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Bernina Express or regional train

Pros and cons of each?

Posted by
982 posts

Disclaimer here: I am no expert on Swiss trains. But last October we did the Bernina Express route on a regional train, starting in Chur, stopping overnight near Pontresina. Beautiful trip. Regional trains gave us more flexibility. I was glad we divided the trip in half. Four hours on a train is good for me. I was reluctant to spend the extra money on first class tickets, but it was a good idea for us. The first day we had an entire car just for the four of us. The second day there were lots of hikers on board, and at least in first class we could all find seats in one car. Windows on regional trains were big, and I think I remember they opened from the top, though I found photos shot through the glass were fine. Hope this helps a little.

Posted by
982 posts

I really don't have enough experience to answer that. I've only taken the two train trips, and can only describe my experience on those rides. This was in mid October.

Posted by
33329 posts

I on the other hand never travel in First unless somebody else is paying and I was completely satisfied using second class regional trains on the Chur - Tirano line, and the branches to Davos and S. Moritz. Great photos, no funny wine glasses though.

Posted by
20 posts

What are the pluses and minuses for first class and second on regional trains? I will be going from Torino to St Moritz.

Posted by
33329 posts

Torino (Turin in English, where the Olympics were several years ago and where FIAT is headquartered, a large industrial city southwest of Milan towards France) would normally be a fast train, not a regional, as far as Milan, then change onto the TreNord commuter train to the end of the line at Tirano, then onto the Bernina line and both the named Bernina Express trains and the regionals.

If on the other hand, as I expect, you meant Tirano (a very small town just into Italy below Switzerland, just beyond Lake Como, where the Italian TreNord line takes over from the Swiss Bernina line) you can ride either the regular regional trains, every hour, or the named tourist train the Bernina Express. All the trains on the Bernina line, all the way to Chur, take about the same time between stations - it is single line so there is no overtaking. They go at the same speed. The Bernina Express trains are only for tourists, the Man in Seat 61 has photos. I've never ridden on that train, the photography would be horrible because the windows are sealed and the passengers are sealed off from what they are viewing. There is air conditioning (if not you would roast under the sealed windows) and in first class there are funny wine glasses. The big panoramic windows are curved so the photos are distorted and there is glare because most people leave their flashes on even though it ruins the view and other people's photos. On the regular regional trains in 2nd class the seating is 2 by 2, the windows open and there are little tiny tables. In first it is either 1 plus 2 or 1 plus 1 (I never go in there) and business people and rich tourists go in there. Somebody opening a window would not be especially welcome.

Those aren't pluses and minuses, they are differences. Pick the one which suits you.

By the way, your 5 word initial post didn't give us much to work with. There is no character count limit on questions (or answers) like in Twitter. There is an eventual limit but it is high.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks, Nigel. I meant Tirano. I've scheduled a solo trip to Milan for 7 nights first week of September. My primary interest is the Lake Como area. I also wanted to get to Switzerland, even though St. Moritz will be a long day trip. Currently, I've planned 2 days in Milan, 2 days in the Lake Como area, and 2 days in Switzerland (Lugano and St. Moritz). The final day is open, although I've been thinking of Bologna or Bergamo. I heard the former is known as having the best food. Any suggestion you may have will be welcomed. Thanks!

Posted by
318 posts

I did almost the same as Ruth, the first reply - first class on a regional train, splitting the route in half (I spent the night in Pontresina). I did that because, in addition to the 4 hours of the Bernina Express, I also had about a two-hour trip to get to Chur, and about three more hours after arriving in Tirano.

This was the only time in my three weeks in Switzerland when I traveled first class, and I did it for only one reason - since there would be more empty seats, there would be more freedom to switch sides of the train based on the currently most scenic views. Since it was a regional train, it was cheaper than the "official" Bernina Express, and I felt I could justify the extra for first class (having a Half Fare Card helped, of course).

On the portion from Pontresina to Tirano, the windows in the compartment opened, and the two of us who were in that first class area had a wonderful time hanging out the windows for basically the entire two hours. We were near the back of the train and it was also fun to watch the front of the train going around some of the curves in the track, especially the 360 degree turn near Tirano.