Swiss Card from Italy

Swiss Card from Italy

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IMNiles
IMNiles
6 posts
new member
May 15, 2010 - 11:13 AM
Hello!

Our party of four will be traveling to Switzerland from Italy (Fidenza, Parma region) to Mürren in June and we have purchased Swiss Cards from RailEurope for our time in Switzerland. I understand that we will need to buy tickets from our origin to Domodossola, and then our trip will be covered by the Swiss Card to our final destination (Mürren). Will the ticket counter in Fidenza (a very small station) understand how to sell me this ticket (including reservations through to Spiez) and how to validate my pass, or should I make some kind of preparation in advance? The last time we were in Fidenza, we had Italy railpasses, and it was clear that this station did not see many passes - there was much confusion, and nobody at the station spoke English (nor we much Italian). I have not been able to find any way to purchase this complicated ticket (full fare to Domodossola, reservation only to Spiez) from home in the US.

We will be passing through Milano about a week before our trip to Switzerland, so I intended to buy our seat reservations (the Cisalpino/EuroCity train requires reservations) at that time - can I also validate the pass then, or do I also need to visit the ticket counter in Fidenza on the day of our departure, or can I self-validate? The instructions on the "card" (it's really just a printed ticket on the same stock as a railpass) are a bit unclear on this point.

Finally, we intend to use our "outbound" leg to take us to Geneva, but we're actually spending two nights there before flying home. Must we travel to the actual airport to satisfy the "border or airport" requirement, or is any stop in Geneva sufficient? I'm aware that our card expires once we take this trip, and will not be valid during our stay in Geneva.

Thanks so much. I have been to Mürren before and I am very much looking forward to returning.
Annika
Annika
4424 posts
expert &
moderator
May 15, 2010 - 1:40 PM
Hello IMNiles, and welcome! It's possible to purchase one ticket from Fidenza to Spiez, including seat reservations and free travelling between Domodossola to Spiez. In order to get this, you should fill out your departure station (Fidenza), arrival station (Spiez) and travel date in the timetable of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). Next, choose your connection and click 'Fare/Buy'. You should then follow the steps in the ordering proces. During the second step, you can select reduction options for Switzerland. In this drop-down list you should select 'GA 1 year / GA subscription' (you can choose between 1st and 2nd class, depending on the class in which you'll make your trip). The GA offers the same discounts as a Swiss Card and selecting this option will have the result that the Swiss part of the journey, from Domodossola onwards, will be for free. Next, you can reserve your seats for the entire trip.

As for validating your pass: as far as I know, you can validate your pass yourself by writing down the date(s) on which you want to use it. In this case, you shouldn't have to get off at a railway station or ask for the help of (foreign) railway employees. Entering the date on the pass before boarding the train should suffice. According to the terms and conditions stated by the official office that issues the tickets (Switzerland Travel Centre), the following procedure applies:
"Holders of STT, SC, or Swiss Flexi Pass & Saver Flexi Pass should only enter the first date of travel on their pass immediately before boarding the train on that particular day of travel. Similarly, the return date must be filled in on the last date of use." I'm trying to get more details on this and I'll get back to you in this topic.

As for your outbound trip: the Swiss Card requires you to travel to an airport or border station. So in fact you are traveling to Geneva airport. The Geneva main station is on the route to the airport, so you can simply get off the train there without completing the last small part of your trip. You're just traveling slightly shorter than what you're entitled to. If I find more details on this, I'll let you know as well.

Last but not least, I fully understand that you're looking forward to your return to Mürren! It's absolutely stunning.
Annika
Annika
4424 posts
expert &
moderator
May 17, 2010 - 2:11 PM
Hi IMNiles, the Swiss Railways (SBB) have confirmed that you only have to write down the start date of your Swiss Card in order to validate it. So getting out at a railway station or having it validated by a railway official isn't necessary. You don't have to fill out your departure or arrival station at the Swiss Card, so traveling to Geneva instead of Geneva Airport won't be a problem.

Have a good trip!
IMNiles
IMNiles
6 posts
new member
May 17, 2010 - 3:17 PM
Thanks Annika -

I did look up my route at SBB, but alas I either need to pick up the tickets in Switzerland or pay more than $40 to get them shipped to the states, so I think I'm going to buy them in Milano as I pass through about a week before my trip (we're spending the first week in Italy). When I check for availability about a week out from now, it looks like this shouldn't be a problem - do you agree? I think I'll have a better chance at getting the right ticket in Milano than I will at the tiny station in Fidenza. Last time I was at that station, nobody spoke English and the ticket agent had never seen an Italy Railpass before. It took a fairly humorous 20 minutes of pantomime in order to get them validated.

There is a spot on the swiss card for a "validating stamp" - I guess I get this from the first conductor I encounter, or at my first opportunity inside Switzerland. I've asked RailEurope for clarification, since they printed the passes.

The pass rules say that I must take the "most direct route" - do you think I can get away with taking the more scenic RegioExpress Lötschberger instead of the EuroCity through the Simplon tunnel? (this train can be found in the timetable by specifying Eggerberg in the "via" field, otherwise only the EC is presented as an option). It's technically a bit less direct, but it's not far out of the way - just a slightly more circuitous route between Brig and Spiez. I'd love to take the whole Centovalli route, but unfortunately we need to make it to Interlaken before 5 so we can hit visit the Coop before they close for the weekend.
Annika
Annika
4424 posts
expert &
moderator
May 18, 2010 - 2:01 AM
Hi again,

In that case you're probably best off purchasing your tickets at Milano. If you want to be absolutely sure that they sell these tickets including seat reservation (which I think they will), you can contact the Italian Railways. At least your chances there will be much better than in Fidenza. Thank you by the way for your entertaining anecdote ;-). Reserving your seats one week in advance is fine in most cases.

The Swiss Card requires you to take the most direct route to your destination. This is either the route indicated by the timetable or a cheaper variant. The timetable comes up with both variants: a direct connection from Brig to Spiez through the Lötschberg tunnel and the much more scenic route through Goppenstein, Kandersteg and Frutigen. There's no price difference either, so you might just as well go for the RegioExpress option, which would be a beautiful addition to your inbound trip.

Have a wonderful trip!
IMNiles
IMNiles
6 posts
new member
May 19, 2010 - 9:29 AM
Well, this is interesting. I asked both RailEurope and SBB the same question, and the answers were different. :-)

From RailEurope:

"Please validate your Swiss Card on board the train with the conductor
directly. Once you have shown a valid passport with the same name as the
pass, a rail official will enter the validity dates and stamp the pass.
Your pass cannot be used until it is stamped."

The reply from SBB about the scenic route and validation:

"You can fill in the dates yourself on the Swiss Card.
Non you can travel also with a InterRegio between Domodossola and Spiez. The mosz direct route is from Domodossola to Brig and then from Brig to Spiez."

I think I'll believe sbb.

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