How long did a train ride take for a passenger from Zürich HB to Milano Centrale in the 1920s? Let's assume that it's a typical train with a typical engine at that time which doesn't stop for loading/unloading passengers (but it stops if necessary to reload fuel), and it doesn't have to wait for other trains, it takes the fastest route, and it doesn't take risks to go faster than typical express passenger trains of that time.

The Gotthard Tunnel was opened for traffic in 1882, and the Simplon Tunnel was opened in 1906, so the train can use any of these to cross the Alps.

As of today, a typical, scheduled ride takes 4 hours and 3 minutes, which sounds a bit slow, because the distance between the two cities is less than 300 km, and trains now can go now faster than 100 km/h on average. Is there any reason why a 4-hour ride (with the special conditions above) wouldn't have been possible in the 1920s?

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    It looks like the National Railway Museum in York has European timetables from that time, so you could always take a trip there and look up some real times in their archives! – Gagravarr May 10 '15 at 11:39
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    Richard Wagner's diaries contain passages describing his train journeys from Zurich and Lucerne to Venice. These were in the middle of the 19th century so outside your question. But he did comment that it always took a lot longer in the winter if that's of any use. – Gayot Fow May 10 '15 at 11:58
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's more of a history question than travel, IMHO – Mark Mayo May 10 '15 at 12:20
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    Trains can deal (relatively) easily with steep gradients but not so much with narrow curves. High-speed lines often need to be (re)designed with this in mind to reach 200 kph and more, which is very difficult in mountainous terrain. Trains in Switzerland have always been slower, partly for that reason. Maybe that's part of the explanation? – Relaxed May 10 '15 at 13:28
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    @pts Yes, I know all that but you asked about Zürich-Milano… For the rest, there are 200 kph tilting trains now but they came later than in other countries, at a time where 300+ is becoming common elsewhere in Europe and mostly on the Swiss plateau. So Swiss trains always have been and still are slower, especially across the Alps. Note that the current approach to the Gotthard tunnel has several spirals and the base tunnel is expected to shave one hour off the travel time between Zürich and Milano. That's some pretty extreme terrain as far as rail transport is concerned… – Relaxed May 10 '15 at 18:00

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