After the year 2021 without visiting my sister Florence in Zug in Switzerland, I finally returned to the Confoederatio Helvetica in March 2022. I stayed over a week. More than a family visit, I organised an excursion to French-speaking Switzerland, also known as Romandy, to visit Maxime and the vineyards of Lavaux in the canton of Vaud, near Lausanne. I also booked a journey on the world-famous Glacier Express from Sankt Moritz to Brig. Furthermore, I looked for a nice way in and out. The ÖBB Nightjet night train from Amsterdam to Zurich and the voyage home via Lyon in France.
In Sankt Moritz in the Grisons I discovered, or rather, I rediscovered, the concept of the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland. There, I noticed a northern loop from Zurich to Schaffhausen, to Stein am Rhein, to Sankt Gallen, to Rapperswil and to Lucerne.
The northern stretch of this loop is called the Thurbo Seelinie or Lake Line. “From the history-steeped city of Sankt Gallen, the train winds through a pastoral hillscape towards Lake Constance (Bodensee) and then rolls along its shoreline for 40 kilometres. Afterwards, it follows the Rhine downstream to Schaffhausen, where the Munot Fortress towers as the town’s landmark. Schaffhausen is also famous for harbouring Europe’s largest waterfalls: the Rhine Falls. After crossing the imposing railway bridge of Eglisau, the train soon arrives at Zurich, financial metropolis of Switzerland”, MySwitzerland says.
I focused on the Thurbo Seelinie.
“The voyage on the Thurbo along Lake Constance and the Rhine leads you through the Cantons of Sankt Gallen, Thurgau and Schaffhausen. The many villages with picturesque historic old towns along the route invite visitors to exploration tours. Are you interested in culture? Visit one of the many museums along the ‘lake line’. Those who appreciate the good things in life take a seat in a cosy restaurant and savour the local specialities”, MySwitzerland says.
“Peace, quiet and leisureliness are quite important during this travel experience. Guests are in no hurry: having got off the train, the next one is never more than 30 minutes away. The lake line is a railway and nature treat for everyone. Insider tip: For the best view of the scenery from the train seat, choose the side of the train where the windows face the lake and river!”
The stretch is 86 km long and the ride from Schaffhausen to Sankt Gallen takes 1 hour and 52 minutes. Not longer than Antwerp to Nivelles.
Thurbo AG is a railway company operating in eastern Switzerland, jointly owned by SBB CFF FFS (90%) and the Canton of Thurgau.
It operates regional transport on a network of 640 km belonging to SBB CFF FFS with the exception of the route Wil–Weinfelden–Konstanz which is only maintained by SBB CFF FFS.
Thurbo was founded in September 2001 by the Swiss Federal Railways and Mittelthurgau-Bahn (MThB).
Its main business is regional passenger traffic. Infrastructure Kreuzlingen – Weinfelden – Wil SG, taken over from Mittelthurgau-Bahn, is operated by Thurbo but maintained by SBB.
Several ZVV lines of S-Bahn Zürich, for example S26 in the canton of Zürich between Winterthur and Rüti ZH, are also operated by Thurbo.
The rolling stock consists of Stadler Gelenktriebwagen (GTW). So no reservations and no catering on board.
Surely, after the literal highs of the Glacier Express, the Seelinie has a very different vibe. But its undulating lakeside landscapes are worth a visit for someone who has already seen the more expected sights of the Confederation.
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