Swiss Travel Pass: inclusions/exclusions confusion

Swiss Travel Pass: inclusions/exclusions confusion

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Vidhi J
Vidhi J
35 posts
active member
May 8, 2018 - 6:30 PM

Hi. I'm thrilled to find this highly useful platform to plan my upcoming trip to Switzerland. We are a family of 4 adults travelling to Europe in June 2018 and we're spending 5 nights in Switzerland (June 10 to June 14). Here's the itinerary of the Switzerland part:

June 10 – Sunday (Night at Zurich)

After breakfast, transfer to Zurich from Munich by bus/train. Early check-in at Zurich accommodation and lunch.

After lunch, visit to Rhine Falls with boat ride to the rock included.

After return, dinner and free time at Zurich.

June 11 – Monday (Night at Zurich)

After early breakfast, visit to Mount Titlis with Ice Flyer.

Lunch at Lucerne. Lucerne orientation tour and free time at Lucerne.

Dinner at Zurich/Lucerne.

June 12 – Tuesday (Night at Zurich)

After early breakfast, reach Interlaken via Golden Pass Rail line from Lucerne. Take Jungfrau line to Lauterbrunnen. Spend some time at Lauterbrunnen village to admire village scenery and Staubbach Falls.

Then proceed to Wengen and further to JungfrauJoch – Top of Europe. Visit attractions and lunch at Bollywood restaurant at Jungfraujoch (if still open these days).

Return to Interlaken using the Grindelwald line and enjoy free time for some time.

Return to Zurich for dinner.

June 13 – Wednesday (Night at Montreux)

After breakfast, take train to Interlaken to join Golden Pass Line to reach Montreux by check-in time. Packed lunch on train. Check-in at Montreux accommodation.

Quick transfer by cab to Broc to visit Maison Cailler Nestle chocolate factory for chocolate tour. Then roam around village for short time.

Then proceed to Bern by train to enjoy free time at the capital city.

Dinner at Bern and return to Montreux.

June 14 – Thursday (Night at Montreux)

Relaxed breakfast. Proceed to Lausanne to board 11.40 am Heritage cruise on Lake Geneva to cover Lavaux Vineyards and Chillon Castle and disembark at Montreux on return journey from castle (assuming we can embark/disembark at any stop during the cruise).

Proceed to Geneva for lunch. Geneva orientation tour and free time.

Early dinner at Geneva. Then proceed to Lausanne to board 6.45 pm - 9 pm Gourmet sunset Raclette cruise on Lake Geneva and do full round trip back to Lausanne to experience the sunset. Return to Montreux from Lausanne.

June 15 – Friday

After breakfast, proceed to Geneva to catch train to Paris.

All commutes in this itinerary are by train unless otherwise mentioned. I'm planning to use a 4-day Swiss Travel Pass (2nd class) from June 11 to 14 which makes a lot of the travel in Switzerland ticket-less and free in a way. But I have some confusions regarding it that I want you guys to clarify:

1. Apart from Mt. Titlis, Jungfraujoch, cab to Broc and chocolate factory tour, what other items/connections on this itinerary from June 11-14 require payment of any sort (discounted or otherwise) considering I'll be having a valid Swiss Travel Pass for that period? Please also mention if any seat reservations are required anywhere. And does reserving a seat imply paying money?

2. I emailed this question to the official CGN email as well but didn't receive any reply. So I'm asking here. I know that the pass is valid on the cruises. But I don't know how it works with the gourmet cruises. Do I need to buy a ticket or is my entry free because of the pass? If entry is free, then is the raclette also free or do I have to pay separately for it? Also, do I need seat reservations separately? Basically I want to know the cost of the Raclette cruise for a valid Swiss Travel Pass holder. The CGN website says that the ticket price includes 3 portions of raclette but if I'm going ticket-less because of the Swiss Travel Pass, then how does it work?

