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Travel Info & Tips How to Travel on The MGB Railway (The Matterhorn – Gotthard Bahn)
How to Travel on The MGB Railway

How to Travel on The MGB Railway (The Matterhorn – Gotthard Bahn)

An introduction to traveling on the Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn railway in Switzerland including images taken from the trains on the beautiful journey

| Last Updated: 13 days ago
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How to travel on the MGB railway:

The Matterhorn – Gotthard Bahn (MGB) takes its name from the fact that it links the resort of Zermatt, at the base of the Matterhorn mountain, with the canton of Graubünden, the location of the Gotthard Pass.
The MGB also operates a short route between its junction at Andermatt and Goschenen station, which is is served by trains which follow the Gotthard Railway, between Basel/Zurich and Locarno.

The MGB routes:

Winter:
The regular MGB train services operate HOURLY on these routes:
1: Zermatt* – Visp
2: Zermatt* – Visp – Brig – Feisch
3: Visp – Brig – Feisch – Obenwald - Realp – Andermatt
4: Andermatt – Oberalppass – Sedrun – Disentis/Muster
5: Andermatt – Göschenen
*Additional trains operate between the car park at Täsch station and Zermatt

Summer:
The regular MGB train services operate HOURLY on these routes:
1: Zermatt* – Visp – Brig – Feisch
2: Visp – Brig – Feisch – Obenwald - Realp – Andermatt
3: Andermatt – Oberalppass – Sedrun – Disentis/Muster
4: Andermatt – Göschenen
*Additional trains operate between the car park at Täsch station and Zermatt
In the summer some trains operate direct between Brig and Göschenen.

Travelling the full MGB route:

Regular MGB trains don't have any on board catering facilities.

The Glacier Express is the only direct train that travels the entire MGB route in both directions, between its western extremity, Zermatt and its easternmost station at Disentis/Muster.
Therefore taking the journey the length of the MGB line by its regular trains between Zermatt and Disentis/Muster usually requires 2 x changes of train in either Feisch or Brig and then in Andermatt.

Scenic Highlights:

Between Zermatt and Visp the trains travel along a series of valleys and there are fabulous views from either side of the train, sit on one side of the train when travelling to Zermatt and on the other when travelling back to Visp.

The Zermatt <> Visp route is featured on SMTJ's list of the 20 Most Beautiful Swiss Train Journeys.

The most spectacular part of the entire MGB network is the view of the Oberalp Pass between Andermatt and Disentis/Muster, which is also featured on **the Top 15 Most Stunning Swiss Journeys** in second place!

See at its best from the right of the trains when heading east from Andermatt to Disentis/Muster; and from the left when heading west.

Ski resort access:

The network of cable cars and lifts in Aletsch Arena skiing area can be most easily accessed from Mörel and Betten stations,
The Saas Fee and Saas Grund skiing areas have bus connections from Visp station
The Andermatt - Gemsstock - Nätschen winter sports area has lift access from Amdermatt and Natschen stations.

The cable car that gives access to the Disentis winter sports area is a 5 - 10 min walk from Acla Da Fontauna station, the stop before Disentis on the Andermatt - Disentis/Muster trains, but there are also buses from Disentis/Muster station.

Connections with other railways:

Connections are available with the national (SBB/SOB) trains at Brig*, Göschenen* and Visp.
*The MGB station at Brig is named ‘Brig Bahnhofplatz’ and it is located on the forecourt of the mainline station.

Brig, Visp and Goschenen are all served by direct trains from Basel and Zurich, while Goschenen also has direct trains from Luzern, Bellinzona and Locarno, both Brig and Visp also have direct trains from Bern, Geneve and Lausanne.

At Realp station (between Brig and Andermatt) connections are available with the Furka Railway which operates steam trains between June 25th and October 2nd, on the former high-altitude section of the MGB line between Realp and Furka.

At Zermatt, a popular resort town that can only be reached by train, passengers can connect to GGB trains, which provide amazing views of the Matterhorn.

At Disentis/Muster connections are available to trains operated by Rhätische Bahn/ Rhaetian Railway (RhB).
Those RhB trains operate in both directions on a Disentis/Muster - Reichanau-Tamins – Chur – Landquart – Klosters – Scuol Tarasp route.
Connect at Reichanau-Tamins for St Moritz, connect at Klosters for Davos.

Using tickets and rail passes:

Eurail = free travel
InterRail = free travel
Swiss Travel Pass/Saver Day =free travel
Note that Eurail passes and InterRail passes are now valid on MGB trains, until a few years ago Eurail and InterRail users were only entitled to a 50% discount .

