|The Bernina Express goes over, under, around and through a circular viaduct (wikipedia)|
Switzerland’s intricate rail system has been operating for more than a century, but the rail pass, a youngster by comparison, celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015. For travelers the Swiss Travel System is the Mona Lisa of rail transportation.
|Golden Pass between Lucerne and Montreux (wikipedia)|
Veteran travel writer and author Paul Theroux once wrote about the “optimism” of rail travel, but until you try it yourself, it may be difficult to understand his meaning. In
a rail pass is somewhat of a misnomer. What you actually have is a key that unlocks
an entire transportation network that operates like a precision Swiss watch. Switzerland
For travelers that translates into the ultimate travel adventure.
Not only does a
access to the Swiss national rail system, it is also valid for hundreds of
private rail companies. The key however, is the multitude of bonus services
that frequently go unnoticed by users who may think they are only purchasing a
rail pass. Swiss Travel
|Lauterbrunnen Falls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley of the Bernese Oberland (wikipedia)|
|Lake steamer on the Lake of Lucerne|
is also good for all public transportation in more than 75 cities. In addition,
you can use it for boats, lake steamers, postal buses, funiculars and some
cable cars. Excursions to mountaintop regions such as the Schilthorn,
Jungfraujoch or the Brienzer-Rothorn train offer discounts ranging between 25
and 50 percent. Swiss Travel Pass
In other words a
is good for
practically any transportation need you have within its completely synchronized
system. Swiss Travel
But here’s the kicker that adds even greater value to the ticket. A
is valid for free admission to nearly 500 museums throughout the country. Swiss
Among the outings that can be done for free with a
is the historic train to the top of the Rigi. Situated along the shores of the Swiss Travel Pass , Mark Twain described the Rigi
in his book Innocents Abroad. Lake of Lucerne
Also featured with the pass are classic Swiss rail journeys such as the
Golden Pass between Lucerne
and Montreux and the Centovalli Railway which begins in Switzerland before it tiptoes into
and ends in Domodossola. Italy
One of the most recent additions to the pass is a
combination rail/boat trip on
Lake Constance where the boat also travels along the . Rhine River
Children under 16 ride free if they are traveling
with at least one parent and Intercity trains also feature playgrounds for the
little ones. Older passengers may even find a Starbucks coffee car on a couple
of selected trains.
|Centovalli Railway en route to Locarno, Switzerland (wikipedia)|
|Spectacular scenery abounds with all forms of transportation with a Swiss Travel Pass|
Even the famed Jungfraujoch has opened a chocolate shop in the highest railway station in
On Golden Pass Classic trains riders can experience a wine tasting while coasting through rolling countryside.
The Swiss have even added an hour of free Wi-Fi in many railway stations throughout the country.
|Swiss funiculars are another way to climb mountains (wikipedia)|
Opening in early 2016, the 35-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel will become the longest and deepest railway tunnel in the world cutting travel time between northern and southern Europe through the
Gotthard pass to 2 hours and 50 minutes. At speeds of nearly
150-miles per hour, travelers will enjoy the novelty of burrowing 8,000 feet,
or one-and-a-half vertical miles beneath the surface of the earth.
|Glacier Express over the Landwasser Viaduct (wikipedia)|
The Swiss Travel System allows travelers the option of purchasing consecutive day passes or passes with flexible choices. There are also Grand Train Tours lasting 4 to 8 days in which visitors are able to travel according to a predetermined itinerary. Grand Train Tours also include hotel accommodations.
Finally, just to demonstrate Swiss ingenuity and ease for travelers, there are three levels of luggage service. One of the drawbacks of rail travel is the difficulty of traveling with luggage. In Switzerland, you can check your bags in many railway stations before 9 a.m., travel throughout the day without your luggage and then pick up your bags at your next station by 4 in the afternoon or sooner.
For comfort, convenience and the “optimism” of
rail travel, the Swiss Travel System has it all. For more information contact
the Swiss National Tourist Office or Rail Europe.
|Glacier Express traveling through misty snow covered mountains (wikipedia)|