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