This review of the wheelchair accessibility of the train from Milano Centrale to Zermatt (via Visp) is from Summer 2022.
We took the EuroCity 52 train that left from Milano Centrale at 11:20 and arrived in Visp at 13:25. We then took the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn train, which left Visp at 14:08 and arrived in Zermatt at 13:14.
Accessibility of Milano Centrale Train Station
We arrived at Sala Blu 40 minutes early–it was a Saturday, and so we thought (correctly) it would be busy. I checked in with the desk worker, who first told me that going to Visp would not be possible that day. So I produced the e-mail showing the confirmation, and he confirmed everything was set. I think he thought I was asking to go to Visp for the first time, and not that I was checking in for prearranged services.
Tip: When possible, bring a paper copy of the confirmatory e-mail that you can give to the agent. A digital one can work as well, but then you eliminate your translation tool–if the agent has your phone to check, you cannot use your phone to communicate with the agent.
The Sala Blu agent escorted us to the EuroCity train, and used the “forklift” elevator to load me onto the train. The loading process and train bathrooms were similar to those on my trip to Venice. The wheelchair space was tighter than those trains, however. It was doable, but we had to carefully configure our two carry-on bags so we could all fit in the space.
Wheelchair Accessibility of Visp Train Station
When the train crossed into Switzerland, a new agent came onboard the train. He confirmed we were going to Visp, and that he would help us off the train. When we arrived in Visp, he told us to wait by the train door and he went to retrieve the “forklift”/elevator, which was just a few feet away. He positioned it, and then helped direct me onto it. He then swiveled it, lowered it, and dropped the front ramp for me. He then directed us to the platform for our next train, and then hopped back onto the train as it headed out.
Once off the train, we learned that our next train left from another platform and that we needed to cross the tracks. Instead of elevators or just crossing the tracks, the Visp station platforms each have long and relatively steep ramps that lead to an underground walkway that lead to all the platforms. You follow the underground walkway until you get to your desired platform number, and then go up the ramp to that platform. The ramps were fairly steep, but I loved not having to wait for an elevator or, worse yet, fearing that the elevator was broken. It was an awesome system for me and my power wheelchair.
The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn train that left before our expected train was still in station when we reached the platform. As I had booked accessibility services for the later train, we confirmed with the train agent that the wheelchair space was available and that both Visp and Zermatt had zero threshold entrances to the train. So, we boarded the earlier train and shaved half an hour off our trip.
This time-savings was made possible by 1) the ramps at the stations and 2) the trains requiring no accessibility services. I turned to my wife with a huge smile and remarked that it felt good to be like everyone else–I could hop on/hop off without extra services, which meant I could catch earlier (or later) trains…with the right class of ticket, of course.
Accessibility of The Journey to Zermatt
The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn is a journey unto itself. It climbs deep ravines, goes by numerous waterfalls, and crosses raging rivers…and this was in August! It was a stunning trip in its own right. The train was again smooth, even when it switched to cog wheels for the steeper terrain. The windows were huge and clean, and there was not a bad seat in the house. It was breathtaking from start to finish.
Tip: The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn traverses steep terrain. I suggest positioning yourself so that you are always facing uphill–that way the gravity force pushes you back into your seat, rather than out of it. As such, I sat facing the front of the train from Visp to Zermatt, and then sat facing the back of the train when we left the next day to go back to Visp. Sitting like that may not have been necessary, but I felt more comfortable not having to feel like I was being pushed forward out of my scooter. I could just sit back and relax both ways.
For accessibility, the train had an accessible bathroom that was big enough for my scooter. It also had buttons to power operate the bathroom door as well as the dividing glass door between the car and the bathroom.
Wheelchair Accessibility at Train Station in Zermatt
The exit at Zermatt was zero threshold, and so I could just roll off on my own. The train station was flat and smooth (i.e., no need for elevators or ramps), so we could walk down the platform to the station, out the exit, and right into the heart of the town. The train experience could not have been smoother.
Since Zermatt does not permit cars (only small electric cabs), everyone bikes or walks around the town. In other words, it’s very accessible and everything is within walking/biking distance. As such, we were like everyone else as we strolled from the train station to our hotel, and then back to explore the town.
The wheelchair accessibility of the train from Milano Centrale to Zermatt was quite smooth all around, especially the Swiss side of things.