Switzerland - Where to go if you're a rail enthusiast

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richieb1971

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What stations are scenic, have a variety of traction, have great scenery from Zurich?

I'm going in July and wouldn't mind spending a nice afternoon on a station with mountains surrounding me.

Thanks all.

Richie.
 
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Railman10

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What stations are scenic, have a variety of traction, have great scenery from Zurich?

I'm going in July and wouldn't mind spending a nice afternoon on a station with mountains surrounding me.

Thanks all.

Richie.

Everywhere you go in Switzerland is interesting! BRIG has a good mix with main line and narrow gauge and is a pleasant town to visit. Then take the classic BLS route (that is avoiding the new base tunnel) back to Zurich via Berne. LUCERNE is well worth spending time at with its mountain background and lakeside position. From Zurich, take the route to Lucerne via Wadenswil, Biberbrugg and Arth-Goldau for spectacular lakeside and mountain scenery. Enjoy your trip!
 

HA25322

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The line from Lausanne to Brig along Lake Geneva is also very nice.
Try Frutigen for freight, passenger and scenery.
 

Greenback

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I was going to suggest Brig. I've always seen a good variety of traction there.

It may not have the same variety of stuff to see on the rails, but I also love the Emmental valley line between Lucerne and Bern. The line between Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux is not without interest, but basically, there are so many places where you'll see fantastic mountain scenery that it would be impossible to list them all.

In any case, I haven't travelled on every Swiss line so I have to stick to what I know :D
 

30907

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Depends how far you want to go and how mountainous!

Keeping near Zurich I would suggest Arth-Goldau which would pick up all the Gotthard freight (plus the Arth-Rigi rack line and the Luzern-St Gallen trains via Biberbrugg already mentioned).

Or you could go further to Erstfeld at the beginning of the Gotthard Ramp (I assume the bankers - I dont mean the gnomes! - still attach/detach there), which is more mountainous - or even Wassen which is the classic photo spot.

Luzern has an attractive setting and the Zentralbahn NG, but I'm can'take remember if you can see mountains and trains at once.

If you just want to ride trains, then something like Luzern-Interlaken-Kandersteg- Brig-Andermatt-Göschenen-Zürich would be a fantastic trip but take most of a day and not be cheap.
 

Greenback

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The last time I went to Switzerland I found an inter Rail pass to be good value. It's probably more expensive nowadays, but a few years ago (2013 I think it was) I paid around £105 for 3 days. If I'd been under 26 it would have been even cheaper.

I realise it has limitations in what's covered, but I managed to do two loops, one in the west around Geneva, Neuchatel, Montreux and Brig, and the other further east which took in Arth Goldau, Luzern, Schweiz, the Emmental Valley and Bern. I also did Interlaken to Basel on the other day.
 

alex17595

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I would recommend a Circle Zurich - Pfaffikon SZ- Arth Goldau - Rigi - Luzern via Ferry

I'm not sure on cost as I used a Swiss pass and it seems to be a nice mix of different modes. I did see a few freights around Pfaffikon and Arth Goldau. No idea on what the line fron Luzern - Zurich is like as I continued on to Interlaken.
 

furnessvale

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Or you could go further to Erstfeld at the beginning of the Gotthard Ramp (I assume the bankers - I dont mean the gnomes! - still attach/detach there), which is more mountainous - or even Wassen which is the classic photo spot.

If there are other members of the family to keep happy, Fluellen could be a better bet.

You still have all the Gotthard traffic but there are lake views and steamers to add variety.
 

Gordon

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Fluelen, Altdorf or Sargans would be my choices for variety and mountainous backdrop for a single station visit from Zurich for one day. IMO the mountain backdrop at Arth Goldau is not as prominent as at the other three stations.

Incidentally google street view in Fluelerstrasse near Fluelen station features a star turn from Re10/10 formed of rare green liveried 11330, plus 11670 on a northbound container train.



.
 

