Related Content
Travel On Train Bernina Express (Switzerland)
The Bernina Express to Tirano waits to depart from Chur

Bernina Express (Switzerland)

Share

At a Glance

Travel Pass Supplement

Rail Pass Reservation Fees
Reservations

Compulsory
Time of Day

Day
Accessibility

Accessing the train

Wheelchair Spaces
Train Specification

Attributes of the train

Has a Conductor
Catering

Food services available

Trolley Service:
Country

Which country these trains operate in.

Switzerland
Travel Passes
Eurail
InterRail
Swiss Travel Pass
Saver Day Pass
A 2nd class Panoramic coach of the type used on the Bernina Express 2nd class Panoramic coach of the type used on the Bernina Express

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.

12 things which are good to know:

(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, which are cheaper because they don't have the mandatory reservation fees required for travel in the panoramic cars, are also typically available on Bernina Express departures, though not all departures have them.

(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 must be reserved and they can be booked up to twelve months ahead.
You have to choose specific seats on a seating plan, though you cannot choose on which side of the train to sit.
If you want to travel on a specific departure, note that seats in the panoramic cars can be fully booked months ahead of a travel date.

(5) If you have a valid Eurail, InterRail or Swiss Travel Pass, or Saver Day Pass you can board into the ordinary coaches/cars which don't require a reservation.
You can travel in the panoramic cars on The Bernina Express by only paying the reservation fee.
The reservations fees when using Eurail / InterRail passes vary according to the time of year:

  • March to May: 24 CHF
  • June to September: 26 CHF
  • October: 24 CHF
  • 1 November to 10 December: 20 CHF.

(6) If you don't have a rail pass and want to travel in the panoramic cars, you can either:

  • Book a reservation more than two months ahead and then make a separate booking for a ticket; which become available up to two months ahead of the travel date.
  • Book a ticket up until two months before the travel date, which will automatically include the reservation(s).

So note that you can book reservations more than 6 months before you can buy a ticket.
The tickets are not discounted, so you won't save by booking ahead, but booking reservations as soon as your travel date is known is highly recommended, even if the tickets are not already on sale

(7) An option is to book the reservation for the panoramic cars online and then buy 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, in winter easy connections to/from Davos are available at Filisur and simple connections are possible at Pontresina for 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.

How to book the tickets and reservations

On the Bernina Express website, click the hard to miss 'Book now' button, be aware that a ticket + a reservation are required to travel in the Panoramic cars/coaches and these can be booked separately.
Or if you have a valid rail pass, including Eurail, InterRail and Swiss Travel Passes, you will only need a reservation

Booking more than two months ahead

Note that:
booking reservations for the Bernina Express
1: This is the price of the reservation.
2: Note that you are made aware that you will need to book tickets at a later date, they're available from two months ahead.
3: You can specify the number of travellers, the maximum per booking is nine.
4: It can be worth checking the specific seat availability on each departure.
5: These green buttons indicate the seat availability in the class you wish to travel by; one button = few seats left; 4 = very high availability.

If you will be using a valid rail pass...
booking rail pass reservations on the Bernina Express
... you can use the reductions options to select it, so that your pass will be on the reservation - you will need to travel with your pass and the reservation.

To book the tickets, return to the website
booking tickets after you have a reservation on the Bernina Express
and book an 'Ordinary ticket'
Have your reservation to hand, as most of the options available will be for trains other than the Bernina Express departures and you need to book a ticket for the same train that you have reserved.
They're called Ordinary tickets, because these are what you can book if you don't want to travel in the panoramic cars/coaches; the additional cost to ride in the panoramic coaches is the reservation fee, which you will have already booked.

Booking up two months ahead
Note that...
Booking tickets for the Bernina Express
... because the tickets are already on sale, that the cost of the reservation has already been included.
The total cost at top right is for the ticket + reservation.

However, if you will be using a valid rail pass you can click on the reductions to select your rail pass, as above.
You will then see:
booking rail pass reservations on the Bernina Express
1: The pass you will be using.
2: The ticket cost will be 0.
3: The price will have dropped to that which is charged solely for the seat reservation in the Panoramic coaches.

hand-money

Please support ShowMeTheJourney

Help keep us advertising and paywall free!

Donate

This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is exciting and new, so we are genuinely thrilled that you are here and reading this, but we also need your help.

We’re striving not to let anything get in the way of providing the most useful service possible, hence a facility has been set up with DonorBox which can be used to support the running costs and make improvements.

Instead of advertising or paywalls, your financial support will make a positive difference to delivering an enhanced service, as there’s a lot of ideas which we want to make happen.

So if you have found the info provided here to be useful, please consider saying thank you.

ShowMeTheJourney

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.