Famous electric red tourist panoramic train in swiss village Lungern, canton of Obwalden, Switzerland

Famous electric red tourist panoramic train in swiss village Lungern, canton of Obwalden, Switzerland

Switzerland is well-known for its efficient and extensive railway system, which is considered one of the best in the world. The train system in Switzerland is operated by the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS), a state-owned company that provides national and international train services.

The Swiss train system is known for its punctuality, reliability, and high frequency of trains. Trains in Switzerland run on time, with an average delay of just a few minutes. The network covers most of the country, with frequent trains connecting major cities and towns.

Swiss trains are modern and comfortable, with various classes, including first and second classes. Most trains offer amenities such as power outlets, Wi-Fi, and onboard dining services. The train stations in Switzerland are also well-equipped with amenities such as shops, restaurants, and luggage lockers.

Switzerland also has a range of special scenic train routes, such as the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express, which offer breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps and other scenic areas.

Advantages of traveling by railway in Switzerland

  • Efficiency and reliability: The Swiss train system is known for its punctuality and reliability, with trains running on time and with a low rate of delays.
  • Convenience and accessibility: Trains in Switzerland cover most of the country, connecting major cities and towns with frequent services. Train stations are often located in the heart of town, making accessing local attractions and amenities easy.
  • Comfort: Swiss trains are modern and comfortable, with amenities such as power outlets, Wi-Fi, and onboard dining services available. Most trains offer first and second-class options, with comfortable seating and ample legroom.
  • Scenic routes: Switzerland has a range of scenic train routes, such as the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express, which offer stunning views of the Swiss Alps and other beautiful areas.
  • Eco-friendly: Traveling by train in Switzerland is eco-friendly, as trains emit significantly less carbon dioxide per passenger than cars or airplanes.
  • Cost-effective: While train travel in Switzerland may be more expensive than in some other countries, it is often a cost-effective option when considering the time and convenience factors, especially with the Swiss Travel Pass or Half-Fare Card, which offers discounted travel.
Famous electric red tourist panoramic train in swiss village Lungern, canton of Obwalden, Switzerland
Famous electric red tourist panoramic train in Swiss village of Lungern, canton of Obwalden, Switzerland

Popular train stations

Switzerland has several key railway stations that connect major cities and popular tourist destinations.

  • Zurich Hauptbahnhof: Switzerland’s largest railway station and a major transportation hub, located in the heart of Zurich city. Nearby attractions include the Swiss National Museum, Lake Zurich, and the Old Town.
  • Geneva Cornavin: Located in the heart of Geneva, this station connects the city to other parts of Switzerland and France. Nearby attractions include the Jet d’Eau, St. Pierre Cathedral, and the Palace of Nations.
  • Basel SBB: One of Switzerland’s busiest railway stations, Basel SBB connects the city to other major destinations in Europe. Nearby attractions include the Basel Minster, the Rhine River, and the Basel Zoo.
  • Interlaken Ost: This station is the gateway to the popular tourist region of Interlaken, which is famous for its scenic beauty and outdoor activities. Nearby attractions include the Jungfrau region, Lake Thun, and Lake Brienz.
  • Lucerne: Located in the city’s heart, this station connects Lucerne to other parts of Switzerland. Nearby attractions include the Chapel Bridge, the Lion Monument, and the Swiss Transport Museum.

These stations offer easy access to popular attractions and activities, making them ideal for travelers exploring Switzerland’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, and outdoor adventures.

Scenic train routes

Switzerland is famous for its scenic train routes, which offer breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps, picturesque valleys, and charming towns.

  1. Glacier Express: This train route runs from Zermatt to St. Moritz and offers spectacular views of the Swiss Alps, including the Matterhorn, Oberalp Pass, and the Rhine Gorge. The route also passes through charming Alpine villages, forests, and valleys.

    Glacier Express traveling between Reichenau-Tamins and Bonaduz, Switzerland
    Glacier Express traveling between Reichenau-Tamins and Bonaduz, Switzerland
  2. Bernina Express: This train route connects Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy and passes through the Bernina Pass, the highest railway crossing in the Alps. The route offers stunning views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and turquoise lakes.

    The Swiss Bernina Express train travels through the Alps with snow-capped mountains in the background.
    The Swiss Bernina Express train travels through the Alps with snow-capped mountains in the background.
  3. GoldenPass Line: This train route runs from Lucerne to Montreux and passes through the scenic regions of Interlaken, Gstaad, and the Lavaux vineyards. The route offers panoramic views of the Swiss Alps, mountain lakes, and rolling hills.
  4. Gotthard Panorama Express: This train route connects Lucerne to Lugano and passes through the Gotthard Tunnel, which is the longest railway tunnel in the world. The route offers stunning views of the Swiss Alps, Lake Lucerne, and the Ticino region.