30907

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Fluelen, Altdorf or Sargans would be my choices for variety and mountainous backdrop for a single station visit from Zurich for one day. IMO the mountain backdrop at Arth Goldau is not as prominent as at the other three stations.

The advantage of Arth, Fluelen, Altdorf and Erstfeld is that you could cover all of them on one ticket.

Sargans is an interesting thought - more mountainous than Arth, but perhaps not the volume of freight?
 

richieb1971

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Haven't looked at them all yet, but Erstfeld looks promising from the youtubes out there.

Will only spend an afternoon there. Wife is coming so can't be all about watching trains. Although some of the routes will obviously be an interest to her so thank you for all your input and recommendations.
 

heart-of-wessex

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Been to Ertsfeld last visit, it was mayhem, more cargo trains than passengers, it was great to see banking action too!

Not sure it's still as active, last time I heard they are building a tunnel to divert the freight trains round to avoid the incline. It's a great backdrop though and a very scenic run by the huge lake
 

Taunton

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Erstfeld certainly used to have an old Crocodile loco sat west of the station on display. Goschenen, further down the line, is the same trains but a spectacular ride to get there, and busier with the bankers detaching, the narrow gauge FO branch, etc.

The best trip in the country has to be up to Jungfraujoch. Expensive but worth every centime.
 

30907

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Been to Ertsfeld last visit, it was mayhem, more cargo trains than passengers, it was great to see banking action too!

Not sure it's still as active, last time I heard they are building a tunnel to divert the freight trains round to avoid the incline. It's a great backdrop though and a very scenic run by the huge lake

The Gotthard Base Tunnel doesn't open fully till December. AMENDED
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Haven't looked at them all yet, but Erstfeld looks promising from the youtubes out there.

Will only spend an afternoon there. Wife is coming so can't be all about watching trains. Although some of the routes will obviously be an interest to her so thank you for all your input and recommendations.

If she's with you, do Luzern-Fluelen or vv by steamer.
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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Nothing to beat the RhB system in Graubünden for scenery (Bernina Express or other trains from Chur/St Moritz) via the Albula/Bernina passes.
Not sure if they still do the open-air "Aussichtwagen"s, but great fun on a clear day.
You can stop off for cable cars en route and walk the glaciers.
 

axlecounter

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It opens June this year

In June they'll start to put the first trains through the tunnel, probably freights but some passengers too. It will be more like testing until december, so June-July and maybe later you will still see some, if not many, freights going on the mountain line. Don't take it for granted though.:D

So as others have said Erstfeld, Flüelen, Wassen or to the south, Giornico and Faido are good spots regarding the Gotthard line.
 

43096

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Nothing to beat the RhB system in Graubünden for scenery (Bernina Express or other trains from Chur/St Moritz) via the Albula/Bernina passes.
Not sure if they still do the open-air "Aussichtwagen"s, but great fun on a clear day.
You can stop off for cable cars en route and walk the glaciers.
They certainly did the open air stock a couple of years ago. As a bonus it has baby Krokodil haulage: one of RhB's 1929 built locos (414/415). As you say it is enormously fun.
 

Bletchleyite

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Will have to get a trip there at some point this year...while I do like the Loetschberger EMUs, the Loetschbergbahn isn't the same without proper ICs over it. My railway "thing" is definitely more "proper big trains in spectacular scenery" than the narrow gauge stuff, good though it is.

Mind you, the new Stadler EMUs for the tunnel look good, much better than the tiny-windowed narrow-seated IC2000 double-deck rubbish.
 

Gordon

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I humbly suggest the OP sticks to Fluelen. Erstfeld is a railway village with not much to suit the non enthusiast. The complete opposite of Fluelen where the station is adjacent to the lakeside, churches, hotels, steamer landing stage, cafe restaurant etc.

At Ersfeld, the stuffed Croc and the old turntable, and other stuff has all gone, I'm afraid. Erstfeld depot is gradually losing its status.

last time I heard they are building a tunnel to divert the freight trains round to avoid the incline.

