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Buying tickets for Bernina Express - then from Chur to Zurich

Thanks in advance for all the help and recommendations. I have read through some of the posts and done some research including the website Man in Seat 61, but I an still confusted.

We will be taking the Bernina (BEX) train ( the dedicated BEX train at 14:26) from Tirano to Chur then continuing onto Zurich.

The Rhb website (Rhaetian Railway) seems easier to use and I will get the BEX tickets there, but it seems I can only get the Tirano to Chur segment - not the connection to Zurich.

For the Chur to Zurich section is my only option to use the SBB website ?

  1. The SBB webste seems more complicated than RHB. Is there another website to buy this segment ?

  2. Is it possible to buy this segment at the station either in Chur or Tirano or do I need to get it in advance ?

Thanks for all your help.

Posted by
19947 posts
  1. No that is it. It really is not complicated, but people in the US have been having problems getting credit card approval for purchases. American Express does the trick.
  2. Yes you can also buy in Tirano and Chur stations. No reservations required. The Swiss system: buy a ticket and get on the train. Ticket is good for any train going your way.
Posted by
169 posts

Hi Sam. Thanks for the quick reply.
Since the BEX arrives in Chur around 8:30 in the evening, I wasnt sure how many trains continue on to Zurich. It's my understanding that the first train from Chur to Zurich leaves about 15 minutes after the BEX arrives.

There are 3 of us travelling. I just wanted to be sure we would get on and there would be space available if we bought that part of ticket the day of travel - while having the BEX segment purchases in the next few days. This is for travel in June.

One last question about seating. The RHB website shows more seats available on the left side of the car. So, is the right side the preferred side on the way to Chur?

If so, is the orientation of the car on the seating diagram always the way it is in reality- or can the car be facing the opposite direction?

Posted by
16141 posts

For trains within Switzerland--like Chur to Zurich---you won't be able to buy on SBB until 30 days ahead, somwait a few weeks for that.

For the BHX, the right side will be looking at the Pass itself as you go by. The other side has a lake. When we rode that route,,we were on a regular regionalmtrain in a near-empty car, somwe could freely switch from side to side. I thought both were nice.

With three of you, maybe get two window seats and an aisle seat all in one row. Then you can switch around.

Posted by
5835 posts

Your difficulty may the the month in advance limitation that Lola notes.

From: Tirano
To: Zurich
Via: Chur
Date: Select from calendar (for example: 22/04/17
Time: 14:26

Site will return:

Tirano dep 14:26 3 BEX 950
Bernina Express 950
Direction: Chur

Chur arr 18:20 14

Chur dep 18:39 9 IC 936

Direction: Zürich HB

Zürich HB arr 19:53

If you try for a future date too far out, when you attempt to buy a ticket, the site will note:

Please select a date [DD.MM.YYYY] within the valid date range:
22.04.2017 to 22.05.2017.

Posted by
169 posts

Thanks for everyone that responded. My concern is if I wait too long for the SBB website the BEX dedicated train will "sell out" and be unavailable. Right now I can at least get the Torino- Chur part on Rhb.

If I do it that way splitting the ticket is it more expensive as 2 separate tickets and/or would that lead to any complications ?

Posted by
32197 posts

You'll need two separate tickets anyway, as you're using two different rail networks. Buy the Bernina Express tickets as soon as possible and the tickets for Chur-Zürich as soon as they become available. You should be able to buy the tickets to Zürich from the website as well as the SBB website.

Posted by
169 posts

Thanks. Just a few last questions before I make the purchase:

The RHB website shows more seats available on the left side of the car. So, is the right side the preferred side on the way to Chur?

Also, is the orientation of the car on the seating diagram always the way it is in reality- or can the car be facing the opposite direction?
For the trip from Torino to Chur is that the orientation on the website?

Lastly, since we are only doing this once we can justify the cost for first class. Generally we always opt for second class- but thought it might be worth it for the experience. Is it "worth" the additional cost?

Posted by
5835 posts

Train are not like airplanes with seat belt requirements. You are allowed to stand up and move about. The BEX panorama windows curve up into the ceiling so views standing up are good.

We had Second class seats in the rear car. The rear car has a backwards facing door with a high half-light window allowing you to see behind the train. The train door windows at the end of our car could also open so I could stick my camera out the window. Take care in that the train goes close to buildings and retaining walls.

Posted by
32197 posts

Regarding your most recent questions....

I don't think it matters what side of the train you sit on, as there are sights on both sides. However, as I recall there were more sights visible from the left, as I spent some time in the foyer so that I could access the open window for photos. The large panoramic windows aren't the best for getting pictures without glare.

I don't remember the seating configuration. If there are open seats, you might be able to switch sides, depending on the scenery.

"For the trip from Torino to Chur is that the orientation on the website?"

I'm assuming that you meant from Tirano to Chur? Torino is some distance from the Bernina Express.

I wouldn't pay for first class, as I don't feel that the few extra frills are worth the extra money. In my case, I also have to consider the 1.35 exchange rate, which makes first class even more expensive.

Posted by
169 posts

Thanks all for the information. I will report back about our experience.

In the meantime, if anyone has a link to a more accurate seating chart I would appreciate it. As even the Rhb website leaves some things unlabeled in both first and second class.

Posted by
19947 posts

I think you are stressing a bit too much on the precise seating chart. This isn't real estate, its just a couple of hours on a train. A totally transitory experience. I don't think there are any "bad" seats.

Posted by
169 posts

Thanks again for all the information and advice. As for stressing - it's not that - but this is one time that we will be doing this - and since we have the option to select seats and decide on first or second class - it would be nice to have an accurate seat map.
But yes, all look like good seats.

Again, we will report back afterwards - and hopefully play it forward by providing any information we can.