How to travel on the ZB (Zentralbahn) Railway

Taking the Luzern to Interlaken Express
ZB Zentralbahn operates the spectacular and useful link between Luzern/Lucerne and Interlaken, which allows for the quickest journeys from eastern Switzerland to the Bernese-Oberland area.


THE LUZERN – INTERLAKEN EXPRESS SERVICE:

The direct train service between Luzern and Interlaken is provided by the Luzern - Interlaken Express trains (what can cause confusion, is that the direct trains from Interlaken TO Luzern are also branded ‘Luzern – Interlaken Express).
 

The journey time in both directions between Luzern and Interlaken Ost is around two hours and trains depart hourly.
All Luzern - Interlaken Express trains also call at Meiringen.

The Luzern – Interlaken Express trains have exceptionally large windows which give great views over four beautiful lakes!
When travelling from Luzern to Interlaken, three of these lakes – the Sarnersee, the Lungenensee and the Brienzersee can be seen from the right of the train - trains reverse direction at Meiringen.

The Luzern <> Interlaken route is so fabulous that it merited inclusion on a list of the 15 Most Beautiful Swiss Train Journeys.

Because the trains reverse direction at Meiringen, the best of the views are also available if you sit on the right when travelling east from Interlaken Ost.

 


The Luzern - Engelberg Express:

In addition to the local trains, the other main ZB service is the Luzern – Engelberg Express.
These trains also have large panoramic windows.

 

Food and drink is available on the Luzern – Interlaken Express and Luzern – Engelberg Express trains.
Travel in 1st class and catering staff will provide an at-seat service.


Local ZB (Zentralbahn) services:

In addition to the Luzern - Interlaken and Luzern -Engelberg express trains, ZB also operates local services on these routes

(i) Luzern - Meiringen 
(ii) Interlaken - Meiringen
(iii) Meiringen - 
Innertkirchen
(iv) Luzern - Stans (operated as part of the Luzern S-Bahn network)
(v) Luzern - Giswil (operated as part of the Luzern S-Bahn network)

CONNECTIONS:

With SBB (mainline) trains:

The Zentralbahn (ZB) trains share the stations in Luzern and Interlaken Ost  with SBB trains.

Luzern has direct trains from many destinations including Basel, Bellinzona, Bern, Geneve, Lugano, Olten, St Gallen and Zurich.

Interlaken Ost is connected by direct trains from/to Basel, Berlin, Bern, Frankurt (Main), Olten, Thun and Spiez - connect at Spiez for Visp and Brig.


With the Pilatusbahn (part of the The Golden Round Trip):

The Luzern – Interlaken Express trains live up to their name by skipping some stations, one of the stations they do NOT call at is Alpnachstad - where connections are available to the Pilatusbahn PB cog railway.

Only local trains to/from Luzern call at Alpnachstad - so when travelling from Interlaken to Alpnachstad, you need to make a simple connection at Giswil.


An alternative to taking the train from Luzern to Alpnachstad is to take a lake cruise boat from the piers outside Luzern station to Alpnachstad
The train or boat from Luzern  plus the PB train are the first two stages of the Golden Round Trip route from Luzern.

With the BRB steam railway:


The Luzern – Interlaken Express trains DO call at Brienz, where connections are available to the Brienz-Rothorn BRB steam railway.

With the BOB trains:

At Interlaken Ost station, connections are also available to the Bernese-Oberland Railway BOB trains to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald.
(The first of the three train services that need to be taken in order to ascend to Jungfraujoch).


Winter Sports And Cable Car Access:

Engelberg station is a 10 min walk from the base station of the Titlis cable car that gives access to the Engelberg-Titlis winter sports area.

Meiringen station is a 10 min walk from lift access to the Meiringen - Hasliberg winter sports area.

Trains between Meiringen and 
Innertkirchen call at Meiringen Alpbach station which is a 5 - 10 min walk from the base station of the Reichenbachfal  funicular, which lives up to its name by providing easy access to the Reichenbach Falls.

THE GOLDEN PASS ROUTE:

If you will be travelling with a rail pass, the 'Golden Pass route' between Luzern and Montreux via Interlaken, is a fabulously scenic and useful connection between central Switzerland and Lake Geneva - a great alternative to the direct IR trains between Luzern and Geneva.

And rail pass users don't have to pay any additional fees to travel on any of these trains.

You can't take direct trains on this 'Golden Pass' route, but the required connections in Interlaken Ost  and Zweissimen stations couldn't be more straightforward and the trains are timed to minimize the transfer time.

East to west the route is:

(1) The Luzern - Interlaken Express from Luzern to Interlaken Ost
(2) BLS (standard gauge trains) from Interlaken Ost to Zweissimen*
(3) MOB trains from Zweissimen to Montreux

So reverse the combination when travelling east to west.

*In some hours an additional change of train is required in Spiez, but this can be avoided if you depart from:

Luzern at 07:05; 11:05; 13:05 and 15:05 OR from Montreux at 09:44; 11:44; 13: and 15:44

TICKETS AND RAIL PASSES:

Eurail, InterRail Swiss Travel Passes and Saver Day Passes are valid on all ZB Trains.

They are also valid on the other Golden Pass route trains -  (1) the MOB trains between Montreux and Zweisimmen and (2) the trains between Zweisimmen and Interlaken Ost, which are operated by BLS.


Tickets between SBB stations and ZB stations can be booked on the SBB booking service.

If you will be travelling in either direction on the Luzern - Interlaken Express, tickets can be booked online - you won't save money, but you can choose specific seats.

Zentralbahn does not sell ordinary journey tickets independently online – users of its website are directed to SBB’s booking service.

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