Palenque's Scenic Swiss Trains

Old Nov 10th, 2006, 06:58 AM
  #101  
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Maudie - thanks - though the wine sounds good instead i'd appreciate it if after returning you'd contribute your experience of Swiss trains here - always can learn by actual experiences. So that's an order! Have a swell trip. PalQ
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Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 12:17 AM
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PalenqueBob,

You mention that only 1st class cars on the Bernina Express are panoramic. The Bernina Express website says the following:

"All trains operate with 1st and 2nd class panorama coaches"

Is this a change? Or is this inaccurate and you really do need to reserve a 1st class car?

Thanks!
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Old Nov 29th, 2006, 11:49 AM
  #103  
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Sorry i missed this...but yes i think this is a recent development on the official Bernina Express cars. In any case i think the Panoramic Car thing is a bit overhyped - all Swiss trains have large, usually clean windows and the views are the same.

That said some Swiss Specialty trains i believe now have a kind of super panoramic first class car - swivel seats and even more plush than usual.

Actually like i said before i prefer riding the ordinary 'real' trains as their windows are fine and i can hop from side to side at will - unlike the usually near full to capacity official express trains i've seen.

I will try to get a definitive answer but assume the Bernina Express website is correct.
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Old Nov 29th, 2006, 03:20 PM
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>"All trains operate with 1st and 2nd class panorama coaches"

No, it is not a mistake. I was in Chur today and saw the 2nd class panorama coaches. However I agree with PalenqeBob as usual - there is no reason for booking the special express trains unless you have a lot of luggage with you. The much more frequent "normal" trains provide the same view, are only slightly less plush, but often require some more changes (usually well timed)
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Old Dec 15th, 2006, 09:35 AM
  #105  
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Re: Panoramic cars on Glacier Express in both classes.

Of course we know this by High Wall's personal sighting in Chur but it has been confirmed by a wagon and seat chart i just received from the Glacier Express group.

In first class there are two Panoramawagen in 1st class each with 28 seats.
There is also a Panoramawagen in 2nd class with 48 seats in the same amount of space.

These three cars run on trains # 904, 906, 907, 908, 909 and 911

This perhaps corresponds to the re-introduction of Glacier Express service which had been suspended during last fall for a thorough rehab of the rolling stock.

In addition there appear to be Personenwagen (non Panoramic) wagons in both classes on trains as well.
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Old Dec 26th, 2006, 10:52 AM
  #106  
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PlanequeBob (or anybody else who wants to jump in),

What a wealth of great information!

I am in the very early stages of planning a trip (nothing firm at this point) and need some advice. What I would like to do is to combine a visit to the Italian lake district (probably Lake Como) and Switzerland. I can get good air connections to Milan and to Zurich, so I am thinking of arriving in one of those and departing from the other. I am open to suggestions, but it seems to me that travel by train is the best bet, however I have very limited experience with European trains. I would like to limit the trip to about 10 days. This will limit where I can plan on going in Switzerland. Finally, the trip would probably be in late September and/or early October 2007.

Suggestions for routes, places to visit, etc.?

Thanks.
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Old Dec 26th, 2006, 11:23 AM
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Having been in the first class panorama cars of the Glacier Express twice, and the regular cars twice -- I will never ever accept the panorama car again -- in the summer. To be honest the views seemed just as good from the regular train -- there is rarely much to see by looking up -- and the sun coming down through all that glass baked us thoroughly. We had to keep escaping to another car for a breather to avoid the oven of the panorama car.
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Old Dec 26th, 2006, 11:24 AM
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Old Dec 26th, 2006, 01:12 PM
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cwj---there are very good train connections from certain places in the Lake District to Switzerland. From Como to Luzern is 3.5 hours on a direct train (no changes, but you might like to get off a spend some time in Lugano en route). From Luzern, there are many options.

Or from Locarno, at the northern end of Lago Maggiore, it is only 3 hours to Luzern, again with no changes. But if you are in Locarno, you might as well take the very scenic Centovalli railway to Domodossola, and then enter Switzerland via Brig:

http://www.centovalli.ch/
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Old Dec 26th, 2006, 01:32 PM
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Enzian,

What about the possibility of starting and ending in Milan. Go north from Milan via Como, make some sort of loop in Switzerland, and return to Milan as you describe through Brig?

Warner
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Old Dec 26th, 2006, 07:16 PM
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That would be a very nice trip---stopping in Como (or maybe ferry to Varenna); Luzern; someplace in the Berner Oberland (Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, etc.; then maybe Kandersteg (see www.oeschinensee.ch for pictures of the lovely lake near there); and then back to Milan via Brig.

Or you could take the Golden Pass train from Luzern to Montreux, and then to Brig and Milan from there.

