Route choices and reservations on scenic trains

Route choices and reservations on scenic trains

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Posts: 24
Kathi
Kathi
10 posts
new member
Jun 17, 2018 - 4:20 PM

We like to plan our train schedules ahead of time and are having problems with a few routes.I'm good on Zurich to Lucerne, Lucerne to Lugano, Zermatt to Lauterbrunnen,Lausanne to Bern and Bern to Zurich. Problems with Lugano to Zermatt and Lauterbrunnen to Lausanne:

1) Lugano to Zermatt. We want to take the Glacier express Panoramic train (we will have first class Swiss Flex Pass).Which route is best? Examples are:

11:19 departure Lugano to Goschenen,Goschenen to Andermatt,Andermatt to Zermatt

12:10 departure Lugano to Bellinzona,Bellinzona to Goschenen, Goschenen to Andermatt, Andermatt to Zermatt

12:34 departure Lugano to Arcisate, Arcisate to Gallarate, Gallarate to Domodossola, Domodossola to Lotschberger,Lotschberger to Brig, Brig to Zermatt

Although it is obvious that some involve more train changes, what I am most interested is accessing the best of most of the scenic parts of the Glacier route.

Also I have an email link to reserve seats on the Golden Pass MOB train bit.ly/2kaq6Rf. but not on Glacier express. I tried going through the Swiss timetable and can't get through it -- won't send me to seats. Do you have a more direct one?

On The Golden Pass route would it be better when using the sbb timetable to put in all of the legs at once(using the VIA option) (Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken Ost, Interlaken Ost to Zweissimmen, Zweissimmen to Montreaux (where we want to reserve seats on the panoramic train) and then Montreaux to Lausanne where we will stay OR look at each leg individually?Do the trains run punctually so that we know that we will make our connections?

What is the difference between the train from Zweissimmen to Montreux listed as Panoramic and the one listed MOB Panoramic?

Last question: We will be in Switzerland 17 days but can only get a 15 day flex pass. We are keeping our plans ( other than the trains) open but if we use our pass for a cable car or boat or some other covered activity on a day when we DON"T actually travel will we use up one of our days?

Thanks so much for your forum. I have been following for over a month and have learned a lot on your site!!!

rockoyster
rockoyster
3693 posts
expert
Jun 17, 2018 - 9:08 PM in reply to Kathi

Andermatt to Brig is the least scenic part of the Glacier Express. If you have already done the Gotthard Panorama Express Lucerne to Lugano then I would suggest you go via Locarno and Domodossola to Zermatt. That route does not involve the Lötschberger which runs between Brig and Bern via Kandersteg.

Glacier Express Reservations can be made at shop.glacierexpress.ch /.

The Golden Pass trains Zweisimmen to Montreux are either MOB Panoramic or Belle Époque (for heritage).

If you use your Flex Pass for anything (cable car, museum etc) you use a travel day.

1960man
1960man
377 posts
top member
Jun 17, 2018 - 10:39 PM

Agree with rockoyster, Andermatt - Brig - Zermatt misses the most scenic sections of the Glacier Express route

1960man
1960man
377 posts
top member
Jun 17, 2018 - 11:02 PM

A few facts about the Montreux - Zweisimmen railway - ie the MOB (Montreux-Oberland Bernois):

The Golden Pass is historically only Montreux - Zweisimmen, only more recent marketing branding takes the 'Goldenpass route' east of Zweisimmen to Interlaken and beyond to Luzern.

The Golden Pass is the touristic branding for the Montreux - Oberland Bernois (MOB) railway which runs from Montreux to Zweisimmen, but after a few years of favouring 'Goldenpass services', the company decided it was losing its tradition and has reverted to putting the Chemin de Fer Montreux - Oberland Bernois name on publicity and train coaches.

MOB pioneered the Panoramic coach concept on Swiss trains, starting in 1976.

There are now several versions of panoramic coaches in service, but MOB keeps changing its mind how to dub each service.

It hardly matters anyway as most modern Swiss trains have large windows, even if not officially panoramic. The key element of a ‘panoramic’ coach is ‘toplight’ windows above your head but in practice very few of the major views from panoramic trains are directly above your head, so the view through the normal side part of windows is normally fine.

