerating or imagining things.

Paul in Australia

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7567 posts
expert
Oct 1, 2019 - 6:17 AM in reply to Gunzel

Hi Gunzel -

<<"I am just reporting the situation as I experienced it. I am not exaggerating or imagining things.">>

Perhaps I should have chosen different words.

I absolutely was not disputing your words or trying to imply that the events did not happen exactly as you wrote.

What I was trying to say is that this particular individual may have have been an extreme and isolated case of a general and less vehement attitude, due to some aspect of his personality or personal situation.

Although I definitely and without qualifications believe the aversion to drafts is Swiss phenomenon, I'm suggesting that I personally believe that not every Swiss citizen would resort to such an attack as happened to you. I would and will ask around a bit to see if my Swiss contacts have any more general perspective. Certainly, for me, in 39 years of riding the trains, no one has ever addressed my preference for an open window on hot days so violently. The worst that ever happened to me was that a Swiss man indignantly told me in high German to shut my window from his seat a few seats away. The car was only about 20% full. I partially closed it - perhaps to the point where he could no longer fell a "dangerous" draft - and replied: "Frische Luft macht Gesundheit."

That seemed to be enough.

And, fewer and fewer cars have windows that can be opened, as you note.

I recently rode the Gotthard Panoramic Express in an old car, and the windows were open for most of the trip. There was a photographer's club on board.......they even had there own guide. And, an SBB crew member in SBB coveralls was in the car, pointing out up-coming things to photograph on one side or the other.

Since you were obviously opening the window for photography, it is my opinion, based on my own experiences, that the open window would in most cases have been grudgingly tolerated, especially if you made some kind of symbolic effort to periodically close it between photographic sessions. That perspective comes from background knowledge gained over the long term, (which you understandably lacked), that aversion to drafts is common in Switzerland. So, you may have had the bad luck to encounter an extreme version of the phenomenon.

When a train car is packed full of tourists, as is common going into Wengen Station on the trip up from Lauterbrunnen, it is normal for the windows to be flung open for photography to get a shot similar to the one attached. Often, they get closed again.

BOB staff make no effort to close the windows if they are passing through to punch tickets..

Slowpoke

Attachments
Snowman
Snowman
811 posts
top member
Oct 1, 2019 - 3:04 PM

Hello Gunzel,

Here a contribution from a Swiss' perspective. First, it is nice to read that you will keep overall good memories of your trip.

The man was obviously upset by the open window. That is absolutely no excuse for a rude and violent behaviour, no doubt about that. He could have asked you politely in his own language to kindly close the window.

That said, when you share a carriage with other passengers, you join a community and some rules must be followed for the benefit of all. The custom here is to open windows, if it gets hot in the carriage, only at stops, or when the train is slowing down before a station, and until it has reached full speed after a stop. Passengers can do that without asking fellow travellers. That's for when it gets hot. If your purpose is to take photos, you could ask your neighbours if they don't mind, and shut the window immediately after you are done. Reasonable fellow passengers wouldn't mind, and the Swiss among them would be thrilled that you admire their landscape!

The Gotthard Panoramic Express mentioned by Slowpoke is a different case. It has, I believe, one carriage on which windows can be opened, specifically for photographers, and there, obviously, windows can be kept open without asking.

When local people and tourists are together in confined spaces, tension can arise. The local travellers may be commuters, going home after a tiring work day, they may have been irritated by previous tourists who got off before you boarded, who knows. I am myself, I must say, irritated by those who talk much louder than necessary, or haul huge suitcases. I don't see in my irritation any reason for becoming rude and violent, though. And disturbances are not only caused by our foreign visitors, far from it...

Come again!

Gunzel
Gunzel
241 posts
active member
Oct 1, 2019 - 7:13 PM in reply to Snowman

Yes; I appreciate it may have been an isolated incident but wanted to share my experience with others on this group, particularly as such things are rarely discussed. As is the culture you mention.

I confirm the MGB carriage was lightly loaded (to use railway terminology) with possibly 20 passengers or less. The irritated gentleman and his companions were sitting at one end. We were sitting towards the opposite end.

The remainder of our trip was very good without incident other than me leaving my spare Iphone on a Lake Luzern steamer. A call to the ferry office at Luzern confirmed it had been handed in and was available for collection (upon me producing ID). That I did the following morning and, upon payment of the requisite CHF 10 "handling fee", my smart phone was promptly returned.

I look forward to sharing our "Tell Pass" experiences in the "trip report" section.

Paul in Australia

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7567 posts
expert
Oct 1, 2019 - 8:41 PM in reply to Gunzel

Hi Gunzel-

I asked a good friend - Swiss - who travels extensvely through Europe in addition to Switzerland by train. Here is his perspective...which has a more international flavor.

<<"The incident in the train is not unusual. Especially elderly travellers can be difficult - not only with open windows. Children, youngsters playing music etc are all welcome targets. Why they indeed can get surprisingly impolite to just about anybody I have not yet fathomed. To put an aggressive oldie in his place is not easy. He may be pretty deaf for starters. The phenomenon is not limited to Switzerland. I would rank Germany and France in about the same spot, just that there tend to be more elderly travellers under way in the Swiss tourist areas.

That not everybody likes drafty carriages is not unfamiliar to us and [my wife] certainly has a profound dislike of windy places, all air conditioning and any other drafts on premises. In modern air conditioned restaurants it can be difficult for her to find an acceptable table.">>

For what it is worth.

Lost and found -

By the way, I had a similar "lost and returned" incident on a lake boat a few years a go. My hiking staff was found and shipped by boat back to the ship landing of my choice.

Considering the utility of such a staff for anyone, with no password needed to use it, that speaks well for the honesty of the Swiss.

Slowpoke

SWISS TRAVEL MUST KNOWS

All you need to know about traveling by train, bus or car in Switzerland.

More

NEED SOME TIPS ON WHERE TO SLEEP?

Hand picked Swiss hotels and other accommodations are right here.

More

Who's MySwissAlps.com?
We're passionate tourists and locals. We share tips about planning a trip to Switzerland since 2002.
More about usNewsletter signup

© MySwissAlps.com 2002-2022