Rail Pass Choices

Rail Pass Choices

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Jul 12, 2010 - 7:46 PM
My wife and I are planning on flying in to Zurich, taking the train to Luzern for the day, then spending 3 nights in Lauterbrunnen. We will leave Lauterbrunnen and take the train to Freiburg, Germany after that. We want to hike and use the gondolas, funiculars and mountain trains in the Grindelwald, Gimmelwald, Murren area, and possibly take the JungFraujoch as well.

I figure our total rail fares for the trip will be about $318, so the Swiss Pass and FlexiPass would probably not be effective, and the Bernese Oberland regional pass doesn't seem cover the rail trips in and out of Lauterbrunner. I believe that the Swis Half Fare Card would be a good option, but I cannot figure out which of the gondolas, funiculars and mountain trains are discounted with this card. Would we get the 50% discount in the Lauterbrunner area?

Secondly, if we purchase a ticket to Freiburg, I believe we will get the discount for the travel to the Swiss Border, can we buy the discounted ticket and pay the regular fare for the German portion of the trip at the station in Lauterbrunner?

Thanks for your help - we are looking forward to seeing the Swiss Alps!

Larry
Wandermann
Wandermann
298 posts
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Jul 13, 2010 - 4:48 AM
Hello Larry,

I agree, with your itinerary, the Swiss Pass or the Swiss Flexi Pass would not be my first choice.

You could look into the possibilities and prices of

the Swiss Half Fare Card and the Swiss Card.
On both pages you can find the overview of the network on which these Cards are valid.

Both Cards are valid for one month and will give you a 50% discount on most of your trips. The Swiss Half Fare Card will cost CHF 99 and the Swiss Card CHF 182. With the Swiss Card you will travel for free on your first trip from Zürich Airport to Lauterbrunnen (as long as this first trip is within 24 hours of arrival) and your last trip from Lauterbrunnen to the border station Switzerland-Germany (Basel, I guess).
I think the Swiss Card may be the better choice.

Here you can find the area of validity of the Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland.

As for your second question: yes, you will get a discount for your travel to the border station (Swiss Half Fare Card) or travel for free (Swiss Card). I am pretty sure (although not certain) you can buy your ticket to Freiburg, Germany at the railway station of Lauterbrunnen. If you want to make sure you can ask at a larger SBB station like Interlaken Ost.

These links may be useful too:
Timetable Switzerland - Hiking tips Bernese Oberland - Day trips Bernese Oberland and the Railway FAQ.

I hope this helps, and I wish you both a very pleasant stay!
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Jul 13, 2010 - 9:06 AM
Thanks Wandermann,

This is a big help. As I see it, the legs of the trip are Zurich to Lucerne (30 July -$42), Lucerne to Lauterbrunner (31 July-$90), Lauterbrunner to Freiburg (3 Aug -$186) for the two of us. The overnight in Luverne probably negates the impact of the Swiss Card on the leg from Lucerne to Lauterbrunner. In any event, the total cost for the two of us for these trips is about $318, though part of that is in Germany and would not be covered by either Swiss Card ($344 for 2) or the Swiss Half Fare Card ($190 for 2). Thus even if the Lucerne to Lauterbrunner trip is covered by the Swiss Card the price difference is small. I have summarized below in $.


Costs for 1 Adult

No Pass
Zurich to Lucerne-30 July.......................... $21
Lucerne to Lauterbrunner -31 July.............. $45
Lauterbrunner to Freiburg-3 Aug..................$93
Total Cost.............................................. $159

Swiss Card..............................................$173
Zurich to Lucerne-30 July
Lucerne to Lauterbrunner -31 July
Lauterbrunner to Freiburg-3 Aug
Total Cost.................................................$173

Swiss Half Fare Card.................................$94
Zurich to Lucerne-30 July...........................$11
Lucerne to Lauterbrunner -31 July.............. $23
Lauterbrunner to Freiburg-3 Aug.................$47
Total Cost..............................................$174

If my understanding and analysis is correct, then the advantage of the passes is the discounts for the gondolas, funiculars and mountain trains in the Grindelwald, Gimmelwald, Murren area, and the JungFraujoch. The descriptions for the Swiss Card and the Half Fare Card do not provide specifics on what mountain lifts are covered by the card, simply say some or many lifts are discounted. If the cards provide good discounts in the Lauterbrunnen area, then I would probably opt for the Half Fare Card due to its greater flexibility. Please share your thoughts!

Thanks for your time and consideration!

Larry

Thanks!
Wandermann
Wandermann
298 posts
top member
Jul 14, 2010 - 1:38 AM
Hello Larry,

I see, so your first night will be in Lucerne instead of in Lauterbrunnen. In this case the difference in outcome between Swiss Card and Swiss Half Fare Card will only be CHF 6 in favour of the Swiss Card.

I know the area of Lauterbrunnen and all means of transportation there pretty well. Nearly all kinds of transportation can be seen here (except for the Pfingsteg Bahn in Grindelwald and a small cable car between Isenfluh and Sulwald near Lauterbrunnen. If you want to take one of these cable cars just ask whether your card will give a discount). Sometimes tourist recieve a Gästekarte (Guest Card) which will give some discount.

And yes, the Cards you are looking into will give you good discounts in the area.

Enjoy!
kim11
kim11
322 posts
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Jul 14, 2010 - 8:40 AM
To be very specific, yes, the Swiss Card and the Half Fare Card will both give you 50% discounts off of the high mountain routes such as Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch. The Swiss Card and Half Fare Card bring exactly the same disount benefits (50% off), with the added benefit of Swiss card giving you round trip transport from point of entry to destination (and reverse when leaving, in your case to the border). In 14 years of "doing the math" I have always found one of these two cards to be the most economical. Once you start getting above Wengen or Murren, for example, train fares get really high so you definitely want to buy a discount card of some sort.

Agree you will probably be able to buy a through ticket to Freiburg at Lauterbrunnen station (i've even done this from Wengen station) but, if not, certainly at Interlaken Ost.
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Jul 14, 2010 - 9:10 AM
Kim11 and Wandermann,

Your information is most helpful - we should have a good three days of wandering the greater Lauterbrunner area. Thanks for your assistance!

Larry and Janet
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Jul 16, 2010 - 10:38 AM
Can anyone tell me if we can puchase a Swiss Half Fare Card at the Zurich Airport, or should we order it in advance?

Thanks for all of your help - the folks that are helping us out are fantastic!

Larry
Olga
Olga
461 posts
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Jul 16, 2010 - 10:45 AM
Hello Larry,

Yes, you can purchase a Swiss Half Fare Card at the Zürich Airport Railway Station - please note the limited opening times.

Ordering in advance can be done too and to me it has always been proven easier. You don't have to stand in line and you can use it immediately. Ordering can be done here.

Have fun!!

Olga

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