3. The Heritage cruise in the day time has 1st and 2nd class. Only the 1st class ticket has access to the upper decks of the cruise. And I'll be a 2nd class Travel Pass holder. So will I be able to access the deck free of cost or do I have to pay? And is it even worth to pay for the view from the upper deck?

Thanks in advance for going through my post and answering my questions. You are also welcome to comment/advise on any other aspect of the transportation/itinerary that I might've overlooked if you deem fit :)

Regards,

Vidhi

rockoyster
rockoyster
3682 posts
expert
May 9, 2018 - 2:46 AM in reply to Vidhi J

1. The boat ride at Rhine Falls are not covered by the Swiss Travel Pass.

2. Not sure but I suspect the Gourmet Cruises are not covered by the STP. Certainly don't bank on getting free raclette. 😎

3. You won't be able to access the upper deck with a 2nd class STP but you should be able to buy a class upgrade on board if the upper deck looks appealing.

Lucas
Lucas
7081 posts
expert &
moderator
May 9, 2018 - 3:44 AM in reply to Vidhi J

Hopefully CGN will reply and confirm but most food / theme cruises (sunset etc.) are not covered by the Swiss Travel Pass - but sometimes there is a discount.

Vidhi J
Vidhi J
35 posts
active member
May 9, 2018 - 5:02 AM

Thanks for your replies guys! I realised that considering I'm travelling to other countries as well, a Eurail Pass might be a better fit, especially since there's a discount going on the Eurail Global Pass. This is my itinerary in short: Munich-Zurich-Montreux-Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam. It includes Disneyland, Bruges and trips from/to Munich/Amsterdam airports.

With this in mind along with the detailed Swiss itinerary, can you please tell me if the Eurail Pass is covering all the same things as Swiss Travel Pass or whether there are any differences (with my itinerary in mind)?

Is there any difference between the Eurail Select Pass and Global Pass apart from number of countries covered? Can I use Global Pass even if I'm travelling to less than 5 countries because it's cheaper?

Last modified on May 9, 2018 - 5:07 AM by Vidhi J
rockoyster
rockoyster
3682 posts
expert
May 9, 2018 - 5:28 AM in reply to Vidhi J

The Eurail Pass has limited coverage in the Jungfrau Region. Only 25% on anything south of Interlaken. Lake Geneva boats are only discounted 50%.

Just looking at your travel plans for June 12, Zurich to Jungfraujoch via Lucerne is a 5 hour ride on several trains. That's one way. So 10 hours minimum travel before you include sightseeing time.

On June 13 it would be quicker to go Zurich to Spiez to join the Golden Pass Line.

As far as I know the is nothing to stop you buying a Eurail Global Pass and just visiting one country.

Vidhi J
Vidhi J
35 posts
active member
May 9, 2018 - 8:41 AM

Thanks rockoyster for your thoughtful suggestion about joining the Golden Pass Line via Spiez. It will be convenient and time-saving. Now I'm thinking of reaching Interlaken via Bern to save an hour on June 12; I'll return from Interlaken via Lucerne in the evening to experience both sceneries. For June 13, as you suggested, I checked the Eurail timetable for connections to Spiez to join Golden Pass Line to Montreux. I found 2 confusing options:

a) Zurich to Spiez and further to Zweisimmen to Join Golden Pass Line - this has more changes (Bern, Spiez, Zweisimmen) but takes 30 minutes less travel time

b) Zurich to Bern to Zweisimmen - this has one less train change but takes 30 minutes more time

Please suggest an appropriate option keeping in mind that we'll be travelling with all our luggage.

As far as the Eurail Pass is concerned, I think even Swiss Travel Pass also provides only 25% discount in the Jungfrau region, am I right? The only difference is with the lake cruises and the Broc to Bulle connection for Bern isn't covered with the Eurail Global Pass (assuming that there's no difference in area of validity between Eurail Global Pass versus Eurail Select Pass and that all connections shown by Eurail timetable are covered by Eurail passes). So Eurail pass might turn out to be more economical than Swiss Travel Pass. Please comment/confirm. Thanks.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3682 posts
expert
May 9, 2018 - 9:33 AM in reply to Vidhi J

The SBB Timetable will always give you the fastest connection by default.

