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Tickets and reservations with Swiss Half Fare Card


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GeoffD
GeoffD
16 posts
new member
Jun 12, 2022 - 5:21 AM

We will be in Switzerland from August 2 through to August 16 and I am in the process of purchasing rail tickets. I have already purchased a Swiss Half Fare Card (SHFC) for my wife and myself and now looking at the Swiss Rail Pass which you recommended in a previous post. We know that we need one of these passes for the Glacier Express on August 14 and Bernina Express on August 16.

I am looking at the Happy Rail website and not sure how I link the SHFC to get the 50% discount on the Swiss Rail Pass which is showing at CHF198 per person. Is this the full price or 50% price? I note that we would be pre-booking because it is more than 60 days ahead.

Once having purchased the Swiss Rail Pass, how do I then make the reservation for each of these trips? We have already booked and purchased the Excellence Package for Glacier Express

We will also be using the train system from Thun down to Zermatt on August 10. In the previous post you recommended we purchase a point to point ticket for this trip. Same question, how do I link the purchase to our SHFC to ensure we get the 50% discount and is there a need to make an advance booking (first class) or merely purchase on the day of travel? Finally how many times do we need to change trains between Thun and Zermatt?

Thanks again for your help

Arno
Arno
15678 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 12, 2022 - 12:40 PM in reply to GeoffD

Hi GeoffD!

The Swiss Half Fare Card entitles you to buy 50% discounted tickets. But there's no need to link your Swiss Half Fare Card to any account (please see https://www.myswissalps.com/swisshalffarecard/details). You can simply buy your discounted tickets wherever you want, and show both your Swiss Half Fare Card as well as the discounted tickets when asked for while traveling. That's sufficient.

This page explains how getting tickets with a Swiss Half Fare Card works: https://www.myswissalps.com/swisshalffarecard/howtouse. You can get your discounted tickets at Swiss railway stations right before boarding or online, e.g. through https://www.myswissalps.com/traintickets/switzerlandhalffare/price.

There's no need to book regular train trips ahead in Switzerland: https://www.myswissalps.com/train/reservations. So you can just board for your train trip Thun-Zermatt with your Swiss Half Fare Card and discounted tickets.

As for the trip Thun-Zermatt : there's one change in Visp if you use the quickest route through the Lötschberg base tunnel. There will be one or two changes, depending on the departure time, if you travel via Goppenstein/Kandersteg using the scenic RegioExpress Lötschberger: https://www.myswissalps.com/lotschberger. Details for each connection can be found in the timetable. Here's how to use the timetable: https://www.myswissalps.com/timetable.

You write you're advised to use the "Swiss Rail Pass". Do you mean the Swiss Travel Pass (https://www.myswissalps.com/swisstravelpass)? That's not an obvious combination with a Swiss Half Fare Card, as a Swiss Travel Pass provides free train traveling throughout the country, so a Swiss Half Fare Card would be pretty much redundant in that case. You might have meant the Saver Day Pass (https://www.myswissalps.com/saverdaypass) instead? Just let me know, and then we can help you out with your remaining questions about the Glacier Express and Bernina Express :-).

Last modified on Jun 13, 2022 - 3:14 PM by Arno
fionatravel
fionatravel
26 posts
active member
Jun 12, 2022 - 6:31 PM in reply to Arno

Due to Covid I have not made any trip as I wanted but it looks like my planning is about to be back on !

so I have a question about Swiss travel pass vs Swiss half fare card ? Do you recommend buying Swiss travel pass or half fare ? My trip will be flying into Zurich and tour the country via train !

thanks in advance

Fiona

GeoffD
GeoffD
16 posts
new member
Jun 13, 2022 - 12:13 AM in reply to Arno

Many thanks Arno and I apologise for the confusion!! I should have said Saver Day Pass which is the one that had been recommended for us to use for our two trips Zermatt > St Moritz (Glacier Express August 14) and St Moritz > Tirano (Bernina Express August 16)

Both of these trips are more than 60 days ahead but I want to finalise the purchases before we leave Australia. I have since gone on to the Happy Rail site link to purchase the tickets (in advance) but I got confused (again)! Their website prompts me to enter departure and arrival places and also train times but from what I have learned, Saver Day Passes are for use on the entire train network within Switzerland so why do I need to nominate departure/arrival places as part of the purchase process? Surely all I need to do is nominate the days of travel and select first class using SHFC and later on, proceed with the train reservation itself?

