BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY

Tripoto
30th Aug 2018
Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY by Karan Jhanwer

All my travels had conditioned me to see train journeys as a means to an end. As I boarded the Bernina express, little did I know that I was to come across an exception! The Bernina express is nowhere close to the quintessential train journeys we all might have undertaken at some point in our lives. It is one of those few train journeys which would leave you with a feeling that it ended too soon! No wonder it features among the greatest train journeys of the world. The Bernina express takes a four-hour long route replete with breathtakingly beautiful landscapes on a backdrop of the Alps, a plethora of stunning lakes and vast meadows.

Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY 1/2 by Karan Jhanwer
The Bernina Express running alongside Lake Bianco
Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY 2/2 by Karan Jhanwer
Poschiavo Valley
Day 1

The UNESCO Heritage site recognition at the Tirano Station

Photo of Tirano, Stazione, Tirano, Province of Sondrio, Italy by Karan Jhanwer

WHAT MAKES BERNINA SO SPECIAL?

Bernina Express, the highest railway of the Alps, is a masterpiece of civil engineering. It passes through 55 tunnels and around 196 bridges and viaducts. It includes the famous Landwasser viaduct and the spectacular circular viaduct of Brusio. For the better part of the four-hour long train ride you would be cruising over a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Landwasser Viaduct – a Swiss engineering marvel

Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY by Karan Jhanwer

The Brusio circular viaduct was constructed in order to prevent the train from slipping

Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY by Karan Jhanwer

THE ROUTE

The train journey begins at Chur, the oldest town in Switzerland, and continues all the way to Tirano, a town in Italy (the train runs in both directions). During the summers, there is another route from Davos to Tirano. There is a bus service (only during the summers) connecting Tirano and Lugano (a town situated on the border of Switzerland and Italy).

The Route Map – During the summers there is an extra train from Davos and a bus from Tirano to Lugano. Pic credit – railways-video.org

Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY by Karan Jhanwer

One can choose any of the following route options :–

Panoramic Train: A direct train by the name Bernina Express runs from Chur to Tirano. It has huge panoramic windows along with audio commentary. If one is a Eurail pass holder, one can board the train for a nominal reservation fee of 14 CHF during summers and 10 CHF during winters.

Regional Trains: The regional Swiss trains run on exactly the same route but one needs to change trains at least once to cover the entire route from Chur to Tirano. If one is a Eurail pass holder, the regional trains do not require any reservation and one can undertake the entire journey for absolutely free!

When I had to choose between the two, I chose to travel on the regional train primarily because I wanted to save the reservation fee of 14 CHF. As I struggled to click glare-free pictures from my window, a very kind gentleman who happened to share my coach told me that I can indeed open the window. Since he had been on this route multiple times, he also alerted me to be ready with my camera whenever we were about to encounter a particularly amazing bit of scenery. The credit for all these beautiful pictures goes to the kind gentleman!

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Charming swiss village

Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY by Karan Jhanwer
Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY by Karan Jhanwer

Palü Lake

Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY by Karan Jhanwer

Lake Bianco

Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY by Karan Jhanwer

That blue looks unreal

Photo of BERNINA EXPRESS : WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL JOURNEY by Karan Jhanwer

As the train approached the Tirano station, we had talked about a bunch of interesting things including my favourite tennis player Roger Federer who is from Switzerland. We bade each other farewell at Tirano where he recommended a great place for eating pizza and focaccine. Those 14 CHF I saved on the reservation came in very handy :P

WHEN TO TRAVEL AND HOW TO BOOK THE TICKETS

You can traverse the Bernina route all year round and each season has its own charm. During winters, the sight of the red train curving on the Landwasser viaduct with snow in the background is a treat for photographers.

You can book the tickets either on the Rhaetian Railway website or from any of the railway stations in Switzerland.

SINCERA TIP

Take the regional trains. Not only are they less crowded, but also you can open the windows to click some amazing pictures. Although the panoramic windows on the Bernina Express train provide a great view, one cannot open them to click glare free pictures. If you are traveling from Chur to Tirano, sit on the right side of the train!

visit www.sincerahues.com for more such experiences

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