Jun 27, 2019 - 12:19 AM
Gotthard Panorama Express - a personal view
This is ‘take it or leave it’ advice:
Personally I am sceptical of the attraction of the Gotthard Panorama Express. It is an attempt to keep some tourism going on the Gotthard 'mountain route' since the rest of the fast trains now go through the base tunnel. However, you see mainly valleys not high mountains. It is reservation obligatory and first class only.
Also, the train gets rather lonely - part of the ‘romance’ of the Gotthard route previously was that your train competed for space on the line with huge long international long-distance trains carrying 000s of passengers a day between northern and southern Europe, and those passenger trains interacted and weaved in between dozens of heavy freight trains lumbering back and forth across the Alps.
The curiosity was seeing another train high above you one minute then a few minutes later passing by your train on the same level, then perhaps seeing it again below you a few minutes after that. It is this that no longer happens as there are so few trains left on the line.
(It could also be argued that it is just a way of finding a use for very expensive panorama cars that Swiss Federal Railways bought but don't have now have any other use for them...)!
More economical is to take any boat Luzern - Fluelen. Then take the train Fluelen - Erstfeld. Change at Erstfeld into the regional train that takes the same old mountain route but at no extra cost, and runs direct through to Como (and Milano).
Or indeed take the fast train through the base tunnel. There is plenty of scenery before and after the base tunnel transit.
1960 Man : Swiss railway expert and author, travelling Swiss rails for 59 years.