T for Train

It’s no surprise that trains in Switzerland, like most other things, are very punctual. They are also clean and fairly roomy, no matter whether you travel 1st or 2nd class. Yes, they are also quite expensive, but there are good offers to make train travel an interesting option – not least ecological concerns – and unlike some countries, the prices are fixed, so you can plan in advance and not have to spend time searching for good deals… sbb

A large proportion of the population pays a fair sum for an annual half-price pass, which makes a big difference. For those travelling daily or even going on regular weekend jaunts, there’s a very good general pass – it seems quite expensive at first glance but you can pay monthly and it gives you free travel at any time of day on any train or bus. As our network is pretty dense and well-served, this is a real boon to many. In fact, there are a number of employers who pay all or part of the annual pass for their employees, often also for their trainees, which ingrains the train-travelling habit in the young! family car

Whereas in other countries you might avoid the areas around the railway station, in Switzerland you will often get some of the best food available, or at least a decent meal. Many trains also have a café/restaurant car that is a great way to see beautiful countryside while eating a delicious meal or even just over a coffee and a croissant! And there are family cars, too, for families with young children who need some distraction – playgrounds and activities while you travel… On many main lines there is now wifi and you’ll almost always find somewhere to plug in your phone or laptop if you need to (unless you’re on a very old train, which isn’t too common). bernina express Matterhorn_Gotthard_Bahn_MGB_-_Komet_Schweiz_jpg_960x350_crop_q95

There are a few famous routes apart from the regular schedule. The Jungfrau mountain trains are well known among tourists, or the Matterhorn Gotthard route and the Bernina Express which runs from Chur (see C) across the mountains past Pontresina and into Italy. Another great day out is to take the Rhätische Bahn up to Preda, where you can rent a sledge and whizz down the old road all the way to Bergün – exhilarating! The 1915 Pullmann car that gives a 1st class ride around the Gruyère area is new to me – known as the Chocolate Train (why not the Cheese Train, I wonder?!)… appenzeller bahn FW Bähnli

Small trains surprise our visitors, too, running alongside the road and crossing it at intervals, more like a glorified tram (another T – lots of trams in Switzerland!). Our little local railway is the Wil-Frauenfeld Bähnli (see, even that gets a diminutive!) which has a new red-white livery lately and conveniently connects two main lines, but the landscape is more spectacular if you take the Appenzeller Bähnli up from St. Gallen and into the pre-Alpine hills of my letter A!

Sadly, trains are in the news this morning, as there has been a collision on a commuter route – this is extremely unusual in Switzerland, where safety is the norm. Fingers crossed that it’s not been too bad 😦

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2 thoughts on “T for Train

  1. Again, I am impressed. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the playground inside the train! And employers pay for the passes! Amazing!

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