Cross border bookings using SBB.CH

Cross border bookings using SBB.CH

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rockoyster
rockoyster
3709 posts
expert
Mar 1, 2018 - 6:21 AM

Hi Gang,

This is more of a "for interest" question.

If you use the SBB Timetable to book a trip from Switzerland to Milan (or Switzerland to Paris) you arrive a a page where you can nominate reductions based on whether you have a travel pass or not.

What does the little tick box marked "RailPlus" do?

I know that for Switzerland claiming GA is the equivalent to Swiss Travel Pass and I think Eurail Select and Half-fare is the equivalent of Swiss Half-fare Card.

If I am travelling with a Eurail Select Pass for say Switzerland/Italy or Switzerland/France what reduction is the equivalent of the Eurail Select Pass in Italy and France?

Lucas
Lucas
7222 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 1, 2018 - 1:03 PM in reply to rockoyster

Hey Rockoyster,

The Rail Plus is a supplement card that gets you 15% off trips in countries that accept the Rail Plus (and the trip starts in Switzerland). It is typically (or only?) geared towards locals here and not tourists so you don't see as much about it. You can read more about it on SBB: https://www.sbb.ch/en/ leisure-holidays/travel-europe/rail-plus.html

There are few to no discounts on routes in European countries with the Eurail Select Pass (they are either full charge or free) if that is what you meant?

There are some discounts though, but mostly ferries where applicable; If you have the pass valid for the connecting countries.So Italy to Greece ferries are free if your Eurail Select Pass covers Italy and Greece). Or you can get a 25% discount on the Sleeper train from France to Italy (if your pass is valid for France & Italy).

They are noted on the Eurail website here: https://www.eurail.com /en/deals/extra-benefits-eurail-travelers

It tends to be cheaper (and sometimes easier) to book with the company operating the train as well. For example, when I've traveled to Germany from Zurich (on OBB trains) I booked it with OBB even though I never went to Austria.

Last modified on Mar 1, 2018 - 4:45 PM by Arno
rockoyster
rockoyster
3709 posts
expert
Mar 1, 2018 - 11:27 PM in reply to Lucas

Howdy Lucas,

Thanks for the response.

I now know about RailPlus. 🤓

I notice on the link you provided it says "You don’t need Rail Plus in Germany or Austria because your Half-Fare or GA travelcard already lets you travel for 15% less in these countries." Does this apply to Swiss Half-fare Card and Swiss Travel Pass Holders as well.

You wrote "There are few to no discounts on routes in European countries with the Eurail Select Pass (they are either full charge or free) if that is what you meant?"

Not quite, I meant if I had a Eurail Select Pass and I wanted to get the French leg of a trip between Zurich and Paris for free what reduction would I claim,

The two attachments are screen grabs from the SBB booking site.

The first shows that it is possible to claim reductions in Switzerland (I understand that) and France.

The second screenshot shows the reductions available for France. My question is which of these options equates to the "free" Eurail Select reduction.

At this stage this is a purely academic question from my point of view but it does crop up on the foru from time to time. Perhaps not in the terms expressed above.

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Arno
Arno
10757 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 2, 2018 - 9:01 AM

Hi Rockoyster,

Just to be sure, and for other readers: that's not Rail Plus Australia (a ticket retailer), it's a card for Swiss residents on top of their GA, to get a discount on international tickets.

Now, back to your questions:

"Does this apply to Swiss Half-fare Card and Swiss Travel Pass Holders as well?"

No, it does not. It is important to realize that while the Swiss Half Fare Card and the Half-Fare travelcard are similar, they are not the same thing: www.myswissalps.com/sw isshalffarecard/detail s. The former is for tourists and does not offer discounts on international tickets, the latter is for Swiss residents and does offer those discounts. The SBB website is primarily geared to Swiss residents, and somewhat to residents of surrounding countries. For tourists, their site of course offers a wealth of information and an excellent timetable, but when it comes to tickets one needs to be careful. Domestic tickets are fine though, and picking Half-Fare travelcard there is ok (i.e. I'm not aware of exceptions).

