GoldenPass ticket confusion and suggestions

  • Removed user
    52345 posts
    23 April 2013 at 15:02:28 #805933

    Hi everyone,

    I have read through several similar threads but I would like a more direct answer to my concerns before doing something I cant reverse.

    My wife and I will be travelling to Europe for the first time in July and I’m trying to plan our trip as best I can now. Understanding the rail and rail pass costs has not been terribly easy. I will be in Geneva for 1 week for work, then we are planning on visiting several other cities the next 10 days. What I’d like to do (in 1 day) is leave Geneva, travel to Mount Pilatus, and end in Zurich where we will take a night train to Berlin. Ideally I would like to take the Goldenpass panoramic train to Lucerne but after looking at the Zurich without missing my train to Berlin (correct me if I’m wrong). My first few questions are as follows:

    1. There seem to be 3 main legs of the Goldenpass (Montreux-Zweisimmen, Zweisimmen-Interlaken, Interlaken-Lucerne). Is there any 1 of these legs that are more scenic than the other 2? I’m considering taking 1 slow/scenic panoramic train and 2 faster trains to save time.

    2. Since I’m only travelling on swiss trains for 1 day do I need some kind of rail pass? I would think I could save money by just paying the full fare.

    3. If we go on a panoramic train I would prefer the seats above the conductor so that we can see ahead and to the sides. After looking at the seat reservation for the panoramic trains on it looks like I am only being charged a reservation fee not the entire cost. Is there any way to correct this now, or do I just pay the difference when I arrive?

    4. Next is the train to Berlin. From my quick research it looks like I could save money by buying a Bahn 25 card for my wife and myself. I havent decided if we want 1st or 2nd class, is one less secure than another?

    Once arriving in Berlin we plan on 2 nights there, flying to Paris, 2 nights there, and flying to Dublin, 2 nights, then flying back to Boston, MA. I understand this is a lot to do in a short amount of time but with our work schedules we’re not sure when the next time we can visit Europe again.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


  • Arno
    15042 posts
    24 April 2013 at 1:48:17 #838474

    Hi whitehat09,

    That indeed quite a trip in just a few days! I’m sure you’ll see a lot and hopefully you’ll be able to return one day. As for your questions:

    1. I would say leg 1 and 3 are the best. It doesn’t really matter which trains you take. The “fast” train is still pretty slow and you’ll be able to see the landscape from any train.

    2. No, you’re just making a single train trip Geneva – Zurich (including a detour) plus one mountain trip. It would cost about CHF 170 per person. A rail pass is more expensive.

    3. You can just book seats there. In additional you need a pass or ticket to cover for the traveling. In your case it would be a regular ticket. Here's more about seat reservations.

    4. I don’t know about the BahnCard. 1st and 2nd class is mainly a difference in comfort. There’s more space in 1st class, and the option to book (private) sleeper compartments (they’re not cheap but far more comfortable than a seat). You can find tickets here.

    Hotels near the Geneva airport and rail station can be found here and here.

    Removed user
    52345 posts
    24 April 2013 at 19:23:29 #838475

    Thanks Arno for your very helpful answers. I just have 1 follow up question.

    3. Ok, it makes sense that I can only reserve the seat from that website. Since I wont be purchasing any kind of pass, can I purchase tickets in advance? Do I purchase them the day of when I arrive at the train station? I cant seem to find a clear answer. Sorry if my questions seem nieve.

    15042 posts
    25 April 2013 at 2:52:00 #838476

    Hi whitehat09,

    Regular tickets can either be purchased at local rail stations or online.

    Removed user
    52345 posts
    26 April 2013 at 10:11:55 #838477

    I’m finally starting to figure out how to use the time table. What I wasn’t realizing before is that the time table shows every train that travels through the chosen stations at that time (typically in the US you need to find the specific carriers website. Our rail system is not sophisticated enough offer 1 website with all possible trains).

    1. I’m curious how much time most people spend on Pilatus? My wife and I aren’t huge into hiking but might walk one of the shorter trails (I think I remember readying about a 30-45 min roundtrip trail). Assuming the weather is nice and we go for a short walk, I’m guessing I would want to make sure I have at least 2-3 hours set aside to spend on Pilatus. Does that sounds reasonable or am I underestimating the time it takes to enjoy the view?

    2. Sadly, it looks like it is nearly impossible to spend 2-3 hours at Pilatus and arrive in Zurich a couple hours before my overnight train departs. So I am looking into taking a faster train, looks like I can leave Geneva at 08:11 and arrive at Pilatus Kulm at 12:05. However this obviously takes a different route than the goldenpass, the train route is as follows

    Geneva > Lausanne > Fribourg > Bern > Neubaustrecke > Zofingen > Sursee > Luzern > Alpnachstad > Pilatus Kulm

    I’m hoping this path will still offer quite a scenic trip. Can any one comment on this?

    Thanks again for all the insight!

    7001 posts
    27 April 2013 at 6:27:17 #838478

    Hi! 2 to 3 hours should indeed be enough to enjoy the views up at Pilatus. If you don’t take a hike at all, you’ll even get to see a lot in about 1,5 hours. The train route you describe is nice, but less scenic than the Golden Pass route. On the other hand, if you want to incorporate a visit to the Pilatus, it seems to be the easiest solution. Following the Golden Pass route would get you up at Pilatus quite late indeed.

    I’m not sure how late your night train leaves, but note that you could still leave Pilatus by 17.00 and arrive at Zurich around 19.25. It’s important that you feel at ease with your travel scheme though. It would be too bad if you’re worrying whether or not you’ll make it in time for your night train.

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