If you have a rail pass a highly recommended day trip is to follow this route:

  1. Basel or Zurich to Chur
  2. Chur to Disentis/Muster
  3. Disentis/Muster to Andermatt
  4. Andermatt to Goschenen
  5. Goschenen to Basel or Zurich

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

MGB also sells tickets online here - though the ticket office staff at Visp station were exceptionally helpful!
MGB tickets aren't discounted if you book in advance on the website.

Travelling on the Glacier Express

The Glacier Express runs over MGB lines between Zermatt and Disentis/Mustér; at Disentis/Mustér it switches to using the Rhaetian Railway for the part of the journey between there and St Moritz/

Seat reservations and tickets can be booked on the Glacier Express website.
Three types of accommodation are available:

  • Glacier Express Classic 1st class - larger seats, arranged 2 + 1 across the aisle
  • Glacier Express Classic 2nd class
  • Excellence Class features a swathe of exclusive benefits including a 5 course meal; the Excellence Class charge is the cost of making a reservation in, 1st class ticket is also required.
    Also only available on journeys over the full route between St Moritz and Zermatt.

The booking process

The booking process is unconventional, because seat reservations can be booked from 93 days ahead of the travel date, but tickets aren't released for sale until two months ahead.
However, don't wait until the tickets are released, as it's a very good idea to book reservations as early as possible
At peak travel times, such as June - August and December - February, it's not unknown for Classic 1st and 2nd Class seats to be fully booked on certain departures more than two months ahead; and window seats inevitably sell particularly quickly.
You will need to travel with a reservation + a ticket, or a reservation + a valid rail pass; which include Eurail, InterRail and Swiss Travel Passes.

Booking reservations up to two months ahead:

If you book reservations up to two months ahead, the tickets will also have been released for sale, so they will automatically be included with the booking.
So users of Swiss Travel Passes, and Eurail / InterRail passes, will in effect need to remove the ticket element.

At the seat selection stage:
Booking Glacier Express tickets
note that:
1: This is the cost of the seat reservation - which is a flat fee regardless of the journey.
2: This is the cost of the ticket for this particular journey.
3: The total cost = the ticket and the reservation.
4: Note that this journey was looked up 59 days ahead of travel, but on many days all 1st class classic seats were already fully booked.

If you will be booking a ticket, there are a couple of things to look out for on the next booking screen.
booking tickets for the Glacier Express
1: The reservation charge will still be visible.
2: But the ticket cost will have been removed.
3: Though you haven't lost it because the total cost, which is still visible, includes the reservation and the ticket.

If you have a valid rail pass you need to take and additional step, which is to click on the reductions arrow and select your type of pass from the drop down menu.
booking rail pass reservations on the Glacier Express

Then having done so, the type of pass will be included in the Travellers section and the total cost will now solely be the cost of the reservation.
Booking an Interrail reservation on the Glacier Express

Booking reservations more than two months ahead:

Reservations can be booked up until 93 days ahead of the travel, which is before the tickets have been released for sale, but booking more than two months ahead is recommended.
Booking reservations more than two months ahead for the Glacier Express
Take note that:
1: You will be alerted to the fact that you won't yet be able to also book a ticket.
2: The number of travellers can be specified here - the maximum number is 9.
3: Note that the number of seats available in the travel class you have selected - 1st or 2nd, per day is shown on the calendar. However, this is not the availability per departure, so you may need to look through the day's departures to find available seats.
4: What tripped SMTJ up is that one green circle indicates low availability for a specific departure, with up to 4 green buttons indicating good availability; at first I assumed it was the other way round.

Note that having chosen your departure, you then have to select a specific seat(s) from the seating plan.
A seat(s) will have been pre-selected, but you choose alternative seats - when available.
Choosing seats on the Glacier Express

At the next stage of the booking process, if you will be travelling with a valid rail pass, you can add it to your booking
The price for the reservation fee won't be reduced, but this is how you show Glacier Express that you will be travelling with a rail pass, and therefore don't need a ticket.
Booking rail reservations on the Glacier Express

Note that the reservation fees for both rail pass users and ticket holders, are a flat rate regardless of distance.

If you won't be travelling with a valid rail pass, you will need to return to the booking site any time up until two months ahead of the date you have reserved for, and select the 'ticket only (reservation already booked)' option
The tickets will be the same price regardless of when you book them.
You will be taken down an entirely separate booking path, but have the departure time that you have reserved for, to hand.
Because you will see a range of journey options, most of which won't involve taking the Glacier Express
Booking tickets for the Glacier Express after you have booked the reservation
So take care to book tickets to travel by the departure you have already reserved for.

Author

Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.

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This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.

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