The Swiss Travel Pass provides free travel in much of the Jungfrau Region. The only trip which is the same 25% discount as the Eurail Pass is Wengen or Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch. Interlaken to wengen or Grindelwald is free. Schilthorn for example is also free with the STP.

Broc to Bulle is covered by the Eurail Pass. But it will cost a lot less than your cab ride. 🤓

If you have done the calculations and are happy with the result then go for it.

Last modified on May 9, 2018 - 9:34 AM by rockoyster
Vidhi J
Vidhi J
35 posts
active member
May 9, 2018 - 10:21 AM in reply to rockoyster

Thanks for clarifying the Jungfrau region difference between the 2 rail passes. But even after accounting for all that, we're saving roughly € 400 with the Eurail Global pass. So I think I'll go for that.

Montreux to Broc is a cab ride to save time as there's a difference of more than an hour between train and cab and the chocolate factory ticket counter closes early; but we'll take the train while returning from Broc as there won't be any time constraint (I've accounted for the extra expenses for cab). I hope it won't be a problem that we're using the cab for one-way inter-city travel (and not a return trip).

About the Golden Pass Line, I think it'll be better to take the route with less number of train changes as we'll be carrying luggage (stroller bags).

Last modified on May 9, 2018 - 10:22 AM by Vidhi J
Lucas
Lucas
7081 posts
expert &
moderator
May 9, 2018 - 2:26 PM in reply to Vidhi J

Hi Vidhi J,

Keep in mind the extra costs for a taxi are quite large over a train ticket.

Enjoy your trip!

Vidhi J
Vidhi J
35 posts
active member
May 10, 2018 - 7:23 AM

Thanks Lucas. I'm aware that a cab can cost upto 10 times more than a train. If I reach Montreux an hour early, then I'll definitely use the train to Broc instead of the cab.

Apart from that, I've been looking deeper into my plan and I have some more doubts:

1. Rail passes (STP/Eurail) don't cover city transport. But probably they cover the travel from the city's central station to the nearby attraction. For example, if I want to go to Rhine Falls (train to Rhine Falls is free with these passes) from Mercure Stoller Hotel Zurich, then the nearest station to the hotel is Zurich Hardbrucke. So I guess I have to first reach Zurich HB from Hardbrucke and then take a train to Rhine Falls. Now, if I've understood correctly then in this route, I'll have to buy a ticket for the Hardbrucke-Zurich HB part and then I can travel ticket-less from Zurich HB to Rhine Falls station (same for return journey). Please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm using such a pass for the first time. I've only used city passes before this. Hence the confusion.

2. If I buy some point-to-point ticket online, then will that mean I've to travel on a fixed departure time for that route or I can depart anytime? Does the answer vary for intra-city transport versus inter-city/international transport?

3. The train timetables sometimes show a disclaimer that a certain train doesn't operate on a certain route everyday. This is even when I've put in my particular date and the timetable is showing available trains for that. I'm confused how to interpret that. For example, I entered a certain Saturday date and it showed me available trains with times. But there was also a disclaimer that said that this train might not operate on this route on Saturdays. So what does it really mean?

4. If a certain route is discounted by the rail pass, then should I buy tickets directly at the counter to avail the discount or can I avail the discount even if I buy the tickets online?

5. As per my Swiss itinerary, on which routes would you highly recommend seat reservations even if they're not compulsory according to the timetable? And how much in advance should I do the compulsory seat reservations?

I know these are a lot of questions. But it's been quite maddening to plan this Europe trip and I'll appreciate any help I can get. Thanks a ton in advance for your time and advice.

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2418 posts
top member
May 10, 2018 - 8:09 AM in reply to Vidhi J

>> 1. Rail passes (STP/Eurail) don't cover city transport.

