By Rail to Lake Geneva

In mid May I took a party of 15, mainly Railfuture members, by train from London to Vevey, a town of some 20,000 people, on the Swiss shore of Lake Geneva (known in French as Lac Leman). We used Eurostar to Paris, RER line D across the city and then TGV Lyria to Lausanne. The day’s journey ended with a regional SBB train for the short ride passed the foot of the famous Lavaux vineyards to Vevey

This small town proved an ideal centre for exploring a beautiful and fascinating region. Our hotel, as usual in Switzerland, provided us with a free public transport pass ( for the urban area, including funicular, trolleybuses and diesel buses. This included the lakeside town of Montreux and smaller places, linked by a trolleybus line and a main line railway. It also enabled us to go up a rack railway to Les Pleiades from which we had impressive mountain views.

Some of us also bought a regional pass (Leman – Alpes) giving a number of days of free or half-price travel, including on lake steamers and the very scenic meter gauge line northwards to Zweisimmen – also crossing the language border between French and German speaking Switzerland.

More ambitious trips were made by some members using a Swiss Day Pass to Berne, Interlaken and Zermatt; while another popular destination was the 3-kilometer heritage line between Blonay and Chamby on which volunteers operate vintage electric and steam trains at weekends. It links two SBB lines but is not itself part of the national network and you pay extra to use it.

For some of us, another destination was the world-famous city of Geneva where an orbital railway (partly underground) has been built linking the main station (Cornavin) with Eaux Vives which was the terminus of a short line from Annemasse in France. This is now part of the route used by cross-city trains, branded as “Leman Express”, which then branch out across the French region of High Savoy (Haute Savoie) to serve Evian, St Maurice and Annecy. Nowadays large numbers of commuters from France cross the border to work in Geneva.

It was not all train riding, however. Several members visited the home of Charlie Chaplin (who lived in Vevey for 25 year until his death in 1977) and an interesting range of museums and galleries in Vevey and Lausanne.

One of the staff at our hotel asked if we were flying home from Geneva Airport (which is rail-served) but was amazed to learn that we were going all the way back to the UK by train!

Trevor Garrod