How to buy train ticket from Zermatt to Florence?

How to buy train ticket from Zermatt to Florence?

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pinkpink82
pinkpink82
1 post
new member
Mar 31, 2015 - 6:17 AM

I will go to Switzerland and Italy with my family in May. Our last stop in Swiss will be Zermatt and we will take train from Zermatt to Firenze SMN. As the route will cross through 2 countries, I found these 3 routes from the SBB website·

  1. 1st Route: Zermatt to Brig Bahn. (operated by Regio 224)·
  2. 2nd Route: Brig to Milano Centrale (operated by Eurocity 37)·
  3. 3rd Route: Milano Centrale to Firenze SMN (operated by Eurostar Italia 9529)

Each of us will get a Swiss Half Fare card.

However I am confused on the connection and ticket purchase:

  1. I can only see the train timetable but unable to purchase from sbb website (maybe because it covers different rail companies). What should I do? Do I have to purchase all 3 routes in advance? (I found a “R” sign for 2nd and 3rd route. Does it mean I must get tickets of these 2 routes as early as possible or else ticket will be sold out? )
  2. If so, how can I buy ticket of Route 2 and 3? Do I need to buy 2 separate journeys from their respective rail company website?
  3. As I will get a Swiss Half Fare card, it applies to my fares from Zermatt to Domodossola but there is a direct train from Brig to Milano (i.e. 2nd route, and Domodossola is one of the stops in this route). Will the ticket fares be automatically reduced when I present the Half Fare card during purchase? How does it work if I purchase online?
  4. 1st and 2nd route transit will take a 7 min walk. However it is not told in website regarding transit of 2nd and 3rd route. Generally would we have enough time for transit?
  5. In the event that we lose our way and miss the train, will the ticket be valid for the next train?

I understand most of the train station in Swiss have lockers, and we can store our luggage there without the need of carrying around. Is my understand correct?Thanks very much for your advice!

ariel

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Apr 1, 2015 - 12:29 AM in reply to pinkpink82
pinkpink82 said:

<<"I will go to Switzerland and Italy with my family in May. Our last stop in Swiss will be Zermatt and we will take train from Zermatt to Firenze SMN. As the route will cross through 2 countries, I found these 3 routes from the SBB website·

  1. 1st Route: Zermatt to Brig Bahn. (operated by Regio 224)·
  2. 2nd Route: Brig to Milano Centrale (operated by Eurocity 37)·
  3. 3rd Route: Milano Centrale to Firenze SMN (operated by Eurostar Italia 9529)

Each of us will get a Swiss Half Fare card.">>

Greeetings PinkPink 82 -

Thanks for the precise description of your route. That will be a really nice ride, especially in Switzerland, but also in Italy north of Milano along the lakes.

<<"However I am confused on the connection and ticket purchase:

  1. I can only see the train timetable but unable to purchase from sbb website (maybe because it covers different rail companies). What should I do? Do I have to purchase all 3 routes in advance? (I found a “R” sign for 2nd and 3rd route. Does it mean I must get tickets of these 2 routes as early as possible or else ticket will be sold out? )
  2. If so, how can I buy ticket of Route 2 and 3? Do I need to buy 2 separate journeys from their respective rail company website?">>

I have bought all needed tickets in Switzerland to travel to Milano or Firenze by that route. Also, on routes to Bolzano and Merano, and also Vienna. Not since 2008, however.

If this mechanism is no longer working, I'm sure that the moderators can help.

You should be able to use the SBB web site, explaining your route by means of filling out the forms and menus that they provide. Then, they will e-mail a bid for the cost of the trip, which you may accept., if you wish, and they will issue the tickets. Exactly what form they use to issue the tickets may vary....some they mailed to me, some were done by printing from the internet. .

That has worked for me many times. Should still work, AFAIK.

  1. <<"As I will get a Swiss Half Fare card, it applies to my fares from Zermatt to Domodossola but there is a direct train from Brig to Milano (i.e. 2nd route, and Domodossola is one of the stops in this route). Will the ticket fares be automatically reduced when I present the Half Fare card during purchase? How does it work if I purchase online?">>

They SBB has a discount (small) negotiated with the railways of neighboring countries for holders of most Swiss reduced fare cards. It will be applied automatically in the quote that they provide.

If you purchase a ticket at a ticket window in Italy, they may or may not be aware of that discount, but you should show your half fare card.

  1. <<"1st and 2nd route transit will take a 7 min walk. However it is not told in website regarding transit of 2nd and 3rd route. Generally would we have enough time for transit?">>

Brig, no problem. In Milano, both trains will be late, so it is a guess. I would like a one hour minimum connection, based on my experience in Milano Centrale. Make sure your luggage has wheels, and be ready to run. ;-(

In Switzerland, your ticket will work on the route on that day , as long as you do not take a special named train ( William Tell Express. Glacier Express. etc.). However, on international routes, or outside Switzerland, you should reserve seats. I suspect that you could have aprolem, but do not know whether those ticket will have to be renegotiated.

