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Glacier Express vs. regional train

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Tampa
posts: 10
reviews: 12
Glacier Express vs. regional train

We'll be visiting Switzerland in August and are wondering if it's possible to take a regional train vs. the Glacier Express from Pontresina to Zermatt and still get the same 'experience'. From what I could locate, it seemed the regional trains went to Zurich & therefore we would miss the most dramatic stretch of the trip (between Disentis and Brig). Is this true? We read that, if weather was going to be cloudy/rainy, to skip going to Zermatt and instead continue on to Lausanne. Any comments?

15 replies to this topic
canada
posts: 5,678
reviews: 10
1. Re: Glacier Express vs. regional train

Go to www.sbb.ch fill in from Pontresina to Zermatt via Disentis. The Glacier Express trains will be designated as D. So you simply take the non-D number trains.

Tampa
posts: 10
reviews: 12
2. Re: Glacier Express vs. regional train

I went to the sbb.ch website & did as you said. It told me it was 'ambiguous' with just Disentis & gave me about 20 different choices of Disentis. So I picked Disentis/Mustér BBD (just to pick one). It gave me four choices for morning departures, but none of them had a 'D' designation. The first two showed as traveling with "R, GEX" and said seat reservation was compulsory. It appears those are the Glacier Express trains. The next one said travel with "R, RE" but had five train changes. If I'm reading it correctly, I won't arrive until 19:13 (unless I catch a 5:38 am train, and that's not happening on vacation!). So it seems I will need to take the Glacier Express if I want a 'decent' arrival time into Zermatt.

St. Moritz...
Destination Expert
for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
posts: 3,150
reviews: 245
3. Re: Glacier Express vs. regional train

The only one WITHOUT a change is the Glacier Express, all the other connections need several changes and this of course costs time. Already the Glacier Express takes nearly 8 hours - but 8 relaxed hours for a wonderful journey. For me it saves a lot of hassle and checking the watch for the next connection and so it's absolutely worth the extra fee (for the reservation, the rest of the journey is the same prize as all the series of regional trains). See www.glacierexpress.ch/en/Pages/default.aspx

Lucerne, Switzerland
posts: 474
4. Re: Glacier Express vs. regional train

Take care: Chose "Disentis/Mustér" (railway station) as the via destination. "Disentis/Mustér BDD" signifies the bus stop at the bottom station of the cable care in the village Disentis/Mustér, and this not just next to the railway station!

Then, your journey will take either

- 7:58h with one change if you chose to ride the GEX, or

- 8:11 or 9:11h with 5 changes by regional trains

And there are 14 connections per day (in summer), of which two are GEX! So plenty to chose from.

BTW: Disentis is the official German name and Mustér the Romansh one. The name Disentis is supposed to come from Latin Desertina, used for the deserted valley in late antique times, while the Romansh name Mustér refers to the monastery.

And Disentis indeed can be worth a brief stop (wait 1h or 2h for the next train - this is an advantage by not using the GEX)... as many villages on this route! http://www.disentis-sedrun.com/en ... at the headwaters of the RIver Rhine, which finally flows into the North Sea next to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Lucerne, Switzerland
posts: 474
5. Re: Glacier Express vs. regional train

... and by the way: the 9:11h connection takes one hour more, because it takes a different route for the first leg, namely down the Engadine valley, then through the Vereina Tunnel to Klosters and then down the Prättigau valley to Landquart, there it turns back to Chur where you meet again the GEX line. This first leg, the 3 hours ride from Sagliains (do not speak the G!) to Klosters, Landquart, Chur and Distentis/Mustér is without a single change!

Use the map icon/functionality of the SBB web site to understand, available for each connection!

If you do not like to break up your journey somewhere on the route, this alternative is definitely worth to be considered, because it shows you even more of the beautiness of the Grisons (canton of Graubünden).

Lucerne, Switzerland
posts: 474
6. Re: Glacier Express vs. regional train

... and finally, my proposal would be as follows:

Leave at 07:09 in Pontresina to Sagliains, change there to Disentis/Mustér via Klosters, Landquart and Chur and arrive at Disentis at 11:11.

Have a stroll through the village, visit the monastry, have lunch at a local restaurant and then

board the GEX 911 at 14:00, which comes from Davos (needs reservation), and arrive at Zermatt at 18:32.

This invloves only 2 changes (Sagliains and Disentis/Mustér), you do not have to travel 8 hours in one piece, you get culture, you have a decent meal and you even get more views ;-)

Lucerne, Switzerland
posts: 474
7. Re: Glacier Express vs. regional train

07:09 --> should read 07:02 ... pardon.

St. Moritz...
Destination Expert
for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
posts: 3,150
reviews: 245
8. Re: Glacier Express vs. regional train

As you mention on your other tread, you will arrive to Engadin St. Moritz on the Bernina Express. Therefore I would suggest you take the Albula line to Chur (the one the Glacier Express uses and the extension of the Bernina Express) instead of the Vereina (Sagliains) line mentioned by Maja S. The Vereina is recommended if you arrive on the Albula line to avoid backtracking and allows for another experience, but arriving on the Bernina line, I would stick with the Albula line - it's direct to Chur with no changes and it's more scenic IMO. With the GEX you would be able to stay on without a change in Chur.

Tampa
posts: 10
reviews: 12
9. Re: Glacier Express vs. regional train

Thank you! I appreciate the information and help. Can't wait to get to Switzerland!

Singapore, Singapore
posts: 5
reviews: 24
10. Re: Glacier Express vs. regional train

Hello all

I am reading this with great interest as I have the intention to travel via regional train from the opposite direction - from Zermatt to St Moritz. As the journey is very long, I was thinking of having a night over in one of the small towns along the way. Is there another interesting Swiss town that you all could recommend? Would Disentis/Mustér be worth an overnight stop?

Thanks! =)

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