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The Voralpen-Express route

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The Voralpen-Express route

You can travel from Lucerne (a popular town in Central Switzerland) to St. Gallen (the main town in Eastern Switzerland), or the other way around, in about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

An overview of the train route

The Voralpen-Express travels between Lucerne and St. Gallen, in both directions. There are several stops along the route, where you can transfer to popular tourist attractions like Rigi (get out in Arth-Goldau) and the Einsiedeln abbey (get out in Biberbrugg). You’ll pass the shores of Lake Lucerne and Lake Zurich, and you’ll have views of rolling green hills with the Alps in the distance. You can buy point to point tickets for any section, or hop on and off all day long if you have a pass that grants unlimited traveling, such as the Swiss Travel Pass.

Sections of the Voralpen-Express journey

There are three main areas you pass through on this route:

  • Lucerne to Arth-Goldau. You’ll travel alongside Lake Lucerne, with Pilatus in the background, and you’ll pass the beautiful hiking area of Rigi;
  • Arth-Goldau to Rapperswil. The peaks of the Schwyzer Mythen can be seen near Arth-Goldau. A bit further on, you’ll reach the moorland plateau of Rothenthurm and arrive in the charming town of Rapperswil along the shores of Lake Zurich;
  • Rapperswil to St. Gallen. You’ll cross the hills of Toggenburg and pass the Sitter viaduct, which is Switzerland’s highest rail viaduct: 99 meters. The mountain of Säntis can be seen in the distance.

Although views are good from both sides of the train, we recommend sitting on the right side between Lucerne and Wattwil, and on the left side between Wattwil and St. Gallen.

Which section is best?

While the entire route is very scenic, we think the section between Lucerne and Arth-Goldau is prettiest if you’re looking for lakes and mountain scenery. On the other hand, if you want a change of scenery after spending time in the mountainous regions of Switzerland, the lowlands around Rapperswil and Lake Zurich, along with the viaducts close to St. Gallen, can’t be beat.

Combine the Voralpen-Express with the Golden Pass or Gotthard Panorama Express

Would you like to include sections of other famous panoramic train journeys, such as the Golden Pass route or the Gotthard Panorama Express? Here are some options:

  • for a combination with the Golden Pass, travel from St. Gallen to Montreux like this: St. Gallen – Voralpen-Express to Lucerne - Golden Pass route to Interlaken - Zweisimmen - Montreux;
  • for a combination with the Gotthard Panorama Express, travel from St. Gallen to Lugano like this: St. Gallen – Voralpen-Express to Lucerne - boat to Flüelen - Gotthard Panorama Express train to Lugano.

Dates of operation

The trains operate all year.


You can search for connections from and to all towns along the route, and you can break down your route into several shorter segments if you want. The Voralpen-Express trains are indicated by the abbreviation ‘IR’ (Interregio), and if you click on a connection for details, the name ‘Voralpen-Express’ will appear too.

Plan your trip

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