Moderators may know.

    <<"I understand most of the train station in Swiss have lockers, and we can store our luggage there without the need of carrying around. Is my understand correct?Thanks very much for your advice!">>

    I have used the service on every trip in Switzerland. I do not know if lockers will always be empty for you, but I have neve had trouble.

    However, don't take really big suitcases. Locker come in various sizes, and the bigger ones may be full.

    At major stations, there will be a "left luggage room, with early and fairly late hours IIRC, there is way to find out about particular stations on the internet, but I don't remeber how to do it.

    Have a great trip.

    ariel

    Arno
    Arno
    7727 posts
    expert &
    moderator
    Apr 1, 2015 - 4:45 AM

    Hi Ariel,

    Like Slowpoke explained, you can indeed buy your tickets to Italy while in Switzerland. However, many Italian trains require seat reservations. So in general, buying such tickets earlier is better. You need tickets from Domodossola onwards; tickets to Domodossola are discounted by the Swiss Half Fare Card and can be purchased in Switzerland. The Italian tickets can be purchased online, along with your Swiss Half Fare Cards, which are cheaper to buy online anyway (see here).

    There's no discount in Italy for Swiss Half Fare Card holders; at least not that I'm aware of. Discounts go as far as Domodossola. There are discounts for Austria and Germany, but only for half fare cards for 1 year of longer, not for the 1 month version you'll be using. Details are here.

    All trains can be found in the timetable. Please see the links for explanations on how to use it. An "R" just means that you can reserve seats, but it's not required. Don't do so for Swiss trains (see my first link in this post). An "R" in a square means that you have to book seats. You simply need one ticket from Zermatt to Domodossola (discounted, no reservations) and one from there onwards (regular price, most probably with seat reservations included).

    Enjoy your stay in wonderful Zermatt!

    Last modified on Apr 1, 2015 - 4:46 AM by Arno
    Slowpoke
    Slowpoke
    2657 posts
    expert
    Apr 1, 2015 - 7:00 AM in reply to Arno
    Arno said:

    <<"Hi Ariel,

    There's no discount in Italy for Swiss Half Fare Card holders; at least not that I'm aware of. Discounts go as far as Domodossola. There are discounts for Austria and Germany, but only for half fare cards for 1 year of longer, not for the 1 month version you'll be using. Details are here.">>

    Arno-

    Thanks for pointing out my error. I have only used my 2 or 3 year half-fare card when traveling from Zürich or Geneva to Austria, Germany and Italy. I was not sure about one month Half Fare Cards, and I'm glad that you pointed out that they are not eligible for a discount in neighboring countries at any time. I definitely got a discount for Germany and Austria with my 2-year half fare card (although it is rather small) and the Italian trips were long enough ago that my memory has probably made a mistake about them.

    Our business had offices near Geneva and in Milano. I found it much easier to purchase the tickets in Switzerland than in Italy for going back and forth by train. On other trips, such as from Zürich to the Südtirol, I also purchased them via the SBB website, and had them mailed to me in the USA. On one trip, returning from Bolzano to the Engadine and onward to Zürich, there was one short leg that the SBB could not provide a ticket for, which I had to purchase in Bolzano, if I recall correctly. Maybe in the Val Venosta, or on the bus that crossed the border from Mals to Mustair......

    When I did purchase them in Milano for the return trip to Geneva, on other trips, somehow there was always some complexity at the ticket counter that I had to deal with, and I eventually learned to take an Italian speaking colleague with me if he was available. I never failed to get tickets by myself, but it was easier if Italian was spoken. Maybe I was just unlucky with my choice of clerk, or I did not understand the system.

    For some limited kinds of (but certainly not all kinds of ) types of tickets in Switzerland, it is necessary to validate the ticket in a machine on the platform which prints a date stamp on the ticket, before one boards the train. Supplemental day-tickets with multiple single days of validity, available as a supplement for a fee with my 2-year type of half-fare card, are an example. Each day that I chose to use one, I had to remember to validate the ticket for that particular day. Single trip tickets bought from a clerk or a machine have the day (or days) of validity already printed on them, and do not require additional validation, as far as I know.

    In Italy, I believe that I had get my ticket stamped to validate it with any ticket that I bought. When I forgot once or twice, the conductor was usually understanding and validated the ticket on the train. However, I did get a lecture. ;-)

    Would that be true for the Italian portion of the trip described, from Domodossola onward to Milano? Does that ticket require validation just before use? I have not crossed that border since the Schengen treaty and the Free Movement of Peoples was put in place, if it makes a difference. Or, are such cross-border tickets valid today when purchased, without further validation? Getting a required seat reservation is, of course, one way to specify the date.

