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Where can you travel by international train from Switzerland this Christmas?

If you feel like getting away over the holidays, Swiss Federal Railways and its European partners offer many international travel options. Here's a run through of what's available.

Where can you travel by international train from Switzerland this Christmas?
You can travel by train to multiple destinations. Photo by AFP

After being mostly suspended due to border closures during the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak in the spring, the trains between Switzerland and neighbouring countries have gradually resumed their operations.

The timetable for various destinations indicated in this article shows just some links between Swiss and foreign cities.

You can see the complete schedule here.

READ MORE: Covid-19: What you need to know if you are travelling abroad from Switzerland

France

TGV Lyria, which is jointly operated by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and Société nationale des chemins de fer français (SNCF), will have several trains circulating both ways between Switzerland and France: Geneva and Paris, Lausanne and Paris, Basel-Zurich and Paris, and Geneva and Marseille.

These are some of the connections:

  • TGV 9764 depart Geneva 08:29 am, arrive Paris Gare de Lyon 11:42 am
  • TGV 9768 depart Lausanne 09 :44, arrive Paris Gare de Lyon 13:42
  • TGV 9770 depart Geneva 12 :30 pm, arrive Paris Gare de Lyon 15 :42
  • TGV 9230 depart Zurich 17 :34, arrive Paris Gare de Lyon 21:38
  • TGV 9230 depart Basel 18 :34, arrive Paris Gare de Lyon 22 :38

 


Italy:

Trains between Switzerland and Italy will also run, with two pairs of EuroCity trains operating on the Gotthard axis and two pairs on the Simplon axis.

  • • EC 313 depart Zurich 07:10, arrive Milan 10:50 am
  • • EC 316 depart Milan 11:10, arrive Zurich 2:50 pm
  • • EC 34 depart Milan 13:05, arrive Geneva 5:21 pm
  • • EC 37 depart Geneva 07:39, arrive Milan 11:40 am
  • • EC 50 depart Milan 07:20, arrive Basel 11:32 am
  • • EC 57 depart Basel 12:28, arrive Milan 4:40 pm

READ MORE: Travel in Switzerland: Geneva airport launches more Christmas flights

Germany:

More than 35 trains are running daily between Switzerland and Germany.

High-speed trains connect Zurich, Basel and Bern to Berlin, Munich, Köln, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart.

  • EC97 depart Zurich 07:03 am, arrive Munich 11:04
  • IR2366 depart Zurich 10:53, arriverFrankfurt 15:08
  • IC764 depart Basel 9:53 am, arrive Berlin 17:27
  • IC984 depart Bern 20:04, arrive Stuttgart 00:21 am

Austria

There are also 18 daily trains running between Zurich and the Austrian cities of Vienna, Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Graz.

  • EC163 depart Zurich 08 :40 am, arrive Innsbruck 12:11, and Vienna 16:30
  • RJX367 depart Zurich 16:40, arrive Salzburg 22:06

International rules

Whether travelling abroad by air, rail, or car, be aware of most recent regulations and restrictions that are in effect at your destination.

First, familiarise yourself with the health measures in each country, such as mask and social distance requirements. 

Also, learn about entry rules at the time of your trip.

Some countries require you to be tested for Covid-19 prior to arrival and present a negative result. Others have a compulsory quarantine.

Switzerland also requires arrivals from certain countries to self-quarantine for 10 days. 
 

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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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