How to travel on the spectacular Montreux-Oberland-Bernois Railway in Switzerland, including a guide to its uniquely wonderful trains on the Golden Pass route
The Chemin de fer Montreux–Oberland Bernois (MOB) is one of SMTJ's favourite Swiss mountain railways, it's trains offer a unique travel experience and the routes they take have a wow factor.
MOB operates a number of routes from the main station in Montreux , which it promotes as ‘Golden Pass’ routes; though as can be seen below, what used to be known as the 'Golden Pass Route' is the train journey across Switzerland between Montreux and Luzern.
The main route taken by MOB trains is Montreux – Montvobon – Gstaad – Zweisimmen (in either direction).
At Zweisimmen station straightforward connections are available into trains to and from Spiez; and some of those trains also provide a direct connection with either Bern or Interlaken.
Another MOB route links Lenk with Zweisimmen; Lenk-Simmental station has access to a lift and cable car to the Lenk-Simmental winter sports area.
What is unique about MOB Railway is that it operates four different types of train on its main route between Montreux and Zweisimmen:
1: Standard trains that travel the length of the route between Montreux and Zweisimmen, stopping at all stations.
2: Belle-Epoque (Classic) trains that resemble a miniature Orient Express, the interior of these trains is pictured above at top left.
3. The new Golden Pass Express trains, which continue beyond Zweisimmen to/from Interlaken
4: Panoramic trains which have particularly large windows.
These trains also have a lounge at the end of the train for 360 views, seats in these lounges are limited, so reservations are recommended; and a surcharge applies to the ticket price to travel in these lounges.
The timetable is arranged so that during the day there is 1 x train an hour in both directions between Montreux and Zweisimmen, but these three different direct train services between each end of this route are incorporated into this regular timetable.
So at different hours either a standard train OR a Panoramic train OR a Belle-Epoque train will be departing.
The MOB timetable does not distinguish between the Belle-Epoque, Panoramic and standard trains.
However, if you look up journeys in either direction between Montreux and Zweisimmen, the standard trains are those with the longer journey times.
If you want to specifically travel on a Belle-Epoque or a Panoramic train then you can look up their respective departure times on the online timetable.
When travelling east from Montreux as far as Gstaad, the best of the views are from the right of the train; when facing the direction of travel.
There are stunning views over Lake Geneva from both sides of the train as the train twists and turns on the ascent from Montreux, but the pick of these views are on the right hand side.
Then as the railway turns inland, between Chamby and Gstaad, the best of the views over the mountain valleys are on the also on the right hand side.
However, aside from the views over Lake Geneva, the three other most epic vistas to be enjoyed on this journey are the views down over the villages of Gstaad, Saanen and Zweisimmen; and these three views are all over on the left, when heading east.
The view over Gstaad can be enjoyed just after trains from Montreux have departed from the station in the village.
The Montreux <> Zweisimmen journey is so fabulous that it has earned a place in the top half of the list of Switzerland's 15 Most Beautiful Train Rides
If you will be travelling with a rail pass, the route between Montreux and Luzern via Interlaken, is both fabulously scenic and a useful connection between Lake Geneva and central Switzerland; a great alternative to the direct IR trains between Geneva and Luzern.
And rail pass users don't have to pay any additional fees to travel on any of the trains on this alternative route.
When we first explored Switzerland by train, the 'Golden Pass Route' was the route between Montreux and Luzern, showcasing the east<>west connections by train across central Switzerland.
The currently required connections in Zweisimmen, Spiez and Interlaken Ost stations couldn't be more straightforward, though the new Golden Pass Express service, see below, will be direct in both directions between Montreux and Interlaken.
West to east the route, the connections on which rail pass users don't have to pay reservation fees, are:
(1) MOB trains from Montreux to Zweissimen, board any train - though the departures at 09:50 and 14:50 will be 'Belle-Epoque' trains.
(2) BLS local trains from Zweisimmen to Speiz (the train will be heading to Bern) (sit on the right)
(3) The next train on from Spiez to Interlaken Ost, it could be an express train or local train (sit on the left)
(4) The Luzern - Interlaken Express between Interlaken Ost and Luzern (sit on the right)
So reverse the combination when travelling east to west.
When travelling from Montreux to Luzern the end-to-end journey will typically take around 7hr 5mins
However, when travelling in the other direction, from Luzern to Montreux the end-to-end journey will typically take around 6hr 5mins, because the waiting times between trains are shorter..
