The 'which side' train guide

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It's very easy to end up sitting on the 'less interesting' side of the train, and on a busy route it can be of particular disapointment as you crane your neck to catch a glimpse of a famous mountain on the other side of the carriage. Particularly annoying if the resident of the seats at that window is a person who is not the least bit interested in the passing scenery.
If you are using the trains around Interlaken, Swiss rail enthusiast and fellow lover of the Bernese Oberland, Glyn Jones, has prepared this useful guide as to which side of the train you should sit on to get the most interesting views. (It is obviously biased to those with a 'railway' bent.)
To add to the fun, I've added some appropriate images.

Should you sit on the LEFT

Regional Train on the Lorraine Viaduct in Bern
© Foto SBB

Bern to Interlaken


Sit on the left hand side – good views of Lake Thun and the far side of the lake as you travel beyond Thun. See the start of the Lotschberg line to Brig on the right hand side as we leave Spiez station.

The most famous site in Bern, the clock tower.
Built in the 13th century as the final stage in the first city expansion. © Bern Tourism

Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg via Grund


Sit on the left hand side, as our train must first descend to Grund where good views of the WAB works can be had , before reversing for the climb to Kleine Scheidegg. The motive power must always be at the lower end of the train to prevent 'runaways'. Trains no longer pass at Grund but on the new long double track section below Brandegg station. See the Wetterhorn to the left and views of Mannlichen and the Grindlewald valley to the right. The train now follows the foot of the North face of the Eiger for the rest of the journey to Kleine Scheidegg past the station at Alpiglen and through the Eiger's long avalanche galleries. Carl adds 'you've got to make your mind up whether you want to see the Eiger on the left, or the valley on the right. I'd plump for the valley, as the Eiger is best viewed either close-up from the Eiger Trail, or at a distance say from the Mannlichen.

Wilderswil to the Schynige Platte (SPB)


Views from both sides – sit on one side for the ascent and the other for the return journey. There are views across the lakes during the journey but the summit station faces the Mannlichen and the Jungfrau. It is a walk to the other side of the plateau to look down on Interlaken and its lakes. Carl suggests sitting on the right on the way up to enjoy the amazing viewing experience as you pass from the darkness of the so called 'ooh and aahh' tunnel!

Train to Schynige Platte
© Grindelwald Tourism

Lauterbrunnen to Murren – BLM


The first stage of this journey is from the base station across the road from the BOB/WAB station to the summit at Grutschalp where the change is made to single unit rail cars. An aerial cableway is replacing the vintage funicular which has had to cease due to rock strata problems. 

Sit on the left hand side of the BLM train to see views across the valley to Wengen and the Jungfrau, Monch, Eiger  from a different perspective. Near to Murren station is a  placgue to Sir Arnold Lunn who was the English founder of organised  Ski racing.

In Murren there is the Allmendhubel funicular (SMA) which goes to a vantage point above the village, and the Schilthorn cable car (LSMS). This starts it’s journey on the valley floor at Stechelberg (post bus from Lauterbrunnen) and climbs in four sections Gimmelwald, Murren, Birg to the summit of the Schilthorn with it’s revolving restaurant which was featured in the James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.

A fine level walk from Murren is the journey either back to Grutschalp or to the passing point at Winteregg which follows the railway. There is a good restaurant at Winteregg. Carl adds 'the walk is stunning!' and 'rest in peace dear old Grutschalp funicular'.

 Brienz to the Rothorn - BRB


The Brienzer Rothorn Bahn station is situated across the road from the SBB station. Most trains are steam hauled but there are  some diesel services. Views from both sides, again use one side for the ascent and the other for the return. Many views of Lake Brienz during the journey and from the summit. Carl says 'check Mike's weather forecast before attempting this one!' and 'Try the left hand side for the ascent'              

I want one of these double deckers for my layout!!
Exquisite trains in an exquiste enviroment! © Foto SBB

On an Double deck Intercity? Try a quiet coach!
No phones, I -Pods, loud conversation - wonderful!

The double deckers also offer some fine dining....
... with some fine views from up on top.© Foto SBB

or on the

Luogelkin Viadukt, Canton Valais (VS)
The viaduct is part of the southern stretch of the Lötschberg line.© photo CFF

Spiez to Brig


Sit on the right hand side – initially see the base station of the Niesen funicular and the Kander river. We cross the Kander viaduct and see the hydro-electric power station 3 times as the line gains height by 2 spiral tunnels with Blausee Mittleholz station between them. The village of Kandersteg is to the left of the station with the car loading platforms to the right. Beyond the Lotschberg tunnel spectacular views all the way on the descent to Brig as we look down on the Rhone Valley. Carl agrees 'on the Southern ramp the views on the right, down into the valley,are amazing. Oh and if you ever drive the Kander route, climb to the top of Tellenburg Castle outside Fruitigen for a spectacular view of the railway viaduct, or walk the BLS railway experience trail from Kandersteg station right alongside the tracks  with fascinating railway info all the way!'

Climb to the top of Tellenburg castle
Amazing views of the BLS.

