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Connecting Switzerland and Italy via the highest mountain railway in the Alps, the Bernina Express train rises to the challenges presented by snow, ice and the steepest gradients to delight passengers with a four-hour journey of breath-taking beauty through this iconic mountain range.
Beginning in the north at Chur, capital of the canton of Graubünden and the oldest city in Switzerland, the narrow-gauge railway that carries the scarlet-liveried Bernina Express winds its way south-eastwards through the Alps, crossing into Italy shortly after Poschiavo, to its destination in Tirano.
The Alpine passage that the Bernina Express makes from Switzerland to Italy has been acclaimed as Switzerland's most scenic journey, and passengers have much to admire from the train's panoramic windows.
The first part of the route from Chur passes through the area of Switzerland most populated with castles. As the train ascends into the glacier-dominated region of Bernina itself, the scenery becomes increasingly breath-taking. However, the views are at their most magnificent at the mountain-ringed Lake Bianco, whose placid waters mirror the sky above.
Of the 55 tunnels and 196 bridges that help the train negotiate the trickier natural elements of the route, Solis Viaduct and famous Landwasser Viaduct are particularly spectacular.
Bernina Express trains typically comprise two or three First and Second class carriages separated by a bar and services carriage at the train's centre. The carriages in both classes are spacious and offer air conditioning, panoramic windows, comfortable seating and an at-seat trolley service providing light refreshments.
Second Class carriages are designed to carry more passengers and are configured with two rows of tables, one each side of the carriage, each of which provides seating for four people.
First Class carriages comprise one row of four-seater tables and one row of double seats. Carrying fewer passengers than Second Class carriages means that First Class passengers enjoy more space and greater legroom and larger, leather-upholstered seats. Fewer seats in First Class also mean that the views from the carriages' larger panoramic windows are less obstructed.
The section of the Bernina Express's route that passes through the Albula and Bernina regions between the Swiss Town of Thusis and the Italian town of Tirano became a UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2008.
This prestigious status recognises the supreme feats of engineering that were achieved by railway builders in the early twentieth century in overcoming natural obstacles to connect remote Alpine settlements whilst simultaneously minimising the impact upon the stunning landscape.
Passengers can learn more about the route, its history and its highlights courtesy of an on-board commentary during the journey.
From the train's terminus in Tirano, the connecting Bernina Express allows passengers to continue their journey by road along a route that follows the shores of Lake Como and Lake Lugano to the city of Lugano itself on the Swiss/Italian border.
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