Country info: Switzerland (Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera/Svizra)
Rail companies: SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen)Regional railways: BLS, Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn, Rhätische Bahn, Zentralbahn, Südostbahn, etc.
Currency: 1 euro = app. 1.1 Swiss Francs (CHF)
Train travel in Switzerland: train types, tickets, fares, discounts & other info
National Train Service:
Train types in Switzerland: Suburban (S-Bahn), Regional (Regio, Regio-Express, InterRegio), InterCity, high-speed trains (InterCityExpress, TGV & RailJet), EuroCity/EuroNight & CityNightLine (CNL)
- Suruban (marked as S-Bahn on SBB website): short distance commuter service around major Swiss cities and urban areas, no seat reservation required
- Regional (marked as R, REX, IR on SBB website): short & medium distance local trains, no seat reservation required
- InterCity (marked as IC & ICN on SBB website): medium & long-distance service connecting major Swiss cities and towns, seat reservation can be made, but not required
- ICE / TGV / RailJet (marked as ICE, TGV, RJ on SBB website): international high-speed trains connecting Switzerland with Germany, France, Austria Hungary, etc, on domestic connections seat reservation can be made, but not required
- EuroCity / EuroNight (marked EC/EN on SBB website): international daytime & overnights trains, on domestic service seat reservation can be made, but not required (unless couchette or sleeper carriage)
- CityNightLine (marked as CNL on SBB website): international overnight sleeper trains, seat/berth reservation is compulsory
Traveling by train in Switzerland is one of the fascinating rail experiences passenger can get, but for foreigners (either you a tourist, on business or visiting somebody) journeys by train in Switzerland can be rather expensive, so we are glad to share with you couple suggestions on how to save money on rail travel in Switzerland:
- Option #1 for Swiss train travels on budget is to rely on the so-called SBB Supersaver Tickets . SuperSaver tickets are special kind of discounted promo offer tickets that go on sale 30 days before the day of departure and can be purchased only online via SBB website or SBB mobile app. SuperSaver Tickets are offered for almost all the SBB’s long-distance routes, as well as for selected trains of private Swiss railways (BLS, Rhaetian Railways, PostBus, Zentralbahn etc.). SuperSaver tickets are limited in number per each departure, but if purchased in timely manner such discounted tickets can be a real bargain and give potential passenger up to 50% discount compared to standard full fare price. (e.g. you can travel from Zurich to Basel for as low as 16,60 CHF (standard fare ticket for the same trip cost 33 CHF), from Zurich to Bern for 25 CHF (standard fare is 50 CHF), from Geneve to Interlaken for 34,60 CHF (standard fare here is 69 CHF), from Bern to Zermatt for 44 CHF (standard fare is 88 CHF), etc.).
- Passengers planning train trips in Switzerland can take advantage of the so-called City Ticket or City-City Ticket. The offer allows passengers for small additional extra fare use entire transport network in the city of their arrival destination, which basically might save you from a need to buy expensive city transport tickets.
- Yet another worthy attention option to save money while traveling by train in Switzerland is to use international SCIC-NRT tickets for Swiss domestic trips. It sounds a bit strange, but it is legit and really works (more details about this 'trick' in 'Western Europe – how cheap it can be?' section). For example, SCIC-NRT ticket St.Gallen-Zurich-Luzern-Interlaken-Bern-Lausanne-Geneva valid for 15 days period & allowing unlimited stopovers on the way costs 127,80 euro or Basel to Lugano (either via Zurich or Luzern) will cost you 77,20 euro. Basically in such cases SCIC-NRT international ticket turns out to be a rail pass for the predefined route, which at the end cost much less than traditional Swiss Pass for numerous travel days.
- When mentioned above discounted SuperSaver Tickets are not available anymore passengers can take advantage of SBB international discounted tickets - SuperSaver International. The whole idea behind such trick might sound absurd, but it really works & it is totally legit - passenger purchases ticket till the first "abroad" station, but leaves the train before the border on the station which is still in Switzerland. For example, of you need to travel from Zurich to Lugano, then the trick would be to purchase discounted international ticket from Zurich to the first Italian station which comes next after Lugano (e.g. Como) or even Milan. Such SuperSaver international ticket till the Italian station can be bought for as low as amazing 10 CHF. Now compare it with domestic full fare Zurich-Lugano ticket which costs 64 CHF or even domest SuperSaver that costs 32 CHF. Do you see the difference? It means that with international tickets Zurich-Como S.Giovanni you, just by knowing ticket tariffs nuances, can save more than 50% of your money basically out of nothing.