I recommend using regional trains on the MOB (the real name for the Montreux - Zweisimmen railway). Again, this gives you the flexibility to get on a train at whichever time suits you.

If you do do the MOB railway you can catch any train, there is no need to book, and in fact you could pick it up anywhere along the line if you fancy.

Here is the timetable PDF for the MOB:

www.fahrplanfelder.ch/ fileadmin/fap_pdf_fiel ds/2018/120.pdf

Be sure to check this:

Traveling on the Golden Pass route

Golden Pass tickets and seat reservations

Last modified on Jun 17, 2018 - 11:18 PM by 1960man
rockoyster
rockoyster
3693 posts
expert
Jun 17, 2018 - 11:11 PM in reply to 1960man

Great explanation.

This timetable may be more accessible.

Last modified on Jun 17, 2018 - 11:13 PM by rockoyster
1960man
1960man
377 posts
top member
Jun 17, 2018 - 11:17 PM in reply to rockoyster

link broke:

correct link (and also repaired in earlier post)

www.fahrplanfelder.ch/ fileadmin/fap_pdf_fiel ds/2018/120.pdf

Kathi
Kathi
10 posts
new member
Jun 18, 2018 - 6:32 PM

Rockoyster and 1960man: Thanks for the helpful info and explanation and history of the MOB.

Please bear with me for a few more questions:

We gave up time on the scenic trains to be able to spend time IN the scenery(we hike) rather than just LOOK at it but I was hoping for a little bit of the opportunity on any of the scenic rails. So I am happy to hear that most trains have a type of large window to enjoy the view.

We were not taking the Gotthard Express for two reasons:

*We thought we would take the shorter ride to spend a little more time in Lugano since we are only there two nights.

*AND I read that it is not as scenic as the Glacier and Golden.

1)So do you think we should reconsider the Gotthard Panorama Express since we are going from Lucerne to Lugano? With or without the boat?

2)On the Lugano to Zermatt run you suggested taking the Locarno and Domossdola route. Is that because it is more scenic at that leg or faster or easier? What is the Lotschberger?

3) I'm about to buy my STP from Happy Rails. Do I need to buy STP BEFORE making reservations?

4) is there any way to extend the STP to 17 days? Otherwise we will just have to weigh out the differences in fares and see what works best right?

I really appreciate your answers and this forum.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3693 posts
expert
Jun 18, 2018 - 8:39 PM in reply to Kathi

Hello Kathi,

1. I would take the Gotthard Panorama including boat. If the timing is not suitable you can follow same route on regular trains. Depends if you enjoy scenic boat trips.

2. I personally think the Glacier Express between Andermatt and Brig is a bit dull. The Domodossola route is quicker and the Centovalli is very scenic. If you go via Kandersteg then between Brig and Spiez you will travel on the Regio-Express Lötschberger train over the traditional, more than 100 year old mountain route, giving you a wonderful view along the impressive peaks and down into the Rhone Valley. The 1-hour faster route via Visp takes you through the fairly lengthy Lötschberg Base Tunnel with rather limited views.

3. No.

4. Look at Saver Day Pass (www.myswissalps.com/on edaytravelpass/details) and bit.ly/2rkekat) or point to point tickets to extend STP.

1960man
1960man
377 posts
top member
Jun 18, 2018 - 11:01 PM

The Gotthard mountain route (Erstfeld- Biasca) essentially has two main scenic sections, the Wassen loops (north ramp) and the Biaschina loops (south ramp).

Near Wassen you famously see the village church 3 times from different levels.

