ABOVE: Train entering the Swiss capital of Bern
some European countries, Switzerland has a plethora of railroads. Private enterprise is
alive and well in the transportation sector, and the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS)
are supplemented by small to medium-size railroads that cater to both locals and tourists.
This feature contains links to official and
unofficial Web sites for Swiss
standard-gauge, narrow-gauge, and mountain railroads. A number of the sites are
in German, so you'll need to translate with
AltaVista if the maps, timetables, and other information aren't clear to you.
page for a map of this private railway's routes.
The narrow-gauge BOB connects Interlaken to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, the jumping-off
points for the Wengernalp Railway and the Jungfraubahn (see below).
The main BLS line from the Bernese Oberland resort of Spiez to Brig in Canton Wallis
(Valais) offers great scenery and spectacular examples of railway engineering. The BLS
car trains from
Kandersteg to Goppenstein.
The BD/WM is also known as the S-Bahn Zürich's S17 line. It serves the region to the west
of Zürich, with connections to Zürich and Baden from Dietikon.
Steam-driven cogwheel trains have been hauling tourists to a scenic overlook
above Lake Brienz since 1892.
The BVZ's trains connect Brig, Visp, and Zermatt, with a connection in Zürich
to the Gornergrat-Bahn.
The cogwheel electric trains of Europe's highest railway have carried tourists to 11,336
feet (3,454 meters) since the line was completed in 1912. For more information, see
our illustrated article.
Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn
The former Furka-Oberalp Bahn has narrow-gauge routes from Brig (Wallis) to Disentis (Graubünden). The Glacier Express
and Bernina Express run on its tracks, and car
trains save time for motorists at the Furka and Oberalp passes.
Montreux-Oberland Bernois Railway
The Panoramic Express is a popular trip on the route from Montreux to Gstaad,
Zweisimmen, and Lenk. MOB's parent company operates two other railroads from
Montreux and Vevey, including a steam train in summer.
Take the cogwheel railway to the summit, then return to lower elevations via an aerial
cablecar. (See our illustrated article on the
Some of Switzerland's most impressive scenery and railway engineering is on the RhB. From
Chur, narrow-gauge lines run to Arosa, Davos, St. Moritz, and other resorts in
Graubünden. The Tirano line offers connections to Italy and Lugano.
The Brünigbahn's scenic route connects Interlaken and Lucerne via Brienz,
Meiringen, and Lungern. Look for "Snow 'n' Rail" ski packages in winter.
The SOB, formed by a merger of the Bodensee-Toggenburg Bahn and the existing
Scheizerische Südostbahn, has routes in Northeastern Switzerland from near Lake
Zürich to the Bodensee (Lake Constance).
Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS)
When you're ready to plan your trip, use the SBB's English-language online timetable to plan your train, bus, and
boat connections. The database includes many European routes outside Switzerland, and you
can order tickets online.
There isn't much on Swissmetro's Web site yet, but you can read about this
proposed underground "maglev" (magnetic levitation) train network in
German at the NTB technical university's Swissmetro
pages. If and when the system is built, train speeds of 400 km/h (250 mph)
will cut travel time between Geneva to Zürich from three hours to 57 minutes.
The WAB is a cogwheel railway that runs from Grindelwald to Wengen and Lauterbrunnen. If
you take the Jungfrau Railway excursion from Interlaken, you'll ride the WAB from
Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen to the Jungfraubahn's station at Kleine Scheidegg.
Swiss Official Timetable
Train, funicular, cablecar, boat, and bus schedules are packaged in a convenient (if
bulky) three-volume set that you can purchase at any Swiss railroad station.
Find other links to information on Swiss rail travel (including rail passes)
in my Switzerland & Austria Travel
Planner. Also see the Travel Planner's
Rail Europe our partner
If you live in the U.S., Canada, or the United Kingdom, you can use this site
to buy Swiss, Austrian, and other European rail passes in your local currency. The site, which
is operated by the Swiss and French national railroads, also has links to
general agents in other countries.
Photo: Copyright © Switzerland Tourism.