How to Travel By Train in Switzerland

How to Travel By Train in Switzerland
Traveling by train in Switzerland is efficient, fast, and relaxing. Trains are clean, punctual, and scenic. It is possible to take a train just about anywhere. Trains connect airports with major cities and remote mountain villages. Board a train at Geneva airport, and within a couple of hours you will find yourself in the middle of the mountains. Most destinations are serviced by a train every 30 minutes. The plethora of trains and routes gives travelers freedom and flexibility---and makes for a worry-free vacation.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • In order to plan your trip, download a free PDF map of the Swiss rail system from http://swisstravelsystem.ch/en/content/geography/geography/.
  • In order to plan your trip, download a free PDF map of the Swiss rail system from http://swisstravelsystem.ch/en/content/geography/geography/.
Step 1
Plan your travel using the website www.sbb.ch/en. Simply type in your starting and ending point and the website will provide you with train times and transfer information. Don't be surprised if there are only five minutes between connections. This is typical in Switzerland and is very feasible.
Step 2
Save money by researching rail passes prior to your visit online at http://www.swisstravelsystem.com. Answer the questionnaire and the website will recommend which pass to buy. Passes can be bought online or upon arrival in Switzerland.
Step 3
Tickets can be purchased from the kiosk, at the train station or from the ticket machines. Machines require a credit/debit card with a pin. A surcharge is applied when buying tickets on the train.
Step 4
Train reservations are not required, except when traveling on the following special train lines: Bernina Express (running daily between Chur and Tirano) and the Glacier Express (running from St. Moritz to Zermatt).
Step 5
Luggage can be stored under the seat, between seats, or at the end of the car. Or opt to have the Swiss Rail system transport your luggage for you. More information is available online at http://www.swisstravelsystem.ch/en/content/travel/baggage/.

Tips & Warnings

 
Tips • There are four different categories of trains.IC (InterCity) and ICN trains are faster and more luxurious than the RE (Regio Express) and IR (InterRegio) trains. • Most trains offer first and second class. First class is typically about 50 percent more expensive and offers more leg room and comfortable seats. • A knife and fork symbol on a timetable or on a departure board indicates that a dining car is available. Most other trains will have a RailBar (a rolling cart) which offers sandwiches, snacks and drinks. • Bikes can be hired at many train stations. When you are tired of cycling, you can simply hand them into the closest train station. • Dogs are welcome on Swiss trains. If they are over 30cm tall and can't fit in a basket, then you will need to buy them their own ticket. This will cost half the price of a second-class ticket. • IC (InterCity) double decker trains typically include a family wagon in the second-class carriages. This is indicated by the symbol FA in the timetable. A family wagon offers a play area for kids. • If traveling with your own bike, check whether bikes are allowed on the train. This is indicated by a picture of a bike on the timetable or departure board.As of August 2009, a charge of 10CHF applies when loading your own bike.
 
Tips
 
• There are four different categories of trains.IC (InterCity) and ICN trains are faster and more luxurious than the RE (Regio Express) and IR (InterRegio) trains.
 
• Most trains offer first and second class. First class is typically about 50 percent more expensive and offers more leg room and comfortable seats.
 
• A knife and fork symbol on a timetable or on a departure board indicates that a dining car is available. Most other trains will have a RailBar (a rolling cart) which offers sandwiches, snacks and drinks.
 
• Bikes can be hired at many train stations. When you are tired of cycling, you can simply hand them into the closest train station.
 
• Dogs are welcome on Swiss trains. If they are over 30cm tall and can't fit in a basket, then you will need to buy them their own ticket. This will cost half the price of a second-class ticket.
 
• IC (InterCity) double decker trains typically include a family wagon in the second-class carriages. This is indicated by the symbol FA in the timetable. A family wagon offers a play area for kids.
 
• If traveling with your own bike, check whether bikes are allowed on the train. This is indicated by a picture of a bike on the timetable or departure board.As of August 2009, a charge of 10CHF applies when loading your own bike.

Article Written By Alexandra Pallut

Alexandra Pallut is a travel, health and fitness writer based in Steamboat Springs, Colo. She has been writing her way around the world since 2008 and currently works with Ruba.com. Pallut graduated with a degree in English literature and French language from Lancaster University in Great Britain.

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