However, away from those two short sections the railway is mainly a normal valley railway route. With the opening of the base tunnel the 'fascination' of the Gotthard mountain route has been somewhat lost because there are now very few trains using it; part of the legend of the Gotthard mountain route was that your train would intermingle and pass long distance international trains from (eg) far northern Germany to southern Italy and huge, heavy freight trains carrying all manner of goods between northern and southern Europe, and you might see a train travelling in the opposite direction to you at a higher or lower level and not actually pass it until 5 or 6 minutes later

For the above reasons I would consider using the faster base tunnel and maximising your time in the Ticino canton. Bellinzona, Locarno and Lugano are all scenic. Why not allocate some time to hiking up to and around Bellinzona's three extensive castles - they are great fun

Last modified on Jun 18, 2018 - 11:03 PM by 1960man
Kathi
Kathi
10 posts
new member
Jun 20, 2018 - 12:51 PM

Thank you both SO much!! I have been struggling with this part of my trip and now I am clear about my choices and look forward to doing The Gotthard and then the Domodossala route sounds perfect!!!

Kathi
Kathi
10 posts
new member
Jul 1, 2018 - 3:28 PM

I have looked at the point to point tickets and the one day travel pass as you suggested. I am buying the 15 day STP (either flex or consecutive depending on the next decision):

I have totaled the cost of a 15 day STP with a 3 day STP - all consecutive - first class ( we are splurging!) and it is CHf1118 each. Can you purchase one for 15 and one for 3 without any problem?

The one day travel pass for two days is CHf125 each total chf 250 but on the link you provided it say you must have a Half fare card. which is 118 each day.So would I have to purchase both a one day travel pass AND a half fare card for each day?

This totals chf 486 which is more than the STP for THREE days consecutive.

Then when I looked at point to point tickets it mentions the half fare card as an option - not a one day saver pass.

This has me Confused!!!!

Maybe I should just get a 15 flex and HOPE that I won't use it for 2 days for ANYthing.

Maybe I am just not understanding this. Please help me see the best decision.

Lucas
Lucas
7145 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 1, 2018 - 4:28 PM in reply to Kathi

Hi Kathi,

Yes you can certainly get the 15 day and a 3 day Swiss Travel Pass. To decide on the best pass(es) you need to know what travel you are doing each day (if any).

So don't hope you won't travel on 2 days. :) Make plans to travel or not to travel on those 3 days.

I'd get the normal, consecutive 15 day Swiss Travel Pass: https://www.myswissalp s.com/swisstravelpass/ price and then either get the 3 day pass if you are are fairly sure/know you will travel each day...or plan 1 or 2 days of downtime and get 1 or 2 Saver Day Passes for a day or two: https://www.myswissalp s.com/onedaytravelpass /details

Kathi
Kathi
10 posts
new member
Jul 2, 2018 - 2:40 PM

Dear Lucas,

I should've posted my itinerary but it is long so I skipped it.

We will be in Zermatt for 4nights (3 days to hike and so on) and Murren also 4 nights and 3 days. My intention was to hike and see the sights in the area but I also realized I would be needing some of the lifts and cables to get around and therefore use up my travel days on the STP.

The rest of the trip is two nights - one full day in Luzern - we will take boat rides and maybe Mt Pilatus, Lugano, Bern (Klee museum for sure) and three nights - 2 full days in Lausanne - definitely vineyards, Gruyere, chocolate and so on.

So I have days that I am not traveling but days when I would use the pass for entry or transportation for local sights.

So if I take your suggestion and get the STP and 1 or 2 Saver Day Passes don't I still have to get the Half Fare card as it states on the website?

Sorry to extend these questions....

Kathi

Lucas
Lucas
7145 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 3, 2018 - 5:27 AM in reply to Kathi

Hi Kathi,

The one day travelpass requires a Swiss Half Fare Card.

The Saver Day Pass does not require a Swiss Half Fare Card (but if you had one the purchase price would be cheaper).

It sounds like you've got a reasonable amount of travel every day (or museum at least) so getting the 15 day and 3 day STP probable makes the most sense. After buying both passes your paying an average of 39.50chf per day which is quite low.

You'll have a few mountain tickets you'll have to buy on top of that (where the STP gives you 25 or 50% off) otherwise you are all set.

Kathi
Kathi
10 posts
new member
Jul 5, 2018 - 6:52 PM

More questions and road blocks for me!!!!

I received my STP and now am trying to reserve on the trains allowed.

