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Travel On Train Golden Pass Express (Switzerland)
A journey on the Golden Pass Express

Golden Pass Express (Switzerland)

All that's good to know about travelling on the Golden Pass Express including a step-by-step guide to booking the reservations.

The Golden Pass Express isn't solely a 'luxury' train through gorgeous scenery, it also provides a direct link between Lake Geneva and the Berner-Oberland, which saves making two connections.

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At a Glance

Travel Pass Supplement

Rail Pass Reservation Fees
Train Specification

Attributes of the train

Has a Conductor
Country

Which country these trains operate in.

Switzerland
Reservations

Compulsory
Time of Day

Day
Travel Passes
Eurail
InterRail
Swiss Travel Pass

On Board

Prestige Class

Perks

What makes travelling in Prestige Class special is that it maximises the opportunity to appreciate the stunning landscape all along the route taken by the Golden Pass Express.

That's because the floor in the Prestige Class seating area is raised, so that when sitting in the seats, the eye line is then towards the middle of the window.
In addition to being larger the seats differ from those in First Class, because they can be rotated so that passenger can face towards the best of the views; and they are also heated to make boarding more comfortable on a winter's day.

The Prestige Class journey experience is showcased in this video...

...the happy couple initially walk through the First Class seating saloon when boarding, which showcases the difference between it and Prestige Class.

Though note that the at seat catering service of light meals isn't complimentary and can't be ordered spontaneously once you are on the train.
If you would like a light meal you need to choose one of the options when booking the reservations, it will then be added to the online shopping cart.

What makes the train special

The first class seating saloon The first class seating saloon
The second class seating saloon The second class seating saloon
Switching between tracks in Zweisimmen Switching between tracks in Zweisimmen
Pre-order at seat catering Pre-order at seat catering

Aside from the large windows and smart interiors the technology on the Golden Pass Express enables direct journeys such as Montreux / Gstaad ↔ Spiez / Interlaken.

The space between the rails can vary on Swiss tracks, because the trains, which ascend the mountain slopes need to be smaller and lighter than regular trains.
So on those railways such as on the MOB route between Montreux and Zweisimmen, the routes are what is known as narrow gauge, because the space between the two rails is smaller than on the conventional railways.
But the route between Zweisimmen and Interlaken is conventional, so to enable a direct end-to-end journey between Montreux and Interlaken, the Golden Pass Express trains have had to be constructed so that they can seamlessly switch between the two gauges in Zweisimmen station.

The journey between Montreux and Interlaken can be taken on other trains, but it requires connections in both Zweisimmen and Spiez.

On board

The Golden Pass Express trains have three classes of travel; First, Second and Prestige - see above.
The seats are similar in First and Second Class, but the key difference between the two classes is that First is more spacious because the seats are arranged 2+1 across the aisle, while in Second it is 2+2.
In each seating saloon there are luggage racks and there is space for skis.

In 2024 additional low-floor coaches will be added to the train formation, which will make it easier for travellers with reduced mobility to board the trains.
Bikes and dogs/pets are not permitted.

The catering

The catering service on the Golden Pass Express is non-complimentary and it's independent of both the tickets and the classes of accommodation on the train.
Three types of light meal are are available:

  • the Caviar Package - which is not available when travelling Second Class
  • a meat and cheese plate
  • a breakfast box.
    They all have to be pre-ordered when making a seat reservation online (see below), so they cannot be added when booking last minute at the station, or purchased from the catering attendant on the train.
    If you have a First or Second Class ticket and want to have a light meal served to you at your seat, you will need to make a seat reservation - see below on how to do this.
    There is also an on-board snacks and drink service which is available to all passengers.

The journey

Departing Montreux on the Golden Pass route Departing Montreux on the Golden Pass route
By the River Simme north of Zweisimmen By the River Simme north of Zweisimmen
Lake Thun between Spiez and Interlaken Lake Thun between Spiez and Interlaken
Between Gstaad and Zweisimmen Between Gstaad and Zweisimmen

As can be seen in these videos...

