The Glacier Express is an express train connecting railway stations of the two major mountain resorts of St. Moritz and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. The train is operated jointly by the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB) and Rhaetian Railway (RhB). For much of its journey, it also passes along and through the World Heritage Site known as the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / BerninaLandscapes.
The train is not an “express” in the sense of being a high-speed train, but rather, in the sense that it provides a one-seat ride for a long duration travel. In fact it has the reputation of being the slowest express train in the world. As St. Moritz and Zermatt are home to two well-known mountains, the Glacier Express is also said to travel from Piz Bernina to Matterhorn.
The Glacier Express first ran in 1930. Initially, it was operated by three railway companies: the Brig–Visp–Zermatt Bahn (BVZ), theFurka Oberalp Bahn, and the RhB. Since 2003, the train has been operated by RhB and a newly established company, the MGB, which arose from a merger between the BVZ and the FO.
The trip on the Glacier Express is a 7½ hour railway journey across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and across the Oberalp Pass on the highest point at 2,033 m (6,670 ft) in altitude. The entire line is metre gauge (narrow gauge railway), and large portions of it use a rack-and-pinion system both for ascending steep grades and to control the descent of the train on the back side of those grades.