Palenque's Scenic Swiss Trains

Old Sep 8th, 2006, 12:22 AM
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Palenque Bob: some nice text here. You might want to take a look at hidden europe magazine (www.hiddeneurope.co.uk) which has a good track record on articles about lesser known European trains. Recent features have included a detailed account of the changing pattern of night train services in Europe over twenty years, an account of the train from Kazakhstan to Berlin, a feature on railways in Kosovo, and an essay on the 'real' Orient Express (available online at http://www.hiddeneurope.co.uk/cartic...articles_id=84).
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Old Sep 8th, 2006, 12:44 AM
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Hello PalQ,
I was able to find an official site wof the NEAT project in english:
http://www.neat.ch/pages/e/

By the way, yesterday they had the last break through. You can get now from Erstfeld to Biasca. They still have to carve out side niches, widen the tunnel, built supports etc.
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Old Sep 8th, 2006, 01:13 AM
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Altamiro,

I knew you would come through.

Did you see the photo of the alphorn players in the tunnel to celebrate the break through? Only in Switzerland!
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Old Sep 8th, 2006, 01:27 AM
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>Did you see the photo of the alphorn players in the tunnel to celebrate the break through? Only in Switzerland!

I thought it was pretty cool
Btw, the trams and buses in Zürich ran with small Swiss, Uri and Ticino flags on the top to celebrate the break-through.

Indeed, only in Switzerland...
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Old Sep 8th, 2006, 06:56 AM
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altimiro & schuler - thanks a lot for the web links to NEAT - a neat site to explore! while i lament the missing of signature Swiss scenery when in tunnels i'm sure the speed up of freight and passenger trains will benefit the economy and frequent users. Tourists can always take the classic line, which i assume will remain open for local service. I think the plan also is meant to take heavy lorries more and more off roads and onto rails - a great project all in all. Thanks again.
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Old Sep 8th, 2006, 07:00 AM
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Bitte schön.
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Old Sep 9th, 2006, 09:17 AM
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This is so useful, thanks!
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Old Sep 11th, 2006, 06:35 AM
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Thanks, birder.
THE GOSCHENEN-ANDERMATT INCLINE LINE
Talking about the Gotthard rail line from Lucerne/Zurich to Lugano and Italy, at Goschenen, on the Gotthard Line, you can connect to the Glacier Express rail route that runs over the Gotthard line but at a much higher altitude, passing over the Gotthard line while that line is far below it in a tunnel.

The short few-km inclined connector line between the two is a rather weird train. The few-car narrow-gauge train goes much of the way under a snow shed as it climbs to Andermatt, to interchange with Glacier Express route for trains west towards Brig and Zermatt or east to Chur, Davos or St Moritz.

Thus a routing such as Zermatt/Brig via the Glacier Express route then at Andermatt plunging down to the Gotthard line or vice versa to head towards Zurich/Lucerne or Lugano/Italy is easily done. The shuttle train rolls frequently.

NEXT THE WILLIAM TELL EXPRESS
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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 01:16 AM
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Hi PalQ,
I thought I had myself organised for our train rides around Switzerland but the more I read the more I keeping changing my mind. Now that I have read your latest on the Gotthard line I am not sure how to fit that in!

Would you mind giving me some idea of a good itinerary that we could do in say 8 or 9 days? After that we are looking at about 7 days in Brienz to explore the BO but any suggestions would be great.

I was thinking 2 nights in Pontresina, 3 or 4 in either Morcote or Bellinzona then onto Vevey.

Thanks so much.
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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 12:12 PM
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I've been thinking of some itineraries but first where do you have to end up - Zurich? If so you could take the Gotthard line back to Zurich from the Lugano area in about 3 hours i think. But if it's Geneva or Milan then it would of course be different and harder to include the line in your journey.
So what airports? Thanks for the nice comment.
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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 05:56 PM
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Good morning,
We will be using Zurich as our entry and exit points.

At this stage our plans are to travel directly to Pontresina with the hope of walking around Filisur, the Landwasser Viaduct and Alp Grum. Then taking the BE and the BE bus onto Lugano or doing the BE as a day trip (really not sure about that part).

From the Lugano area on the Centovalli to Brig then to Bern possibly, via Spiez and ending up in Vevey. Or the other alternative is to Vevey via Sion and Martigny.

Then on the Golden Pass route to Brienz. Of course this is all open to suggestions. Would the Gotthard Line be a nice day trip to do from Bellinzona? We could then catch the Centovalli train onto Brig the following day. We like to walk and enjoy landscapes and nice scenery, basically just enjoy our surroundings and soak it all up.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated PalQ.
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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 06:18 PM
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I'm sorry, please accept my apology, PalenqueBob.

