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1st vs 2nd class in Swiss trains, high season


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ToddandThuy
ToddandThuy
6 posts
new member
Jun 20, 2022 - 4:23 AM

Hello. My wife and I will be traveling via train from Lake Constance in Austria to Lauterbrunnen. It looks like we will be taking at least 4 separate trains: Bregenz-Zurich-Bern-Interlocken-Lauterbrunnen. We will probably not go all the way straight. More likely we will stop once or twice to grab lunch or walk around Bern and/or Interlocken. In order to have flexibility of trains, we are most likely going to get Saver Day Passes. However, we will have luggage with us, and my wife would prefer to sit (not stand). I have read that train reservations (and first class) are not generally necessary, except possibly on certain routes in July and August. We would be traveling 30 August (which is a Tuesday) and during mid-day. Here are my questions:

Any chance that any of these trains would be full around that time?

Do you think we can buy the 2nd class saver ticket, or would it be safer to get 1st class instead?

Do to the number of trains, I think this is better than getting seat reservations, but also wondering what you suggest.

We are also traveling from Interlocken to Lucerne on 2 Sept (which is a Friday) also mid-day. Do you think we would get a seat (not stand) without a seat reservation for this?

(While in Lauterbrunnen, we will go to Wengen/Mannlichen and Murren, but we probably will not be taking any lifts higher up, so it doesn't seem like any of the passes would help us, except possibly the half-fare card - depending on the difference it makes for the saver day pass. It looks like sometimes it helps, but less than 50%).

Thanks.

Anna
Anna
3891 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 20, 2022 - 10:40 AM in reply to ToddandThuy

Hi ToddandThuy,

Welcome to MySwissAlps. I think with a 1st Class Saver Day Pass (www.myswissalps.com/saverdaypass), most likely you won’t have problem getting seats on the train so reservations are not necessary. With a 2nd Class Saver Day Pass, getting seats may be a concern if you‘re travelling during peak period (usually in the morning and late afternoon), particularly between Zurich - Bern - Interlaken. There are regilar trains on these routes though and it kight a good idea to choose a connection that is less crowded if you want to avoid booking seats. You can check the current occupancy of each train on the timetable: www.myswissalps.com/timetable

If you prefer to make seat reseevation, you can find more info here: www.myswissalps.com/train/reservations

While in Lauterbrunnen, if you plan to do a lot of excursions, the Jungfrau Travel Pass might be suitable for you. This pass provides free travel to Wengen, Mürren and Mannlichen and also valid on boat trips on Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. So it gives you more options and flexibililty in your itinerary. You can have a look at the validity map and details here: www.myswissalps.com/jungfrautravelpass/validity

Alternatively, you might want to consider getting a Swiss Travel Pass for the entire trip, which would cover your journey from the Swiss border to Lauterbrunnen on the first day and Lauterbunnen to Lucerne on the final day. In between the STP provides you unlimited travel on public transport and discounted travel on mountain transport throughout your stay in Lauterbrunnen. You can find more info here: www.myswissalps.com/swisstravelpass

Hope this gives you some options to consider.

Regards,

Anna

Last modified on Jun 20, 2022 - 3:09 PM by Anna
ToddandThuy
ToddandThuy
6 posts
new member
Jun 20, 2022 - 3:11 PM in reply to Anna

Hi Anna. Thanks for the answer about 1st class vs 2nd with seat reservations. We won't be traveling in the early morning and probably not late afternoon, but probably will get the 1st class just to not worry about it. I believe this saver pass also covers all the trains and those lake tours you mention so I didn't see the reason for a swiss pass, jungfrau pass, or berner oberland pass. There is only one day, possibly two, where a pass would be cheaper or more convenient. Those are the days we are looking at the saver day pass. Since we aren't going high up in the mountains, it looks like even the regular prices for our itinerary are cheaper than the average daily cost of any pass.

I had also looked at the eurorail pass since we will also travel in Austria and Germany. This pass would be the most convenient since it fully covers the routes across borders. However train travel in Germany is so much cheaper than eurorail pass. I'm still considering it (for convenience) though. It covers every train and excursion we are considering except the portion in Interlaken/jungfrau, where it gives 25% discount. That is less than 50% but might be enough to negate the need for a half day fare pass.

Thanks for the link to see train capacity. I will check it out. That could be very helpful for us. Have a great day.

Arno
Arno
15681 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 21, 2022 - 10:55 AM in reply to ToddandThuy

Hi ToddandThuy,

If you won't be making any mountain trips, Saver Day Passes (https://www.myswissalps.com/saverdaypass) could work. Just one or two (expensive) mountain trips may make a difference though. If you want to be sure what's most economical, you can best list each of your plans and calculate as explained in this guide: https://www.myswissalps.com/train/ticketspasses/practical/chooserailpass.

