Accessing the train
Attributes of the train
The Gotthard Panorama Express is a replacement for ‘The Wilhelm Tell Express’ service.
The ‘Gotthard Panorama Express service comprises BOTH a boat steamer from Lucerne/Luzern across the Luzernsee to Fluelen AND the train journey between Fluelen and Lugano on the old Gotthard main line - with its fabulous views.
On the train all 1st class seats are within one of SBB’s observation cars (pictured above) but the 2nd class seats are in ordinary coaches.
Tour guides are also available on the train and passengers can also access an app and online travel guide during the journey.
The highlights of the journey occur when the train spirals up and down the mountains, hence the famous three views of the white church at Wassen.
But due to the method of the line’s construction, the church can be seen from the left and right of the train (see below)
Other journey highlights occur as the train navigates the spirals on the south side of the older Gotthard Tunnel.
Booking at the ticket counter in a Swiss (SBB) station is the easiest method of obtaining tickets for the Gotthard Panorama Express.
The total ticket price per person at the station will include the boat trip, the train ride and the special 'supplement' which is charged - this supplement is in effect the cost of reserving a seat on the Gotthard-Panorama Express train.
This supplement charge is CHF 24 per person - irrespective of whether you will be travelling with a 1st or 2nd class ticket or pass.
However, if you will be travelling 2nd class on the Panorama Express, then compared to making a standard journey between Luzern and Bellinzona and Fluelen, the benefits of paying the supplement are:
Booking tickets online:
SBB sells reservations for the Gotthard Panoroma Express train journey online - and these reservations include the supplement.
This page on the SBB website has the details of how to book these reservations.
However, before booking the reservations you need to have tickets valid for the train journey AND the boat journey, but SBB doesn't sell the boat trip online.
The ticketing complications mean that rail passes are the best option for travelling on the Gotthard Panorama Express.
If you purchase a Saver Day Pass the only additional cost is the supplement - and you can pay this supplement when booking the Gotthard Panorama Express at stations.
Or pay for the reservation/supplement online, as per the instructions above.
The plus of using a Saver Day Pass is that you can use it to travel on other trains to/from Luzern and Bellinzona, or can combine the Gotthard-Panorama Express with other journeys in the Luzern area, such as the railway lines up Mt Rigi.
Swiss Travel Pass:
Or If you will be travelling with a Swiss Travel Pass, the same applies as if you were travelling with a Saver Day Pass - you only need to pay the supplement and can take other journeys that day.
Eurail and InterRail Passes:
If you have a valid Eurail or InterRail pass you have to pay 50% of the boat trip cost.
Therefore the 'supplement' price SMTJ has calculated is the TOTAL cost of the 50% of the boat trip AND the supplement which is charged to travel on the train.
This is the total cost you will pay to make the journey if you were to use your InterRail or Eurail Pass to book tickets in Luzern.
If you will be travelling with a 1st class Eurail or InterRail pass, a money saving option is to purchase the train reservation online or at stations - and then on the boat you can pay 50% of the 2nd class fare, and travel on the 2nd class deck.
This is one of more than 150 train 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.