Rail passes for 18-days in Switzerland

Rail passes for 18-days in Switzerland

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SR1000
SR1000
47 posts
active member
Feb 8, 2016 - 5:45 AM

Now that travel and accommodation have been booked, I have gone through the details of various rails passes, used the spread sheet provided on this site for cost comparison and have drawn some conclusions. Need your help to make sure I have got this right.

Using a 15-day (CHF440) + 3-day (CHF210) Swiss Travel Pass per person (2 of us) to cover all 18 days is not turning out to be economical. So now I am looking at Swiss Half Fare Card and Swiss Half Fare Card Combi (Swiss Travel Pass Flex + Swiss Half Fare).

I am thinking of getting 8-day Swiss Travel Pass Flex along with 50% discounted Swill Half Fare Card (Combi). I have identified 8 costliest travel days below for the 8-day Travel Pass and for all other days in between plan to use the Swss Half Fare Card. Is this understanding correct on how to use the Combi Card?

  • Day 1: NO CARD: Zurich Airport to Zucich HB and local travel
  • Day 2: PASS FLEX (Day 1) -- Zurich to Lucerne
  • Day 3: PASS FLEX (Day 2) -- Rigi
  • Day 4: HALF FARE -- Mt Pilatus
  • Day 5: HALF FARE -- Mt Titlis
  • Day 6: HALF FARE -- Wengen to Interlaken
  • Day 7: HALF FARE -- Jungfraujoch
  • Day 8: PASS FLEX (Day 3) -- First
  • Day 9: HALF FARE -- Schilthorn
  • Day 10: HALF FARE: -- Männlichen
  • Day 11: PASS FLEX (Day 4) -- Wengen to Zermatt
  • Day 12: PASS FLEX (Day 5) -- Bettmerhorn
  • Day 13: HALF FARE -- Gornergrat
  • Day 14: HALF FARE -- Klein Matterhorn
  • Day 15: PASS FLEX (Day 6) -- Zermatt to Montreux (+local sightseeing) to Lausanne
  • Day 16: PASS FLEX (Day 7) -- Gruyers and Broc
  • Day 17: HALF FARE -- Geneva
  • Day 18: PASS FLEX (Day 8) -- Lausanne to Montreux to Lucerne (Golden Pass) to Zurich (upgrade to First class on one leg)
  • Day 19: NO CARD -- Zurich Airport Shuttle from Hotel

Basically wherever the PASS FLEX does not offer 100% discounts, use HALF FARE card. Should I also look at combination of REGIONAL PASSES with 8-day SWISS TRAVEL PASS FLEX? Do the regional passes work same as these? Not sure how time consuming it is to buy tickets on the half-fare days.

Is it advisable to buy these ahead of time (and pay extra for shipping) even though we don't need it on Day 1? Any other combination/pass options I haven't considered?

Annika
Annika
4418 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 8, 2016 - 11:16 AM in reply to SR1000

Hi SR1000,

This looks like a good way to use the pass. There's only one thing I don't understand, which is day 6: Wengen to Interlaken. Is that correct or do you actually mean to transfer from Lucerne to Wengen that day? In that case I understand, but you may save more buy using your third free day of the pass to day 6.

Regional passes may work similarly or different, you'd better check the details of each pass you have in mind. I don't think it will be better/cheaper to get regional passes as well, but you only know for sure after doing the math. Keep in mind that the Swiss Travel Pass Flex Combi covers the entire country, so it offers more flexibility than regional passes (e.g. when changing plans based on the weather). An option that's always worth to consider is just using the Swiss Half Fare Card. It's not very comfortable as it requires you to arrange for tickets every day, but it's worth knowing what the costs would be.

Shipping costs are often not an issue for rail passes. Many passes can be printed at home, and even if they're not, quite some retailers offer free shipping anyway. The Swiss Travel Pass Flex Combi is not being offered for at home printing yet, but your local retailer in India offers free shipping: www.raileurope.co.in/p ass/swiss-travel-pass-half-fare-card. Their pass prices are quite high at the moment though. So a cheaper and convenient option is to order through the official Swiss railways webshop at www.swissrailways.com/ en/products/swissflexi passcombi and have the passes delivered to your hotel for just CHF 6 (you can select a delivery address in Switzerland). So you don't have to go to the ticket office. You can fill out the blank fields on the pass yourself and board your train to Lucerne straight away.

