Photo: Tobias Ryser / GoldenPass Express

This Panoramic Train Takes You Through Switzerland in Heated Seats

Switzerland Train Travel
by Kellie Walton Oct 24, 2023

Few methods of transportation are as perfect as Switzerland’s rail system: departures and arrivals are timed to the second, coaches are impeccably clean, and the combination of mountain and lake views all across the country make every journey a breathtaking one. The first train system was installed in 1844, and routes have been continuously added to make travel through the country a breeze.

In December 2022, a new journey debuted, connecting Interlaken and Montreux. The GoldenPass Express route not only streamlines travel between three Swiss regions, but also introduces technology 100 years in the making and a brand new class level.

The GoldenPass Express is a feat of engineering and design

Connecting Interlaken and Montreux has been in the works for over a century, but a discrepancy between the existing tracks along that route long prevented that project from becoming a reality. About halfway through the journey as the train approaches Zweissman, the tracks change in both width and electrical voltage.

Engineers at the Montreux Oberland Bernois Railway (MOB) were able to build a system that transitions the width of the wheels and the height of the coach to match that of the other tracks seamlessly. Not only that, but the system also allows the railway to change from 15,000 volts to 900.

As a passenger, all of these changes happen in an instant, with the subtle flicker of lights and a height change you’d only notice if you knew what to look for. All in, the switch takes a few seconds traveling at the slow pace of nine miles per hour to allow for the change, then passengers are on their way as if nothing happened.

A train this innovative should look the part, so MOB consulted one of the most prolific transportation designers to construct the sophisticated nose of the train. Italy-based PininFarina, better known for its work with Ferrari, proposed an oversized window so those in the Prestige class at the front and rear of the train could have impressive panoramic views throughout their journey.

Where does the GoldenPass Express go?

The GoldenPass Express travels between Montreux, a picture-postcard city on the shore of Lake Geneva, and the incredibly scenic and adventure-focused town of Interlaken, located in the Bernese Alps and sandwiched in between two lakes: Lake Thunersee and Lake Brienzersee.

The GoldenPass Express makes multiple stops throughout the journey, including in the town of Gstaad. Gstaad is a well-known haunt for the rich and famous, but it’s also a great place for hiking and skiing. If you prefer luxury shopping to the great outdoors, you’ll find chalet-style storefronts housing brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Prada, and Maison Lorenz Bach, among others.

The journey also passes through villages like Château-d’Oex and Montbovon that may be smaller in size, but certainly not in charm.

How long does a trip on the GoldenPass Express take?

The GoldenPass Express train runs between Montreux and Interlaken in Switzerland

Photo: Tobias Ryser / GoldenPass Express

A trip on the GoldenPass Express takes three hours and 15 minutes and departs from both Montreux and Interlaken four times per day. The train leaves Montreux daily at 7:35 AM, 9:35 AM, 12:35 PM, and 2:35 PM. It leaves Interlaken daily at 9:08 AM, 11:08 AM, 2:08 PM, and 4:08 PM. The detailed schedule for the GoldenPass Express is available on the official website.

How much does it cost to ride the GoldenPass Express?

Even though the GoldenPass Express feels like a luxury product, the price of the experience is reasonable, especially for Switzerland where everything is extremely pricey. A one-way journey from Montreux to Interlaken (or vice versa) begins at $57 USD (CHF 53) for second class and $101 USD (CHF 93) for first class. To get the best price, it is highly recommended to book as early as possible. (Online reservations open two months in advance.)

But if you want something even more opulent than a first-class seat, you can book a Prestige seat. The Prestige seats are tucked in their own coaches at the front and rear of the train, elevated over a foot higher than first and second-class cars to offer a better view of the landscape. The seats can be heated, reclined, and even rotated to face other passengers or the direction of travel. Prestige-class passengers can book catering packages in advance, including breakfast, charcuterie boards, or caviar up to one day before departure, and standard refreshments are offered throughout the journey. Prestige class is available for only $38 (CHF 35) on top of a first class fare.

Is GoldenPass Express included in the Swiss Travel Pass?

One of the best ways to navigate Switzerland is through the Swiss Travel Pass, which offers unlimited travel on the Swiss Travel System network, and discounts on premium attractions like the Jungraujoch and the Gornergrat-Bahn. The GoldenPass Express is included in the unlimited offerings through the Swiss Travel Pass.

What is the difference between the GoldenPass Express, GoldenPass panoramic, and GoldenPass Belle Epoque?

The GoldenPass Express and the GoldenPass Panoramic are two different Swiss train routes, but they are both operated by modern trains fitted with panoramic windows.

The GoldenPass Express runs multiple times daily between Montreux and Interlaken in three hours and 15 minutes, while the GoldenPass Panoramic travels several times per day between Montreux and the small town of Zweisimmen in two hours and eight minutes.

The GoldenPass Belle Epoque travels on the same route as the GoldenPass Panoramic (between Montreux and Zweissimen), but it’s not a modern train. The GoldenPass Belle Epoque is an old-fashioned train that resembles the Orient Express. It runs only on selected dates throughout the year.

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