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Regular trains versus Glacier Express in November

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TxTraveller
TxTraveller
7 posts
new member
Nov 19, 2019 - 2:31 PM

Hi,

I’m traveling to the Zermatt region in the last week of November. Since Glacier Express is not running, I was considering if I can make the same route (Zermatt to St Moritz or Chur) using local train network.

Is this possible? On the SBB mobile app, I don’t see any train running the Glacier express route. I’m guessing that route is in maintenance until mid December.

Can someone please confirm?

Thanks.

rockoyster
rockoyster
8888 posts
expert
Nov 19, 2019 - 7:26 PM in reply to TxTraveller

You need to look for Zermatt to St Moritz (or Chur) via Andermatt. You will need to change trains a few times along the way. There is no direct (no changes) regular train that replicates the Glacier Express

1960man
1960man
2718 posts
top member
Nov 20, 2019 - 1:09 AM in reply to TxTraveller

You should be able to get a routing on online timetables. Trains run on the so called Glacier Express (** see my 'FAQ' below) route 365 days a year. You will have to change trains a few times, but the overall journey time is hardly any different as in practical terms the Glacier Express trains can not run much faster than the normal trains on the line.

Please see the PDF timetable (page 244 onwards) here:

www.fahrplanfelder.ch/ fileadmin/fap_pdf_fiel ds/2019/142.pdf

** Glacier Express:

Take care with the hyped-up marketing of the Glacier Express. It is not always the best way to 'see Switzerland'

As I have stated in response to previous forum threads it is not logical or practical to travel on the Glacier Express from a base further north (such as Interlaken or Luzern) 'just to be on the Glacier Express'.

The Glacier Express runs roughly on an East - West axis in the southern part of Switzerland, so trying to access it from further north is falling into the trap of being lured by the hyperbolic marketing of the Glacier Express. In practice the Glacier Express is just an ‘exclusive’ train on a normal railway route with plenty of other normal - non supplement , reservation-free trains on it.

To understand the above, it is worth taking a moment to understand the Glacier Express and its history:

It was created (as one train each way daily) with the notion that well-healed travellers taking long holidays in Switzerland in the ‘Belle Epoque’ era (1930s) would stay in Zermatt and then also go and stay in the other fashionable resort of the time, St Moritz. The train was named (mainly) after the Rhone Glacier which has now melted so much that you don’t see it from the train and in any case the train runs under the Rhone Glacier in a base tunnel which replaced the Furka mountain section in 1982.

Points to bear in mind about the Glacier Express:

Although the whole journey is in the mountains, a lot of it is in valleys - where you get some good views of bubbling rivers but not all the time - there are some mundane sections.

In truth there are only 4 really spectacular sections - in order West to East: the loops around Grengiols and Fiesch; Andermatt - Oberalppass - Disentis; Ruinaulta (Rheinschucht aka Rhein gorge); Albula north ramp loops and spirals Tiefencastel - Filisur - Preda

The trip is a long one - tourists can frequently be seen sleeping rather than watching the view and missing the spectacular bits anyway!

the same railway lines can be travelled using ordinary local trains which are no slower in practice due to the single track infrastructure

TxTraveller
TxTraveller
7 posts
new member
Nov 20, 2019 - 4:30 AM in reply to 1960man

Thanks rockoyster and 1960man! This is very helpful.

I am able to find train itineraries for travel from Zermatt to Zurich through Andermatt and Chur. I don't mind changing several trains along the way. Few questions:

(Note: I have not bought point-to-point tickets on SBB mobile app. I used Swiss Travel pass in my previous trip in summer but for my November trip I found it cheaper to get point-to-point ticket).

1. When I checked the fares using SBB mobile app, I'm thoroughly confused. I see that the 06:37 on Nov 28 from Zermatt to Zurich via Andermatt & Chur shows "Tickets from CHF 39.40". However, when I clicked on the red ticket button, the next screen shows that the point to point ticket is CHF 157. Why don't I see any option that shows the ticket at CHF 39.40? Am I missing something? Also, in this case, I see an option for a Saver Day Pass at CHF 70. Is this a better choice then?

2. I read that one of the advantages of Glacier Express is that they have panoramic windows to get good views. Are the windows large/clear in local trains to be able to take pictures/videos when traveling this route?

3. I'm not planning to go all the way to St Moritz as I need to head back to Zurich. Are there any places that you recommend to stop by on the way to take in the sights? My straight journey if I leave at 06:37 at Zermatt brings me to Zurich by 14:34. I'm ok to arrive at 20:00 at Zurich. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks.

TxTraveller
TxTraveller
7 posts
new member
Nov 20, 2019 - 5:22 AM

The more I looked at the fares (and I understand it!), I came to the conclusion that the 3 day Swiss Travel pass is a better option.

See below for my travel plans. Can you please let me know if I'm making the right choice.

Day 1 Zurich - Zermatt + Gornergratt at 50% fare discount

Day 2 - Klein Matterhorn at 50% discount; may try other close by trips that is free with Swiss Travel pass

Day 3 - Zermatt to Zurich via Andermatt and Chur.

rockoyster
rockoyster
8888 posts
expert
Nov 20, 2019 - 5:29 AM in reply to TxTraveller

1. OK, CHF39.40 is a Supersaver fare tied to those particular trains with no variation allowed. Full fare is CHF157. A Saver Day Pass will almost certainly be your best option compared to full fare P2P for that length of journey. Supersaver fares are only available on that particular trip if you have a half-fare card.

2. There's not really that much difference (apart from the skylights on the panoramics) and seeing the Glacier Express isn't running it's a bit academic. Taking photos through train windows is always a challenge due to the inevitable glare you get.

3. You could have a look around Andermatt or Chur. There is even a stop at the top of the Oberalp Pass and I think there is a restaurant there as well (don't hold me to that). Personally I'd sleep in and just leave later from Zermatt. Stopping anywhere when carting luggage can be a pain in the butt.

Enjoy.

Ildiko
Ildiko
990 posts
top member &
moderator
Nov 20, 2019 - 2:22 PM

Hi TxTraveller,

Supersaver tickets are good, as they are cheaper but if you miss the train you need to get a new ticket for the next train. Further info regarding the Supersaver Tickets can be found at www.myswissalps.com/tr aintickets/switzerland. (Usually you do not need the Swiss Half Fare Card to be able to purchase a Supersaver Ticket). A Swiss Travel Pass might indeed be the best and easiest option for you: https://www.myswissalp s.com/swisstravelpass.

At www.myswissalps.com/gl acierexpress read under "Regular trains versus Glacier Express".

On the page above, click the "Route" label, there you can read the details about the route and its legs.

More information:

Last modified on Nov 22, 2019 - 11:18 AM by Annika

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