    Slowpoke
    Slowpoke
    2657 posts
    expert
    Apr 1, 2015 - 7:52 AM in reply to Arno
    <""
    Arno said:

    Like Slowpoke explained, you can indeed buy your tickets to Italy while in Switzerland. However, many Italian trains require seat reservations. So in general, buying such tickets earlier is better. You need tickets from Domodossola onwards; tickets to Domodossola are discounted by the Swiss Half Fare Card and can be purchased in Switzerland. The Italian tickets can be purchased online, along with your Swiss Half Fare Cards, which are cheaper to buy online anyway (see here).">>

    Arno-

    I just checked the SBB web site, and their ticket office is willing to sell me a ticket or tickets from Zürich to Milano ( as an example that I chose for a test) with necessary seat reservations.

    I do have to register with the ticket office, so that I have an account with them. Once I have the account, it can be used to purchase tickets. That can be done online. I did it years ago. Today, my account has records of my various trips in the past.

    I can (maybe, must?) print out the tickets on my home computer.

    I have had better luck dealing directly with the SBB than with Rail Europe on any trip that involves Switzerland. Rail Europe is used to using major train routes, and becomes uncomfortable (here in the USA, anyway) with trips on secondary Swiss routes. I stopped using them 4 or 5 years ago. They may be better now.

    Also, on major routes I'd compare prices. Sometimes I have found differences between the SBB and Rail Europe.

    Arno
    Arno
    7727 posts
    expert &
    moderator
    Apr 1, 2015 - 8:10 AM

    Hi Slowpoke,

    You sure have a lot of train experience; very useful! It's indeed not always that easy to figure out which ticket to get, and how to get it. Luckily most tourists use one of rail passes so they don't have to deal with tickets or reservations, at least within Switzerland. RailEurope has become better over the years with point to point tickets. Cheaper anyway. Still they can't provide tickets to every single (mostly smaller) station, but it's getting better. Also the print at home option is slowly gaining ground.

    Slowpoke
    Slowpoke
    2657 posts
    expert
    Apr 1, 2015 - 2:39 PM in reply to Arno

    <<" You sure have a lot of train experience; very useful! It's indeed not always that easy to figure out which ticket to get, and how to get it. Luckily most tourists use one of rail passes so they don't have to deal with tickets or reservations, at least within Switzerland.">>

    Grüetzi Arno-

    Merci vielmals.

    For me, these days, 3 year Halbtax is the best option. For my friends, it is often the all inclusive Rail Passes, which I have used in the past. For my own use, I always am pleased that I can get a one year Half Fare Card for only 175 CHF, when the One Month Card costs 120 CHF. of course, I must have a Swiss mailing address, and a provide an acceptable photo.

    Thank you for the corrections and clarifications on the features of the One Month Half fare Card. They are very helpful for me (and for my friends.)

    The Swiss Rail System is a work of art IMO, and precision tool. Learning to use any tool well allows you to get the most form it. That is why I suggest using the SBB web site as part of the process of planning a trip. Learning to use it lets you access a wealth of information.

    http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html

    And, some of the questions asked on the forum can be answered easily by looking at a map. In addition to the map available for a route on the SBB web site, Map Search.CH , classic version, is really helpful.

    http://map.classic.search.ch/

    Once you make visible the symbols for train/bus stations/stops, you can mouse over them and get timetable information. I have not figured out how to do that with the newer version... ;-)

    If and when I am planning to spend thousands of USD or CHF on a trip, I consider it wise to invest some time in making it work, in order to get the most for my money.

    Arno
    Arno
    7727 posts
    expert &
    moderator
    Apr 1, 2015 - 5:20 PM
    Grüezi! The maps from search.ch are great indeed. We've included a version here. If you point your mouse to a rail station you'll see departure times. If you go to their website, departure times are shown to the left if you click a rail station. More useful websites and smart phone apps are listed here.
    Last modified on Apr 1, 2015 - 5:20 PM by Arno
    Slowpoke
    Slowpoke
    2657 posts
    expert
    Apr 1, 2015 - 7:12 PM in reply to Arno

    <<"More useful websites and smart phone apps are listed here.">>

    Thanks.

    A very useful page of links. I have bookmarked it.

    One that you have listed and that I use frequently for hiking maps is Switzerland Mobility -

    http://www.schweizmobil.ch/en/schweizmobil.html

    The hiking maps are exceptional, with height profiles and very detailed scale topo maps of routes, as well as some descriptive text.

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