A LUXURY TRAIN RUNS THROUGH IT
A journey on the Glacier Express means admiring the Swiss Alps in unparalleled comfort
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.
NEW IN CLASS
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.
A STORIED HISTORY
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.
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