SR1000
SR1000
47 posts
active member
Feb 8, 2016 - 6:02 PM in reply to Annika

Sorry about Day 6. It's Lucerne to Wengen. If you can edit the post, that would be great.

Regional passes don't seem to be helping. Just Swiss Half Fare Card seems to be best option. Using 15-day Flex pass for 18-days (Day 1, 2, 6, 19 -- NO Pass -- full ticket) is also coming out to be almost same. That might save the hustle of buying tickets every day. Is there any other discounts I can use for these 4 days?

I will look into the advance buy option. Yes, the RaiEurope site seems to have included the shipping in the pricing. Shipping to hotel is a good option. Should I do that just before leaving (say 15 days before)?

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Feb 9, 2016 - 2:17 AM in reply to SR1000

Hi SR1000-

Looks like a good itinerary...not too crowded.

<<"Day 11: PASS FLEX (Day 4) -- Wengen to Zermatt">>

Look into using the scenic old route from Spiez to Brig as part of this leg. Terrific scenery if you use the train called the Lötschberger which passes through Kandersteg, and the older shorter upper tunnel, instead of the boring lower new longer "basis" tunnel direct to Visp.

Sit on the right...doesn't matter a whole lot as you go up to Kandersteg, but does as you go down the south facing wall of he Rhone Valley to Brig.

Might take an hour longer...did not check for exact connections.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Feb 9, 2016 - 2:20 AM by Slowpoke
SR1000
SR1000
47 posts
active member
Feb 9, 2016 - 6:18 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thank you Slowpoke. We wanted did not want to cram too many things in one day. This way with our 6 year old daughter if a 1 hour trek becomes 2 hours or 2 hours becomes 4 hours, no worries :)

This is a great suggestion. I looked up the train on timetable. Looks like it runs every hour. Will definitely take this one.

Arno
Arno
7726 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 9, 2016 - 11:50 AM in reply to SR1000

Hi SR1000,

If the Swiss Travel Pass Flex results in about the same spending I would pick that one. It's indeed more comfortable. On the other days you'll get 50% off; there are no other discounts that I know of.

Regarding ordering through www.swissrailways.com/ en/ products/ swissflexipasscombi: you can do so until a couple of working days before you need the pass. You can also do it now, and they will ship it to your hotel 2-3 weeks before you need it.

SR1000
SR1000
47 posts
active member
Feb 9, 2016 - 12:39 PM in reply to Arno

Yes, I am inclined now towards flex pass, although thinking of getting 15-day Flex instead of 8-day Flex Combi as planned in the first post. It means I will travel without any pass on 4 least costly days.

Did I read correctly that the Swiss Travel Pass Flex offers only 50% discount on Wengen to Männlichen LWM route?

Arno
Arno
7726 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 9, 2016 - 1:07 PM in reply to SR1000

You're still getting 50% discounts on those 4 days. Wengen to Männlichen is a cable car. Those are never free (well, a few exceptions apply). So you indeed get a 50% discount there. All the details are here.

SR1000
SR1000
47 posts
active member
Feb 9, 2016 - 3:05 PM in reply to Arno

I am a bit confused. On the link you have provided it says:

Traveling on non-free travel days

If you want to travel on any of the days in between the free travel days, you will have to purchase a regular ticket. There are no discounts on such days.

How do I get/claim the discount on the non-free days?

Two more questions:

  1. When the discount is not 100%, I do need to purchase the ticket and pay the difference, right?
  2. Is the museum discount (free) available only on free travel day or also on non-free travel day?
Last modified on Feb 9, 2016 - 3:14 PM by SR1000
Arno
Arno
7726 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 9, 2016 - 3:55 PM in reply to SR1000

That concerns the Swiss Travel Pass Flex, the standard version. But I thought you were planning to get the Swiss Travel Pass Flex Combi. Or are you comparing the 8 days Combi versus 15 days standard? In any case, if you click to "How to use" and "Details" it will all be explained.

SR1000
SR1000
47 posts
active member
Feb 9, 2016 - 4:19 PM in reply to Arno

I figured out that 15-daya Flex (without combi/half card) is cheaper than 8-days Flex (with combi/half card).

