Does the railpass cover the Wilhelm Tell? How do we get from Bellinzona to Tirano to get on the Bernina Express to St Moritz?

we have an 8 day rail pass and the wilhelm will be our first day on our trip. does the pass cover the wilhelm? How do we get from Bellinzona to Tirano to get on the Bermina expres to St. Moritz?Thanks, BC
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  • Hi Bernie and Frances,

    Even though Tirano is in Italy, any rail pass that includes Switzerland does cover the William Tell Express scenic route and the Bernina Express scenic route.

    The William Tell scenic route consists of a steamboat across Lake Lucerne from Lucerne to Flüelen and a train from Flüelen to Bellinzona. To get to Tirano, you would take a train from Bellinzona to Lugano and then a bus from Lugano to Tirano. The train from Bellinzona to Lugano is an extension of the William Tell route, and the bus from Lugano to Tirano is part of the Bernina Express route.

    Technically, reservations aren't required on any part of the William Tell Express route. Therefore, the rail pass is all you would need to board.

    You would only purchase reservations if you'd like to have the "William Tell experience", which includes a "welcome package" on the steamboat from Lucerne to Flüelen and a seat in an observation coach (with panoramic views) on the connecting train from Flüelen to Bellinzona. The "welcome package" consists of a William Tell souvenir, a meal voucher, a refreshment voucher, and a travel guide. The meal voucher is worth CHF 19 (locally) otherwise.

    The reservations we issue for the "William Tell Experience" are inclusive of the steamboat from Lucerne to Flüelen and the connecting train from Flüelen to Bellinzona. Without these reservations, you would not be able to sit in the observation coach on the train from Flüelen to Bellinzona.

    Reservations for the "William Tell Experience" are no longer able to be purchased on our website. If you'd like to take the boat from Lucerne to Flüelen and then be reserved in an observation coach on the train from Flüelen to Bellinzona, then you would have to call us to purchase the reservations. We can be reached at 1-800-622-8600.

    Note: Starting December 11th, the William Tell Express will be called the Gotthard Panorama Express, and there may be slight changes to the service.

    The Bernina Express bus from Lugano to Tirano does require reservations (in addition to the rail pass), as does the Bernina Express train from Tirano to St Moritz.

    For travel with a rail pass, these reservations can be purchased by clicking the 'Seat Reservations' tab on our homepage (, entering the route, and indicating the type of rail pass with which you'll be traveling. You would do one search for the segment from Lugano to Tirano and then another search for connecting trains from Tirano to St Moritz.

    Generally, the "William Tell Experience" reservations and the Bernina Express reservations can only be booked once within 90 days of an intended date of departure.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 14, 2017 19:09

      As of 2017, the ‘William Tell Express’ scenic route is now known as the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ scenic route.

      The actual route is still the same, following the rail line between Flüelen and Bellinzona/Lugano that goes through the old Gotthard Tunnel.

      Also still considered part of this experience is the steamboat on Lake Lucerne, connecting Lucerne and Flüelen.

      From April 14th to July 2nd of 2017, the actual 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains only operate on weekends and will not run all the way to Lugano. Therefore, during this time frame, the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' will only run between Flüelen and Bellinzona. In Bellinzona, passengers can connect to another train that will take them the short distance to Lugano.

      From July 3rd to October 22nd of 2017, the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains run daily between Flüelen, Bellinzona, and Lugano.

      For taking in the scenery, 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains have panoramic windows in 1st class.

      For passengers traveling with a rail pass, the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ trains do require reservations, which would also be inclusive of the steamboat. When booking reservations for the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express', you would have to type 'Lucerne-Boat Gotthard' (instead of just 'Lucerne') in the field for the departure city or arrival city, with either ‘Bellinzona’ or ‘Lugano’ in the opposite field.

      If you'll be traveling on a day when the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains don’t run (i.e. a weekday between April 14th and July 2nd, 2017), you would instead take a series of regional trains that follows the same route. While you would still be following the same route and enjoying the same scenery, the regional trains do not have panoramic windows, like the actual ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ trains do. The regional trains on the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express' route are:


      The regional trains do not accept reservations. Therefore, any passenger traveling with a rail pass would only need to show the rail pass to board.

      Other notable changes with the new ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ route are:

      - Now offered in 2nd class but with no panoramic windows

      - Eurail Passes no longer cover the Lake Lucerne steamboat but do provide for a 50% discount (Swiss Travel Passes, on the other hand, are still valid to cover the Lake Lucerne steamboat in full)

      - A meal is no longer included on the steamboat
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