The Swiss Travel Pass does cover public transport within many towns, cities and villages. That includes trains, trams, buses, boats, funiculars etc. These places are marked on the validity map with a red circle inside a white circle.

www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass/validity

The Eurail Pass mostly doesn't cover any transport within towns, cities and villages - only between them. It ís, however, valid on S-Bahn suburban trains.

>> 2. If I buy some point-to-point ticket online, then will that mean I've to travel on a fixed departure time for that route or I can depart anytime?

As long as you buy a normal ticket (and not a discounted Supersaver ticket), the ticket is good for any departure on that route for the whole day.

>> Does the answer vary for intra-city transport versus inter-city/international transport?

Single tickets for local public transport within a city are often timed, e.g. valid for 2 hours. It varies from place to place, and there are a wide variety of ticket options, so it's hard to generalise.

>> I entered a certain Saturday date and it showed me available trains with times. But there was also a disclaimer that said that this train might not operate on this route on Saturdays. So what does it really mean?

If you searched a route for a particular date in the online timetable, any results that come up will in fact be running on that date.

>> 4. If a certain route is discounted by the rail pass, then should I buy tickets directly at the counter to avail the discount or can I avail the discount even if I buy the tickets online?

If you are talking about a Swiss Travel Pass, discounted tickets will all be mountain transport. It is better for all sorts of reasons to buy the ticket just before boarding, and not in advance.

>> 5. As per my Swiss itinerary, on which routes would you highly recommend seat reservations even if they're not compulsory according to the timetable?

The Golden Pass between Zweisimmen and Montreux is worth reserving in advance. You can do so up to 90 days before your travel date. If you want several seats together and/or want window seats, it can also be worth reserving the Golden Pass sector between Luzern and Interlaken Ost in the peak tourist season.

More generally, avoid travelling on trains between the major cities like Zürich, Bern, Zug, Geneva, Lausanne etc around morning and evening commuter times, as they get packed with commuters and you might have to wait for a seat. If you can't avoid commuter peak travel times, and are travelling with luggage, a reservation is not a bad idea if it is possible on that particular train.

>> And how much in advance should I do the compulsory seat reservations?

Seat reservations are only compulsory on the Glacier Express, Bernina Express and Gotthard Panorama Express. For travel in June, if you are taking the Glacier Express, I would reserve seats immediately. Some services might already be booked out. I wouldn't waste any time before booking the Bernina Express either, although it doesn't seem to book out as quickly: except perhaps for the bus between Tirano and Lugano, which does seem to fill up rather quickly. I'm not sure about the Gotthard Panorama Express, but would make a reservation as soon as you were sure of your travel date (but not more than 90 days in advance).

Alpenrose

Last modified on May 10, 2018 - 8:41 AM by Alpenrose666
Arno
Arno
10731 posts
expert &
moderator
May 10, 2018 - 11:21 AM

A Eurail validity map can be found here, so you can compare that with the map in Alpenrose's link: www.myswissalps.com/eu railselectpass/validit y.

The Eurail Global Pass is currently discounted: www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/eurail-global-pass-promotion-35-discount

Vidhi J
Vidhi J
35 posts
active member
May 11, 2018 - 8:00 AM

Thanks a ton, Alpenrose and Arno, for providing me such detailed information. It really helped a lot. After considering everything that you guys told me, I calculated the prices and I think because of the major discount going on the Eurail Global Pass, it ended up having a major edge in terms of savings, so I've finally gone for the Eurail Global Pass for the days of my trip involving a lot of inter-city/international trips.

As far as city transport is concerned, during the whole of my Swiss itinerary, I'll only be needing to pay for 3 return tickets for Zurich Hardbrucke - Zurich HB route and maybe one/two single/return tickets for journey from Lausanne train station to/from the docks. If these are fully covered by the S-bahn, then I'm sorted I guess.

Also, I think, for convenience, I'll purchase my city transport tickets (if required) online right before leaving for the station and for mountain transport, I'll buy the tickets at the counter right before boarding as you advised.

