Express trains are touted to be faster than most other types of trains running on the line. It also offers a level of comfort to its passengers which other types of trains seldom do. While there aren’t that many in numbers when compared to local ones, but people generally board them to reach their destinations faster. But what if there was an express which ran slower like a local train, but with the comfort of an express train, through beautiful scenic locations- that might be something people who want to take a break from the usual bustle of society and daily life to enjoy a few hours in the lap of nature might think about. If that’s what you have been wondering about too, there’s an express train made for you: It’s called the Glacier Express.
The express train we will talk about here is the Glacier Express or GEX as it is sometimes called. It is a popular express train which connects the railway stations of two of the most major mountain resorts- Zermatt and St. Moritz which is situated right in the center of the beautiful Swiss Alps. This express is operated jointly by two of the private Swiss railways- the Rhätische Bahn (RhB) and the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB). During winters this service dries up as there is only one Glacier train per day in each direction but the number ratchets up to three per day during the summers.
Glacier Express speed isn’t much, the train isn’t said to be express because of its high speed but because it provides it’s passengers with one sear rode for an eight-hour long journey and it also discards all the stops made by the local trains. Actually, the Glacier Express train is known as the slowest one in the whole world. It actually takes 7.5 hours to cover a distance of 180 miles or 290 km since it gallops at a speed of about 24 mph. But this train isn’t for those who want to reach their destination fast, but for those whole want to take in the beauty of the cold and yet stunning Swiss Alps. The spectacular scenery which passengers can witness from the train’s specially made panoramic sightseeing windows as they have delicious lunch will take anyone’s breath away.
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The scenic Glacier Express route will take you through three cantons of beautiful Valais Uri and Graubünden while offering varied and equally stunning panoramic views. Eight hours of pure pleasure for your eyes.
Here are some places you will be able to witness:
• St. Moritz- It is the most elegant and spectacular holiday resort in Switzerland.
•The Alpine villages of Zermatt which offers awe-inspiring views of the world-renowned Matterhorn.
• The Albula Line, which comes with Landwasser and Solis viaducts along with Spiral Tunnels.
• The Grand Canyon of Switzerland called the Rhine Gorge.
The express train begins its journey from Zermatt right at the dead end of Mattertal, which is an Alpine valley and is located right below that of Matterhorn at an elevation of 5,269 feet or 1,606 meters. Then it depends into the huge valley called Valais present in Brig. After that, the train chugs along 181 miles or 291 km long journey which takes it through the beautiful center of the gorgeous Swiss Alps, over a massive 291 bridges and through 91 dark tunnels. The express then makes a stopover at Andermatt on a secluded high Alpine Valley before traversing to the highest point present on the Oberalp Pass at 6,670 feet or 2,033 meters. Then it descends to the lowest point at 585 meters or 1,919 feet at Chur. From there, the next destination is the capital of Graubünden. The Glacier, then reaches higher altitudes again and backtracks to reach the St. Moritz resort in a valley further to the south.
The modern Glacier Express makes use of modern coaches with offer a full panoramic experience to its travelers. The train is clean, carpeted, air-conditioned and comfortable to travel on. But there’s more, it offers:
- It’s most distinctive and attractive features are the humongous panoramic side windows along with the glass skylights as well, so that you don’t miss out on anything spectacular.
- 2nd Class: Seats are arranged in a structure of bays with 4 seats around a table and on each side of the aisle. There are 48 seats in here.
- 1st Class: There are bays which consist of 4 seats around a table on one side of the aisle and then there are bays which are made up of 2 seats across a table from one another. There are 36 seats in here.
- The difference is just in space and per passengers each coach, but the seats are similar and there isn’t really any significant difference between the two classes as they are both excellent.
- Food and Dining: The staff will come down the train taking orders for snacks, lunch, and drinks. The meal will be complete with starters, the main course, desserts, and wine. You can even pre-book a complete meal which will be served to you in real china and with all the proper tablecloth and cutlery. There are sample menus and wine list at their caterer’s website. You can also bring your own picnic and wine here as well.
- Other facilities: You can listen to an audio guide in various languages like French, German, English, Chinese, Japanese or Italian. There are also tow music channels you can listen to if you get bored.
• During the winter months there is only one Glacier Express per day from Zermatt to St. Moritz. But during the months of May to October, there are up to three trains daily in each direction.
• The train will run in Summer 2019 from 11 May to 13 October. Summer trains 904 & 905 will start running from 19 April 2019.
• In winters it will run from 9 December 2018 to 10 May 2019.
• Trains 902 & 903 run every day all year round except 15 Oct to 9 Dec 2018.
• There is no Glacier Express running from 15 October to 8 December 2018 or even from 14 October until early December 2019.
• You can change trains at Filisur, using the hourly branch line train between Filisur & Davos.
The glacier express is aimed at tourists for sure but it is also a real, scheduled train. So ordinary swiss rail tickets can be used on it. But you will have a supplement in addition to the normal fare rate for the seat reservation. You can also add a supplement for lunch.
Glacier Express booking of fares:
Zermatt – St Moritz, basic fare:
• 152 CHF (€135) for 2nd class, one-way
• 268 CHF (€237) for 1st class, one-way
Glacier Express reservation fee:
(to be paid in addition to the basic fare or rail pass)
• 43 CHF (€38) from mid-June to mid-Sept
• 33 CHF (€29) from spring & autumn
• 23 CHF (€21) for winter
Cost of lunch (optional):
• 30 CHF (€27) for Plate of the Day.
• 43 CHF (€38) for 3-course lunch.
Children under 6 go free, children aged 6 to 16 pay half fare, but must pay the adult supplement.
• Any season is the best if the sky is clear. In October the beautifully colored trees make for a special experience.
• Winters are special because of the huge amounts of snow which give the Oberalp pass a beautiful shimmering look.
• The spring season from April to June offers a beautiful combination of both snow covered mountains and green valleys.
For Disabled people:
• If you are a wheelchair user then keep note that there is a wheelchair compartment as well as a suitable toilet in the 1st class section of each and every express.
• Seat reservations are mandatory for wheelchair users and any accompanying people. Wheelchair users travel in 1st class for the price or a 2nd class ticket.
• Make sure to specifically request seat 11 at the ticket counter and do this at least 24 hours before the trip.
• Carry your identification with you.
• Since food is served at the seats so animals can’t come aboard the express.
The Glacier Express offers luxury combined with the opportunity to see the beauty of the Swiss Alps at your own leisure. It’s an experience which keeps on giving everytime you climb on the train. Now, don’t think too much and plan a trip to Switzerland to experience the facilities of the train.
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