Alpine Steam Express

Friday 5th January to Saturday 13th January 2018
9 - Days


Prices from: £2325


Join our popular winter tour to Switzerland with its all new, exclusive itinerary.


Departure Date: 05-Jan-2018
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Explore the majestic mountains and glorious scenery of Switzerland while travelling on specially chartered trains comprised of the most elegant rolling stock in the country. You’ll be based in the vibrant cities of Bern and Zürich for the entire tour, staying at comfortable, centrally located hotels. Ride on fancy VIP trains that are only used on special occasions, including Art Deco Pullman carriages, traditional dining cars, and streamlined 1930s railcars. Steam traction also figures prominently with trips on the busy Swiss main line by steam motor railcar and high speed tank engine. A first for this tour is the inclusion of narrow gauge steam on the beautiful Appenzell network, hauled by a recently refurbished and relocated 2-6-0 tank engine. A short side-step into neighbouring Austria for narrow gauge steam in mountainous Vorarlberg adds to the incredible lustre of this romantic winter holiday. It’s a tour to delight frequent visitors to Switzerland as well as those new to its charms.

Friday 5th January
London to Bern by rail
You travel from London St. Pancras International to Bern in Switzerland via Paris, Strasbourg and Basel, using Eurostar and French high speed train services. On arrival in the Swiss capital in the early evening, you check into your charming hotel, Hotel Allegro conveniently located in the heart of the city’s UNESCO-listed old town.

Saturday 6th January
The BLS ‘Blue Arrow’ over the Lötschberg Line
Today you’ll join the superbly restored BLS ‘Blue Arrow’ 1938 railcar for a private charter journey straight through the Alps. This streamlined electric railcar transformed rail travel in Switzerland when it was first launched in the late 1930’s. Among its special attractions are the open driver vestibules, allowing you to have the forward-facing view during the journey, sitting next to or standing right behind the driver. The ‘Blue Arrow’ lay derelict for several decades until recently when it was fully restored and returned to service. You’ll travel on this iconic railcar over the spectacular Lötschberg Line, one of Switzerland’s major Alpine trunk routes. This superbly engineered line was opened in 1913 and the ‘Blue Arrow’ lets you fully experience its scenic splendour. The line runs beside Lake Thun and through the Alps of the Bernese Oberland to Kandersteg, and then onwards to Brig. The stone-arched viaduct at Frutigen marks the start of the Lötschberg north ramp and is one of the chief attractions on the line. The descent from the summit tunnel is even more breath-taking as the expansive Rhone Valley opens up below the steep banks of the railway line. At Brig, there’ll be time to photograph or film the ‘Blue Arrow’ and get refreshments. You return by the same route but with a different perspective on the spectacular scenery of the Lötschberg Line en route to Bern. (B)

Sunday 7th January
Steam on the Swiss main line to Lake Geneva
A rare steam experience takes centre stage today, as you travel on a privately chartered steam train over the busy national network. You’ll depart Bern’s main station on a rake formed entirely of elegant BLS First Class coaches, hauled by the powerful 2-6-2 tank engine 5810 dating from 1911. Not only is this the largest standard gauge tank engine in the country, but it’s also the fastest. Your scenic route passes over the spectacular Grand Fey Viaduct from 1927, before you see the spires of Fribourg and continue to Lausanne via the Gruyere Alps. The descent runs through the breath-taking Lavaux vineyards high above Lake Geneva. From Lausanne you steam north to the thermal spa town of Yverdon, before branching off to cover some ‘rare track’ on the northward line to Payerne. You then turn back to Fribourg, completing a large circular route for the day. From Fribourg you return to Bern, arriving there in the late afternoon. Lunch-time refreshments will be served on your train today. (B L)

Monday 8th January
Steam Motor Railcar from Zürich to Rheinfelden and the Feldschlösschen Brewery
After breakfast at the hotel you travel by service train to Zurich Main Station and board one of Western Europe’s unique railway vehicles. Your transport today is a single axle-driven, four-wheeled, vertical-boiler, steam-powered railcar from 1902, for a journey first on Zurich’s busy main lines and then via the intercity corridor to Basel. Enjoy the unique appeal of this incredible time machine as high speed trains whisk by left and right. Your destination is the ornate Feldschlösschen Brewery in Rheinfelden, a towered, turreted Victorian wonder from 1892. It has its own short branch line, ideal for staging photogenic run-pasts and photo shoots. Lunch will be served on the train and a brewery tour (plus beer sampling) will be included at the castle-like brewery. In the afternoon, you return by steam motor railcar to Zurich, taking the ‘freight only’ route along the River Rhine via Full and Turgi. (B L)

