(CNN) — Combining class and luxury with twenty first century technical excellence, Switzerland’s latest panoramic train journey lastly begins on December 11 — three years later than deliberate and 150 years after it was first proposed.
The new Golden Go Specific (GPX) will instantly join three of the nation’s most vital vacationer locations: Montreux, Gstaad and Interlaken, a particular route made attainable by revolutionary new trains able to altering the gauge of their wheels and the peak of their coach our bodies.
Due to the distinctive design of the new trains, passengers can stay of their comfy seats all through the three-and-a-quarter hour journey, immersing themselves within the ever-changing view via huge panoramic home windows.
The spectacular journey, taking in a few of Europe’s most stunning lakes, secluded valleys and excessive mountain passes, cuts throughout the grain of central Switzerland, following a commerce route that has existed for the reason that Center Ages.
The result’s a really memorable journey for vacationers, however one that has at all times been a difficult activity for railway engineers and operators.
Till now, the Golden Go Specific idea has been largely a advertising and marketing train for the three railway corporations concerned, linking the tourism hotspots of Montreux, Interlaken and Luzern however requiring two adjustments of train.
From December although, a type of interruptions might be eradicated and the Montreux Oberland Bernois (MOB) Railway is assured that its fashionable new GPX panoramic trains will enhance the recognition of the route, significantly with worldwide guests wanting a seamless expertise.
In just some seconds, the trains can swap from the meter-gauge monitor of the MOB to the Swiss customary gauge of 1,435 millimeters, eliminating the necessity for via passengers to vary trains en route. Between Zweisimmen and Interlaken, the trains run over the tracks of the Bern Lotschberg Simplon (BLS), Switzerland’s largest personal railway.
Trains that can change gauge (the gap between their wheels) are nothing new — Spanish Talgo trains have been in a position to swap between customary gauge (1,435 millimeters) and wider Iberian tracks for many years, however the GPX trains have an added stage of complexity that makes them a world first.
The new train comes into service in December 2022.
In addition to altering gauge, the delicate vans beneath every carriage increase the peak of the physique to match the upper platforms of the BLS stations.
The change in gauge is facilitated by designing the vans with two half-frames, which can slide 435 millimeters sideways relative to one another. To do that, they’ve been outfitted with unbiased wheel pairs with out an axle in between the 2 sides of the bogie.
The fashionable carriages are a collaboration between Swiss train builder Stadler, international transport big Alstom, which designed and constructed the gauge-changing bogies, and the legendary Italian design studio Pininfarina.
Well-known primarily for its automotive creations, from Ferrari to Peugeot, Pininfarina is much from new to the rail business. It was chargeable for the exterior look of Italy’s ETR500 high-speed train, Eurostar’s exterior shade scheme and, again in 1993, Pininfarina and MOB labored collectively on a earlier technology of trains generally known as the Crystal Panoramic Specific.
“Having to take care of new security requirements has been a stimulus to our creativity, slightly than a limitation,” stated Alfredo Palma, design venture supervisor at Pininfarina.
“In each venture, whether or not it’s automotive, transportation or structure, our purpose is to create stunning objects whereas overcoming technical or regulatory obstacles. With MOB now we have created a train that affords an immersive journey expertise, in whole symbiosis with the fantastic thing about the encompassing nature.”
Costing $93.5 million (89 million Swiss Francs) for simply 23 autos, they’re an costly resolution to an issue courting again 150 years, when a direct service between Montreux and Interlaken was first proposed.
Nevertheless, that price might be balanced towards the plain advantages of offering a extra handy direct service — and the extra passengers it’s prone to appeal to. A lot of these passengers might be worldwide guests from North America and Asia, accustomed to paying premium fares to expertise the very best of Switzerland’s amazing Alpine surroundings from its myriad scenic railways.
It is hoped the train will assist increase tourism in Switzerland.
Regardless of the delays attributable to manufacturing points and the Covid-19 pandemic, MOB and its companions — BLS, the cantons of Bern, Fribourg and Vaud and the Swiss Federal Workplace for Transport — consider that the funding will make a direct contribution to the area’s financial system.
“With the Golden Go Specific we face a spectacular technological problem, shifting from slim gauge to plain gauge,” stated Georges Oberson, common supervisor of MOB.
“We additionally needed this vacationer train to be stunning and stylish. That is why we assigned the duty to Pininfarina, one of the vital prestigious design corporations on the earth.”
