… or how they designed the Bernina Pass Railway from Switzerland to Italy
16.12.2009 - 16.12.2009 -6 °C
Another day of 'riding the rails' – this time doing a return trip to Tirano in Italy on the Bernina Express before heading up to Zurich for our next nights accommodation.
The trip meant we had to catch our first train just after 10am to go the one stop needed to then catch the express. Standing around on Celerino Station before 10am certainly gave us cold fingers and toes – plenty of snow around and frosty breath.
At Samedan Station we were talking to one of the rail staff and he said Samedan was one of the coldest places in Switzerland and the temperature last night got down to minus 24 degrees. But it was a balmy minus 6 degrees (in the sun) on the platform at 10:30 in the morning.
Our Bernina Express was once again not really an express – because it stopped frequently, often at stations which had a 'stop on demand' status. The Bernina Express is said to provide a link between the cool beauty of the mountains and the warm charm of Italy and the 122 km of track is UNESCO World Heritage listed with 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges and viaducts.
At one stage the train seems to be carving it's own track out through pristine snow fields at the top of a mountain and then it's zig-zagging it's way down into a valley and then it's trundling down the main street of a village. And it even went in circles at one stage as it spiralled it's way down or up – depending on which way you were going.
The railway celebrates 100 years of continuous operation next year and is the highest altitude open mountain railway to operate all year round. And the title of this blog is how the commentary on the train described the design of the route.
It was quite a different ride from the Glacier Express of the day before, with equally stunning (but very different) views. Fir trees dripping with snow, frozen streams and waterfalls, frozen lakes, pristine snow, quaint alpine villages – the list could go on and on. We even saw a couple of guys para-skiing on a frozen lake near the highest point of the trip.
And then to top it off, we actually returned to Italy briefly (and the Italian-ness was obvious, especially with the drivers) .
Also we once again had a stunningly sunny day which maximised the views. It all just made us even more appreciate the wonders of God's creation.
The return trip covered some of the route we had done yesterday and again it was dark – so we missed on some of that scenery. But then it was onto the Intercity Express to get us up to Zurich fairly late – but highly satisfied with our day's outing.