WT03: Raetian Railway Trail

 The Canton of Grisons is a true Mekka for railway enthusiasts. Except for a few kilometres of rail tracks operated by the Swiss National Railways SBB, this part of Switzerland is totally dominated by the regional railway company Rhätische Bahn (RhB), whose lines have been built at the narrow gauge width of 1000mm.

It was of course the mountainous terrain which prompted the decision to construct all railway lines in this region at this gauge, as it allows – for example – to build curves at a much narrower radius than would be required by the normal gauge and was therefore cheaper and easier to build. Still, the engineers responsible for the construction of the lines of RhB were faced with enormous challenges, but they have come up with fantastic solutions and there is probably hardly any other railway in the world featuring as many bridges and tunnels per km as does the Rhätische Bahn. It should be added that the rail network of RhB is exclusively built as an adhesion railway which means that the engineers had to stretch certain lines artificially in order to overcome the substantial ascents involved. The result of the ingenuity applied several decades ago is a railway that is not only fun to ride on but is equally interesting to watch from several angles or to simply enjoy as an unusual companion on a walk that follows the most spectacular parts of its network.

Infos

Prices in € are an information only. The € price will be calculated at the actual rate of exchange at the time of booking.
 Davos > Filisur > Bergün > Samedan > Bernina Pass > Pontresina > Brusio.
 Category II: Walker’s Joy-Tours.
 Daily 03/07/2021 through 18/09/2021.
 7 x Hotels.
 7 x Breakfast, 1 x Dinner.
 Daily luggage transfer.
 CHF 1’075.00 (€ 995.00) per person for parties of 2, CHF 955.00 (€ 885.00) per person for parties of 4; from Davos/to Poschiavo.

Customer Feedback

“All your arrangements worked well, the walks were excellent and we very much enjoyed our holiday. Many thanks.”

Map

Itinerary

Day 1: Davos. The day is reserved for your journey to Davos, one of the major cities in the region and an important winter sports arena.

Day 2: Davos – Filisur. Walk through the valley that has been carved and created by the river Landwasser, whom you follow westwards, admiring the views into the gorge and marvelling at the technical solutions applied by the engineers responsible for the construction of the railway line from Davos to Filisur. Highlight of the day is the world famous, curved Landwasser viaduct and we know a vantage point from which you have the perfect angle to take pictures of the red RhB trains crossing this viaduct in a breathtaking height.

Day 3: Filisur – Bergün. The two villiages of Filisur and Bergün are also separated by a narrow gorge which took all the imagination and know how of the engineers to be overcome upon construction of the famous Albula railway line. However, if you prefer, there is also a high level route, taking you out of the narrow but spectacular valley and allowing you to make the acquaintance of the two tiny but very charming villages of Stugl and Latsch, before you arrive in Bergün. If time allows, visit the local museum, where railway enthusiasts have constructed a model of the famous Albula Line north ramp.

Day 4: Bergün – Samedan. Another highlight is the fantastic stretch between Bergün and Preda, where the trains bound for St. Moritz enter the Albula tunnel. 6km air-line distance and a difference in altitude of 400m between the two villages meant that the railway line had to be extended to a total distance of 14km, involving the construction of numerous bridges and tunnels. From the track from Bergün to Preda, you have ample possibilities to observe all these marvels at close quarters and there are again various points from which to shoot spectacular pictures of the trains working their way up or down this line. From Preda, you have the choice of taking the train to Spinas or – if you feel like it – walk through fantastic Alpine scenery across the Fuorcla Crap Alv Pass to the lonely guest house in Spinas. Either take the train in Spinas or continue your walk through the beautiful Bever valley, where there is no road but only the railway and the scenery may even remind you of the Rocky Mountains, except perhaps for the fact that the trains you observe are pulled by an electric rather than a Diesel engine. Spend the night in Samedan.

Day 5: Samedan – Bernina. Your day starts with a short train ride to Pontresina, from where you can walk mostly along or in the vicinity of the railway line to the Bernina Pass. Don’t miss to have a look at the marvellous Morteratsch Glacier and the majestic mountains of the Bernina massive. There is always the opportunity to catch a train to shorten your walk; there is also the alternative of a walks high above the valley, and even the climb of Piz Languard, 3289m, is well within reach on today’s stretch. The many galleries under which the railway passes on its way to the Bernina pass give you a good idea how harsh this environment can be in winter. In your hotel on the pass, you’ll see many pictures from the old and from modern days which show the enormous efforts needed to keep this railway in operation throughout the year. You spend the night in the Bernina Hospiz, which is the gateway to the southern, Italian speaking Val Poschiavo.

Day 6: Bernina – Poschiavo. The railway line from the top of the Bernina Pass at 2250 meters down to Poschiavo at 1015 meters is another example of the ingenuity of yesterday’s railway engineers. On your way from the harsh, Alpine environment on the pass down to the southern charm typical of the bottom of the valley, you do not only enjoy the view of majestic peaks and glaciers, but you also get the chance to observe chamois and other animals in a wildlife refugee and witness the technical solutions that were applied to get the trains safely down to Poschiavo (and of course vice versa) without the help of toothed wheels. Spend the night in a hotel in Poschiavo, where you must not miss the visit to the small but exceptional Spanish quarter, built by former emigrants who returned to their hometown and designed their new homes in the colonial styles they had seen and in other parts of Europe.

Day 7: Poschiavo – Brusio. There are several possibilities to walk from Poschiavo to Brusio – more challenging and more relaxed ones. Whichever way you choose however, you won’t miss the highlight of the day, the unique loop viaduct that the trains pass on their way from Poschiavo to Brusio close to the Italian border. The idea of a loop to stretch distance in order to overcome altitude has been applied elsewhere as well, but this viaduct is the only example where this technical solution has been built in open country rather than in a tunnel. Return by train from Brusio to Poschiavo for the final night of a certainly unforgettable trip along the most spectacular parts of the Rhätische Bahn.

Day 8: Return. Travel back from Poschiavo to Zurich Airport; if you’re lucky, the weather is good and you can enjoy the train ride across the Bernina Pass in one of the railway’s open panoramic coaches!