Lugano to Lucerne scenic train options

Lugano to Lucerne scenic train options

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crawcraw
crawcraw
4 posts
new member
May 28, 2018 - 7:15 PM

My husband and I will be traveling from Lugano to Lucerne in July. We arrive at MXP in Milan and are taking a bus to Lugano late Saturday afternoon, and want to spend a little time in Lugano on Sunday morning. We want to travel the scenic route over the mountains, but not via the Gotthard Panoramic Express, as it leaves too early for sightseeing.We are not buying a rail pass because we only have 2 days in Switzerland and fly out of Zurich on Tuesday. Can someone please list another route that does not go through the long tunnel, as we want to see as much of the mountains as possible. Also, I would appreciate any links to purchasing these tickets. Thank you!

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2257 posts
top member
May 29, 2018 - 1:31 AM in reply to crawcraw

Hi crawcraw, and welcome to MySwissAlps!

Normal trains travel over exactly the same route as the Gotthard Panorama Express.

If you don't want to include the boat sector from Flüelen to Luzern/Lucerne, simply do a timetable search from Lugano to Luzern via Göschenen. Putting in via Göschenen will generate the route that avoids the Gotthard-Basistunnel and takes the "Gotthard-Panoramastrecke" through the mountains instead.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

(Use the one on the right with the red SBB logo.)

To get the Gotthard Panorama route including the boat sector, you will need to do a timetable search in two stages. As boat departures are less frequent, I would first choose the boat, and then choose a train to connect with the boat at Flüelen.

  • "Flüelen (See)" to "Luzern Bahnhofquai". Use advanced search, and limit the transport type to "Ship".
  • "From Lugano" "To Flüelen" "Via Göschenen" and select trains as the type of transport. When you have chosen a connection, click on the plus sign to see the intermediate stops. If they include "Gotthard-Panoramastrecke" this confirms it is the Gotthard Panorama route.

You can buy your tickets at any station in Switzerland, either at the ticket counter, or from the ticket machines.

Alpenrose

Lucas
Lucas
6364 posts
expert &
moderator
May 29, 2018 - 5:42 AM in reply to crawcraw

Hi crawcraw,

The route on regular trains is described on our Gotthard Panorama Express page as well: www.myswissalps.com/go tthardpanoramaexpress

You can buy tickets at the station for regional trains or if you prefer online look here: https://www.myswissalp s.com/traintickets/swi tzerland

Last modified on May 29, 2018 - 6:28 AM by Arno
crawcraw
crawcraw
4 posts
new member
May 29, 2018 - 11:21 PM

Thank you for your information. The replies were very helpful. I do have some additional questions...

1) In looking at the train options, some trains have the term RE in a white box with a red border, and some have IC 2 in a red box. What does this mean?

2) They have different directions listed: Zurich, Erstfeld, Bellizona. Are they all still going to or through Lucerne?

3) Are we safe just buying 2 tickets at the station when we are in Lugano? By that I mean are there always seats available? Can the ticket get us all the way to Lucerne, or do we need to buy tickets at each transfer?

4) Do the trains stop at all the towns listed when you look at the breakdown of the trip, or are those just towns they pass through?

5) Some portions of the trip list the term BUS 411 . Does this mean that part of our trip is on a bus?

6) Do tickets on these trains requires seat reservations?

Sorry for all the questions. I just want to understand what we are doing so that I can plan correctly. I appreciate your assistance!

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2257 posts
top member
May 30, 2018 - 4:10 AM in reply to crawcraw

>> 1) In looking at the train options, some trains have the term RE in a white box with a red border, and some have IC 2 in a red box. What does this mean?

  • RE stands for RegioExpress
  • IC 2 stands for InterCity train on route 2, which is the route from Zürich to Lugano.

You don't need to worry about the type of train. The RegioExpress trains just stop at more stations along the way than IC trains do. Just pick whatever connections suit you best.

>> 2) They have different directions listed: Zurich, Erstfeld, Bellizona. Are they all still going to or through Lucerne?

Those indicate the final destination of the train.

For a trip from Lugano to Luzern, it will only be the final connection (usually from Erstfeld or Arth-Goldau) that stops at Luzern. That's why you have to get off the previous train/s and transfer at Erstfeld or Arth-Goldau.

