Bernina Express

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Bernina Express
RhB ABe 4-4 III mit Bernina-Express am Lago Bianco.jpg
Bernina Express on the Bernina line, passing Lago Bianco
Service type Inter-city
Status Operating
Locale Graubünden, Switzerland
Sondrio, Italy
Current operator(s) Rhaetian Railway
Former operator(s) Bernina-Bahngesellschaft
Start Chur / Davos / St Moritz
End Tirano
Distance travelled Varies
Average journey time 4 hours
Service frequency Daily
On-board services
Class(es) 1st and 2nd
Disabled access Yes
Catering facilities Minibar
Observation facilities Panorama cars
Rolling stock Panorama cars
Track gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge
Electrification 11 kV AC 16⅔ Hz (core network)
1,000 V DC (Bernina line)

The Bernina Express is a train connecting Chur (or Davos) in Switzerland with Poschiavo and Tirano in Italy by crossing the Swiss Alps. For most of its journey, the train also passes along and through the World Heritage Site known as the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes.

The train is operated by the Rhaetian Railway company, mostly for the purpose of sightseeing. It is composed of panoramic coaches in which a piped multi-lingual commentary plays. It is not an express in the sense of being a high-speed train; passengers must pay a small supplement and make a seat reservation. The train is popular with tourists, and connects in Tirano with the Post Bus service via Lake Como in Italy to Lugano in Switzerland.

The Albula line and the Bernina line on the Bernina Express route were jointly declared a World Heritage Site in 2008. The trip on the Bernina Express through this World Heritage Site is a four-hour railway journey across 196 bridges, through 55 tunnels and across the Bernina Pass on the highest point at 2,253 metres in altitude. The entire line is 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) (metre gauge).

The Albula line was constructed between 1898 and 1904, and has been operated by the Rhaetian Railway ever since. The Bernina Railway built the Bernina line between 1908 and 1910, and then operated it independently until the 1940s, when the Rhaetian Railway took it over. The Bernina Express uses gradients of 7% to negotiate the difference in height of about 1800 meters from the summit at Ospizio Bernina to Tirano.


Inside the Bernina Express

Albula line[edit]

Main article: Albula Railway

The train leaves the city of Chur (585 m) in Graubünden and follows the course of the Rhine to Bonaduz (655 m). From there it enters the Domleschg Valley and follows the Posterior Rhine from Rhäzüns (658 m) to Thusis (697 m). The train continues toward Tiefencastel (851 m) following the Albula river and then crosses the Landwasser Viaduct before arriving at Filisur (1032 m). Shortly after Filisur the train passes its first spiral tunnel then continues to Bergün/Bravuogn. Between Bergün/Bravuogn (1373 m) and Preda (1789 m), at the end of the valley, the train has to achieve a difference in height of about 400 meters with an horizontal distance of 5 km without using rack-and-pinion, but with many spirals. Then the train enters the Albula Tunnel at 1,815 m under the Albula Pass. It emerges in the Val Bever, where it reaches Bever (1,708 m) on the Engadin plain. The train continues toward Samedan (1,721 m) and arrives at the St. Moritz station (1,775 m).

Bernina line[edit]

Main article: Bernina Railway

The train leaves St. Moritz and takes the line to Pontresina (1,774 m) in the Val Bernina. It ascends progressively the valley to the Bernina Pass passing the Morteratsch station (1,896 m), where the traveler can see the glacier of the same name and the highest summit of the Eastern Alps, the Piz Bernina. Before arriving at the pass the train stops at Bernina Diavolezza (2,093 m) where an aerial tramway leads to Diavolezza. The Bernina Express reaches the summit at the Ospizio Bernina station at 2,253 meters above the Lago Bianco.

Alp Grüm (2,091 m) is the first station south of the Alps, situated above the Lago Palü and right below the Piz Palü and its glacier. After many hairpin turns the train reaches Cavaglia (1,693 m) above the Val Poschiavo, then the Swiss Italian-speaking town of Poschiavo at 1,014 meters. The train then follows the course of the Poschiavino and stops at Le Prese (964 m) and Miralago (965 m) both on Lake Poschiavo's shore. After Miralago it continues its descent toward Brusio (780 m), where it passes the spiral of the Brusio Viaduct. Shortly after having passed the Italian border at Campocologno (553 m) the Bernina Express ends its journey at the Tirano station at 430 meters.


Bernina Express route

During the summer, the Bernina Express consists of a special separate train that travels from Chur to Pontresina with very few stops. In Pontresina, the locomotive is changed (due to the Bernina line's using a different electricity current), and the train continues with few stops until Tirano.

During fall, winter and spring, the Bernina Express consists of several cars which are attached to other, regular trains. From Chur to Samedan, they are part of a RegioExpress train Chur - St. Moritz; from Samedan to Pontresina, they are part of a Regio train Scuol-Tarasp - Pontresina; from Pontresina to Tirano, they are part of a Regio train from St. Moritz - Tirano. Each of these trains includes cars for regular, non-Bernina passengers, and no supplement needs to be paid for them.

List of stops

Small stations between Chur and Thusis where the Bernina Express train does not stop have been omitted from this list. Major stations are listed in bold.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°24′32″N 10°1′11″E / 46.40889°N 10.01972°E / 46.40889; 10.01972