Iím new at this and frankly, donít now my way around these Forums.

I thought I may have offended you by posting my request for information in this location in error because, I didnít understand the protocol.

Before I posted here, I attempted to e-mail you directly. but was unsuccessful. This appears to be specifically a train travelogue and extremely informative, I might add. I wanted to delete my posting, but couldnít figure out how to do it, or determine if it was even possible for me to do so?

Iíve subsequently opened another thread called Scenic Rail Trips.

Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 06:43 AM
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tubclb: Not at all - didn't think anything negative about it.

Our October 2006, itinerary is as follows:

Zurich to Lugano
- 2 nights, Best Western Hotel Du Lac (Oct. 3rd & 4th)

Lugano to Zermatt
- 2 nights, Best Western Hotel Butterfly (Oct 5th & 6th)

Zermatt to Grindelwald
- 2 nights, Best Western Hotel Derby (Oct. 7th & 8th)

Note: I tried to book Wengen, but the hotel closes for the season a few days before our arrival in the area.

Grindlewald to Zurich
- 2 nights, Best Western Hotel Glodenhof (Oct. 9th & 10th)
- Including perhaps, a day-trip to Lucerne.

I think your itinerary is very good and relaxed.
Comments: Lugano-Zermatt - from Lugano hop the train via Bellinzona to Locarno and then roll with the toy-like Centovalli Railway to Domodossola, Italy to rejoin the mainline to Brig via the Simplon Tunnel and at Brig catch the mountain climbing train to Zermatt. Some trains on this route are Glacier Express tourist-oriented trains that usually require reservations but not on the Brig-Zermatt portion is my understanding. Or you may want to take the official Glacier Express trains on this route - reserve them at any Swiss train station anytime - observation 'panoramic' cars can be full and any Glacier Express can be quite full as many tour groups clambor aboard. (Glacier Express trains will not run from mid-Oct to mid-Dec in 2006 for refurbishment work on tracks.)
the Centovalli, though it runs mainly thru Italy from Locarno to Domodossola is 100% covered by a Swiss Pass. But the short stretch Domodossola-Iselle (Swiss railway border point for pass purposes) is not- you should buy this supplemental ticket at Domodossola before boarding the train. Though some conductors may let you slide in this short case others may issue you a ticket on the train if you don't have one for this short part of the train trip on Trenitalia tariffication - if they sell a ticket on board there could be a hefty surcharge for doing.
I think your trip is a wonderful itinerary that needs no retooling

I could recommend staying in Lucerne however - about an hour by train frojm Zurich Airport as this is one of Europe's loveliest cities and your pass is good for boat trips on idyllic Lake Lucerne - one of the prettiest boat trip in Europe IMO. Zurich is a nice enough huge town but Lucerne is so much more romantic.
Achtung! I expect a full report entered on this thread when you return! And the bit about interrupting a train thread - quite the contrary - others may be interested in your itinerary and ensuing opinions from others.
As they say in German, Have a Gut Fahrt! (Good Ride!)
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 05:32 PM
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Thank you once again, PalenqueBob!

I will attempt to change plans in order to take your advice and divert from Grindlewald direct to Zurich and go instead to Lucerne, with an overnight in the city with the last day spent in Zurich. On this itinerary, I only have the grace of one night change.

Of course you can expect a detailed trip report!

You and the others Fodor contributors have provided me with valuable information. I won't forget and will share my experiences so that other may learn. Take with gratitude and share with exuberance, is my personal opinion on Internet use.

Sincerely,

tubclb


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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 07:33 AM
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Maudie:
Seems your basic itinerary is super so i wouldn't change that.
Comments: Doing the Gotthard line as a day trip? Well though it's a most scenic and interesting line i guess i wouldn't spend a day day tripping on it because you'll be traveling on lines more scenic elsewhere and with your hiking desires will find a day daytripping on the BE to be better i believe. The Gotthard line is a great mainline if it serves you utilitarian fashion but i can't quite weave that into your itinerary.

I would do the BE as a day trip - you talk about walking at Alp Grum - that is a stop on the BE run, just over an hour from St Moritz and the highlight of the line - along with the nearby Bernina Ospiz station - here is an pristine Alpine lake to walk around and you can walk to glaciers - a panoply of nice hikes in this area - walk from station to station. As a day trip you'll have no luggage to worry about.

As for the Rhone Valley route from Brig to Vevey as opposed to the Brig-Bern-Lausanne-Vevey route it's a toss-up

Rhone Valley route is quicker - at least that's how the fast Cisalpino trains Geneva-Milan go i believe and the valley is constantly pretty all the way to Lake Geneva - vineyards carpeting much of it.

