Der Bernina Express. Foto/Photo: TES

The Rhaetian Railway Company as Grand Hotel

Which railway company has a slide for children in the carriages and games on and in the tables? Which railway company is (almost) always on time, in all seasons and all weather conditions? Which company has built hundreds of kilometres of rail network over hundreds of viaducts, valleys, mountain passes, rivers, and through mountains and tunnels? Which railway company drives a 1,906-metre-long train, composed of 25 times four carriages, over a 25-kilometre stretch from Preda to Alvaneu, from the Albula tunnel to the Landwasser viaduct, in the canton of Graubünden?

The history of the Rhaetian Railway Company (die Rhätische Bahn)  began in 1867 with a Dutch merchant. Willem Jan Holsboer (1834-1898) emigrated to Davos that year because of his sick wife Margaret Elisabeth Newell Jones (1847-1867). Holsboer knew the railway construction from the Netherlands and his business connections in London, where he had worked at a bank.

Willem-Jan Holsboer (1834-1898), Heimatmuseum Davos. Photo: Wikipedia

Photo in the train of the Rhätische Bahn. Source:

Holsboer took the initiative to establish the first health resorts in Davos in 1871-1874, together with the German doctor Alexander Spengler (1812-1901). Davos, however, was not accessible by rail. Therefore, in 1889 he founded the AG Schmalspurbahn Landquart-Davos. The first trains were already running in 1890! Then. A new joint-stock company was founded in 1897, die, Rhätian Bahn, with its headquarters in Chur, in the Villa Planta.

The railway network expanded to almost every corner of the canton. Today, the Rhaetian Railway has a rail network of 345 kilometres. The best-known (tourist) connections are the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express.

The Bernina Express runs a 122-kilometre route from Thusis on the Hinterrhein to Tirano in Italy. The line runs through the Albula Valley, via St. Moritz to Pontresina, along the Morteratsch Glacier and the Piz Bernina (4049 m) to Alp Grüm and the Bernina Pass (2 253 m) and through Val Poschiavo to Tirano in Italy.

Poster of the Bernina Express

The Glacier Express runs to Zermatt from Chur over the Rhine Gorge (the Rheinschlucht or Ruinaulta).

Not only its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site makes the die Rhätian Bahn special in all seasons. The quality, service and comfort are exceptional as well.
Like the SBB, die Rhätian Bahn runs like a Swiss watch on wheels with the comfort of a Grand Hotel, similar to the company’s headquarters in Chur.

Chur, Building of the Rhätische Bahn, on the right Villa Planta (the Bündner kunstmuseum Chur)

Verkehrshaus der Schweiz, Lucerne

Friends and passengers can make an informative and entertaining stop at the Albula Railway Museum in Bergün/Bravuogn.

The Bahnmuseum Albula

(Source and further information: Rhätische Bahn, Bernina Express, Glacier Express)

In the winter

The Morteratsch glacier

Filisur, Landwasserviadukt

and in the summer