I took your suggestion and decided to go from Lugano to Zermatt via Locarno - Domoossola and found a departure on July 27 that is leaving Lugano at 11:26 to Giubiasco to Locarno then at 12:50 a Panoramic train that can be reserved to Domodossola and the another train that can be reserved to Brig then Brig to Zermatt. I believe that is one of the routes you recommended. The problem is that I am having trouble reserving the seats. It is not on the Glacier Express right? When I go on the SBB site it says that Reservations are not possilble yet both of those legs list R and RE. I am stumped. I went on the Glacier Express site also and could not figure it out.

There are also two other trains One at 10:26 Locarno- Centovalli-Domodossola-Brig - not any Panoramic but Dom-Brig can be reserved.

The other is also at 10:26 and goes Locarno-Centovalli-Domo-Lotschberger-Brig-Visp ( one extra train). Reservation on the Lotschberger. Is the Lotschberger the Regio-Express train over the 100 yr old mountain route? That could be good. Or is it the Lotschberger tunnel?

I looked at Regio Express Lotschberger via Kandersteg and it was 7 hr 25 minToo long!!

So please answer this next round of questions but most of all, I want to be able to make the reservations on those trains above.

Kathi

rockoyster
rockoyster
3693 posts
expert
Jul 5, 2018 - 8:06 PM in reply to Kathi

Hello Kathi,

You are on the right track with Lugano to Zermatt via Locarno - Domodossola - Brig - Visp.. You don’t need any seat reservations. Your Swiss Travel Pass covers the entire trip. Just hop on the trains and go.

The only part of your journey which is on the GEX route is Brig to Zermatt but you will cover that on a regular train not the actual GEX.

1960man
1960man
377 posts
top member
Jul 5, 2018 - 10:30 PM in reply to Kathi

The BLS railways's 'Lotschberger' regio express runs Domodossola (Domo) - Brig - Kandersteg - Bern. If you are travelling Lugano - Domo - Brig - Zermatt you would use this train only on Domo- Brig

you may or may not find it helpful to look at the traditional timetable PDFs as follows:

Lugano - Giubiasco - Locarno: www.fahrplanfelder.ch/ fileadmin/fap_pdf_fiel ds/2018/632.pdf

locarno - Domodossola: www.fahrplanfelder.ch/ fileadmin/fap_pdf_fiel ds/2018/620.pdf

Domo - Brig: www.fahrplanfelder.ch/ fileadmin/fap_pdf_fiel ds/2018/145.pdf

Brig - Zermatt: www.fahrplanfelder.ch/ fileadmin/fap_pdf_fiel ds/2018/140.pdf

Your 11.26 departure from Lugano, after all the changes of train (at Giubiasco, Locarno, Domo and Brig) would put you at Brig in time for the 15.27 regional from Brig to Zermatt

Last modified on Jul 5, 2018 - 10:34 PM by 1960man
Kathi
Kathi
10 posts
new member
Jul 5, 2018 - 10:32 PM

Ok Great. But how can I reserve on a train that is regional and has posted that Reservations are not only possible but recommended? The 12:50 Locarno FART to Domodossola (I) is a Panorama train and is recommending reservations and I can't figure out how to access them.

I went to the SBB timetable - basic and advanced. I tried putting in just that one train and it asks for name, birthdate and discount . I put that in and it send me to paying but never gives me anything to tell them it is STP or anything that says seats.

I have other trains on other legs of my journey that say the same thing.They are all reegional.

I have made reservations on The Golden Pass Zweissimen to Montreaux - all set.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3693 posts
expert
Jul 5, 2018 - 10:41 PM in reply to Kathi

You can make reservations at bit.ly/2HHB2Ev.

1960man
1960man
377 posts
top member
Jul 5, 2018 - 10:42 PM in reply to Kathi

Personally I would do it without reservations. But, I would also try and go 1 hour earlier in order to avoid the Vigezzo Vision panoramic trains which I personally think are weird and uncomfortable (they are some of the strangest looking trains in Europe). Whatever happens you should have plenty of time at Locarno to be 'first onto the train' (although I don't much like the underground station at Locarno either...)

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