A highlight of the 2021 European rail timetables was to be an expanded service of trains between Milan and Zurich, the brand new trains that have been introduced to the route and the newly opened Ceneri Base Tunnel have enabled the fastest ever journey time between the two cities.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on the route, so the planned most frequent ever train service has had to be placed on hold.
Though this remains a journey which showcases the best of European rail travel.
The smart new trains have restaurant cars, the engineering achievements to enable the journey time are phenomenal and despite the epic, recently opened rail tunnels, most of the journey is still fantastically beautiful!
Another 2021 innovation was the very welcome extension to the routes taken by some departures, so that Zurich now has a daily direct train to Genova/Genoa, though the planned direct train to Bologna has seemingly been placed on hold.
Though Milano Centrale is still the gateway to many Italian destinations not served by direct trains from Switzerland, so take these trains and connect there for the likes of Firenze/Florence, Roma/Rome, Napoli/Naples, Bari, Rimini and Pisa.
On the planned timetable these trains were to depart hourly between 06:33 and 11:33 and then after midday the departures were to be in the odd hours only until 19:33.
Though due to the pandemic four of the departures leaving before 14:00 are being terminated at Chiasso, with connections available on to Milano and Como.
Final Destination: Milano Cle. or Genova P.p or Venezia S.L (or or Bologna C)
These trains also call: Como San Giovanni station and Lugano
Note that three types of train are used on this route, the new Giruno trains are gradually replacing the ETR 600 trains, while on some departures, particularly at weekends, the Astoro trains are used.
On some departures an Astoro and and ETR 600 train are joined together.
On some departures, when two trains are joined together regardless of the type of train, the train closest to the concourse will be terminating at Chiasso or Lugano, with only the front train continuing on to Milano.
up to 10 x trains per day
Book early and save: Yes
Online bookings open: 4 months* ahead of the travel date
*If you look more than 3 months ahead it's likely that not all departures will be listed
(On the Trenitalia website, you will need to enter Zuerich Hb as the departure station).
Trains departing at different times can be cheaper than others leaving on the same day, so you may need to look through the day's departures to find the cheapest fares.
Rail pass users
If you will be travelling with valid Eurail or InterRail passes, you will need to pay a rail pass reservation fee when boarding this train for a journey to Switzerland (seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets).
Though avoid paying for these reservation fees at a station in Switzerland, because if you do so you will also have to pay a 11CHF booking fee.
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These trains may be faster than ever, but now that they use The Gotthard Base Tunnel and the brand new Ceneri Base Tunnel, this journey is also less scenic than it used to be.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel is now the world's longest railway tunnel, so long that it takes trains more than 15 mins to travel through it.
An announcement is made on the train just before it enters the tunnel.
However, this is still one of Europe's most epic express train journeys and thanks to those tunnels the journey time is now more than an hour faster than it was previously.
From the LEFT of the train (when facing the direction of travel) the first highlight to look out for is the view over Lake Zurich, as the train ascends up from the shore.
Then, if the weather is behaving itself, after departure from Zug station comes what is now the highlight of the journey, the view over the Zuger See.
This lake with its mountain peaks on the far shore can be seen on the right for more than 15 mins between Zug and Arth-Goldau station.
The next beautiful vista to look out for comes after departure from Arth-Goldau station, when on the right, the train will pass by the Lauerzersee.
Then just to the south of here, also look out on the right for glimpses of the Luzernsee.
Now that the trains on this route use the Ceneri Base Tunnel the next scenic highlights on the journey
come shortly after departure from Lugano, where there are views over the lake, initially over on the LEFT.
The final wow moment comes after departure from Lugano station when the train will cross the lake.After the trains have crossed the lake, the best of the views switch to the right.
The Italian section of the journey south of Chiasso is more mundane, despite the trains passing through Como, its namesake lake can't be seen from these trains.
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This is one of more than 1000 journey guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.