Interlaken to Zweilutschien  - BOB


The front section of this Bernese Oberland Bahn (BOB) train will go to Lauterbrunnen, the rear to Grindelwald, the train splits in Zweilutschinen. So listen carefully to Rosemarie's announcements at Interlaken to make sure you're in the correct section! Sit on the right hand side –  but look initially to your left to see “Mystery Park” and Interlaken’s military airfield. As the train approaches  Wilderswil see the base station of the Schynige Platte Bahn (SPB)  opposite the station building. Beyond Wilderswil the line follows the Lutschine River. The BOB's works are at Zweilutschien.   Carl sticks his nose in again..'on the left of this route you can see the upper section of the railway flora and fauna walk alongside the tracks from Wilderswil to Zweilutschinen. Why not break your journey at Zweilutschinen to do it in reverse then get back on the train!' Gerald reminds us that just before Zweilutschinen near the bridge you can see where the black and white lutschines meet, and can actually see the two different water colours joining together!

The BOB prepares to depart Wilderwil!
In the back ground the Schynige Platte Bahn.© Jungfraubahnen

Zweilutschien to Lauterbrunnen - BOB


Sit on the right hand side for views now of the Weisse Lutschine (river) and the steeply sloped sides of the glacial Lauterbrunnen Valley. There are two rack sections on this line. Just before the last accent  to Lauterbrunnen, the old Jungfraubahnen power station can be seen through the trees on the left hand side.

Zweilutchien to Grindelwald – BOB


Views from both sides but sit on the right hand side, as we now follow the Schwarz Lutschine (river)to Grindelwald. Enjoy early glimpses of the Eiger, and just before the final rack climb to Grindelwald, look out for the  Mannlichen Gondelbahn (GGM) and the Wengernalp Bahn (WAB) as it climbs the 25% grade to Kleine Scheidegg. There are 3 little stations between Zweilutschinen and Grindelwald, Lutschental, Burglauenen, and Schwendi. Carl adds 'the Eiger's Northface fills the train window on the last stretch!!'

Paraglider in front of the Eiger.
© Grindelwald Tourism

Lauterbrunnen to Wengen - WAB


Views from both sides before Wengen but sit on the right hand side. Firstly we pass the freight yards and works depot of the WAB before the spectacular views of Lauterbrunnen, it’s church and the valley as we cross the bridge over the Weisse Lutschine. See the Staubbach and other waterfalls on the right hand (Murren) side of the valley. The WAB has thoughtfully placed a sign showing a camera here and at other photogenic spots. Just past the bridge and on the incline the start of the “old line” to Wengen can be seen – now only used for the occasional freight or enthusiasts train in summer, and not even cleared of snow in the winter. The best views are now on the left hand side as we look down on the valley below; see the route up the valley side to Grutschalp. Views now from the right hand side down to the valley and the Breithorn mountain beyond. We pass the end of the “old line” just before Wengen Station. Wengen is the lower terminus of the Mannlichen cable car (LWM) situated just off the main street – see the old base station at the back of the village, it was moved to its new location following winter avalanche damage in 1999. Carl adds 'Again if you can find time, have a walk up through Lauterbrunnen to the base of the Staubbach waterfalls and be inspired just like Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Byron, Tolkien and Goethe (you can read his poem about the waterfall here too)'

Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg - WAB


Above Wengen sit on the right hand side, pass through the Allmend Gallery and the passing loop at Allmend Station, (look down on the village and the valley to Interlaken in the distance). Allmend is the upper end of a chair lift (winter only) that comes from Inner Wengen and the finish point of the Lauberhorn downhill ski race course. We next pass the old passing loop and water stop at Wasser Station – now no longer used, before coming to Wengernalp. To the right views across the valley - see Murren and the revolving restaurant on the top of the Schilthorn. To the left, just before the station is the famous Hundschopf part of the Lauberhorn ski run – you can see the rock and the permanent fencing even in summer. Beyond Wengernalp the train follows the base of the Jungrau to Kleine Scheidegg – start of the Jungfraubahn (JB) to the Jungfraujoch and the WAB down to Grindelwald.

Jungfrau Tunnel Entrance with dates over top
For seven kilometers (4.3 miles) the track runs inside the Eiger and Mönch mountains

Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch – JB


As the train spend most of it’s journey within tunnels there isn’t a great deal to see, however, sit on the right hand side for views back to Kleine Scheidegg. The first passing loop is at Eiger Glacier station where the lines works are situated. To the right just before and below the station, are the kennels of the Husky Dogs used to give sleigh rides at the summit. The train stops twice within the mountain on ascent only to allow views through the Eiger’s north wall (Eiger Nord Wand) and to the east, Eismeer. There are various activities at the summit including the lift to the observation station that is visible from Kleine Scheidegg, summer skiing and an ice palace made within the glacier. There is a microwave dish installation on the east face of the Jungfrau which is used to transmit television pictures across the Alps. A useless fact from Carl ' on their descent the trains act as generators feeding power back into the lines.. clever stuff'

Interlaken to Brienz


This is the only narrow gauge line owned by the SBB, formally known as the Brunig line, it is now renamed the Zentralbahn. Sit on the right hand side for many views of Lake Brienz. The line continues from Brienz to Meiringen where it reverses to cross the Brunig pass by rack assistance to Lucerne. Carl says 'from Brienz station why not walk over to the boat landing and get a BLS boat back to Interlaken.. you might even be lucky and get the paddle steamship Lotschberg'

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The above written material/ work  is copyright Glyn Jones 2005/6.

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