The Rhätische Bahn/ Rhaetian Railway isn’t one line from one place to another, it’s a network of routes in south east Switzerland.
The RhB railway lines include **The Albula Route **, taken by trains between Chur and St Moritz and The Bernina Route, taken by trains between St Moritz and Tirano.
Both of which are so fabulous in terms of scenery and construction, that they have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Bernina Express (see below) is the only DIRECT train service that travels on the both The Albula and The Bernina routes and connects Chur with Tirano.
Though if you're willing to make two straightforward connections, you don't have to take the Bernina Express in order to make the incredible journey between Chur and Tirano, the most spectacular route taken by RhB's trains.
The regular trains that travel on The Albula and Bernina Routes also have on board maps and commentary that point out the multiple scenic highlights.
The regular RhB train service operates over the EIGHT ROUTES listed below and unless stated otherwise trains depart hourly in each direction.
(The stations which have been highlighted, are where connections can be made between trains on the different RhB routes).
1. Scuol Tarasp – Saglians – Klosters Platz – Landquart – Chur – Reichanau-Tamins – Ilanz - Disentis/Muster (connect for MGB trains to/from Andermatt and Brig)
2. Scuol Tarasp – Saglians – Samedan – Pontresina
3. Landquart – Klosters Platz – Samedan – St Moritz (every other hour)
4. Landquart- Klosters Platz – Davos Platz
5. Chur – Reichanau-Tamins - Filisur – Samedan – St Moritz (the Albula Railway route - a UNESCO World Heritage site)
6. Filisur – Davos Platz
7. St Moritz – Pontresina – Tirano (the Bernina Railway route, a UNESCO World Heritage site)
8. Chur – Arosa
Usually the connections between RhB trains involve only waiting a few minutes between trains and the timings are very reliable.
Popular journeys by REGULAR trains, that require connections are:
By changing trains at Samedan and Saglians it’s also possible to travel in a circular route in either direction from Chur in a single day.
The route is:
(1) Chur – Saglians (on trains heading to Scuol Tarasp)
(2) Saglians – Samedan (on trains heading to Pontresina)
(3) Samedan – Chur
RhB operates multiple types of regular trains, the more modern of which have larger windows, but on the older trains the windows can be opened - which can help with taking photographs.
On some departures both older and newer trains are joined together.
Catering is not available on board the regular RhB trains.
On some departures the Glacier Express coaches are attached to ordinary trains, so if when waiting for, or boarding an ordinary train service, you can only see The Glacier Express coaches, you may have to walk along the platform to find the ordinary coaches.
A tick in the box for travelling 1st class on the regular RhB trains, is that 1st class tends to be much quieter, so you can virtually guarantee having window (seats) and you can also dart across the train from one side to the other to take in all the best views.
Winter observation cars:
In winter many trains on the Chur to St Moritz route also convey observation cars in addition to the ordinary coaches.
Seats in these observation cars must be reserved prior to boarding the train and have a higher fare than standard tickets.
All rail pass users must pay a reservation fee/supplement to travel in these observation coaches.
Rhb also operates special trains that provide longer direct services, in addition to the regular train service.
The Bernina Express is the only train to operate direct in either direction between Chur and Tirano.
A supplementary fare is charged on the Bernina Express and the train(s) have especially large panoramic windows.
Rail pass users, including Swiss Travel Pass users need to pay a reservation fee/supplement to travel on The Bernina Express that can be booked here .
One train in each direction per day, branded ‘Engadin Star’, provides a direct service between Landquart and St Moritz via Klosters
The Glacier Express runs over RhB lines between St Moritz/Davos and Disentis/Muster, and new 'short-hop tickets now allow for travel on the Glacier Express between Chur and St Moritz.
Using Rail Passes on the Glacier and Bernina Express services between RhB Stations: If you have a Swiss Travel Pass or a Eurail/InterRail pass valid in Switzerland you can also now travel on the Glacier Express between Disentis/Muster and St Moritz* on payment of the reservation fee.
Though the fee is only particularly good value if you want to take the entire journey over the RhB section of its route between Disentis/Muster and St Moritz.
Use the booking pages on The Glacier Express website and select your rail pass on the 'reductions' list.
*The same rail pass reservation fee applies on any journey by Glacier Express including the entire journey between St Moritz and Zermatt
Also The Bernina Express rail pass reservation fee/supplement that can be booked here is cheaper and it also includes the complete RhB route from Chur to Tirano..
The most iconic structure on the RhB network is the Landwasser Viaduct.
It's located between Reichanau-Tamins and Filisur just to the north of Filisur station and is used by trains on the the Chur - Samedan - St Moritz route (trains between Filisur and Davos don’t cross the viaduct).
For the best views of the viaduct and tunnel - you need to be on the right of the train AND facing the direction of travel, when heading south from Chur (and on the left facing backwards when heading north from Samedan/St Moritz).
When heading south from Chur on the Albua route to St Moritz the best views of the spirals between Bergun and Preda, pictured above, that the line takes as it climbs up to the Albula Tunnel, are on the left (so are on the right when heading north).
However, arguably the most spectacular line on the RhB network is the Bernina Line between Pontresina and Tirano.
On this line, when heading north* from Tirano - the best views of the beautiful Lago di Poschiavo and the spectacular ascent up from Poschiavo, can be seen from the right of the train.
Though as the train enters and traverses the Bernina Pass, between before Alp Grum station and Morteratsch station, when heading north, the best of the views are on the left – and this includes Lago Bianco, frozen in winter and turquoise in summer.
*flip the sides of the train advice when heading south.
Corviglia winter sports area is accessed by the St Moritz Corvilgia funicular and its base station is a 5 - 10 min walk from St Moritz RhB train station.
Disentis winter sports area has bus links from Disentis/Muster station
Flims Laax Falera - bus connections from Chur and Reichenau-Tamins stations.
Obsersaxen-Mundaun - bus connections from Ilanz station.
Connections with mainline trains are available at Landquart and Chur.
From both Chur and Landquart stations direct trains operate to/from Basel, Zurich and Buchs - at Buchs connect for Railjet trains to/from Austria.
There are also 2 x ICE trains per day that provide a direct service between Chur/Landquart and Hamburg, Hannover, Frankfurt (Main), Mannheim and Karlsruhe.
Buses operate between Scuol-Tarasp and Landeck station on the Austrian main line between Bregenz and Innsbruck (change of bus required).
Buses also link Tirano with the resort town of Lugano on Lake Como.
Connections with trains to/ from Milano are available at Tirano.
Ordinary journey tickets by RhB train can be booked online here
Bernina Express tickets (including tickets for rail pass users) can be booked online here
If the calendar functionality freezes, you can type in your date of travel
Tickets between SBB stations and RhB stations can be booked on the SBB booking service.
Eurail - free travel
InterRail - free travel
Swiss Travel Pass/Saver Day Pass - free travel
If you have a Eurail/InterRail pass, you won’t have to pay any additional charges for journeys in either direction between Milano and Zurich (and beyond).
There are easy connections available in Tirano, Pontresina, Samedan and Chur.
It’s possible to set off from Milano in the morning, travel up to Zurich via Tirano and Chur and arrive in Zurich in time to catch the final train of the day back to Milano (a risk that can be worth taking!)
I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
This is one of more than 100 train travel 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.