From Interlaken to Leukerbad - Expensive!

From Interlaken to Leukerbad - Expensive!

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EddieF
EddieF
4 posts
new member
Jan 18, 2016 - 7:25 PM

When on holiday it seems very expensive to make single day outings by train. Next week we go to the Jungfrau Region for one of our annual ski trips. We travel from Geneva using the rail Travel Pass, which is valid from the point of entry to Switzerland to one's destination and back, nothing more. We have also used the Tourist Pass for 8 days unlimited travel and both passes are reasonably priced, I suppose. (about £95 & £300)

However, travelling from Interlaken to Leukerbad to visit the spa for the day - a 2 hour journey - is CHF123.60 for a return ticket (£86.26) and seems over the top. A half price 'after 9am' ticket is available but one needs to buy an additional 'half price pass' as well. As there's four of us it would be an expensive day out.. Unless someone knows differently....

Arno
Arno
7696 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 18, 2016 - 7:47 PM

Hi EddieF, thanks for joining us!

The rail travel pass you already have is the Swiss Transfer Ticket I suppose. The best you could have done was purchase the add-on: the Swiss Transfer Ticket "Combi". That would have cost you only £ 40 p.p. extra and it would have given you a 50% discount on all your trips. But, if I understand you correctly you've already purchased a Swiss Transfer Ticket so this is a tip for next time. All the details are here: myswissalps.com/ swisstransferticket.

What you call a Tourist Pass is the Swiss Travel Pass: myswissalps.com/ swisstravelpass.

For now, the best you can do is buy a separate Swiss Half Fare Card: myswissalps.com/ swisshalffarecard/ price. That will save you quite a bit. More than CHF 60 p.p. on just the trip to Leukerbad, so this will probably pay off for your entire stay. Of course you can ask your retailer if they can change your current Swiss Transfer Ticket, but I doubt it. But it doesn't hurt to ask.

Another option to save are Supersaver tickets (see here), if they're available for your route and you don't mind the fixed departure times.

I hope this was useful!

Last modified on Jan 18, 2016 - 7:48 PM by Arno
EddieF
EddieF
4 posts
new member
Jan 18, 2016 - 9:41 PM in reply to Arno

Hi, Thanks for your reply. Yes, we have the Swiss Transfer Tickets. Paying extra to buy a reduced price ticket would only be of use if making two or more day trips, so one would have to do what we did last April and that is to pre-plan a tour and buy the Swiss Travel Pass for several days which also served getting us from the point of entry to our accommodation and return. We had a wonderful time in the Spring! Making a single day trip does not seem viable though, and for us, having a skiing holiday where one has bought an expensive ski pass, one is not inclined to travel elsewhere. Having a day off to soak in a thermal spa and ease the aches and pains does appeal, though! I think there's scope for better access for tourists at more attractive rates, after all, Swiss prices are rather prohibitive to most other Europeans, although one of our group from Norway thinks prices are good! Am I correct in thinking that Swiss residents get cheaper train fares than tourists?

I am in awe of the integrated transport in Switzerland, living in the north of Scotland where we never use public transport. Journeying to us by train via Edinburgh our relatives are always bemused as not even the station staff know which platform a train will arrive at until it pulls in!

However, the one (and only) aspect of using Swiss trains I hate is the sometimes short transfer times when changing trains. My wife and I travel quite light, being able to leave ski equipment in the apartment we use every year, but our friends have two large bags each, a ski bag containing two pairs and hand luggage. Moving that amount of luggage from one platform to another in rush hour in as little as 5 minutes (occasionally) is no joke in your late 60's and trolleys are not always to hand. Alright for commuters, I suppose.. 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.

Arno
Arno
7696 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 19, 2016 - 6:29 AM in reply to EddieF

Hi EddieF,

Indeed, with a local ski pass and just one trip out of the region that single trip can be pretty expensive. The Combi variant would have gotten you to the break even point, so it would have paid off with one additional trip. You can consider a local wellness center to save money and traveling time, e.g. www.boedelibad.ch. You'll get a 20% discount on it if you have booked a hotel in Interlaken, using the guest card they'll give you.

Swiss residents do not get cheaper fares. The fares are fixed for one year or longer and apply to everyone, even seniors. Children do get a discount or free traveling, but this does not depend on nationality either. The only way around the standard fares is to get a rail pass, which is what Swiss residents do. Many have a one year half fare card. They are not allowed to buy a Swiss Travel Pass. I've even heard people complaining about that because they thought it was a good deal.

Short transfer times are no exception indeed, as they want the transport system to be efficient. You can have your luggage transported for you to make your trip more relaxed: myswissalps.com/train/ practical/luggage.

Enjoy your stay!

Last modified on Jan 19, 2016 - 6:31 AM by Arno
EddieF
EddieF
4 posts
new member
Jan 19, 2016 - 7:15 AM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno,

Many thanks for your reply.. My wife discovered last night that our Swiss Transfer Ticket is a 'Combi' ticket and gives us 50% off subsequent journeys during our stay. We've used the Transfer Tickets for years and never noticed..! So we can go to Leukerbad!! Although this is fine, even at half price the fare does seem somewhat expensive to us, on a moderate income in the UK. The Swiss residents half fare card is what I meant above.. Would that not give good value compared to the tourist's Transfer Ticket?

I made an error in my post above, the long train to Berlin was not in Lauterbrunnen station, but Interlaken.. We always really enjoy visits to Switzerland, summer or winter. We skied in many countries in the past but now can't imagine going anywhere else.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2641 posts
expert
Jan 19, 2016 - 8:02 AM in reply to EddieF

Hi EddieF:

<<: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.

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/services/lugg age-and-flight-luggage/luggage-product-comparison.html

<<"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. ;-(

Slowpoke

.

EddieF
EddieF
4 posts
new member
Jan 19, 2016 - 8:31 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi, I did correct my mistake concerning the train to Berlin being in Lauterbrunnen. It was Interlaken Ost. EF

Arno
Arno
7696 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 19, 2016 - 10:10 AM in reply to EddieF

Now that's good news! You will be able to enjoy the 50% reduction. The Combi option was introduced in 2015, so you might very well not have heard of it before.

The Swiss residents half fare card provides the exact same discounts as the one month Swiss Half Fare Card for tourists. The only difference is that it's valid for a year or longer, which would not make sense for most tourists. It also provides some discounts on tickets to Austria and Germany, but that's a bit out of scope here. The Swiss Transfer Ticket Combi also provides the exact same discounts, only with a free incoming and outgoing trip included, which is the cheaper option if those trips are rather long. So, everyone has to pay equally, and gets the same discounts ;-)

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2641 posts
expert
Jan 19, 2016 - 3:01 PM in reply to EddieF

<<"Hi, I did correct my mistake concerning the train to Berlin being in Lauterbrunnen. It was Interlaken Ost. EF">>

Yep. Our posts crossed in the mail.

;-)

Slowpoke

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