Either one is a nice loop, very doable in 10 days.
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 08:19 AM
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kopp: i hope you don't mind me copying this here for future reference if this thread ever gets around to the BOB. thanks for posting it on the other thread!

Author: kopp
Date: 01/04/2007, 11:53 am
Hello PalQ,

We've done the SP train several times, and it does indeed live up to its billing as quite dramatic.

The train goes up the hill quite slowly and at quite a slope. The seats are long wooden benches, facing each other. I find it most comfortable to sit on the downslope going up.

You need to have your camera ready for every twist and turn. As the train winds around the hills, the views of Interlaken and the lakes are fabulous.

But then on the final approach, point your camera out to the right and the most stunning views of the Jungfrau, Eiger, all the way to the Schilthorn, etc. are before you. To see it all from this vantage point is nothing short of breathtaking.

Now you find yourself at the station's end, where the views from the table are stunning. A full-service restaurant awaits your dining pleasure. Somehow, though, an ice cream sundae seems to fit the bill for us. Be sure to get a table by the cliff's edge. WOW!

For hiking, there are numerous trails with spectacular views of Interlaken's lakes on one side and the mountains on the other. Quite rugged in parts and quite steep (for us anyway), but once you get up there, OMG, drop-dead views!

The Alpine Garden is a lovely terraced area where you will find literally hundreds of varieties of wildflowers, even the beautiful Edelweiss which are hard for us to usually find on our walks. More hiking in this area also. There is a slight admission charge for walking thru this garden area.

On a clear day, the trains are packed. Lots of local folks with their kids. Sometimes going down can mean waiting for a train or two for a place to sit.

This is a real gem!
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Old Jan 5th, 2007, 06:48 AM
  #113  
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Forgot to add kopp is talking about Schynige Platte railway (SP) that goes from Wilderswil, a mile out of Interlaken-Ost, up the Schynige Platte, location of the acclaimed Alpine Garden and fab views as kopp details. this is a slow-moving train as it takes 52 mins to cover the 7km of constantly ascending or descending tracks. I've seen the trains often in the station at Wilderswil and it seems many or all are steam operated.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 06:53 AM
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SWISS PASS PRICES
in a recent check Swiss Pass prices still, rather inexplicably, remain significantly cheaper than for the exact same pass bought in Switzerland. Odd enough because RailEurope, the main US outlet, is about 25%-30% owned by the Swiss Railways.
Many folks criticize RailEurope, usually quite justly, for inflating ticket prices on point-points in Europe but in this case it seems Swiss Rail is the guilty partner?
But mailing fees in the US can run $15-30 - though RailEurope waives the free on orders of $399 or more - many Swiss Passes even times 2 do not reach that level. BETS (www.budgeteuropetravel.com), whom i always recommend for any Swiss rail product, has no fee except rush orders. they also answer any questions - 800-441-2387 whether you buy a pass or not, one reason i recommend them.
Swiss Cards are only about $5 cheaper here currently so you may as well cop those at stations in Switzerland. Swiss Transfer Tickets i believe are only sold outside the country.
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 07:47 AM
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 07:35 AM
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The Swiss Travel System web site gives current schedules and rundowns of all the scneic Swiss specialty trains, like Glacier Express, Chocolate Train, Golden Pass, Bernina Express, William Tell, etc.
www.swisstravelsystem.ch
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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PARIS JAZZ FESTIVAL
More free music, the Paris Jazz Festival swings throughout the months of June and July with free concerts in the Bois de Vincennes' Parc Floral.

www.parcfloraldeparis.com
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 05:47 AM
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Sorry about the above post mistakingly posted here.

BIG CHANGE IN SWISS FLEXIPASS CONDITIONS

It's been debated on Fodor threads about the Swiss Flexipass and the one-month validity period giving 50% off everything for a whole month along with a number of 100% covered days.

Conflicting language lead to a debate whether after your days of 100% travel were used up if you then got the 50% off still for the rest of the month. Language was ambiguous but after e-mails to Swiss Rail and RailEurope and calls to BETS it was determined that the 50% was granted even if days were exhausted.

And apparently that was the condition but the condition has been changed, at least according to a RailEurope e-mail saying rules had been changed and now the 50% is not available after the 100% days have been used it. They called it a change of conditions from the previous.
For most folks as they use the last day to return to an airport or border point and probably need the last 100% travel day the change means little.

But for others you will have to keep one day left to get the 50% off for the month. At least this is what RailEurope says, and they are the main marketer of Swiss passes in US - indeed Swiss rail is part owner of RailEurope.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2007, 07:17 AM
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And, in relation to the above Q about flexipass 50% off - now i'm wondering if before the first day of 100% travel use you'd get the discount or is it only available from the first 100% day use until the last 100% day use is exhausted.