>> 3) Are we safe just buying 2 tickets at the station when we are in Lugano? By that I mean are there always seats available? Can the ticket get us all the way to Lucerne, or do we need to buy tickets at each transfer?

Yes, tickets never sell out. You can just get one ticket for the whole trip from start to finish. The ticket will be valid for the whole day, and you can break your journey en route if you like, as long as you complete the trip within the same day.

>> 4) Do the trains stop at all the towns listed when you look at the breakdown of the trip, or are those just towns they pass through?

Only actual stops are listed in the breakdown of the trip, not all the towns/villages passed through. The exception is tunnels, which are also listed, but without any time attached to them.

>> 5) Some portions of the trip list the term BUS 411 . Does this mean that part of our trip is on a bus?

Yes, it would, but this is very unusual, and Bus 411 as a connection for the trip Lugano-Luzern does not sound at all correct, as that bus heads from Göschenen into remote areas. Can you be specific about what journey you found that includes Bus 411?

>> 6) Do tickets on these trains requires seat reservations?

No. The only trains in Switzerland for which reservations are compulsory are the Glacier Express, the Bernina Express and the Gotthard Panorama Express. Reservations are possible (but optional) on InterCity (IC) trains.

Alpenrose

crawcraw
crawcraw
4 posts
new member
May 31, 2018 - 12:22 AM

The route that has the BUS 411 says via Wiggen b. Goschenen and is 5 hrs. 22 mins...leaving Lugano Platform 1 at 11:19 on an RE type train heading in the direction of Erstfeld. That term Wiggen b. Goschenen came up automatically when I put in via Goschenen in the box on the timetable.. Is that the wrong route, and is that time frame to long? Which route should be the correct route?

I am really thankful I have you guys to help me navigate this process. It is really confusing for someone who does not travel on trains! Thank you again for your help!

1960man
1960man
294 posts
top member
May 31, 2018 - 12:34 AM

The northbound local services over the Gotthard mountain route depart every two hours from Lugano at xx.19, and terminate at Erstfeld. Sadly these are fairly spartan local multiple unit trains.

Do not take any other train as it will go through the base tunnel

PDF here:

www.fahrplanfelder.ch/ fileadmin/fap_pdf_fiel ds/2018/631.pdf

From Erstfeld take any train to Luzern, there are locals and faster trains but they alternate between going to Luzern and Zürich, so Erstfeld - Luzern by direct fast train is only every two hours. And for local trains via the lakeside all the way you have to change additionally in Brunnen

Last modified on May 31, 2018 - 12:35 AM by 1960man
Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2257 posts
top member
May 31, 2018 - 1:51 AM in reply to crawcraw

>> That term Wiggen b. Goschenen came up automatically when I put in via Goschenen in the box on the timetable.. Is that the wrong route, and is that time frame to long?

Yes, that is definitely the wrong route!

The reason Wiggen b. Göschenen came up at the top of the list is that you did not spell Göschenen correctly :-)

Here's a tip! In German, ö and o are two different letters. If you can't type ö, type oe instead, then Göschenen will be at the top of the list. That goes for any other place name with an Umlaut (the two dots on top of a letter): for ä subsitute ae, for ü substitute ue e.g. for Flüelen, substitute Flueelen.

Another tip: When searching for train trips, just choose the plain locality name e.g. Göschenen, not any other variation. The localities that come up with a more specific name, e.g. Wiggen b. Göschenen, are usually bus stops. You would only use those if you are actually intending to take a bus.

>> Which route should be the correct route?

In the absence of any information about your date of travel, I have picked a random day in July and attached details of the correct route. The second page provides full details of the route and transfer at Erstfeld for the train leaving Lugano at 11:19. Where you see Gotthard-Panoramastrecke between Airolo and Göschenen, that confirms the train is travelling along the panoramic route, rather than going through the very long Gotthard-Basistunnel.

Alpenrose

Last modified on May 31, 2018 - 1:58 AM by Alpenrose666
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crawcraw
crawcraw
4 posts
new member
Jun 1, 2018 - 12:27 AM in reply to Alpenrose666

Alpenrose, you are a wealth of information. Thank you for the spelling lesson! Very helpful!! And thank you for the detailed explanation about the route. So while I feel like I have a greater understanding of what we are doing, I do want to ask you a couple more questions...

