The Railway Series
Crossing the Alps on the Bernina Express
By far the greatest train ride in Switzerland is the Bernina Express, which connects Chur to Tirano via the Albula & Bernina Railways. On its ½-day journey, the train negotiates 55 tunnels, 196 bridges & inclines of up to 7% with ease, while traversing the spectacular Alpine landscape. The Albula line is best known for the landmark Landwasser Viaduct in Filisur, a 65-m-high viaduct with a highly pronounced curve & one abutment cut into the sheer face of a cliff, where the tracks lead directly into a tunnel. However, the section between Bergün & Preda is quite impressive too, thanks to the intricate route it follows, which provides a striking view of the landscape from a constantly changing angle. A distance of 6⅘ km by road, the railway is 12½ km long, with two curved & three spiral tunnels built to overcome a height difference of 417 m.
Highlights of the Bernina line are the section over the Bernina Pass & alongside the Lago Bianco reservoir, and the well-known Brusio Circular Viaduct, an elegant spiral viaduct built to reduce the railway’s gradient. You don’t have to actually ride the train to enjoy it: the Albula Railway Adventure Trail, a three-stage hike from Preda via Bergün to Filisur, is a great way to experience the railway, and from Ospizio Bernina (2,253 m) you can take a lovely 7¾-km-long walk around the lake to Alp Grüm (2,091 m), and catch the train from there. The touristic Bernina Express, with its comfortable panoramic carriages, is not the only train on the line: regional trains, for which you don’t have to make a reservation & pay a supplement, run on the hour, and they have windows you can hang your head out of.rhb.ch