Train journey in Switzerland with the Bernina Express

Switzerland is a beautiful country. It is not only fun to explore this by car, but also by train. By train you can get to completely different places than by car. The view can therefore be very different. There are several beautiful train routes in Switzerland. One of these is the Albula-Bernina Bahn, better known as the Bernina Express. With a panoramic train from the Rhaetian Railway company you can see the beautiful landscape pass you by. Both the Albula Bahn and the Bernina Bahn have been UNESCO World Heritage sites since 2008.

Contents

  • Train journey in Switzerland: Albula-Bernina Bahn with the Bernina Express
  • Albula Bahn
  • Bernina Bahn
  • Route Bernina Express
  • The route from Chur
  • The route from Davos
  • The route from Sankt Moritz
  • Chur (585 m.ü.M)
  • Reichenau/Tamins
  • Castles and ruins
  • Thusis (697 m.ü.M.) – Solisbrücke (863 m.ü.M.)
  • Tiefencastel
  • Accident
  • Landwasser viaduct (1,048 m.ü.M) – Filisur (1,084 m.ü.M)
  • Bergün (1,372 m.ü.M)
  • Preda (1,788 m.ü.M)
  • Albula tunnel (1,820 m.ü.M)
  • New construction Albula tunnel
  • Sankt Moritz (1,775 m.ü.M)
  • Pontresina (1,774 m.ü.M)
  • Morteratsch (1,896 m.ü.M)
  • Ospizio Bernina (2,253 m.ü.M) and Lago Bianco
  • Alp Grüm (2,091 m.ü.M)
  • Poschiavo (1,014 m.ü.M)
  • Le Prese
  • Brusio (780 m.ü.M)
  • Tirano (429 m.ü.M)

Bernina Express Brusio viaduct / Source: ©sodraf

Train journey in Switzerland: Albula-Bernina Bahn with the Bernina Express

The Albula-Bernina train route may be better known to some people as the Bernina Express. This is a train of the Swiss railway company Rhaetian Bahn . The Albula-Bernina route includes two train routes: the Albula Bahn and the Bernina Bahn. The Bernina Express train takes you on a wonderful train journey from the Swiss canton of Graubünden to Tirano, Italy. The total train journey – if you start from Chur – is 144 kilometers.

Albula Bahn

The entire Albula Bahn has been open since 1903, but work on the train route was carried out before then. The Chur-Thusis line was opened in 1896. A steam locomotive was first used on this route, but from 1919 the steam locomotive was replaced by an electric train. The power comes from the hydroelectric power stations and therefore this is an environmentally friendly way of traveling by train. There is the Albula Bahn up to Sankt Moritz. The route then changes into the Bernina Bahn. The train runs over 55 bridges and through 39 tunnels during the Albula Bahn route. Thousands of workers worked under very difficult conditions during the construction of the Albulabahn. Bridges were built brick by brick and tunnels – a total of 16 kilometers in length – were dug brick by brick.

Bernina Bahn

The Bernina railway line starts in Sankt Moritz and ends in Tirano in Italy. Construction began in July 1906. Work on the train track could only be done in the summer. In winter this was not possible due to the frequent snowfall. The entire route was finally completed in 1910. The overhead line was installed by the Dutchman Dirk Nachenius (1860-1930) – who worked at an electricity company in Switzerland.

Route Bernina Express

Train travelers who travel with the Bernina Express can indulge themselves. Along the way they can enjoy the beautiful nature and see beautiful views. But that is not everything. The train runs over many old bridges, viaducts and through various (turning) tunnels. Many of these are beautiful architectural structures. Both the Albula Bahn and the Bernina Bahn have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2008 – just like the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch since 2001.
The Bernina Express starts from three different places. These are:

  • Chur
  • Davos
  • St. Moritz

He then visits various – including small – places before finally ending up in Tirano, Italy.

The route from Chur

Chur – Rheichenau-Tamins – Bonaduz – Thusis – Tiefencastel – Filisur (Landwasser Viaduct) – Bergün – Preda – Spinas – Bever – Samedan – Celerina – Sankt Moritz – Pontresina – Morteratsch – Bernina Suot – Ospizio Bernina – Alp Grüm – Pochiavo – Le Prese – Brusio – Tirano. Of course the train also passes other small places.

