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.
The Voralpen-Express (VAE) is a named train connecting medium-sized cities in central and eastern Switzerland, carrying this name since 1992. It is operated by Südostbahn (SOB) and runs every hour between Sankt Gallen and Lucerne.
The first through trains from Romanshorn to Arth-Goldau started in 1940 after the electrification of the Südostbahn line between Rapperswil and Arth-Goldau. Romanshorn–Rapperswil had been under wires since 1926/31.
The trains were jointly operated by Bodensee–Toggenburg-Bahn (BT), Südostbahn (SOB) and the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB-CFF-FFS).
In 1944 BT added buffet cars to the trainsets. In 1947 some trains continued from Arth-Goldau to Lucerne. In 1960 operation was changed to push-pull operation with very powerful motor coaches. The trainsets were now painted in green and cream.
1982 brought the clock-face timetable with a train Romanshorn–Lucerne every two hours but also the end for buffet cars.
In 1991 BT and SOB bought EW IV inter-city coaches to replace the push-pull sets. In 1995 unnamed trains every two hours were added between Romanshorn and Arth-Goldau, again with push-pull sets.
After Revvivo-coaches had been used for these trains from 1997 on, it was decided to sell the EW IV to SBB and buy more Revvivos to allow an hourly push-pull trainset between Romanshorn and Lucerne. 2001 BT and SOB merged into the new SOB, which reduced the number of participating companies to two. VAE ran as an InterRegio (IR) express train until 2013.
On 15 December 2013 the concept changed and SOB became the sole operator. VAE became a distinct train category but the train was limited to St. Gallen–Lucerne. To cope with the increasing number of passengers, trains now generally had seven coaches, which means that two locomotives or motor coaches are needed. This is due to the 50‰ (1:20) grades between Pfäffikon SZ and Arth-Goldau. Motive power was at each end, allowing a push-pull service without driving trailers.
In 2019 the loco hauled trains were replaced with RABe 526 EMUs. They consist of an 8-car 526 100/200 set running the whole route and are combined with a 4-car 526 000 set on the section north of Rapperswil.
This trains are Stadler FLIRTs, also known as ‘Traverso‘. The copper-coloured livery give these long EMUs a distinctive look. Although as such advertised, there is no bistro on board. The ‘bistro’ is a hot drinks vending machine and there is also a snack vending machine. Not impressive.
But the train comfortable and the seats are good.
- Zandvoort, home of the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix.
- REVIEW | ÖBB Nightjet Amsterdam – Zurich night train.
- SWITZERLAND 2022 | Thun and Thun Castle.
- SWITZERLAND 2022 | The Lausanne Métro.
- REVIEW | Hotel du Raisin in Lausanne.
- SWITZERLAND 2022 | The Vineyard Terraces of Lavaux in Vaud.
- SWITZERLAND 2022 | Two days in Lausanne.
- SWITZERLAND 2022 | Sankt Moritz.
- REVIEW | Hotel Arte in Sankt Moritz.
- SWITZERLAND | The Glacier Express from Sankt Moritz to Brig (and to Zermatt).
- SWITZERLAND | The Grisons or Graubünden.
- SWITZERLAND 2022 | Thurbo Seelinie, discovering Switzerland’s northern lake route.
- SWITZERLAND 2022 | Sankt Gallen.