A jour­ney on the Glacier Ex­press means ad­mir­ing the Swiss Alps in un­par­al­leled com­fort

Wine & Dine - - TRAVELLER -

What’s spe­cial about go­ing on the Glacier Ex­press, dubbed ‘the slow­est ex­press train in the world’, is that you’re al­low­ing your­self to take the slow lane, lan­guidly soak­ing in the great and the minu­tiae through large panoramic win­dows. Dur­ing an eight-hour jour­ney be­tween moun­tain re­sorts Zer­matt and St. Moritz, cross­ing 91 tun­nels and 291 bridges, the train passes through mag­nif­i­cent land­scapes such as two UNESCO World Her­itage Sites, the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch and Rhaetian Rail­way Al­bula/Bern­ina. An­tic­i­pa­tion builds in mo­ments when the train bursts forth from a tun­nel onto post­card-per­fect views; or when it weaves through quaint vil­lages, of­fer­ing vi­gnettes of ev­ery­day life on moun­tains and hill­sides. But the best part is how pam­pered you’d feel ev­ery length of the way.


First-class Glacier Ex­press car­riages are al­ready roomy and luxurious, but with the new Ex­cel­lence class launch­ing in March 2019, the ex­pe­ri­ence rises to a whole new level. Two car­riages—one each on the Zer­matt-St. Moritz and St. Moritz-Zer­matt routes—have been re­mod­elled to en­sure that you’re trav­el­ling like roy­alty. Out­fit­ted with just 20 sin­gle seats, ev­ery pas­sen­ger gets a win­dow seat with gor­geous views of moun­tains, gorges, val­leys and vil­lages. With a per­sonal travel guide and ameni­ties like a snazzy bar and a tablet at your seat, re­lax as stew­ards serve you a welcome drink, your 5-course lunch menu and snacks and drinks through­out the day. Plans, too, are afoot to ren­o­vate all panoramic cars on the Glacier Ex­press, in line with the train’s ded­i­ca­tion to qual­ity and ser­vice honed through decades of ex­pe­ri­ence.


When it first started run­ning in 1930, the Glacier Ex­press was partly pow­ered by steam along its jour­ney. In 1941 it turned com­pletely elec­tric and since

1982, op­er­ated all year round, with the open­ing of the Furka tun­nel al­low­ing the stretch be­tween Valais and Grisons to be tra­versed de­spite heavy snow­fall. With grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity, seat reser­va­tions were in­tro­duced in 1984 and by the

1990s, panoramic cars with din­ing fa­cil­i­ties be­came the sta­ple on the Glacier Ex­press.

With each change in cir­cum­stance, it adapts and in­no­vates out of ne­ces­sity, but what stays the same is how the Glacier Ex­press brings the world closer to the un­var­nished beauty of the Swiss Alps.


On a typ­i­cal jour­ney from Zer­matt to St. Moritz, the Glacier Ex­press sets off at the foot of the Mat­ter­horn, de­scend­ing the Mat­ter Val­ley to the towns of Visp and Brig. Land­scapes here are made of deep ravines and im­pres­sive rock walls ris­ing up on your left and right. From Brig, the train crosses the River Rhone, into the nar­row Up­per Rhone val­ley and on to the vil­lage of An­der­matt. The rock mas­sifs and glacial land­scapes of the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch will be vis­i­ble on this stretch.

From An­der­matt, the Ober­alp Pass be­gins. At 2,033m above sea level, it is the high­est point on the glacier ex­press jour­ney and of­fers sweep­ing views of vast land­scapes. On the de­scent down to Chur, the low­est point, you’d get to see the breath­tak­ing Rhine Gorge be­tween Il­lanz and Re­ichenau, aptly named Switzer­land’s Grand Canyon.

From Chur, keep your eyes peeled for the ma­jes­tic Land­wasser Viaduct, a six-arched bridge con­struc­tion that was an ar­chi­tec­tural marvel when it was first built in 1901, and which re­mains so to­day. About 142m long and 65m high, the bridge ex­tends out in a curve over the Land­wasser Val­ley and leads into a tun­nel through a ver­ti­cal rock wall. On­wards, the train climbs through Fil­isur vil­lage and the his­toric Al­bula tun­nel, be­fore ar­riv­ing at St. Moritz.


While you en­joy scenic views, tuck into the dish of the day or a three-course menu fea­tur­ing soup or salad, one main course and dessert or a small se­lec­tion of Swiss cheese with bread and but­ter. The freshly pre­pared menus with a fo­cus on re­gional flavours don’t just fea­ture Swiss or Euro­pean fare; In­dian dishes the likes of beef Madras and chicken tikka masala, or veg­e­tar­ian picks such as chard roulades with noo­dle dough in a light bouil­lon with grated cheese are avail­able too. Meals will be served to your seat, along with a range of re­gional wines and other bev­er­ages to choose from

Af­ter your meal, it’s time for a bit of show­man­ship as hostesses pour you a di­ges­tif from a height of 60cm while the train trun­dles on.

myswitzer­land.com/en-sg/glacier-ex­press-st-moritz-zer­matt.html glacier­ex­press.ch

Ober­alp­pass is the high­est point of the jour­ney: 2033 masl

At your ta­ble ser­vice aboard the Glacier Ex­press

Din­ing in style on the Glacier Ex­press

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