On The Town with Switzerland: Train Travel at its Best

Word has it that when Canadians start travelling again, they’ll be looking for safety, security and “no surprises.” No doubt Switzerland will step up to the plate with all that, and more.Swiss Trains

About ¾ the size of Nova Scotia and with a population of just 8.5 million, Switzerland sits atop central Europe with attractions including jaw-dropping alpine scenery, a cosmopolitan lifestyle and a thoroughly-reliable tourism infrastructure which dates back to the first downhill skiers, back in the 1890s.

Anyone who has been there has been impressed with the quiet efficiency of this country, whether it’s the cleanliness of the towns or the no-worries reliability.

Which, of course, also applies to the rail service. This week, travel media from across North America were given insights into Switzerland’s “Historic train ride – newly invented.” That’s the Swiss South Eastern Railway’s Ltd’s new scenic train service called the Treno Gottardo. Launched in

Swiss Train Seats
Swiss Train Seats – 1st Class

December of last year, the route takes clients between northern and southern Switzerland, offering photogenic views of secluded valleys, waterfalls, mountain lakes and historic sites.

The new route, operated by Schweizerische Südostbahn AG, is 293 kms in length from Basel in the German-speaking north to Locarno in the Italian-speaking south (or 209 kms if clients get on in Zurich). The journey is 4 hours 20 minutes from Basel; 3 hours 20 minutes from Zurich, and service is year-round.

The sparkling Treno Gottardo cars (359 Y seats; 68 F) feature extra-large windows and state-of-the-art vending machines for light meals and drinks including wine and beer. There are power sockets at all seats. Tarifs are about Cad$83 for one way Y, $146 in F, though clients are strongly recommended to buy a Swiss Travel Pass which includes rail, bus and city transport as well as entry to over 500 museums.

Swiss Train Seats
Swiss Train Seats – 2nd Class

As we were told: “The Swiss believe that the most beautiful way to travel is by train.” And, when they are free to travel, your clients will have a new and scenic way to experience just that. Lucky them!

Martha Chapman


An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions series as well as special seasonal series. She can often be seen On The Town covering industry events. Known to all in the biz, Martha has worked her entire career in travel, beginning as a teenaged hotel receptionist in Bermuda.

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