The Association

Lavaux Express group photos


The Lavaux Express project started its life as a private initiative in 2002, and went through many rapid changes to adapt to its numerous demands.  After a first short "test" season in 2003, the Lavaux Express association was created in the spring of 2004, thus defining clear objectives and means to offer the region a fun, flexible and efficient attraction to its visitors.

As a non-profit organization, the association is directed by a group of seven to eight volunteers, constituting the Board. Sharing a common passion for their region, these people contribute to the project through their various professional qualifications.

During its first decade, the association was able to count on winemakers through local organizations such as the associations of wine cellars or more generic ones such as viticultural appellations, as well as on its direct income and the contributions of its numerous members. A further safety net was provided by the communes who provided deficit compensation guarantees, which were never used! Today, the authorities are convinced of the viability of the project and are aware of its important touristic impact on the region and its economy, and support it more directly.

The Lavaux Express was able to thrive thanks to the association's ability to manage its activities during their constant growth and, year after year, to face the challenges brought on by the attraction's increasing popularity. The development of custom software solutions for managing the trains, shifts, activity reports of the hosts and hostesses, ticket reservations etc., was central to the project's growth.

From the beginning, the conjunction of many positive factors resulted in a warm atmosphere and an entrepreneurial spirit in the association which prevails to this day. Despite its success, the founders' dedication to service and the objectives they set have been more than respected.

Today, besides allowing our visitors to discover the vineyards, the association is a centre of life and sharing for its two dozen active members, hosts and drivers, most of which are newly retired people. Through this activity, humbly compensated but well suited to their availability, they are able to share their knowledge and experiences of the region with our visitors.

In July 2007 Lavaux was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. This rapidly led to an increase in popularity of our activities, and the extra attendance compelled us to acquire a second train. Like the first, it was purchased in used condition from its manufacturer in Fribourg, Mr Alexis Tâche.

In 2009, the board started planning the purchase of a new engine, a first step towards the eventual replacement of the two existing trains which had been under heavy use ever since they were first put into service on the steep roads of Lavaux. In September 2010, the Moret company in Savigny delivered a gem which took over 600 hours of work to create, and which was immediately baptised "Patrimoine" (Heritage).

And so, in mid-summer 2012, the latest of our engines, "La Gremillette"* joined the fleet. It is based on the chassis of a 95hp Landini tractor, with 4 turbo-charged cylinders, and was financed largely thanks to the purchase of interest-free loans of 250CHF by individuals, associations and businesses of the region.

January 2016: Four new wagons are put into circulation. We are delighted with this step, it completes the renewal of all our rolling stock and will allow us to continue with enthusiasm the most beautiful of missions: To make you discover the vineyards of Lavaux!

After successive years of record attendance reaching 25,000 passengers per season, the COVID 19 will be a major obstacle for the Lavaux Express. All the energy of the association is invested to survive during two long years where resources are cruelly lacking. However, it was during this period that the purchase of a third locomotive began to take shape. Thanks to public funds and the Loterie Romande, it will be inaugurated in April 2021 and named "Les 3 soleils" in reference to the myth of the 3 suns of Lavaux!  

At the beginning of 2022, major renovation work have been carried out on two old carriages to ensure the resumption of full activity after this complicated period. We are now confident about the future of the adventure and we are looking forward to our 20th season on the road!

Welcome aboard the Lavaux Express!

The members of the association's committee are:
Thomas Ellis, Cully (Président)
Alain Chollet, Lutry (Vice-président)
Corinne Gorjat, Aran (Secrétaire)
Nathalie Esseiva, Riex (Trésorière)
Stéphane Chevalley, Les Thioleyres 
Roland Dumas, Lutry
Sofia Gay, Lutry
Katya Jobin, Lutry

* Gremillette: a lizard of the vineyards, in the local dialect (Patois Vaudois).   

En raison de la fermeture du village d'Epesses, la boucle de Cully - Dézaley les ma. + je. + sa. est déviée sur Cully-Riex-Chenaux-Aran-Grandvaux-Cully.