Switzerland: Bernina Express celebrates the 50s

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Since the maiden voyage on June 3, 1973, passengers have experienced the crossing of the Alps on one of the most spectacular railway lines in the world with 55 tunnels, 196 bridges and gradients of up to 70 per thousand

Happy Birthday Bernina Express: The panoramic train has been running from Switzerland across the Alps to northern Italy for 50 years. Many highlights between glaciers and palm trees are now part of the UNESCO World Heritage. June 3, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the maiden voyage. The first highlight of the almost four and a half hour journey is the departure point. Chur is considered the oldest city in Switzerland and is the capital of the Graubünden region. After departure, the route first goes to Thusis and Filisur, where the panoramic train crosses the imposing Landwasser Viaduct, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. For many guests, the ride over five elegantly bricked pillars is the landmark of the train.

After the Bernina Express passes the sophisticated Upper Engadine with St. Moritz - popular with the jet set from near and far - the so-called Montebello curve follows with an impressive view of the mountain massif, such as the more than 4.000 meter high Piz Bernina. The geographical highlight of the Bernina line is the Ospizio Bernina train station at over 2.250 meters above sea level, which also reflects the language border. Very close by is Lago Bianco, whose adjacent river courses lead to the Adriatic Sea on one side and to the Black Sea on the other side. Before reaching the destination, the panorama train passes the well-known circular viaduct at Brusio. Alongside the Landwasser Viaduct, it is one of the most frequent photo motifs on the Bernina Express. Arriving in Tirano, passengers can expect Italian dolce vita flair at the foot of the Alps.

Anniversary numbers

There are many impressive figures in the more than 125-year history of the Rhaetian Railway. When looking at the Swiss mountain landscape, holidaymakers can think about these number games:

  • The Bernina Express passes 196 bridges and 55 tunnels on its way from Chur to Tirano.
  • 1.824 vertical meters separate the highest station on the Bernina Express, Ospizio Bernina, from the lowest point in Tirano.
  • The steepest incline on the Bernina Express journey is 70 percent
  • 20 percent of the route network is located on or in artificial structures. For example, the Bernina Express passes the UNESCO World Heritage Landwasser Viaduct.
  • 58.690 meters of the Rhaetian Railway's route network consists exclusively of tunnels.
The Ospizio Bernina station on the Bernina Pass forms the roof of the route at an altitude of 2.253 meters (Photo: Fabio Peng, @calandamountain).
The Ospizio Bernina station on the Bernina Pass forms the roof of the route at an altitude of 2.253 meters (Photo: Fabio Peng, @calandamountain).