Accessing the train
Attributes of the train
Food services available
Which country these trains operate in.
The Bernina Express is operated by the Rhätische Bahn/ Rhaetian Railway (RhB)
What makes the train unique is that is the only train that runs over both the Albula AND Bernina Railways - the only railways in Switzerland that are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
So it is the only train to provide direct Chur <> Tirano journeys.
So The Glacier Express does not operate over The Bernina Railway between St Moritz and Tirano, but The Bernina Express DOES - and arguably this Bernina line is more spectacular than any part of the Glacier Express Route.
(1) Like the Glacier Express, the Bernina Express uses special panoramic coaches with extra large windows.
Though the newer RhB regular trains between St Moritz and Tirano also have large windows, bigger than on the older regular trains.
(2) Regular coaches, with cheaper ticket prices, are also typically available on Bernina Express departures.
(3) In the panoramic and regular coaches both first and second class is available, in first class the seats are larger, they have more leg room and are arranged 2 + 1 across the aisle instead of 2 + 2.
So parties of two people can avoid having people occupying the seat next to them.
Note that there is no catering benefit to travel in first class
(4) Seats in the panoramic coaches can be reserved up to twelve months ahead, you can choose specific seats on a seating plan, though you cannot choose on which side of the train to sit, as the direction of travel is not included on the seating plan.
If you want to travel on a specific departure, note that seats in the panoramic cars can be fully booked weeks ahead of a travel date.
(5) If you have a valid Eurail, InterRail or Swiss Travel Pass, or Saver Day Pass you can travel in the panoramic cars on The Bernina Express if you pay a supplementary charge.
But if you will be using a rail pass, you can board into the ordinary coaches/cars without paying a supplement.
(6) If you don't have a rail pass and want to travel in the panoramic cars, you will have to buy ticket(s) separate to the reservation and tickets are placed on sale from two months ahead of the travel date.
So note that you can book reservations more than 6 months before you can buy ticket.
The tickets are not discounted, so you won't save by booking ahead.
(7) An option is to book the reservation for the panoramic cars online and then but your ticket(s) at the station, just prior to boarding.
(8) Or if you have already booked tickets and then decide that you want to travel in the panoramic cars, you can book go back to the website and book separate reservations.
(9) Reservations are not possible in the ordinary coaches, though a benefit of travelling 1st class is that the ordinary 1st class coaches tend to be much less busy than 2nd class.
(10) There are direct Bernina Express trains in both directions between Chur and Tirano year round - in the summer season there are ALSO direct trains between Tirano and both Davos and St Moritz.
(11) The Bernina Express trains between Chur and Tirano don’t call at Davos or St Moritz.
However, easy connections to/from Davos are available at Filisur and simple connections are possible at Pontresina for winter journeys to/from St Moritz.
(12) You don’t have to take the Bernina Express to travel by train in either direction between Chur and Tirano.
Regular RhB trains operate on all parts of the route, but to make the Chur to Tirano journey by the other trains, connections have to be made in both Samedan AND Pontresina - though the transfers couldn’t be more straight forward.
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