A non-walking tour to Switzerland – Day 3, Zermatt to St Moritz

  • 170 km as the crow flies (east across the bottom of Switzerland)
  • walk-train-walk
  • 20 kph door to door
  • 165 eurocents/km
  • 8093 steps

The most expensive journey I’ve ever taken, since my records begin, is the 9-km ferry trip from Portsmouth to Ryde on the Isle of Wight, in 2013. It cost 166 eurocents/km. The door to door speed was 7 kph.

The Glacier Express from Zermatt to St Moritz  was only one eurocent/km cheaper and not much faster (“The slowest fast train in the world”), than crossing the Solent. It was more glamorous, though.

river train Zermatt-St Moritz Glacier Express 518.JPG

The carriage roof slopes in and the slope is made of glass, adding to the big clean windows. The train is narrow gauge (1 metre) but the carriage is as wide as you could wish.

Two or three times, the train stopped for long enough for us to stretch our legs. Otherwise the trip, which lasted for nearly eight hours, was an ideal way for a non-walker to spend the day.

You can feel the train holding back as it goes downhill. The runaway train went over the hill, said my travelling companion. As far as I know she is running still, I replied. Going uphill, cutlery fell off the table into my lap.

What is there to say about the journey?

mountain snow trees train Zermatt-St Moritz Glacier Express 518.JPG

We saw mountains, trees, and grass.

avalanche barriers train Zermatt-St Moritz Glacier Express 518.JPG

There were avalanche barriers. (Must have been a bit of a job putting them up, said my travelling companion.)

energy dam train Zermatt-St Moritz Glacier Express 518.JPG

A bit of hydropower,

energy mountain, pylons train Zermatt-St Moritz Glacier Express 518.JPG

pylons striding down the mountainside,

train Zermatt-St Moritz Glacier Express 518 golf course 3.JPG

a nice bit of high altitude golf.

stone houses train Zermatt-St Moritz Glacier Express 518.JPG

Higher up the houses were made of stone; lower down, of wood. There were freestanding chapels; churches in the towns. As we went further east, onion domes were commoner. 

There were dandelion fields that looked as yellow as the oil seed rape fields in the lowlands. The infant river Rhine in its gorge, grey with white icing. At 600 metres, at Trin, a camellia in flower.

What did we not see? Castles. Solar panels.

Abula tunnel train Zermatt-St Moritz Glacier Express 518.JPG

Intellectually, the most interesting bit is when the train climbs 400m in a few km. She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes, said my travelling companion. Going along you don’t have much idea what’s going on, and then you see your own track behind and below you:

Abula tunnel train Zermatt-St Moritz Glacier Express 518 2.JPG

What do I hope to photograph tomorrow on the way back, that I missed on the way here? The circular table tennis table at Thusis.

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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