This online timetable also has the details of the trains between Zweisimmen and Interlaken Ost (all of which now require an additional easy connection at Spiez) and the Luzern-Interlaken Express ZB trains between Interlaken Ost and Luzern.
The Golden Pass route is so fabulous that it has been included in Go Go Places' list of Europe's Most Scenic Train Rides and on Days To Come's list AND on Far And Wide's list of the Most Remarkable Train Journeys in Europe.
From December 11th new 'Golden Pass Express' trains operated by MOB will be available for a daily direct journey in both directions between Montreux and Interlaken.
The trains use new machinery installed at Zweisimmen station which will enable them to switch between the two different sizes of railway tracks.
The trains won't convey restaurant cars, but a meal boxes will be available for pre-order, plus there will be a catering services available to all passengers which will include snacks and local beers.
In addition to standard and first class seating, a Prestige class will be available on each train.
It will comprise 8 - 10 raised seats for maximized views, which can also be rotated so that they're facing the direction of travel, the seats are also heated and customizable,
Montreux to Interlaken
From December 11th until June 10th a daily train will be departing Montreux at 09:35 and arriving into Interlaken Ost at 12:50.
At 13:04 the connecting train will depart for Luzern, where it will arrive at 14:55.
When heading west a connecting train will typically depart Geneve for Montreux at 08:10 and from Lausanne at 08:50.
For a round trip, there are hourly direct trains back to Lausanne and Geneve from Luzern.
From June 11th the services will increase to 4 x trains per day with additional departures from Montreux at 07:35, 12:35 and 14:35.
All of which will connect in Interlaken for trains on to Luzern / Lucerne.
Interlaken to Montreux
From December 11th until June 10th a daily train will be departing Interlaken Ost at 09:08 and arriving into Montreux at 12:20.
The connecting train will depart Luzern at 07:06 and on arrival into Montreux, connecting trains will be available to Brig, Geneve, Lausanne and Martigny, from where connections will be available into the 'Mont Blanc Express'.
From June 11th the services will increase to 4 x trains per day with additional departures from Interlaken Ost station at 11:08, 14:08 and 16:08.
Booking tickets and using rail passes
The price for a journey in either direction between Montreux and Interlaken is 53 CHF in 2nd class and 93 CHF in 1st Class, though holders of Half Fare Cards can book at a 50% discount, hence the ticket price shown on the BOB website being from 26.50 CHF.
Regardless of the price paid for the ticket for travel in first or second class, a seat reservation fee of 20 CHF will be added to this price.
Users of valid rail passes will have to pay this reservation fee of 20 CHF.
Though it will still be possible for users of valid rail passes to travel the length of the entire route, by making the connections between the regular trains, without paying any reservation fees.
To travel in the Prestige Class a 15 CHF supplement is payable on the 1st class fare, plus the reservation fee of 20 CHF is also added to provide a total cost in Prestige Class for a journey in either direction between Montreux and Interlaken of 128 CHF.
Tickets for journeys on shorter distance routes, such as Montreux and Spiez, or Interlaken to Zwiesimmen are sold at cheaper rates, but the reservation fees and the Prestige supplement are a flat rate, regardless of the distance travelled.
MOB also operates 'The Chocolate Train' between Montreux and Broc; which also happens to be the only direct train between Montreux and Broc.
When travelling between Montreux and Broc via Gruyéres by ordinary train, a change of train is required at Montbovon.
Seats must be reserved in advance of travel on ‘The Chocolate Train’ at Montreux MOB station and rail passes are not valid on 'The Chocolate Train'.
The MOB trains share a station at Montreux with SBB trains from/to Brig, Geneve, Lausanne, Martigny and Sion.
At Zweissimmen cross platform connections are available to/from BLS trains that link Zweisimmen with Bern via Spiez and Thun.
A few trains per day operate direct between Zweisimmen and Interlaken in both directions.
At Spiez easy connections are also available into trains to Interlaken and to trains on two routes from/to Brig (1) via Visp and (2) the Lotschberger route via Kandersteg.
Ticket prices cost the same price, irrespective if you travel by the Panoramic, Belle-Epoque or standard trains.
Tickets can be booked online though you won't save money if you book online, but you can choose specific seats.
Rail passes including Eurail, InterRail and Swiss Travel Passes are valid on any train, including the Belle-Epoque and Panoramic* trains.
*=Rail pass users have to pay the reservation fee to travel in the lounges on the Panoramic trains, but no other journey incurs an additional charge.
So if you have a rail pass you can just hop on the train, though be aware that seats may be reserved and the reservations aren't shown by the seats.
I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
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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