If you plan quite some trips in Germany and Austria too, a Eurail Global Pass is indeed worth adding to your comparison: https://www.myswissalps.com/eurailglobalpass.

ToddandThuy
ToddandThuy
6 posts
new member
Jun 21, 2022 - 8:51 PM in reply to Arno

Thanks for the additional info, Arno. In Germany/Austria, we are primarily traveling through the Bavaria area. There is a regional bavarian pass that works for us from lake Constance to Fussen to Munich to Salzburg (even though Salzburg is Austria it's included). This is cheap even for an individual, but even cheaper when you add additional people (It's one pass for multiple people traveling together). I think it's around 25 euro for one, 32 for two, and 38 for 3. Something like that. Germany also just introduced a 9 euro pass that is good for one calendar month (June, July, August). At first I thought that was great but if it makes trains more crowded, then might need a 1st class bavaria pass (also pretty cheap). I am still considering the eurail pass for convenience, even though more expensive, as it covers full routes over all the borders.

1960man
1960man
4357 posts
expert
Jun 21, 2022 - 11:43 PM in reply to ToddandThuy

I have just returned to the UK from a week in Switzerland. I chose to pay extra for a 1st class Saver day pass one day out of three but used 2nd class on the other days. At no time in second class was it necessary to stand. Even on busier trains there will be seats, but as with railways the world over, humans like their personal space, and people will try not to allow anyone to sit near them if they can avoid it, but that is very different from there be no seats available for you to sit in. There really is no need for reservations. By and large people don't stay on Swiss trains for very long, as travel distances are quite short in this small country.

ToddandThuy
ToddandThuy
6 posts
new member
Jun 22, 2022 - 2:11 AM in reply to 1960man

Thanks 1960man. That is good anecdotal information to know. Our train rides are also pretty short (we just have a bunch back to back) so I guess it's ok if we have to sit once. We will have luggage with us. I think I read somewhere that 1st class has more space for luggage (and next to the seats, not all together by the doors). Do you recall if that was the case? I'm not in my 60 day window yet, but I priced out other days. Sometimes the 1st class saver pass costs a lot more than 2nd, but other days it's only a tiny difference. And it seems the half fare card discount is never half price. Did you get the half fare card or just buy full price saver passes? Thx

Ildiko
Ildiko
2515 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 22, 2022 - 7:04 AM in reply to ToddandThuy

Hi ToddandThuy,

at www.myswissalps.com/train/practical/2nd1stclass you can read about the differences between 1st class and 2nd class.

Regarding the luggage, here you'll find some info: www.myswissalps.com/train/practical/luggage.

As 1st class is usually not crowded, you'll be able to find a place easier for your luggage. Although I never had any problem with my lugggage on the 2nd class either.

Ildiko

1960man
1960man
4357 posts
expert
Jun 22, 2022 - 11:48 AM in reply to ToddandThuy

Yes, the pricing algorithm for Saver Day Pass is a mystery to all but the computer!

Due to my circumstances, with frequent visits to Switzerland, I have had an annual Swiss half fare card for many years now. It lapsed during the pandemic period (my last train journey was Feb 2020) but as I am registered with Swiss Pass in the same way as a resident I re-started my annual validity before my trip last week so I got the Swiss 1/2 fare card discounted Saver Day Pass.

1960man
1960man
4357 posts
expert
Jun 22, 2022 - 11:52 AM in reply to ToddandThuy

Regarding space for luggage in 1st class, it depends on the type of carriage. Some of the older carriages still have seats as big as you would have in your living room at home, more modern trains are more cheaply built with less comfortable 1st class seats. The same applies to luggage space. There is adequate space for luggage on Swiss train in both classes.

Last modified on Jun 22, 2022 - 11:53 AM by 1960man
ToddandThuy
ToddandThuy
6 posts
new member
Jun 22, 2022 - 3:35 PM in reply to 1960man

Thanks for your additional answers 1960man. I'll just wait and see what the computer offers in a week or two :(

Tip for everyone... Before you click Post This Reply, copy whatever you wrote. If the post doesn't go through, then you won't have to retype it all over again.

Arno
Arno
15681 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 22, 2022 - 4:05 PM in reply to ToddandThuy

Hi ToddandThuy,

That's a good tip. To be honest, I do that almost always, on all websites. Learned it the hard way :-) The internet is great but also fragile sometimes. Yesterday there was a major issue that caused issues all over the internet, for example. We do our best to make things as solid as possible though.

1960man
1960man
4357 posts
expert
Jun 22, 2022 - 11:30 PM in reply to ToddandThuy

Here is a picture of one of the older 1st class coaches I took a few days ago

Attachments
ToddandThuy
ToddandThuy
6 posts
new member
Jun 23, 2022 - 12:00 AM in reply to 1960man

I guess there would be no issue finding a place to sit on that train for us or for our luggage haha. Thanks again 1960man.

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