But the Brig-Spiez route via the BLS line is definitely one of the most scenic mainline rail lines in Europe. It makes a dramatic ascent from Brig along a ledge for several miles, seemingly hovering over the Rhone Valley like an airplane - the fact that you see an airport down below enhanced the flying feeling (sit on the right side of the train when leaving Brig) - and after the Lotschberg Tunnel unfolds the really bucolic Alpine valley around Kandersteg and then by Lake Thun at Spiez and onto Bern - Bern-Lausanne is more ordinary, but like everything in Switzerland very nice - cows everywhere!

Golden Pass route has spiffy new panoramic cars in first class with spiffy swivel seats - it's actually possible to book preferential seats right in the front of the train, looking out the front window so you make like a driver - these have to be booked early (BETS 800-441-2387), my recommend agent for any Swiss Travel Product, tells me they can book these seats but they are only available well in advance of the train as they are limited in number. But any seat on the train will have big windows with great views.
Brienz area - of course the day trip to Lucerne i highly recommend - goes from Brienz to Meiringen, where the train reserves and then up and over the thrilling Brunig Pass - with the aid of cog wheels - the only SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) train to use cogs. Anyway this narrow-gauge train creeps up to the Brunig Pass and then descends towards Lake Lucerne passing a couple of gleaming Alpine lakes en route.

Once in Lucerne you could take the boats on Lake Lucerne with a Swiss Pass and this is perhaps the finest boat ride in Switzerland - a fjord like lake that is ringed by Alps and meadows. Several nice places to get off - at Fluelen you can quickly train back to Lucerne and then Brienz.

Or you could take a boat from Lucerne (right opposite the train station) to Alpnachstad and board the Brunig train there to go back home for the night.

Another possible day trip using the Brunig Line would be to take it part way to Luzerne and then change to the Engleberg mountain train going to, surprise, Englberg, one of the classic Swiss Alpine resorts - high glacier-girdled peaks above town. There is some kind of conveyance, a cable car i think that goes from Englberg up to nearby Mt Titlis, for sweeping 360 degree views of practically all the Swiss Alps.
ps- with your itinerary you should strongly consider at least a 3-day Swiss Flexipass or a consecutive 15-day pass - of course flexipass gives you free travel days and on days not using free travel days 50% off everything else in Switzerland that moves. Half-Fare card for wide ranging travel would mean paying more i believe as you'd get no 100% travel days to do your long trips (Zurich-Pontresina; Pontresina-Lugano-Bellinzona; Bellinzona-Vevey, etc.) But often a consecutive day pass is so much cheaper per day a 15 day carte blanche pass could be better - especially as it then negates the decision factor - is it worth it to me to pay 50% for this? You may ride more. Like when i have a pass if i arrive in Brienz i may just take a boat ride on Lake Brienz just for the float - i may not if i had to pay for it. 2006 Swiss Pass prices: www.budgeteuropetravel.com and they have itinerary suggestions on their site - you should also request their free European Planning & Rail Guide which has a great chapter on Switzerland and Swiss trains, with special details on Bernina Express, etc. Of course i always recommend them for the pass for their Swiss train expertise.

BACK LATER WITH IDEAS ABOUT BRIENZ AREA
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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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Bookmarking
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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 05:22 PM
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Oh PalQ what great information, sure couldn't get that from a travel book! I really appreciate your time spent answering my questions.
Unfortunately I do not live in the USA so I cannot use BETS or get the booklet you suggest.

I think the Brig - Spiez - Bern section sounds wonderful so we will take that option. If we do the BE as a day trip from Pontresina what do you suggest is the best option for getting to the Lugano area from there?
As a day trip from Brienz - train to Alpnachstad, cog train up to Pilatus down on the cableway to Kriens, bus to Lucerne, ferry back to Alpnachstad and train back to Brienz - would this be just too much for 1 day?

I am looking forward to your Brienz ideas and overwhelmed by your kindness.
Maudie

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Old Sep 15th, 2006, 10:45 PM
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Bob,
My late husband too a train buff and I am still receiving various literature on world-wide train journeys. It was interesting that I received the website of Railfan Tours to Poland (May 2007), which I know would have appealed to him. I noted the cut off date for bookings, but ..... guess if you /other Fodor readers would be interested, they would accept a booking.

http://www.trainsunlimitedtours.com/...in-poland.html

Would be interested in your reaction to the tour.
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Old Sep 16th, 2006, 12:03 AM
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bookmarking!
Thanks
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Old Sep 18th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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Maudie - what country are you from - passes may or may not be cheaper there but could be. Anyway you can buy them at any Swiss train station.
Koaljay - thanks for the site, i'll look into it and respond if i can.
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