You could say that! The Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) is arguably the most significant railway project in Europe ever: twin tunnels 57km long, so 152 km of track in tunnel, first ever level alpine rail tunnel, max speed 250km/h, passenger journey time Zurich - Locarno cut by 45 minutes - the GBT is as much (more?) about passenger as freight

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotthard_Base_Tunnel

http://www.gottardo2016.ch/en

Opens on 1 June. Traffic will then ramp up gradually until the December timetable change when the GBT will officially become the main route for long distance traffic.





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richieb1971

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Getting a bit distracted by all the places mentioned now.

Erstfeld was photographically pleasing as a station. It had wide open possibilities. I usually shoot on a tripod with a static composition and I like the view to be as panoramic as possible with a view.

Fluelen doesn't offer that. I would like a steady flow of freight though as I am only going for 1 afternoon. Would also prefer to be within 2 hours of Zurich.

If the train from Zurich offers great scenery to the final destination, thats a bonus.

please select a place that ticks the most boxes.

Thank you for your help.

Richie.
 

30907

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Getting a bit distracted by all the places mentioned now.

Erstfeld was photographically pleasing as a station. It had wide open possibilities. I usually shoot on a tripod with a static composition and I like the view to be as panoramic as possible with a view.

Fluelen doesn't offer that. I would like a steady flow of freight though as I am only going for 1 afternoon. Would also prefer to be within 2 hours of Zurich.

If the train from Zurich offers great scenery to the final destination, thats a bonus.

please select a place that ticks the most boxes.

Thank you for your help.

Richie.

If you're on your own, I'd get a ticket to Erstfeld, but get off earlier if you like the look of a place! You'll get all the Gotthard freights at all of them. The trip is reasonably scenic.

Brig for the Simplon would be good, but to get there in 2 hours means missing the old BLS route through Kandersteg which is the spectacular bit.
 

Taunton

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Some will be familiar with Ian Walmsley writing in Modern Railways magazine. Here he is a few years ago in Switzerland.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjovhf4_ZC0

Very much in the traditions of Cecil J Allen's writings about Switzerland in the magazine a generation previously.
 

Gordon

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Erstfeld was photographically pleasing as a station. It had wide open possibilities. I usually shoot on a tripod with a static composition and I like the view to be as panoramic as possible with a view.

Fluelen doesn't offer that.
.

Regarding your plea:

I should stick to a trip to Erstfeld. Its the easy trip from Zürich (less than 1.5 hours journey). You can stop at Fleulen for a short time and carry on on the next train. The journey from Zürich is unquestionably scenic. Zürichsee on left after leaving Zurich, Zugersee on right after leaving Zug, single track (rare on an international inter city route) clinging to the hillside between Zug and Arth Goldau, scenic both sides between Arth Goldau and Brunnen, scenic right hand side (Vierwaldtstädtersee) Brunnen - Fluelen.

Make sure you get the 10.09 or 12.09 IR train from Zürich - the ZRH- Locarno IRs are the traditional loco hauled services with the 'old fashioned' Re4/4II loco and including a (1st class only) panorama coach

regarding your photographic preferences, the view at Fluelen is not bad:


Looking North:





Looking south:





By comparison here is Erstfeld:






.
 
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Requeststop

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My secret line and please don't shout too loudly is the Martigny-Châtelard-Chamonix line.

Travelling from the upper Rhine Valley up to the base of Mont Blanc with some fantastic views in both directions, and traction which is overhead pantograph, 3-rail collector and rack and pinion during the journey.

OK, you pass into France by walking down a platform and changing the train bit it's worth it.

It is time consuming but if you start at Geneva, change at Martigny and Chamonix, you can do a circular and return to Geneva, but the views are definitely unmatched.

From Zurich I'd recommend travelling down to Lugano. Maybe change at Bellinzona to Locarno and then through Italy to Brig via Domodossola, then to Berne and back to Zurich.
 
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