From Milan to Sankt Moritz on the iconic Bernina Express line

After my adventures in France and Italy it was time to move on to the last country of this trip, Switzerland. We elected to travel on the famous Bernina route from Tirano to Sankt Moritz, one of the few railway lines in the world to be recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site.

As the trains from Milan to Tirano leave from the Milano Centrale station and my hotel was located alongside the Porta Garibaldi station I had 2 options to get to my train to Tirano. The first option was to travel by metro from Garibaldi to Centrale, but I opted for the second slightly more convenient option. I took an S-train from Garibaldi to Monza (famous for the formula 1 circuit) where I could change onto the Milan to Tirano train, and this all on one single ticket (so more cost-effective).

The S-train taking me to Monza consisted of some older lower floor coaching stock with a locomotive and a pilot coach. With their folding doors they reminded me a bit of the classical motor units of the Belgian railways. Even though it looked like an old train it was refurbished and equipped with air-conditioning. Like most S-trains around Milan this train was operated by TreNord, the private company operating trains in the Milan and Lombardy regions.

After a short wait in Monza the train to Tirano arrived, consisting of 2 TreNord Jazz EMU’s. Their interior layout reminded me a bit of the Desiro trains we use in Belgium, even the seats where the same! Announcements where automated and made in both Italian and English, on the information screens they also showed a map of where the train was and how fast it was driving.


The route took us along the other side of the Como Lake to where I visited on my daytrip the day before. I turned right and continued to follow a more inland route in the valley of the Adda River at the northern tip of the Como Lake, passing through some areas with fields and vineyards before arriving at our final stop of Tirano.

In Tirano we had to exit from the Italian mainline station and cross the station square to get to the Swiss station from where the train to Sankt Moritz would leave. As usual there where customs and border inspection facilities in the building as we would be exiting from the EU. Just as I arrived in the station a panoramic Bernina Express train arrived and spit out it’s crowd of tourists.

As the Bernina Express trains are reservation and special fare only trains, I opted to travel using a local service which was complimentary using my FIP coupons. The train was pulled by a new Allegra EMU and a number of coaches from different models and ages. I selected to go sit in the EW IV coach right behind the leading EMU, also equipped with a special bike compartment. These coaches where originally built for the Bernina Express trains in the early 1990’s before they received their current panoramic coaches. As a result these are some of the most comfortable coaches on the RhB network.

With the warm temperature all windows where opened (No Air-conditioning here!) which was ideal to take crisp clear photographs. Perfectly on time our train left the station and passed straight over the main Square in front of the Church of Tirano before starting its climb into the mountains. On the Way we passed by some impressive engineering works like the Brusio turning viaduct and several other bridges and tunnels. The ever changing scenery of mountains, woods and lakes made for some very scenic and picturesque views. As pictures can say more than a thousand words you can enjoy a selection of the views I was able to capture on camera:

A few weeks later Timothy also made the trip with his sister and made a small video about it:

After a breath-taking trip I arrived in Sankt Moritz, the station is located along the lake and just by exiting alone you can get some stunning views. As my hotel was located in the village up on the slope I started climbing along the road towards the village, before discovering that there where escalators up from the station to the village at the other end of the station. So whenever you end up at Sankt Moritz, make sure you look around to avoid a steep climb uphill.

The entire trip was by far one of the most scenic I have ever made and it definably is worthy of its UNESCO label. If you are in doubt of making the trip, just do it you won’t regret it!

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