Likewise, the Swiss Travel Pass (for tourists) and GA (for residents) are identical but not the same thing. The above applies here as well. Of course with a Swiss Travel Pass no tickets are needed for train trips in Switzerland so there's no need to even start the buying process, other than checking what a trip would have cost normally.

Regarding your hypothetical trip from Zurich to Paris:

"My question is which of these options equates to the "free" Eurail Select reduction?"

Well, none, actually :-) This is another example of the SBB site being mostly geared to Swiss residents. Other sites are geared to tourists (like the ones listed here). However, in this case the solution is simple: if you have a Eurail Select Pass for both Switzerland and France, the trip is covered. You do not need to claim a reduction for a trip that is 100% free anyway. This is similar to trips within Switzerland with either a Swiss Travel Pass or any Eurail pass: if the route is covered you do not need a ticket, not a free one either. The only thing you may need is a seat reservation if the train of your choice requires that. Reservations can be purchased wherever you like: at a station (although that is a bit late), from SBB, any of the retailers listed on our website (e.g. on the page linked above, or here), or even at https://www.eurail.com /en/reservations/eurai lcom-reservation-service (along with the pass or separately). All of this applies to Interrail passes as well by the way. A reservation is a reservation, regardless of which pass or ticket you combine it with. There are some exceptions in France, but let's not go there :-)

Another situation is if you have a pass covering the country you depart from, but not the one you are going to (or vice versa). In that case you can buy a ticket for the leg that is not covered only, as explained under "Traveling beyond the area covered by the pass" on www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass/howtouse. Alternatively, you can buy a ticket for the whole journey, while claiming a reduction for the pass you own. Not all websites offer that option, but several sites that we link to throughout MySwissAlps do. They actually offer the option to select the Swiss Travel Pass (not GA), Swiss Half Fare Card (not Half-Fare travelcard), or Eurail. The advantage of that is that the seat reservation (if applicable) is included for the entire route, and not just from the border. I wish more websites would offer that, but I'm sure this will improve over time.

Does this answer your questions? The world of train tickets & passes can be quite challenging! And it keeps changing so of course we'll keep an eye on things.

Lucas
Lucas
7222 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 2, 2018 - 9:50 AM in reply to rockoyster

Yes ok, I see what you mean. Yes, like Arno says no reductions are needed on that hypothetical trip as the whole trip would be covered by the Eurail Select pass - so no buying other tickets.

I assume the rest of Arno's post answered everything! And more! :)

rockoyster
rockoyster
3709 posts
expert
Mar 2, 2018 - 9:21 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno,

Thanks for taking the time to formulate such an extensive response. That makes it crystal clear.

I was pondering the situation where someone with a Eurail Select was using the SBB site to check timetables, found a trip that suited and wanted to go on to make a reservation for the entire route. They would then have to select reductions for Switzerland and France in order to reach the reservations page AND with the correct ticket price (free). Question then becomes which reductions to choose?

It’s a bit of a hypothetical I know but I have a curious mind.

Perhaps in your answer above you are saying go make reservations on other sites?

Last modified on Mar 2, 2018 - 9:23 PM by rockoyster
Arno
Arno
10757 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 3, 2018 - 8:41 AM in reply to rockoyster

You're most welcome Rockoyster! It's good to be curious I think. There should be a page on the SBB site that allows buying just a reservation without further questions being asked. I don't think I ever used it myself though, as reservations are rarely needed for domestic trips. I may give it a try for the Gotthard Panorama Express, but even then SBB is one of the options, not the only option. There are many other sites that offer seat booking, and often they are geared to tourists and somewhat simpler to digest. The SBB site is enormous and can be overwhelming for first time visitors who do not know about tourist vs citizen passes, etc. Personally I use the SBB site mainly for the timetables, station info, and details like how to transport bikes on the trains. For passes I go to their simpler tourist webshop at https://www.swissrailw ays.com/en or one of the other sites we list on MySwissAlps. In the end there are quite some websites available, which can be confusing but at least there is a choice :-)

Last modified on May 17, 2018 - 11:50 AM by Arno

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