International Train Service:
a) Regular discounts
TEE PreiseSystem (international tickets betwen Austria, Germany and Switzerland)
b) Special offers (SparSchiene)
Ticket offers with limited number of tickets per each departure (purchase in advance required):
- Austria: SuperSaver Tickets (daytime high-speed RailJet trains): from Zurich to Vienna (from 52 CHF), from Zurich to Salzburg (from 46 CHF), from Zurich to Innsbruck (from 31 CHF), etc. Besides the above discounted tickets for daytime trains, also SBB offers SparNight tickets for EuroNight trains ('Wiener Walzer' and 'Zürichsee'): from Zurich to Salzburg, Vienna and from Zurich to Graz, Villach (seats from 33 CHF, couchettes from 65 CHF and sleepers from 87 CHF)
- Belgium: from Basel to Brussels via Paris (Global Price fares starting from only 89 CHF)
- Czech Republic: SparNight offer by CityNightLine train from Basel to Prague via Germany (couchettes from 54 CHF & sleepers from 76 CHF)
- France: Lyria Non-Flex daytime trains from Zurich, Basel, Bern, Neuchâtel, Lausanne, Geneva to Paris & from Geneva to Nîmes, Montpellier, Marseille, Toulon, St-Raphaël-Valescure, Cannes, Antibes, Nice (discounted tickets from 32 CHF)
- Germany: SuperSaver Tickets: daytime trains from Zurich to Munich (from 21 CHF), from Basel to Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, etc. (from 54 CHF) and SparNight: overnight CityNightLine trains from Zurich to Berlin (couchettes from 54 CHF & sleepers from 76 CHF), from Basel to Hamburg (couchettes from 54 CHF & sleepers from 76 CHF), etc.
- Hungary: from Zurich to Budapest by daytime high-speed RailJet trains & SparNight for overnight 'Wiener Walzer' train (seats from 39 EUR, couchettes from 59 EUR & sleepers from 79 EUR)
- Italy: SuperSaver Tickets daytime trains from Zurich, Basel, Geneva, Luzern to Milan (from as low as 10 CHF), from Geneva to Venice (from 32 CHF)
- Netherlands: SparNight offer by CityNightLine train from Basel to Amsterdam (couchettes from 54 CHF & sleeper from 76 CHF)
- Spain: Barcelona by TrenHotel Elipsos sleeper train (service currently suspended)
Similar to CityStar offer can be purchased for journeys between SBB and ÖBB (Austrian Railways), MAV (Hungarian Railways) and ZSSK (Slovak Railways) networks. The offer is called Plan + Spar, it gives 25% discount for the entire route. Standard Half-Fare travelcard reduction applies to the Swiss leg of the journey, plus any travelling companions (up to 5 people) receive additional discount; children under 16 years travelling with a parent, grandparent or their spouse or life-partner travel free of charge (proof of kinship required) and, last but not least, - all the above discounts can be added together. In order to use Plan+Spar return ticket passengers need to follow certain condition: purchase ticket at least 3 days before departure and spend at least one Saturday-Sunday night at the final destination (so called Weekend Rule)
If for some reason passengers had no chance to catch mentioned above international SuperSaver, SparNight or other discounted tickets, there is still a possibility to save money by using SCIC-NRT international tickets (more details about the 'trick see 'Western Europe – how cheap it can be?' section). For example, ticket from Zurich to Marseille via entire Switzerland and South-Eastern part of France valid for 15 days & allowing unlimited stopovers on the way costs only 142 euro
How to Buy Train Tickets in Switzerland:
All the national (domestic) and many international tickets (including offers) can be bought online via SBB website - www.sbb.ch
For a good choice of hotels with discount prices visit Where to stay in Zurich for more information.
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