When I look online, the cost from Lugano to Lucerne in 2nd class is 61 CHF per ticket. Do the prices change if you buy them at the station just before departing, or is the price the same?

Also, 1960man mentioned that the trains are fairly spartan. We don't need luxury, but we do want to be comfortable and we want to be able to gaze out at the scenery since that is the reason we are taking the panoramic route. Will we be able to see the countryside from the train windows, and is there that much of a difference in first and second class?

Lastly, should we bring something to eat and drink with us on the trip? is that even allowed, or is there a place on the train to purchase something to eat or drink?

As always, thank you for your help!

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2257 posts
top member
Jun 1, 2018 - 2:12 AM in reply to crawcraw

>> When I look online, the cost from Lugano to Lucerne in 2nd class is 61 CHF per ticket. Do the prices change if you buy them at the station just before departing, or is the price the same?

No, the price of a standard ticket won't change.

However, you might find it worthwhile to buy a Saver Day Pass for this trip, which will cost you CHF 52 if you buy it early enough (30 days in advance of your travel date).

www.sbb.ch/en/travelca rds-and-tickets/tickets-for-switzerland/1-day-travelpass/saver-day-pass.html

>> Also, 1960man mentioned that the trains are fairly spartan. We don't need luxury, but we do want to be comfortable and we want to be able to gaze out at the scenery since that is the reason we are taking the panoramic route. Will we be able to see the countryside from the train windows, and is there that much of a difference in first and second class?

All the trains on the main lines in Switzerland are modern, very comfortable and have good-size windows. The longer-distance trains do have a higher level of amenity, but you won't be uncomfortable on any train, and will have good views through the windows. In my experience, they also take care to keep the windows clean (as well as the inside and outside of the train).

The main difference between first and second class is the number of seats in the carriage. Carriages have a central aisle. In first class, there are two seats on one side of the aisle, and one on the other. In second class, there are two seats on either side of the aisle. So in first class, the aisle is a bit wider, and the seats are probably a bit wider (but I have never really noticed the difference). If there is any more leg room in first class, I have never noticed that either.

>> Lastly, should we bring something to eat and drink with us on the trip? is that even allowed, or is there a place on the train to purchase something to eat or drink?

If there is catering on the train, it will be shown by a symbol next to that train in the timetable. If you take the connection described in the PDF I attached above, there is no catering on either of those trains, so bring food and drink with you - that's perfectly acceptable.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jun 1, 2018 - 2:19 AM by Alpenrose666
Lucas
Lucas
6364 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 1, 2018 - 6:33 AM

I did notice a certain "spartaness" on the regional train between Bellinzona and Göschenen.

Hard to describe exactly....a few less seats in each carriage perhaps (room for people with bikes/skis) and the seats themselves were say flatter? thinner?

It is used as a local train where many people hop-on / off along the route and don't care too much about sitting for a long time. It is not uncomfortable in any way. I think the trip time was around 1 hour anyway. But I get 1960mans comment. It is just a different style of the great Swiss trains.

1960man
1960man
294 posts
top member
Jun 1, 2018 - 11:19 PM in reply to crawcraw

When I described the trains as spartan, I was trying to convey the idea that they are local type trains (see my picture below) being used on quite a long journey, and it feels a bit odd on what used to be a trunk international route carrying trans European long distance expresses. In most cases, people won't travel very far on this type of train so won't complain, but when they are used on longer distance trains used by tourists it becomes more of an issue. As with recent train design across Europe the seats are not all that luxurious ( I know, my new London commuter train has notoriously hard seats (unpopular with most people)). This is all done to keep manufacturing costs down - but oddly they don't put the same sort of hard seat in aircraft!

You can see a picture of an interior of 2nd class on this web page (railfaneurope website):www.railfaneurope.net/ pix/ch/SBB_CFF_FFS/ele ctric/emu/RABe524/pix. html

Here is a picture I took near Bellinzona in 2016:

Last modified on Jun 1, 2018 - 11:22 PM by 1960man
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1960man
1960man
294 posts
top member
Jun 1, 2018 - 11:26 PM in reply to Lucas

Bellinzona - Erstfeld is 90 minutes (1.5 hours)

Lugano - Erstfeld is 2 hours (120 minutes)

These are quite long journeys on a commuter-type train

However, the windows are very big so you get a good view.

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