BERNINA EXPRESS - CHUR - ST MORITZ - TIRANO
Scenic Railway in
Picture Perfect Swiss Alps
The Bernina Express on the Rhaetian Railway line between Chur and Tirano is one of the world's most majestic railway routes, as well as a technical achievement of highest-altitude trans-Alpine line in Europe. The Swiss scenic rail route travels over the highest mountain pass in the Alps named for the Bernina Mountain peak (Plz Bernina), and along some of the most ingeniously designed rail lines in the world. The Albula and Bernina rail lines, have been named by UNESCO World Heritage as one of the world's most unique historic railways. Other rail trips in Switzerland climb steep slopes through the use of cog wheel tracks to assist, but the Rhaetian line, completed in 1906, climbs the steep grades of the Alps without cogs, instead making use of circular viaducts and tunnels where the train actually travels over itself.
On the Albula line, following the River Albula between Chur and St. Moritz on one of its steepest inclines, the train travels trundles across the remarkable Landwasser Viaduct, with its famous image of a train seeming to dive directly into a sheer cliff from the 164 feet high stone bridgework, which was built from the gorge up without the use of a scaffold. After traveling this unique rail journey the Bernina Express stops at that icon of swiss resort elegance, St. Moritz, or nearby Pontresina, then continues of over the Bernina Pass to Valpaschiava and Tirano in the southern Italian Alps slopes. The Bernina Express climbs at a graceful pace past the impressive Morteratsch Glacier to the 2,253 meter pass. At the height of the pass, in the midst of ski runs, the train stops at the stone built Ospizio Bernina rail station, which takes the visitor back to old rail days with its hand signal desk, actual original cardboard tickets, date stamped by the station master. You don’t have more than a few minutes before heading back down from the snowy pass.
Continuing south over the pass the Bernina Express winds down thrilling twists and turns into the Poschiavo Valley where the Italian influence can be seen, "Pizzoccheri"- and "Taladini" accompanied by a glass of local Veltliner Wine. The other unique feature of the Bernina Express line is the circular viaduct at Bruscio, shortly before reaching the end of the line at Tirano, where another spiral bridge viaduct eases the grade, and this most pictuesque of railways passes over itself in an Alpine meadows.
the border into Italy at Tirano you could continue your travels into
the Italian Dolomites
Trentino region (see Wine
Touring Trentino) and on to Milan or Verona or stop in
Tirano for a few hours for lunch and a visit to the medieval pilgrimage
of Santa Maria de Tirano,
get an Italian stamp in your passport at the rail station policia office.
You can check your luggage at the station for 5 Swiss Francs.
Then head back over the pass to St Moritz or Chur, or take a bus on to
The Bernina Express has both first and second class couches with panoramic view windows. The full rail trip takes about 3 and a half hours. No meals are served on the train, but a fully loaded snack cart trundles through on regular intervals. With a Swiss Pass or Eurail Pass only a reservation fee is needed for the Bernina Express. © Bargain Travel Europe
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