The route from Davos

If you start from Davos you go over the Wiesner Viaduct to Filisur. From there the train follows the same route as from Chur.

The route from Sankt Moritz

If you start in Sankt Moritz, you follow the same route from there as from Chur.
The abbreviation m.ü.M appears several times in this article. This is the abbreviation for meter über Meer. This means the number of meters above sea level and can be compared to our Dutch name NAP.

Chur (585 m.ü.M)

The starting point of the Bernina Express is Chur. This is the oldest city in Switzerland. The first people lived here as early as 9,000 years before Christ. It was traditionally a trading city and was seen as a gateway to the Alps. The sun shines brightly here and this is also reflected in the vines on the slopes. There are around 35,000 inhabitants in Chur. Chur is still an important hub for buses and trains. The trains of the railway company SBB run on standard gauge, while the trains of the RhB run on narrow gauge.
Bernina Express on Reichenau railway bridge with Vorder- and Hinterrhein / Source: ©ottergraafjes

Reichenau/Tamins

Just after Reichenau/Tamins station, the Bernina Express runs over the railway bridge over the Rhine. At this point the Vorderrhein and the Hinterrhein come together and continue under the name Rhine. In addition to the Bernina Express, the Glacier Express also runs over this railway bridge. From the bridge you have a beautiful view of the Sloß Reichenau, built in the 17th century.

Castles and ruins

In addition to Sloß Reichenau, there are many castles and ruins to see along the way. These were built in the past to keep an eye on the valley and the travelers. Sloß Rhäzüns is located in the village of Rhäzüns. This castle was built in 1288. A little further on you will see Sloß Ortenstein. There are around twenty castles, castles and ruins in the Domleschg valley.
Solisbrücke / Source: ©ottergraafjes

Thusis (697 m.ü.M.) – Solisbrücke (863 m.ü.M.)

From Reichenau/Tamins the train continues to Thusis. Here he makes a stop at the station and then continues towards Tiefencastel. From now on the train climbs up and travels along the Albula River. Before reaching Tiefencastel, the train passes over the Solisbrücke. This is the highest bridge on this route. It is built at a height of no less than 90 meters above the Schinschlucht (through which the Albula river flows). The bridge is 164 meters long and was built in 1902 for Rhaetian Railway traffic. The Solisbrücke actually consists of three bridges:

  • an old stone bridge
  • a bridge for car traffic
  • a bridge for train traffic

 

Tiefencastel

After the train has crossed the Solisbrücke, a number of tunnels follow and then the Tiefencastel station is quickly reached.
After a short stop, the train continues towards Filisur. Before the train arrives there, it passes over two viaducts. The first viaduct is the Schmittentobel viaduct. This viaduct is 137 meters long and has seven graceful arches. As soon as you drive over this viaduct, the world-famous Landwasser viaduct comes into view.

Accident

An accident occurred on the section between the Solisbrücke and Tiefencastel on August 13, 2014, in which a wagon fell. Fortunately, this wagon got stuck halfway between some trees and did not fall further down into the lower Albula River. A number of people were seriously injured in this accident. The accident was caused by a landslide caused by heavy rain.
Landwasser viaduct / Source: ©ottergraafjes

Landwasser viaduct (1,048 m.ü.M) – Filisur (1,084 m.ü.M)

Just before Filisur is the Landwasser viaduct. The viaduct was built in 1902. This beautiful structure is 65 m long and 136 m high and has six bridge arches. The Landwasser River – a tributary of the Albula River – flows under the viaduct. This was also taken into account during construction. After all, a river can always overflow its banks. That is why they opted for a safe construction during construction. Iron towers” were immediately bricked into the pillars during construction. This gave the pillars a solid construction. Bridge cranes were placed on top of the pillars and in this way the building material was pulled up. The train makes a 45 degree turn on the Landwasser viaduct. Immediately afterwards the train enters the Landwasser tunnel (216 meters long). Landwasser viaduct from train / Source: ©ottergraafjesAfter the train has come out of the Landwasser tunnel

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