Swiss Rail Marking Sesquicentenary With Discounts

Reed Travel Features

NEW YORK -- Switzerland is marking the 150th anniversary of its first scheduled train service with celebrations, exhibitions and special discounts on rail passes.

Switzerland: 150 Years On Track honors the first voyage of the Spanisch Brotli Bahn from Zurich to the spa town of Baden, Germany, on Aug. 8, 1847.

The refurbished train will make the reverse journey, ending at Zurich station on the same day this year.

Today, there are 10,500 miles of track, cutting through 672 tunnels and traversing 6,000 bridges.

As part of the festivities, which will take place from March through October, a special exhibition train will visit 70 towns, and 500 stations will stage a variety of events.

In addition, the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne will open an exhibition hall and host an international Specialist Railway Congress.

Visitors also can experience a ride on one of several historical trains.

A 12-page anniversary bro-chure contains information on new rail packages for 1997.

In order to promote rail travel in Switzerland, the tourist board, Switzerland Tourism, has joined forces with eight North American tour operators to create rail programs.

This is the largest number of U.S. tour operators to offer rail packages in Switzerland at the same time, said a spokeswoman for Switzerland Tourism.

North American travelers also can celebrate with discounts on certain rail passes, as follows:

* All 1997 Swiss rail passes will cost the same as they did the previous year.

* Clients who purchase a Swiss Pass or a Swiss Flexipass between May 1 and Oct. 31 receive a companion ticket at half price.

* Clients who purchase a one-month, eight-day or 15-day Swiss Pass receive one additional day for free.

To purchase rail passes, contact Rail Europe at (800) 4-EURAIL; fax (800) 432-1FAX.

For further information about Switzerland: 150 Years On Track or to receive a copy of the anniversary brochure, contact Switzerland Tourism in New York at (212) 757-5944; in Chicago at (312) 332-9900; in Los Angeles at (310) 640-8900, or in San Francisco at (415) 362-2260.

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