Tuesday 9th January
Free day to discover Zurich and its mountain railways
Today is a free day to use your complimentary ZurichCARD, allowing you to explore and travel by all modes of public transport in Zurich and the surrounding area. The pass also offers free or reduced admissions to the majority of museums and galleries. Take advantage of this rover ticket and explore Zurich’s unique network of urban mountain railways, including the steeply graded branch line to the summit of Mount Uetliberg, the Dolder rack railway or the Rigiblick funicular. All of these scenic lines take you to panoramic vantage points view sweeping views of the city, the lake and the Alps. Zurich’s expansive tram network is just as interesting, with the steep line to the zoo or the impressively engineered Glattalbahn to the airport as stand-out features. Your tour manager will be pleased to offer advice and provide further ideas for possible journeys and activities. (B)

Wednesday 10th January
Rhaetian Railway from Chur to Arosa by private Pullman; Ascent to the Weisshorn
This morning you take an SBB service train from Zürich to Chur. This spectacular route passes Alpine lakes and towering pinnacles in Eastern Switzerland, before reaching Chur. Here the Swiss standard gauge ends and the world famous narrow gauge Rhaetian Railways network starts. You experience the very best of RhB in your privately chartered, original 1930s Pullman. Large windows allow grand views of the mountainous landscape as you traverse the impressively engineered 25 km branch line from Chur to Arosa. The route climbs 1,155 metres via several tunnels and bridges, including the 284-metre-long Langwieser Viaduct – a Swiss heritage site first opened in December 1914. On arrival in Arosa you take the cableway to the summit of the 2,653 metre Weisshorn, with breathtaking views from the top and a fine restaurant in which to take lunch. You return to Arosa in the afternoon to explore the town or stroll along the picturesque lake. Later, you return by RhB train and Pullman car to Chur before catching the onward SBB train back to Zurich. (B)

Thursday 11th January
Steam in the Appenzell
After breakfast today, you witness one of the best kept secrets of Swiss railways, the iconic little red trains of the Appenzell. Just as enchanting as their famous cousins further south on the Rhaetian network, they wind their way up into the foothills of Mount Säntis. This ‘Little Big’ narrow gauge network sums up everything that is great about Swiss railways, and you’ll experience it on your privately chartered heritage train, as a the recently refurbished 2-6-0 tank engine ‘Madlaina’ takes you on the route Herisau–Appenzell–Wasserauen. At Wasserauen you ascend the Ebenalp mountain by aerial cableway for another stunning mountain top experience, before you make the return journey by steam train to Herisau. As you gaze at grazing cattle and wooden farm barns nestled in the shadow of Mount Säntis, you’ll realize you have truly reached a part of Switzerland untouched by time. Lunch will be served on the train and you return to Zurich in late afternoon. Please note that, if the planned overhaul completion by autumn 2017 of ‘Madlaina’ is delayed, an alternative steam programme will take place today, thus travelling by 2-6-2 standard gauge tank engine on the main line tracks of the Appenzell region to Herisau and Nesslau. (B L)

Friday 12th January
Steam in Vorarlberg at Bezau
Today you venture to nearby Austria, visiting the westernmost state of Vorarlberg. Discover one of Austria’s famed 760 mm narrow gauge routes as you travel over the 5km long Bregenzerwaldbahn from Bezau to Schwarzenberg. This short line is distinctly Alpine and spectacular throughout, passing over two impressive viaducts. You’ll lunch at the railway station in Schwarzenberg before the Uh-type steam locomotive takes you back to Bezau, pausing for numerous photo stops en route. Winter steam is exceptionally rare at this railway and its high elevation and Alpine setting guarantees attractive views and great photos. Your train will be hauled by the last narrow gauge steam locomotive built in Austria, the powerful 0-6-2 Uh 102 from 1931. After your fine day out, you return to Zurich by SBB service train in the late afternoon. (B L)

Saturday 13th January
Return to London
You return to London St. Pancras International via Paris, travelling on high speed and Eurostar trains. (B)

Other Options

Steam Trains Only
Make your own way to Switzerland and join the tour party on a “train fare only basis” on the four days (7/8/11/12 January) when we have trips by exclusively chartered steam trains.     
First Class £445     
Price includes 4 lunches.

Streamlined Electric Trains Only 
Make your own way to Switzerland and join the tour party on a “train fare only basis” on the two days (6/10 January) when we travel on the legendary streamlined “Blue Arrow” railcar from 1938 and the Rhaetian Railway Pullman Car. These unique attractions can only be experienced by joining privately chartered trips. 
First Class £195


Details

Price

  • First Class £2575
  • Standard Class £2455
  • Single supplement £365
  • Ground only (Bern - Zurich) £2325

All prices shown are per person

Price Includes

  • First or Standard Class rail travel from London St. Pancras International to Bern and return by Eurostar and French TGV services
  • 8 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast
  • 3 lunches
  • All rail trips as detailed in the itinerary
  • A ZurichCARD
  • All seat reservations and transfers
  • The services of a tour manager

Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner

 

Map feature coming soon!