I have a few more questions regarding seat reservations:

1. Should I reserve the seats for my Geneva-Paris train (and Paris-Brussels train) right away or can I wait till the day before the trip to do that? I'm asking because reserving the seat will fix the departure time of the train I take. Travel date: June 15/18

2. Same question for Lucerne-Interlaken Express and Golden Pass route of Zweisimmen-Montreux. Travel dates: June 12-13

3. Should I reserve seats at all for Munich-Zurich train (and Brussels-Amsterdam train) since it says reservation is optional? Travel dates: June 10/19

4. Should I buy the discounted tickets (with Eurail pass) for Geneva Lake cruise (Lausanne-Lavaux-Montreux-Chillon heritage route) online ahead of time or can I buy on board? Travel date: June 14

5. Is there a Eurail discount for the gourmet cruises on Lake Geneva? I'm doing a raclette sunset cruise on June 14. If yes, then should I buy ticket in advance?

6. Do these lake cruises require a separate reservation as well?

Thanks in advance :)

Last modified on May 11, 2018 - 8:04 AM by Vidhi J
Lucas
Lucas
7081 posts
expert &
moderator
May 11, 2018 - 1:22 PM in reply to Vidhi J

Hi Vidhi J,

Those short city trips in Zurich and Lausanne will only be round 4 chf. I'd maybe buy a day pass (at the station) if you plan on making more than 2 trips or using buses/trams that day. as well.

Technically if you catch a train coming from a nearby city (like Lucerne) from Hardbrüke your Eurail Pass will cover it (as it is on the route to Zurich). :) but if you catch a local S bahn train it won't be covered I believe. Not a big concern.

  1. Yes, I would book international train tickets as soon as you know the date of your travel. Train tickets bought a few days before departure can be quite a bit more expensive.
  2. You could reserve between Zweisimmen and Montreux that section can get busy as we get into summer
  3. Yes I always reserve international trains or any long distance trains. Who wants to risk standing? :)
  4. No, I would buy onboard
  5. I don't believe it gets you any discount on those food cruises no.Just a couple of the regular lake cruises - see here.
  6. I would try to book the food cruises etc a day or so ahead if possible.
Vidhi J
Vidhi J
35 posts
active member
May 13, 2018 - 6:24 PM

Thank you so much Lucas for all that advice and specially for that clever trick of piggybacking on Lucerne trains to cover the Zurich Hardbrucke-HB route. I mentioned the S-bahn because Alpenrose mentioned that they're covered by Eurail Pass in her last post.

Coming back to the Golden Pass route, I'm thinking I'll do the Lucerne-interlaken stretch while coming back from Jungfraujoch in the evening around 6pm to 8pm or 7pm to 9pm train if it doesn't get too dark in these time slots to experience the scenery. And is a reservation on this route required or recommended in the evening with Eurail pass? Does the Lucerne-interlaken express have VIP seats like the Zweisimmen-Montreux line?

Then I'm thinking I'll do the Zweisimmen-Montreux stretch separately on the next day while travelling from Zurich to Montreux via Bern instead of Lucerne. This will save some time and I'll be able to reach a bit early to catch a train to Bulle (for Broc) instead of taking a cab.

But I'm not able to find any link for seat reservations (not ticket purchase) with a Eurail Pass on the Golden Pass line. Can you please help me with it?

Also, is the 1st class on the Zweisimmen-Montreux route the same as the VIP class with the driver's seat view?

P.S. The CGN folks finally replied saying that the gourmet cruises are ticket-free with the Swiss Travel Pass and discounted with the Eurail Pass. The food needs to be paid for though and seat reservations can be made by emailing them the details. Now I'm just waiting for them to tell me how much I'll finally have to pay for the Raclette cruise after the Eurail discount.

Last modified on May 13, 2018 - 6:28 PM by Vidhi J
Lucas
Lucas
7081 posts
expert &
moderator
May 13, 2018 - 10:57 PM in reply to Vidhi J

Hi Vidhi,

I wouldn't worry about seat reservations between Lucerne and Interlaken no. The route does not have VIP seats. You can make seat reservations between Zweisimmen and Montreux here (link at the bottom of the page under more information).