And then to the reservations - which website do I need to make the reservations?

Thank you also for your guidance on our other train trip Thun > Zermatt. Very helpful

Cheers

GeoffD

Anna
Anna
3885 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 13, 2022 - 3:20 AM in reply to fionatravel

Hi Fiona,

If you prefer convenience and wish to remain flexible with your plans, the Swiss Travel Pass is the best option. The Swiss Half Fare Card is suitable if you are planning just a few relatively short trips. For tips on choosing the best railpass, be sure to check out this page: www.myswissalps.com/train/ticketspasses/practical/chooserailpass

Hope this gets you started.

Regards,

Anna

Anna
Anna
3885 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 13, 2022 - 3:29 AM in reply to GeoffD

Hi GeofD,

To book a Saver Day Pass, you still do need to enter the departure and destination point to enable the system to check tickets demand and availability. So you can simply enter Zermatt to St Moritz or any long-distance route. The most important thing is to get the dates correct.

For seat reservations on panoramic trains, please use the following links:

Regards,

Anna

Arno
Arno
15678 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 13, 2022 - 5:53 AM in reply to GeoffD

Hi GeoffD,

You may have started searching through the regular tickets section at HappyRail, where you indeed need to fill out departure and arrival stations.

But you can best use this direct Saver Day Pass purchase link (as listed on https://www.myswissalps.com/saverdaypass/price): https://www.happyrail.com/en/pass/europe/switzerland/swiss-saver-day-pass. You don't have to enter any route there. Just pick your travel date and the 50% discounted Swiss Half Fare Card price, that's all. You can indeed choose dates more than 60 days ahead.

Then all you need in addition are the seat reservations for which Anna provided the links. Any option listed there is fine.

I hope this works out for you. Let us know if you still have questions!

Last modified on Jun 13, 2022 - 7:22 AM by Arno
GeoffD
GeoffD
16 posts
new member
Jun 13, 2022 - 10:42 AM in reply to Arno

Thanks you Arno and Anna, with your assistance. I am slowly getting there!! I have now purchased the Saver Day Passes for the two trips but getting the reservations done is still a "challenge"! I clicked on Anna's links for seat reservations then selected "Glacier Express Seat Reservations Excellence Class" then "details and Prices" but can't find where to make the reservation. A similar result for Bernina Express

Please assist in this regard before I go crazy!

GeoffD

Arno
Arno
15678 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 13, 2022 - 12:42 PM

Hi GeoffD,

In your first post you wrote:

"We have already booked and purchased the Excellence Package for Glacier Express"

So you're all set for that train, right?

For the Bernina Express: the first link listed under "Prices" on www.myswissalps.com/berninaexpress/tickets should work fine. Keep filling out all requested info until you see a Reductions box. Select "Reservation only" (assuming you have a Saver Day Pass that day).

If this does not work for you, then please provide a screenshot and tell us exactly what goes wrong. Thanks!

Last modified on Jun 13, 2022 - 12:47 PM by Arno
GeoffD
GeoffD
16 posts
new member
Jun 13, 2022 - 11:08 PM in reply to Arno

Thanks again but I'm still confused! I've attached two screen shots of what came up on my screen. No sign of "Prices", let alone anything else to do with reservations

I await your desired further instructions. I did try querying directly with HappyRail and they informed me that "It is currently not possible to book reservations for the Swiss panorama trains with us for this summer" so it needs to be through an alternative website?

Also, I need to tell your organisation that the flooding of unsolicited advertisements on your screens is very distractive and almost deceptive because on occasions, the advertisers set their prompter ads up so that they look like a genuine extension of the topic when it has nothing to do with it Grrr!!