Passengers have a alternative of three courses — Second Class, First Class or, for 28 fortunate folks per journey, the posh of reclining leather-based seats in Status Class. First and Status Class vacationers can additionally e book an at-seat service of regionally produced foods and drinks to boost the journey.
Initially, the new GPX trains will run via from Montreux to Interlaken and vice-versa simply as soon as a day, leaving Montreux at 9:35 a.m. and Interlaken at 9:08 a.m.
From June 11, 2023, the service will ramp as much as 4 return journeys per day, leaving Montreux at 7:35 a.m., 9:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and a pair of:35 p.m. and returning at 9:08 a.m., 11:08 a.m., 2:08 p.m. and 4:08 p.m.
The train begins at Montreaux on the shores of Lake Geneva.
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP through Getty Pictures
What can vacationers anticipate from a GPX journey, and the way does it evaluate to different scenic railways?
Heading east, the journey begins on the shores of Lake Geneva within the stunning city of Montreux — residence to the world-famous Jazz Pageant and generations of musicians and artists. A tourism hotspot for greater than 150 years, it stays massively fashionable with worldwide guests and a really perfect base for exploring western and central Switzerland.
From their city heart station, MOB trains climb rapidly up the mountain aspect, more and more beautiful views of the lake switching from side-to-side because the train negotiates a collection of 180-degree turns via the vineyards to achieve peak.
Ultimately, when it can climb no additional, the road dives into the two.5-kilometer Jaman Tunnel, ultimately rising into the fantastic Hongrin Valley within the bucolic Gruyere area — well-known for its dairy cows, and the cheese and chocolate constructed from their milk.
Excessive mountains tower over lush inexperienced valleys because the MOB winds via fastidiously manicured farmland and equally neat Alpine villages.
After leaving the junction station of Montbovon, the road begins to climb once more, passing Chateau d’Oex to achieve the world-famous resort of Gstaad — a long-established winter playground for the wealthy and well-known.
Passengers can hook up with the railway that rides up the north face of the Eiger to Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station.
NICHOLAS RATZENBOECK/AFP through Getty Pictures
Having crossed the linguistic divide between French-speaking Canton Vaud and Canton Bern, the place Swiss-German dominates, the railway passes via sparsely populated highland nation to the summit of the road earlier than dropping via a collection of loops into Zweisimmen.
Beforehand, GPX passengers would change from their MOB panoramic train into a bigger, extra typical BLS train to proceed their journey, however they can now chill out of their seats because the train passes over the complicated gauge-changing gear for the following leg.
As its title suggests, Zweisimmen stands on the confluence of two arms of the River Simme — the Gross Simme and Klein Simme. Our route follows the unified river north after which east via the gorgeous Simmental for 35 kilometers, reaching the shores of Lake Thun at Spiez.
Spiez is a significant railway junction the place our route crosses the worldwide primary line from Basel and Bern to Italy through the Lötschberg and Simplon Tunnels.
Daytrippers can change right here to take pleasure in a spectacular experience over the unique Lötschberg mountain path to Brig within the Rhone Valley earlier than returning direct to Montreux.
The city of Gstaad lies on the GPX’s routes.
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP through Getty Pictures
However the GPX continues alongside Lake Thun, regularly descending to the water’s edge for the memorable remaining leg to its vacation spot and Switzerland’s unique vacationer hotspot — Interlaken.
Within the literal custom of many German place names, Interlaken is strictly that — a city sitting on a slim stretch of dry land between two of Switzerland’s largest lakes — Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
A well-liked vacation spot in its personal proper, it is also the place to begin for a few of Switzerland’s most unforgettable journeys — not least the three-stage journey via the north face of the Eiger to Jungfraujoch — Europe’s highest railway station at 3,454 meters (11,332 ft).
You can additionally proceed by Zentralbahn panoramic train to Luzern through Meiringen and the Brunig Go. Meiringen is a “should see” for Sherlock Holmes followers, near the Reichenbach Falls, the place Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional hero and his nemesis fell to their dying.
Like lots of Europe’s scenic railways, MOB depends closely on tourism. Over the past three years, it has been hit onerous by the restrictions on worldwide journey and the continuing absence of tourists from key markets in Asia. In response to current surveys, passenger numbers should not anticipated to return to pre-Covid ranges till 2024 on the earliest.
Nevertheless, with the beautiful new GPX trains, MOB has created an added attraction to the Golden Go route that will probably permit many new guests to expertise this underrated gem of a journey.
Prime picture credit score: MOB