Half-fare card alone and 15-days Flex are coming out to be similar (Half Card is slightly cheaper). So I am inclined towards 15-days Flex to avoid buying tickets at least on some days.

Can you please also answer the 2nd question (got the answer for 1st on the link provided earlier)?

Arno
Arno
7726 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 9, 2016 - 5:20 PM

Ok, all clear now! Museums are only included on free travel days. On other days they're not included and there's no discount eiher. Now, some towns provide a free card to hotel guests. I think Wengen has one too. If you happen to get one, you could make use of the discounts of that card. It will only be local and usually much less than a 50% discount, but better than nothing!

atmdel
atmdel
10 posts
new member
Feb 11, 2016 - 7:32 AM

Hi!

We would be visiting in beginning June hand had a similar issue- 18 days and which pass.

After much planning and complicated maths :), we realized that a combination of 15 day flexi ( without HFC) and a 4 day BO pass worked best. The mountain cables, cog wheels etc were really adding up and I guess we liked the flexibility of not having to stand and buy tickets. A discount is also offered on the BO pass if u already have a Swiss travel pass. So the cost is not too bad.

Posted this thinking you might want to evaluate it as just repeat trips on the mannlichen pay for the pass :)

Arno
Arno
7726 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 11, 2016 - 8:49 AM in reply to atmdel

That's a creative option atmdel, thanks for sharing that!

SR1000
SR1000
47 posts
active member
Feb 11, 2016 - 9:38 AM in reply to Arno

Thanks atmdel.

The 4 day BO Pass link above says:

"a 25% discount applies to the pass price if you have a valid Swiss Travel Pass, Swiss Travel Pass Flex Combi,Swiss Transfer Ticket Combi or Swiss Half Fare Card at the time of traveling. You also get the discount with a Swiss Travel Pass Flex, but you need to use a travel day on each day that you use the discounted Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland, so we don't recommend this combination;"

Does that mean you can use BO pass only on the days you are using Swlss Travel Pass Flex?

Last modified on Feb 11, 2016 - 9:50 AM by SR1000
atmdel
atmdel
10 posts
new member
Feb 11, 2016 - 9:56 AM in reply to SR1000

Hi SR1000!

i actually didn't know of this rule....

maybe arno could clarify, as that would change the cost of the pass.

See, this is why forums like these are so useful - one figured out stuff which doesn't seem to be evident in the websites !

Annika
Annika
4418 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 11, 2016 - 10:48 AM

Hi SR1000 and atmdel,

Indeed, that's the rule. A bit confusing, I know. You'll have to use a free travel day of your Swiss Travel Pass Flex every time you use your discounted Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland. So that's not a practical solution for your journey, SR1000.

If you think the Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland makes sense for day 6-10 of your itinerary, you'd better buy a regular non-discounted version, so that it doesn't interfere with the free travel days of your Swiss Travel Pass Flex. Both passes are available through www.swissrailways.com/ en.

Last modified on Feb 11, 2016 - 11:15 AM by Annika
atmdel
atmdel
10 posts
new member
Feb 16, 2016 - 4:46 AM

hi!

Just wanted to add on a question about the same area and pass..not sure if it should be here or in a new post tho..Pls do bear with me if i've made a mistake.

I was wondering what happens to the fare of the child, if i use the Family card that comes with the STP. Jungfraujoch is discounted 25% for adults, but what does one need to pay for the child? And even in mannlichen and other cable cars like first, where STP is dscounted for adults, what does child pay with family card?

In case one is using the 30 CHF child pass bought along with BO adult pass, what would be the discount offered on Jungfarujoch and cable cars like mannlichen?

Thanks,

atm

Arno
Arno
7726 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 16, 2016 - 7:09 AM in reply to atmdel

Hi atm,

With the Swiss Travel Pass, children travel for free everywhere because of the Swiss Family Card. With the Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland, children need the child pass or Junior travelcard, and then also travel for free everywhere. Please see:

Last modified on Feb 16, 2016 - 7:10 AM by Arno
atmdel
atmdel
10 posts
new member
Feb 16, 2016 - 7:16 AM

Thanks for clarifying Arno ! Just could not believe that such expensive journeys would allow children for free... So wanted to double check thinking that there would be a catch/ loophole somewhere !!

Phew! Helps with budgeting big time ! Thanks again for the prompt revert !

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