On the Golden Pass trains there is 2nd class, 1st class and VIP seats (in 1st class).

Thanks for the update on the lake cruises!

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2418 posts
top member
May 14, 2018 - 8:24 AM in reply to Vidhi J

>> Also, is the 1st class on the Zweisimmen-Montreux route the same as the VIP class with the driver's seat view?

The VIP seats are not on every Golden Pass train between Zweisimmen and Montreux. There are only two departures daily in each direction that have the carriage with the VIP seats. From Zweisimmen, they are the 12:25 and 18:25 departures.

The VIP seats are already booked out for the 12:25 departure on 13 June, but front-row VIP seats are still available on the 18:25 departure.

You can make reservations, and choose your seats, on the following site:

reservations.mob.ch/re servation/reservation/ reservation/reservatio n/reservation/reservat ion/reservation/reserv ation/reservation/rese rvation/f?p=151:1:56898718015546 17::NO:::

Alpenrose

Last modified on May 14, 2018 - 8:25 AM by Alpenrose666
Vidhi J
Vidhi J
35 posts
active member
May 14, 2018 - 8:54 AM

Thanks Lucas and Alpenrose. I'm confused about a few things:

1. The original plan for 13 June was to checkout of Zurich hotel and eventually board the Golden Pass line to reach Montreux. Check in at Montreux hotel and leave for Broc chocolate factory and then visit and roam around Bern and come back to Montreux after dinner at Bern. If I want to use the VIP seats of the 18:25 Golden Pass train then I'll have to rearrange this plan. But I'm not sure if I can do that conveniently considering we'll have to check out of Zurich hotel and then carry our luggage wherever we go till we reach Montreux. Can you please help with this? Also, I'm assuming that it won't be too dark to enjoy the scenery if I'm on the 18:25 train because it ends at 20:11 which I hope isn't too late in the day for good light.

2. Out of the 8 VIP seats of the Golden Pass line, which ones should I choose if I have to choose 4 best seats out of them in terms of the view?

3. From the Eurail Swiss map, it isn't really clear whether the route from Bulle to Broc is covered by Eurail Pass or not. Please let me know. I'm assuming that the train to Bulle is covered by the Eurail Pass.

Chantal
Chantal
944 posts
top member
May 14, 2018 - 12:50 PM in reply to Vidhi J

Hi Vidhi,

  1. There is a (express same day) luggage service. At 20:00 you will still have enough light.
  2. I can't help you with this one. I've never booked the VIP seats.
  3. Yes, Bulle to Broc is covered.
Vidhi J
Vidhi J
35 posts
active member
May 14, 2018 - 6:44 PM

Thanks Chantal. Now all this information has put me in a dilemma and I can't decide which option to choose out of the following:

1) Sacrifice the VIP seat view and take the 10:25 departure of Golden Pass line to reach Montreux hotel by 12.30 and take a train to Broc chocolate factory. And then to Bern and return to Montreux after dinner at Bern.

2) Take the VIP seats on the 18:25 departure of Golden Pass line. Send luggage to Montreux by express luggage service that will cost an extra CHF 120-150. Then roam around from Zurich to Bern to Broc to finally reach Zweisimmen to take the Golden Pass train.

3) To cut the expenses from the previous option, skip the Broc chocolate factory and visit the Lindt factory outlet at Kilchberg instead. After that checkout from Zurich hotel. After that proceed to Bern where we can keep the luggage at luggage storage service of the Bern station hopefully. And finally after roaming around Bern and picking up our luggage we reach Zweisimmen to take the VIP seats on the 18:25 Golden Pass departure. In this option, there is no factory tour though. Also I'm going to be visiting the Lindt chocolate heaven at Jungfraujoch anyway. So is the Kilchberg outlet any different from that?

Please advise on which of these options is worthy in terms of the tradeoff made on time/money/attraction. Thanks in advance.

Last modified on May 14, 2018 - 7:26 PM by Vidhi J

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