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Milan to Tirano to Chur to Zuric. Need advice

Hello Advisors,

This is a wonderful forum, with lots of useful advices and suggestions.
I am planning to do the much talked about route from Tirano to Chur to Zurich during my 3-4 days trip to Switzerland. My questions are:

1) Does swiss pass cover this route. I think yes?
2) Is there any other train , other then Bernina express ? If yes, which one is better: Bernina or this other train?I looked at sbb website, but its difficult to see how many changes one has to make to reach the destination, and which train is better.
3) Does any train have open carts, where we can sit outside and enjoy the beauty enroute?
4) Should I buy swiss pass from Switzerland or California(where I live). Any cost difference?
5) Anybody know of any promo code for swiss travel pass.
6) Can I book my train ride(for example TIrano to Chur to Zurich) before getting the swiss pass. If yes, how would I get my money back, since swiss pass might cover that route for free.

Please advice.
Thank you so much in advance!
Megha

Posted by
20461 posts

1) Yes, although the actual Bernina Express trains (designated by BEX on the sbb schedules) require a "reservation" fee not covered by the pass. 10 to 20 chf I believe.
2) Yes, other trains use regular coaches and generally require more changes to get to Zurich. Regular coaches have windows you can open to get better photos. Bernina Express has panorama cars with curved glass sides that go to the center ceiling for better viewing of the surrounding mountains. They don't open.
3) No.
4) You can buy here through the RS site or at the train station in Tirano. Price differences mostly depend on currency fluctuations.
5) None that I know of.
6) Don't book in advance. The "reservation" fee for the Bernina express is really a supplement for the added services on the train, like headsets that give description of the sights in various languages as you pass by. You can pay this at the station. Connecting trains do not require or even offer reservations.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks a lot Sam for your kind and detailed responses.

For 5) You mentioned no need to book in advance. Do you mean no need to reserve BE for journey from Tirano to Chur?
But I guess, from what I have read, people have written that BE sells out well in advance, so it's better to book it? I understand that trains from Chur to Zurich should be frequent and there is no need to book them.
Could you please clarify.

Thank you,
Megha

Posted by
20461 posts

Well, my experience is you can always get a seat, but just about the time I say that, you will show up on a day that everybody wants to go and it is sold out. The only thing you will lose if you have a Swiss Pass and miss the train is the reservation fee, 14 chf, so it would be annoying but not a budget buster. So go ahead and reserve at www.rhb.ch
When you arrive in Chur, just hop on the next train going to Zurich. Show your Swiss Travel Pass to the conductor when he comes around.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you All. One last questions. On www.rhb.ch website, it shows three timings for BE from Tirano to Chur. The first one being at 10:00am. Just want to make sure I am looking at right one.

Thank you,
Megha