...the route taken by the Golden Pass Express trains on their journeys in either direction between Interlaken and Montreux is stunning for virtually the entire train ride.

Highlights of the journey include:

  • The ascent / descent from Lake Geneva
  • The valleys either side of Gstaad
  • The ascent / descent to the west of Zweisimmen
  • The river gorge south of Spiez
  • The railway along the shore of Lake Thun.

The timetable

There are four departures per day in each direction, the journey time between Montreux and Interlaken Ost is around 3hrs 15mins.
The following connections are available:

  • at Interlaken Ost - to/from Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Luzern and Wengen
  • at Montreux - to/from Brig, Geneve, Lausanne, Sion and Visp
  • at Spiez - to/from Basel, Bern, Brig, Milano, Visp and Zurich.

Tickets and Reservations

The online booking facility on the Golden Pass Express website is primarily a reservation service and not a ticketing service - though as explained below it can be possible to use it to book the reservations + tickets in the one transaction.

Good to Know

  • On the Golden Pass Express seat reservations are optional for those who will be travelling with First or Second Class tickets.
  • In contrast they are mandatory when travelling Prestige Class.
  • They are also mandatory for Rail pass users so need to be booked prior to boarding if you will be travelling with a a valid Swiss Travel Pass, a Saver Day Pass, Eurail Pass or InterRail pass.
  • Reservations can be booked for travel up to 92 days ahead of the travel date, but tickets can only be booked from 2 months ahead.
  • If you use the Golden Pass Express online booking service to book a reservation up to 2 months ahead of the travel, the tickets will automatically be added to the booking.
  • If you won't need a ticket, because you have already booked one, or because you will travelling with a rail pass, it can be removed from the shopping cart, either by editing it, or by using the 'Reductions' options.
  • The additional supplement for travelling in Prestige Class is automatically included with the price of the reservation - Thiugh rail pass users can book reservations in Prestige Class and pay the charge for the reservation + the supplement.
  • Seats have to be selected on seating plans when making the reservation.

So if you want to travel in First or Second class with tickets, it can be a good idea to visit the online booking service to check the seating plans, as they will show which specific seats are available per departure without the need to book.
If window seats or the seats in general are becoming fully booked, you can then opt to make the reservation.

However, when making a booking you may need some patience as in SMTJ's experience, the booking process is not seamless.
When first encountering the service you may experience issues such as not being able to choose destinations or a catering option - or may not have tickets automatically being added when booking less than two months ahead.
The fix seems to be navigating back to the home page and starting over - if need be you can edit the shopping cart and remove any surplus bookings, before you proceed to payment.

How to book:

The steps to take when booking are:

  1. Go to the Golden Pass Express website and select whether you want to travel in Prestige Class, or the other classes - First and Second.
  2. Choose the start and end points of your journey, the travel date - and select 1st / 2nd class (if you won't be travelling Prestige).
  3. Choose a departure.
  4. Choose a seat(s)
  5. Select any 'reductions' which apply to you, because you have Swiss Travel Pass, Half Fare Card, Eurail Pass etc - or select 'only reservation' if you will be booking less than two months ahead and already have a ticket.
  6. Opt to add a catering option, or choose 'No seat service'.
  7. Proceed to the shopping cart and book the reservation.

If you have made a reservation between two months and 92 days ahead you will need to make a separate booking for a ticket - if you won't be travelling with a valid rail pass.
The tickets aren't discounted, so you pay the same price when booking online in advance as you would when booking at the station just prior to boarding.
Note that:

  • You don't have to book the tickets online.
  • But if you want to save the bother of doing so pre-boarding, you won't be booking the tickets on the Golden Pass Express website,
  • You'll see text on the Golden Pass Express website, which suggests that tickets can only be booked from 1 Day Ahead, but SMTJ has verified that tickets can in fact be booked from 2 months ahead.

