Hitch a Ride on The Bernina Express: See Switzerland’s Winter Wonderland on Wheels

Hitch a Ride on The Bernina Express: See Switzerland’s Winter Wonderland on Wheels

The Bernina Express, one of Switzerland’s most epic train rides, is fast gaining traction among a new generation of eco-minded, wildlife-oriented travellers. Here’s why.

In partnership withSwitzerland Tourism

does train travel mean to you? Presumably: poky carriages
packed with commuters, sticky handrails and cacophonous overhead
tannoy announcements? It wasn’t always this way, of course. Time
was, “catching a train” meant stepping into a swirling diorama of
sweeping landscapes like a picturehouse on wheels – not least in
Switzerland, blessed as it is with a rollercoaster of ice-lacquered

While rail travel has since become synonymous with anorak-clad
train watchers and bleak urban sprawl, the tide is turning. In
recent years, heightened environmental awareness and a greater
appreciation for the outdoors (catalysed by the pandemic), has seen
increasing numbers of rail-phobes hopping aboard the hype. For
proof, look to one of Switzerland’s most epic joyrides – The Bernina Express – which is fast gaining traction
among a new generation of eco-minded, wildlife-oriented

Completed in 1910, This 750-mile route is an A-Z whistle-stop
tour through the fluctuating landscapes of East Switzerland,
zipping from the Swiss city of Chur down to Tirano in Italy, in
just over four hours, passing over precipitous viaducts and through
needle-thin mountain passes as you go. Put into numbers, that’s 55
tunnels, 196 bridges and heights of 2,253m above sea level.

Of course, you can do the trip in one fell swoop, but in the
name of slow travel we’re stopping off along the way – taking a
bistro lunch at Ospizio Bernina (the highest point on the route)
and pausing for pics in St. Moritz, one of Switzerland’s most
glittering snow sports destinations. Hang around long enough in St.
Moritz and you might spot the famous Glacier
passing through. Really committed train buffs might
even consider hopping aboard.

Overall, The Bernina Express is a whirlwind of a ride that
propels you from mighty Swiss glaciers to palm-lined Italian
lakesides at speed. It’s the highest railway line across the Alps,
connecting northern Europe to the south. Start with herb-infused
fondue, finish with a thimble of limoncello. How’s that for
high-value travel?

Snow-capped St. Moritz and leafy Tirano

Yes, the Bernina Express is high-value, but not to the detriment
of the environment. When we describe The Bernina Express as safe
and clean, we’re talking about more than simply onboard hygiene.
Like many classic railways that once chugged along on coal,
sputtering out plumes of carbon monoxide, The Bernina Express has
shifted with the times. Forget diesel-powered engines; this route
runs on 100% local hydroelectric power, which means you can settle
in for the ride, guilt-free.

It’s little wonder this route is gaining traction. Whether
you’re keeping things simple in second class or splashing out on a
more spacious spot in first, each carriage offers vast, panoramic
windows onto some of the world’s most dramatic environments – like
epic oil-paint canvases writ large, or a David Attenborough
documentary in situ. Those aboard The Bernina Express don’t simply
whisk through resort towns, but soar through UNESCO-protected
valleys like Valposchiavo and the Bernina Pass where wildlife is
abundant and thriving.

Needless to say, a trusty pair of binoculars should sit in pride
of place in your carry-on. Binoculars, and not much else. A journey
on The Bernina Express isn’t about munching through your winter
reading list, or catching up on your favourite podcast but feasting
on a buffet or natural and architectural marvels. Plug in and risk
missing out.

It might be embedded in the annals of rail history, but there’s
something about The Bernina Express that feels tantalisingly
zeitgeisty – and we’re not just talking about the train’s
carbon-free credentials or onboard prosecco trolley. After the
chaos of the past year, what could be more grounding than following
in the wake of travellers past while ploughing through a sparse,
glacial wilderness?

2020 might have been a rough ride. Go smooth on The Bernina
Express: the past and the future of train travel.

The Lowdown

For more information and to book a seat on The Bernina Express,

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