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Bernina Express in winter

I recently had the opportunity to take a round trip ride on the Bernina Express in late January. It is important to do this in clear weather and we lucked out big time. We met the train at Filisur after riding over from Davos on the local shuttle train. The day started partly cloudy, but at Filisur it cleared completely and it was bluebird skies the rest of the way. The first section is called the Albula Line as it must make a very steep climb to get to the tunnel at the Albula Pass. Since this is not a cogwheel train, it must make a series of loops inside the mountains to gain elevation at a reasonable grade. The last one before the Albula Tunnel was referred to as the “Merry-Go-Round” on the train PA system was a series of two 360 deg loops with a 180 in between.
Coming down out of the tunnel we stopped in Samedan and the front half of the train was cut off for its continuation to St Moritz, while we short cut across to Pontresina. At Pontresina, we got a new engine because the remainder of the line to Tirano operates on a different voltage than the rest of the Swiss railways. Then began the climb up to the Bernina Pass.
All along the way we paralleled cross country ski trails with lots of skiers out enjoying the fine day. As we neared the top, we passed the cable car stations of the Diavolezza ski area. The top of the pass is a flat area with a frozen reservoir. There we saw the kite skiers doing their thing using kites to pull them along just as kite surfers do.
Descending into the valley on another series of switch backs, the snow disappeared and the mountainsides planted with grape vines. We passed along the beautiful Lago di Poschiavo, and finally one last 360 at the Brusio Viaduct and we pulled into Tirano.
We had 2 hours in Tirano before the return trip. I must admit to being a bit disappointed as we had plans of stocking up on inexpensive Italian wine. But arriving at 1 pm, all the shops were closed for lunch. So after a brief stroll, it was a pizza lunch and then time to reboard for the return trip. We were surprised that they now put our group name on the railway car.
The return was as dramatic as the arrival, at least until darkness overcame us at Samedan. A bit of adventure changing at Filisur as this requires using the cross-over tunnel to get to the Davos shuttle. We had one person with severely reduced mobility, so one person blocked the train door open while we helped him up the ramp to board the train. The conductor had her pad out ready right someone up when she saw the reason and relented. In Switzerland, I imagine that the order of severity of crimes is something like this:
1. Premeditated Homicide.
2. Divulging the secrets of a Swiss bank.
3. Intentionally delaying a Swiss train
4. Culpable Manslaughter
We traveled on a group ticket. A group is at least 10 people and you get a 20% discount and every 10th person travels free. It must be booked at least 3 work days before the travel date, so picking a good travel day, looking at the advance weather forecast is a must. In addition to the ticket cost, there is a 10 chf reservation fee per person each way on the actual Bernina Express. trains.

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16894 posts

Nice report! Also, mowing your lawn on Sunday must fit into the crimes list.