<<:after all, Swiss prices are rather prohibitive to most otherEuropeans, although one of our group from Norway thinks prices are good!Am I correct in thinking that Swiss residents get cheaper train faresthan tourists? I am in awe of the integrated transport inSwitzerland, living in the north of Scotland where we never use publictransport. Journeying to us by train via Edinburgh our relatives arealways bemused as not even the station staff know which platform a trainwill arrive at until it pulls in!:>>
You have provided your own answer for the reason for the prices of Swiss rail travel. Providing such excellent service, on a system that includes difficult terrain , is not a cheap proposition. (Perhaps Norway has the same dilemma.) Certainly, the privatization and "rationalization" of UK rail lines in the past decades illustrates that point, and has resulted in less frequent service than in years past.
My understanding - to be corrected by someone who has more up-to-date information - is that the Swiss Federal Government funds the capital costs for construction of the rail system, and also provides a modest ( on a per person basis) annual subsidy for the system. I am sure it is more complex than that, for a variety of reasons, but (if my memory is correct) that means every person who pays taxes in Switzerland contributes to paying for the costs of the rail system.
Also, a large amount of freight traffic passes through Switzerland from northern Europe to the Mediterranean ports. That costs the shippers fees which reflect the costs, as well as the costs of competitive alternatives. That provides substantial income, eventually paid for by many people who purchase those goods.
In addition to what Arno has mentioned, a Swiss Citizen can indeed buy a rail pass that acts like the Swiss Travel Pass.... free travel on all regular trains, boats, buses. It is called a GA Pass, for General Abonnement.
There are certain requirements , among them, quoting from the SBB website:
<<" Passport or ID card from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Italy or Liechtenstein.">>
<<"Photo criteria checklist: front facing; face width on the photo min. 20mm (max. 35 mm); eyes open, wearers of glasses must not have their eyesobscured; monotone background and uniform lighting (no shadows); photomust be sharp with a suitable degree of contrast. For digital photos:image size min. 200 × 250 pixels; file size max. 2000 KB (JPG); setcolour to RGB mode. Additional photo specifications can be found here.">>
Prices are here, as are many details:
www.sbb.ch/en/travelca rds-and-tickets/railpasses/ga/ overview.html
A one year pass costs 3655 CHF (2nd class) or 5970 CHF for first class. If you are commuter and travel 250 days per year, two trips per day, a second class GA costs you about 7 and a half CHF per trip or approximately CHF14.6 per day.
Seniors pay 2760 or 4635 CHF per year.
If you have a similar evidence of residency/citizenship, you can purchase a 1/2 fare abonnement ( "Halb Tax" or "Halb Abo").
Previously available in 1 year, 2 year, and 3 year versions, it now costs approximately 165 CHF per year on a continuing automatic renewal program.
www.sbb.ch/en/travelca rds-and-tickets/railpasses/hal f-fare-travelcard.html
Luggage transport is certainly not what it used to be. In the 1980's, you could have your luggage carried on the same train on which you were traveling, for pickup at the luggage office at your destination a few minutes after you arrived at your destination... Memory fails me, but that was either included in your ticket cost or cost only a small fee. That system went away, along with the elimination of staffing at most minor stations. The system introduced not too many years ago now provides a variety of services with different delivery speeds, at a fee, with the greatest range of options at the larger stations or those with heavy tourist usage.
Since the Swiss Rail system is moving toward a primary mission of fast , frequent interurban service, that means that only people who ship heavy luggage pay for the process. It is available to varying degrees at different stations, with the maximum range of services available at the major stations. Occasional tourists can often use that luggage system, but it costs money and time. I periodically use it to ship a heavy bag to a destination where I expect to stay for a few days. It is available at 400 Swiss stations. Approximately 48 hour time required; fee 12 CHF per item.
You can even get delivery to your door for a substantial fee at 30 tourist destinations. The fee and service may be an acceptable alternative to a heart attack or a strained back.
<<"Last year on our return journey I encountered a very long train (destination Berlin) at Lauterbrunnen station. There were no trolleys and 2nd class coaches were at the distant far end of the train. I honestly thought I would have a heart attack trying to get on before it pulled out, carrying or pulling luggage.">>
I find that comment puzzling. If I recall correctly, Lauterbrunnen station is on a meter gauge line. Cograil traction is used near Lauterbrunnen. True or not, I do not believe any train from Lauterbrunnen station goes much further that Interlaken Ost or Interlaken West....certainly not to Berlin.
Perhaps you and your friends can see if any of the available services, with some planning ahead of time, can match your requirements.
For a fee. ;-(