Step One: Choosing how to travel

Booking the Golden Pass Express Booking the Golden Pass Express

Note that on the home page on th Golden Pass website, you have a choice of:

  1. 'Reserve Your Seats Now' - select this if you want to travel in 1st or 2nd class (see the note below)
  2. 'Reserve Prestige Seats - select this if you want to travel in Prestige Class.
    The steps to making a booking for Prestige Class are in effect the same as when booking 1st or 2nd class - the difference is that the supplement for travelling Prestige is then in effect placed in the 'Shopping Basket' as soon as you click this button.
    Rail Pass users can also travel in Prestige Class, you will in effect be purchasing the reservation + the supplement.

If you will be travelling with tickets and book between 2 months and 92 Days ahead, so will have to make a separate later ticket booking, the class of ticket must match the class of reservation.
Users of 2nd class rail passes cannot book 1st class reservations.

Step Two: Setting the journey

Booking Golden Pass Express reservations Booking Golden Pass Express reservations

You can choose to travel between any of the station calls made by the Golden Pass Express, you don't have to travel Interlaken ↔ Montreux.
The ticket price will be cheaper when travelling the shorter distances, but the reservations costs and the Prestige Class supplements are charged at a flat rate, regardless of distance.
What has been highlighted is that 2nd class is the automatic default, you have to be proactive and make a switch here, if you want to reserve in First Class.

Step Three: Choosing a Departure up to 92 days ahead

Choosing a specific Golden Pass departure Choosing a specific Golden Pass departure

You will now be choosing a departure.
What's useful to know is:

  1. This is where you can add additional travellers to your party
  2. The date format on the Golden Pass Express website is month / day / year
  3. These three days are more than 92 days ahead, so they have been greyed out
  4. This indicates the overall seat availability on this departure
  • Four green circles = lots of seats still available
  • One green circle = few seats remaining
  • No green circles = this departure is sold out

Step Three: Choosing a Departure up to 2 months ahead

Booking the Golden Pass Express less than 2 months ahead Booking the Golden Pass Express less than 2 months ahead

If you will be booking reservations less than two months ahead, regardless of whether you don't or do have a rail pass, the cost of the ticket will appear at this stage at the top right.
If you will be travelling with a Eurail, InterRail or Swiss Travel Pass, the ticket will removed from the 'shopping cart' when you choose the appropriate 'reduction' - and it's also possible to remove items from the shopping cart pre-payment.

Step Four: Choosing Seats

Choosing seats on the Golden Pass Express Choosing seats on the Golden Pass Express

Having selected a departure, you will now see a seating plan.
What's good to know is:

  1. A seat(s) will be pre-selected - in the example it is a window seat because it is on the edge of the plan; note the direction of travel, when travelling from Interlaken, Lake Thun is on the right.
  2. If you're not happy with the seats on offer in this coach, you can see what's available in another coach.
  3. This journey was looked up more than 7 weeks ahead and more than 50% of the seats were already unavailable.

Step Five: Applying reductions including rail passes

Selecting a reduction when booking the Golden Pass Express Selecting a reduction when booking the Golden Pass Express

This is the stage of the Golden Pass Express booking process, at which you tell the operator who will be travelling and how - do you have a rail pass, or qualify for another reduction etc.
What's good to know is:

  1. It won't be obvious, but this is the Date of Birth format = month / day / year with February being '2' and not '02' etc.
  2. Use this tool to see if a reduction applies - and select any that do so. Note that this is how you choose the cheaper child tickets, as it's one of the options.
  3. The only option for the reservation is 'Print at Home' so check the terms and info on the booking confirmation email.
  4. If you are booking less than 2 months ahead, the ticket cost will be shown here.
  5. The cost of making the reservation will be shown here - when booking less than 2 months ahead, the reservation cost should be added to the ticket cost.

Step Six: How to add the catering

Pre ordering catering on the Golden Pass Express Pre ordering catering on the Golden Pass Express

This is the stage at which you can choose to pre-order a catering option.
What's good to know is:

  1. If you don't want to add a catering option to your booking you need to proactively select 'No seat service'
  2. The price of each option per person is shown
  3. If you choose an option, it's price will be added at top right.
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