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Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

perth Australia
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Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

Hope someone can help me with this as I feel I have looked everywhere for this information and I am starting to pull my hair out. We are planning to travel from Zermatt to St Moritz on the 3rd October and then take the Bernina Express on the 4th to Tirano (yes I know a lot of trains). From what I have read on these forums I understand that the Bernina has the really impressive scenery compared to the Glacier. Also a lot of people commented that it would have been better to take the regular train instead of the tourist one, here is the rub! I can't find out how, or where, or how much it would cost to take the regular train. Every site sends me to the Glacier Express. Does anyone know how I can book the normal train. Because it is such a long trip I would still like some level of comfort, it's not just about the price. I presume it must take the same amount of time....is it just carriages attached to the tourist train?

Many thanks to anyone who can help, this one seems to have defeated me.

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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1. Re: Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

Hi there,

The www.sbb.ch/en site should give you the price for normal train too. It's the same as GE, and almost same comfort, BUT without reservation surcharge and with 2 transfers at least (Disentis and Chur) and without commentary. So due to the transfers it takes a bit longer too. No need to prebook the normal trains, just buy tickets (or already have some card like Swiss pass) on the day itself.

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Wimborne, United...
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for Lugano
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2. Re: Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

At the SBB site you will need to enter From Zermatt To St Moritz Via Andermatt otherwise it will not send you on the GE route but through Zurich.

perth Australia
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158 posts
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3. Re: Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

Thank you so much I will have a look at that site straight away, though I can see that 2 train changes with luggage in tow and extending an already long trip may be what sways me towards the Glacier express.

Would you mind indulging me with one more query that I know keeps coming up, but I am still unsure.

We will be travelling by train from Vevey to Zermatt - Zermatt to St Moritz - St Moritz to Tirano, as well as using the local cog rail and trains in Zermatt to get up to the mountains. We will probably also catch the ferry and bus in Vevey. This will all take just 4 days . In your opinion would we be best to get a rail pass?

Now I write it all out it seems a bit obvious but I would still value an opinion from someone who knows the system. Sorry to bore people with the same old questions, but in Australia we don't have anything like this to compare with.

Many thanks

Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

Hi Justgoing!! The Swiss Pass is 'good' and 'bad'!!! We travelled yesterday from Geneva to Zermatt, only to find that part of the journey is NOT covered by the pass (Brig to Zermatt). We also THEN found, that our pass does not cover a large part of the Glacier Express route (Zermatt to Disentis (spelling?) and I had to fork out an extra 189ch about 200 AUD for the two of us. SO, while the agents spruik the passes, they are not as simple as you would think!!! Using the pass, what you DO get is a seat reservation (worth about 33 AUD) on the Glacier Express.

BTW, it is beautiful here!! Zermatt is magical.

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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5. Re: Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

Are you SURE you had Swiss Pass? We used same on the full GE route two years back without problem and also their site mentions it covered.

The Eurail pass covering Switzerland however has the problem you describe, not all regional rail partners of SBB are covered and indeed not the Zermatt-Disentis partner being the MGB.

Tnx,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Kent, England
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6. Re: Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

I would also say that with a Swiss Pass i have Never paid extra on those routes, My understanding after many yesrs travelling with a Swiss Pass is that if you are travelling between settlements, villages, towns the Swiss Pass gives you free travel, on the Glacier Express itself, you have to reserve seats.

In recent years I have travelled over those routes and never had to pay a surcharge. Just be sure you the Swiss Pass.

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

WE have the Swiss-German pass. Maybe I should get further clarification as we have not used the Glacier Express ticket yet!!!

Colombo, Sri Lanka
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for Sri Lanka
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8. Re: Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

Well if it's an Eurail two-country ticket, as it sounds, indeed you're doomed. Advice here in forum is NOT to buy those. The 'Swiss Pass' is solely from SBB, not from Eurail, and much better value for money...

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Martigny...
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9. Re: Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

the Swiss pass absolutely covers the entire route of the GEX. Any Eurail type pass does not cover the Matterhorn Gotthard bahn - which is responsible for the trains from Zermatt, via Brig, to Disentis where the Rhätischebahn takes over. (The RhB accepts the Eurail...)

Eurail passes are to be avoided if one wants more or less complete coverage. (And the only reason I say more or less is that the Swiss pass does have limitations on some lines...Jungfraubahn for one).

"Melbourners" - you need to go to a ticket office anywhere in switzerland. Show them your Eurail two country pass AND your GEX reservation. They will sell you the appropriate ticket so that you are covered for the entire ride.

"Justgoing" - unfortunately the only way your question can be answered is for you to do the maths. You need to create a spreadsheet on a day by day basis for your travel plans and put in the cost of each trip - get all this info from the SBB site. Then add it up on a daily basis and total all the days. Then compare to the cost of a 4 day (or whatever!) Swiss pass...and also to the Flexi Pass. It may well be that since you will be in Zermatt and taking (perhaps) the Gornergratbahn and the cable cars where the passes only provide a discount that a Half Fare Card at 120frs for a month might be a better deal. The HFC (which is what all of us who live here use) gets you 50% off on everything except the seat reservation fees on the GEX and BEX.

The GEX has more in its favour than simply not changing trains... you will have a running commentary, provided via earphones (included in the reservation fee and yours to take away if you wish), on everything you are seeing. A leaflet is also provided with photos and additional info on the route and the places you pass. then of course there is the restaurant and bar service. I have taken the GEX many times simply because I enjoy the ride and all the things I mention. It really IS worth the additional cost.

I also disagree that the BEX has better scenery than the GEX. It is just as magnificent, but different. Not better. On the GEX you go over the Oberalp pass, which is wild and desolate at the top. The BEX takes you over the Bernina which, with its two lakes at the top, is fascinating. The GEX runs along the young Rhine river through the gorges of sandstone. The BEX has the scenery of the Val Poschiavo and the Broglio viaduct... If I had to choose (which thankfully I don't!) I would take the GEX. But if you can do both - then double pleasure!!

Where the GEX is better is that the commentary is via earphones. you choose your language. On the BEX you have to listen to the same old stuff four times over. And the meal service/bar service is good on the GEX and there is only a minibar on the BEX...

perth Australia
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158 posts
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10. Re: Glacier Express or Ordinary Train?

Thank you everyone for your help and information. Sorry for the delay in responding but the notifications didn't come through on my mail till this morning, and I thought no one was interested. I have tried to add up all the train travel costs that we are planning and I have to say it is a very close call. You get nothing for nothing!

We have definitely decided to do both the GEX and the BEX as I doubt we will ever have the opportunity again and would kick ourselves if we didn't make the most of our time in Switzerland. I think we will take the jump and buy the Swiss Pass and even if it just breaks even we haven't lost anything and it seems to make using all the transport system a bit simpler. I must say trying to figure out what is best is a mine field.

I will let you know how it works out......