Scenario - landing in Zurich and just going to Lucerne the first day one may want to pay 50% for this cheap ticket and not use the first 100% day on a pass. I'm trying to track down this answer and will report back.
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Old Jul 12th, 2007, 10:03 AM
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Lotschberg Tunnel First Trains?
Copying a post talking about the new Lotschberg Tunnel that recently opened to freight rail traffic and soon for passengers - if going from Germany-Bern-Interlaken to Brig and Zermatt or Italy you'll pass by this major north-south international rail route

Author: PalenQ
Date: 06/18/2007
The new Lotschberg train tunnel in Switzerland, at about 21 miles and called the world's longest underdground (not water) tunnel, is finished and reports had a train going thru it for the first time.

But the report i saw was nebulous as to whether the tunnel is opening to full-fledged rail travel or the infrastructure is finally done and regular passenger trains will follow - if so when?

Anyone will any idea of if trains are already using the tunnel or when please enlighten me. thanks

and this is a sweet and sour development to me. Sweet in that Germany-Italy travel time will soon be under 2 hours but sour because instead of what is to me the most scenic mainline train ride in Europe - especially after the old Lotschberg Tunnel's south portal when the train rolls along a narrow ledge overlooking the Rhone River Valley thousands of feet below - kind of like levitating over the valley.

And before the north portal you could also get sweet views of the Kandersteg Valley

But now at Fruitingen you'll enter the tunnel and emerge in the Rhone Valley near Visp and then head right into the Simplon Tunnel to Italy - seeing very little of the awesome Alpine scenery you're tunneling under.

Trains will be speeded up by about an hour, however, making Milan and Italy all that closer.

I assume the classic old line will still have regional trains so if have the extra time take the high road - the old road.

Author: altamiro
Date: 06/18/2007, 12:31 pm
>But the report i saw was nebulous as to whether the tunnel is opening to full-fledged rail travel or the infrastructure is finally done and regular passenger trains will follow - if so when?

Only test trains now. Next official schedule change (mid-december) will introduce the new Lötschberg link into the general scheme of things.

>I assume the classic old line will still have regional trains so if have the extra time take the high road - the old road.

I wholeheartedly agree! "Flying" down into the Rhone valley is easily worth the detour.
Author: bob_brown
Date: 06/18/2007, 02:37 pm
"The first goods trains will be able to use the tunnel from June 16, 2007. A full passenger service will start from December 9, 2007."

The above quote from swissinfo.org can be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/yrbszt

I am still looking for information about the old tunnel that carried passenger vehicles through the mountains.

As slow as that train went I don't see how it could be used in the new tunnel.


Author: altamiro
>As slow as that train went I don't see how it could be used in the new tunnel.

It won't - the car will be still shuttled by train between Kandersteg and Goppenstein. In this regard nothing will change.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: PalenQ
Date: 06/18/2007, 03:07 pm
high wall - that's surprising because i thought now they could ferry cars from Fruitigen to Domodossola - trucks of course are what they want to get off the roads.

I though when i saw the construction at Fruitigen two years ago they looked like car or truck carrying loading docks but must have been wrong so am shocked the Kandersteg-Goppenstein car train will be all. (There are no roads over the Lotschberg Pass so putting on a train is the only way or else about 100 mile detour i think.)

Bob - thanks about the goods trains using the new tunnel - that was what i saw coming out for the first train - a freight train.

a few years ago i hiked the BLS 'Train Teaching path' or whatever they call it between one town and the Kandersteg loading dock train ferry. I would not recommend this path at all as it's a series of ladders basically - very very strenuous and only glimpses of the line, where there are interpretative signs in German only.

Author: bob_brown
So if the old tunnel is used to carry cars, then we still get the thrill of that highway descent to the Valley of the Rhone. I have done it both going down and coming up more than once. Fun trip.

There is a bakery in Gampel that has great Schneken. I hope I can find it again this summer.

(A Schneken is a curled or rolled up flat pastry that has all kind of goodies rolled up inside.)

Author: altamiro
>high wall - that's surprising because i thought now they could ferry cars from Fruitigen to Domodossola - trucks of course are what they want to get off the roads

There are some issues with the trains of different speeds, since I think there is no place within the tunnel where a fast train would overtake the slow one. So I assume they will send freight trains through the tunnel in the night and mostly passenger trains during the day. There are also more and more tendencies to load trucks up on the railcars in Basel or Konstanz and unload them in Domodossola.

I am already really curious about the Gotthard base tunnel and Porta Alpina when it opens in 2016 (?)...
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