Lugano Centrale Station ~ Switzerland

11May 2020

Lugano Centrale station overlooking the glacial Lake Lugano


Lugano Centrale Station is located near the southern end of the Gotthard railway. Situated on a hillside to the west of the city centre it overlooks the city and Lake Lugano.

The main line station is served by long distance trains from Zurich and Basel in Northern Switzerland, and Eurocity trains serving Milan in Italy.

It is also served by trains on the S10 line of the Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia (TILO), and these operate every half-hour between Bellinzona, Lugano and Chiasso, with some trains extending northwards to Airolo and southwards to Milan.

The Lugano–Ponte Tresa Railway (FLP) station is served by trains on line S60 of the FLP, which operate every 15 minutes between Lugano and Ponte Tresa, with trains every 30 minutes at weekends and evenings.

The Lugano–Tesserete railway operated from a terminus and depot to the north-east of the main station, whilst the Lugano–Ponte Tresa railway constructed a terminus at a lower level to the south-east of the main station.

Additionally, in 1910, a branch of the city’s urban tramway was extended to the station forecourt. Sadly the Lugano tramway closed in the 1950s and the Lugano–Tesserete railway closed in 1967. The site where the station stood is now occupied by the regional bus stop complete with a turning circle at the northern end of the station forecourt.

The first section of its track bed now forms a pedestrian ramp down to Via S. Gottardo, and the depot site was turned into a car park.

To serve the city more easily a  funicular was built ( Lugano Città–Stazione funicular) and opened in 1886 as a direct link up and down the hillside between the city centre and the station.

The Lugano Città–Stazione funicular is one of Switzerland’s busiest funicular lines and runs from 05:20 to 23:50, seven days a week to serve both travellers and curious visitors.

Image of Lugano Central StationAddress: Piazzale Stazione, 6900 Lugano, Switzerland
Opened: 6 December 1874
Electrified February 6, 1922
Phone: +41 848 446 688
Owner: Swiss Federal Railways
Tracks: 5 (Italian: binario)

The Gotthard railway station was opened in 1874, as part of the railway’s Lugano to Chiasso line. By 1882 Lugano was connected  with Northern Switzerland and the rest of the canton of Ticino thanks to the opening of the line across the Monte Ceneri Pass to Bellinzona, and the Gotthard Rail Tunnel.

This was followed by the Lugano–Tesserete railway in 1909, and the Lugano–Ponte Tresa railway (FLP) in 1912.

A program of renovation, redevelopment and expansion was initiated between 1990 and 1992 of the Lugano FLP station.  Designed by the architect Aurelio Galfetti it included the station facilities, surrounding areas and the forecourt, with special attention paid to pedestrian safety.

The street level building was turned into a restaurant, however the platforms remain in use at the lower level.

In 2007 a full restoration of the station underpass took place and a third platform serving the northern access to the station was constructed.

See the comings and goings of life and passengers at Lugano Centrale

image of lugano Centrale Station at night

Travelling Into Lugano Centrale on the Gotthard Railway

Travelling south towards Lugano at an altitude of 1106m is the entrance to the Gotthard tunnel in the village of Göschenen.

The tunnel construction dates back to 1882 and is 15km long with a light show. Upon reaching the end of the tunnel, many passengers say that it is like emerging into a different world.

The highest point on the route is Airolo at the other side of the tunnel and is 1141 metres high. From here you have passed the highest peaks of the Alps and start to descend into the Canton of Ticino.

As well as a change in weather, the language and culture also changes from German to Italian.

The Canton of Ticino has three different levels and 3 different climates. To the north the climate is considerably milder and drier than at the peak of the Alps with distinct variations between North and Central Ticino.

The first section has an altitude of around 1000 m. The second section starts north of Faido with an altitude of around 700 m.

The lowest level is just before Giornico at under 400 m.  At this level it is considerably warmer and as a result it is a busy wine growing area.

In order to reach this level engineers had to build several spiral loops into the track to allow the train to descend at a safe rate. This of course gives the passengers an amazing panoramic view of the area.

Once the train reaches Bellinzona you can get off  and switch trains for Locarno. The lowest point of the route at 230 m is just south of Bellinzona and a bit further on you can see the Lago Maggiore (lowest place in Switzerland) and Locarno on the horizon.

A bit further on the train will reach its destination Lugano Centrale Station in the south of the Canton of Ticino, where passengers can change for Milan, continue on the Bernina Express, or stay and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Lugano and the glacier Lake Lugano.

There is also an alternative route and another tunnel. The 57 km long Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest railway tunnel in the world. It opened in 2016 and provides a much quicker way to reach Italy and the south of Switzerland from the north. The downside of course is that passengers will miss all the beautiful surroundings and the engineering magnificence of the railway itself as it descends from the peak of the Alps.

Travel information supplied with thanks to MySwissAlps.Com

View the incredible train journey from the North of Switzerland on the Gotthard Line to where the train enters the Gotthard tunnel high in the Alps before stopping at Airolo Station where the descent begins into Lugano Centrale Station in the south of the Canton of Ticino.

Play ButtonWatch the video. This journey is videoed from the drivers cab of a collectors Bde 4/4 locomotive. 

Image of a collectors train on the Gotthard line to Lugano


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