    Alstom ETR 610 tilting high-speed train on the Gotthard railway, These trains run between Zurich and Milan
    Alstom ETR 610 tilting high-speed train on the Gotthard railway, These trains run between Zurich and Milan
  5. Jungfrau Railway: This train route runs from Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch, which is the highest railway station in Europe. The route offers breathtaking views of the Aletsch Glacier, the Eiger, and the Mönch peaks.

    The red train running on the Jungfrau railway with a background view of Jungfrau
    The red train running on the Jungfrau railway with a background view of Jungfrau

These train routes offer some of the most stunning views of Switzerland’s natural beauty and cultural heritage, making them a must-do for any traveler visiting Switzerland.

Purchasing train tickets

Purchasing train tickets in Switzerland is a simple process. There are several ways to buy train tickets, including online, at train stations, and ticket vending machines.

Online booking is the most convenient option, as it lets you purchase tickets from the comfort of your home or office. You can book tickets on the Swiss Federal Railways website, which offers various ticket options, including one-way, round-trip, and multiple-journey tickets.

At train stations, you can purchase tickets at the ticket counters or self-service machines. The ticket counters are staffed by friendly and helpful personnel who can assist with any questions or concerns. The self-service machines are easy to use and accept various payment methods, including cash, credit cards, and debit cards.

When purchasing train tickets, it is essential to remember that there are a range of ticket options available, including first and second-class tickets, one-way and round-trip tickets, and discounted tickets for children and seniors. Additionally, plan to do a lot of traveling in Switzerland. It may be worth considering purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass or a Half-Fare Card, which offers discounted travel and other benefits.

On-board amenities and services

  • Seating: Swiss trains offer a range of seating options, including first and second-class seats. First-class seats are more spacious and comfortable, with more legroom and wider seats.
  • Wi-Fi: Many Swiss trains offer free Wi-Fi, allowing you to stay connected and productive during your journey.
  • Power outlets: Swiss trains also offer power outlets to charge your electronic devices during your journey.
  • Luggage storage: Swiss trains have ample luggage storage space, including overhead compartments, under-seat storage, and luggage racks.
  • Dining: Many Swiss trains have dining cars or offer onboard dining services, serving hot and cold meals, snacks, and beverages.
  • Restrooms: Swiss trains have clean and well-maintained restrooms, including accessible restrooms for passengers with disabilities.
  • Assistance for passengers with disabilities: Swiss trains offer assistance for passengers with disabilities, including wheelchair access and audio announcements.
  • Scenic views: Swiss trains offer stunning views of the Swiss Alps and other beautiful scenery, making the journey an enjoyable experience in itself.
Inside a Swiss train cabin
Facilities inside a Swiss train cabin.

Practical information and tips

  • Buy tickets in advance: It is always recommended to buy your train tickets, especially for popular routes, as it can save money and guarantee a seat.
  • Validate your ticket: Make sure to validate your ticket before boarding the train by stamping it in the machine at the station. Failure to do so may result in a fine.
  • Be punctual: Swiss trains are known for their punctuality, so make sure to arrive at the station on time to avoid missing your train.
  • Dress in layers: The temperature on Swiss trains can vary, so it’s a good idea to wear layers and bring a jacket or sweater.
  • Bring snacks and water: While many Swiss trains have dining cars or offer onboard dining services, it’s always a good idea to bring snacks and water, especially if you have a long journey ahead.
  • Take advantage of discounts: If you plan to travel in Switzerland, consider purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass or a Half-Fare Card.
  • Use luggage storage: Swiss trains have ample luggage storage space, so use it to keep your belongings safe and secure.
  • Be respectful of others: Swiss trains can be crowded, so respect your fellow passengers by keeping your voice down and not taking up more space than necessary.



Known challenges and issues with the Swiss train system

While the Swiss train system is generally considered one of the best in the world, passengers may encounter some challenges and issues.

  • Delays: While Swiss trains are known for their punctuality, there can be occasional delays due to inclement weather, track maintenance, or other unforeseen circumstances.
  • Crowded trains: Swiss trains can be crowded during peak travel times, especially on popular routes. This can make it difficult to find a seat or even stand comfortably.
  • Price: Swiss train tickets can be expensive, especially for long-distance travel. However, discounts are available for children, seniors, and frequent travelers.
  • Language barriers: While many Swiss people speak English, Swiss German is the primary language spoken on Swiss trains, which can be difficult for non-Swiss speakers to understand.
  • Accessibility: While Swiss trains are generally accessible for passengers with disabilities, some older trains may not be fully equipped with accessible features.
  • Limited night train options: The number of night trains in Switzerland is limited, making it difficult to travel long distances overnight.

Conclusion

In conclusion, traveling by train in Switzerland is an experience like no other. The Swiss train system is a great way to explore this beautiful country with its stunning scenery, reliable and efficient service, and range of amenities and services.

Whether traveling solo, with a partner, or with your family, the train system offers something for everyone, from panoramic views of the Swiss Alps to on-board dining and Wi-Fi. While there may be some challenges and issues to keep in mind, such as occasional delays or crowded trains, these are minor inconveniences in comparison to the many benefits of train travel in Switzerland.