The Joy of Train Travel

Published On September 10, 2014 | By Staff Writer | Travel Planning
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There is something magical about train travel. Well, the good train journeys at least. I’m the first to admit that some train journeys are fairly horrendous – some trains are notorious for being delayed or breaking down, or offering you that dreaded alternative of a “rail replacement service”(which means a long uncomfortable bus ride). Also train travel isn’t always glamorous – I remember one journey a long time ago in China where the carriages were rammed with people and everyone thought nothing of spitting or clearing their nose on the floor. But when train travel goes right, there is nothing better than gliding effortlessly through the countryside and soaking in the landscape as it whizzes by. Some of the best train journeys in the world are those that traverse the alpine regions. In this article we take a look at the Glacier Express and the Jungfrau train journeys. These are both in Switzerland and visitors to this area will often combine journeys on these two trains for unparalleled views of the stunning Swiss Alps.

The Glacier Express

The slowest express train in the world runs between the two Swiss resort towns of St Moritz and Zermatt. What is particularly special about The Glacier Express is that the first class carriages have been fitted with extraordinary panoramic windows that stretch right over the ceiling the carriage, affording clear and uninterrupted views of the Swiss Alps that soar above you in every direction. This journey also passes through the UNESCO World Heritage area known as the Rhaetian Railway – an enormous national park that preserves this unique stretch of Swiss wilderness. The Glacier Express began operation in 1930 but it wasn’t until 1982 that a new tunnel enabled it to operate all year round and helped to establish it as one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist activities. Even though the distance covered on this journey is that far, it will take you nearly eight hours, 291 bridges, and 91 tunnels in order for you to reach your destination.

The Jungfrau Railway

This is quite a small line in Switzerland that runs only nine kilometres from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch which at 3,454 metres above sea level is the highest railway station in Europe. What’s a bit unique about the Jungfrau Railway is that for almost its entire length it runs through the Jungfrau Tunnel which is built into the Eiger and Monch mountains. You might be thinking that you are not going to see very much from a train that runs completely through a tunnel, but there are two stations within the tunnel where you can get out to soak in the views of the dazzling alpine scenes that lie below. Construction on this unique railway began in 1896 and it was quite dangerous – with a number of explosions killing workers during construction. It wasn’t until 1912 that the final tunnelling work was completed and the railway was able to begin operation.

You can book tickets on the combined journey of The Glacier Express and The Jungfrau Railway through Railbookers.

Spectacular scenery, snow, sunshine, and a slow moving train. That is truly the joy of train travel.

 

photo credit: paulafunnell via photopin cc

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