A pity because I really appreciate the interactive nature of your website

Cheers

GeoffD

Arno
Arno
15678 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 14, 2022 - 8:42 AM in reply to GeoffD

Hi GeoffD,

Sorry, I meant to write "Tickets" instead of "Prices". The first link there should get you to shop.rhb.ch/en/catalog/product/view/id/18. That is not the HappyRail site because indeed they do not offer seat reservations at the moment. So, we temporarily removed their reservation link. They still sell tickets, passes, etc.

We introduced the advertisements during the pandemic, after 18 years (mostly) without banner advertisements. We announced and explained it in this thread: www.myswissalps.com/forum/topic/how-are-you-doing-9-months-into-the-corona-crisis. Ads were and still are a necessity. It supports our work. I agree that sometimes these ads can be annoying. In general they should be relevant though (we opted for a system that tries to do that, rather than "random" ads). New visitors from regions that require it get prompted for consent. For more details you can check www.myswissalps.com/terms. I hope this makes sense, if not feel free to e-mail us!

Last modified on Jun 14, 2022 - 9:14 AM by Arno
GeoffD
GeoffD
16 posts
new member
Jun 15, 2022 - 4:14 AM in reply to Arno

Thanks Arno, we are getting there!

Firstly do I take it that our booking of an Excellence package on the Glacier Express, combined with our newly purchased Saver Day Pass, is all that we need to do for Glacier Express? That seems logical but my "tired" brain had me thinking that you have to make a separate reservation.

Now to the Bernina Express reservation. I have attached a screen shot showing my attempt to reserve seats for August 16. It tells me that a technical error occurred. Is that because the date is too far ahead? Also, from what I can see, there are several Bernina Express trains each day so I assume that once this "technical" error has been overcome, I would nominate which train we want to take?

Cheers and keep up the good work

GeoffD

Attachments
Arno
Arno
15678 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 15, 2022 - 5:18 AM

Hi GeoffD,

If you paid for "Excellence" and you have a specific train date and time, that means you already have a reservation. But in case of any doubts you'd better ask the company you purchased from.

As for the technical error: I filled out the same and did not get an error. This might have been temporary, so please try again. The date is not a problem. If it happens again you should ask RhB, but I think it should work.

Let us know how it works out!

GeoffD
GeoffD
16 posts
new member
Jun 15, 2022 - 5:32 AM in reply to Arno

Thanks Arno Will do

Cheers and thanks again for your help

GeoffD
GeoffD
16 posts
new member
Jun 18, 2022 - 2:20 AM in reply to Arno

Sorry one final question and it relates to our train trip from Tirano down to Milan straight after the Bernina Express arrives in Tirano. I do realise that this is not a Swiss matter but I've seen other posts where you have been able to guide travellers as an extension to the likes of Bernina

We are now booked on Bernina Express for August 16 (9.17 AM departure) and at the time I was making the booking, I had a look on a website and saw that there was to be a train leaving at 12.08 PM which would be perfect for the changeover from Bernina. Now I can't find the website I was using. Are you able to give us the best website to use for this purpose?

I do realise that we could merely go to the ticket office on the day at Tirano to purchase tickets but judging by my latest look at options we might have a very long wait! Alternatively would we be able to change our reservation on Bernina to an earlier time?

Hoping you can guide us in this last stage of the planning!

Cheers

GeoffD

Anna
Anna
3885 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 18, 2022 - 8:33 PM in reply to GeoffD

Hi GeofD,

I use the SBB timetable to check train schedules. According to the timetable, the Bernina Express trains leaves St Moritz for Tirano at 9.17am, but none at 12.08pm. However, there is regular train that leaves at 12.48 and arrives in Tirano at 15.00. Not sure if this is what you are looking for.

If you need to change your reservation on the Bernina Express, the normal procedure usually involves cancelling your previous booking to get a refund and then making a new reservation. But different resellers may have different policy regarding this so it's best to contact the reseller directly for clarification.

Regards,

Anna

Last modified on Jun 19, 2022 - 10:08 AM by Arno
GeoffD
GeoffD
16 posts
new member
Jun 19, 2022 - 1:09 AM in reply to Anna

Thanks Anna. In fact the 12.08 train I was referring to was a train travelling from Tirano down to Milan Centrale.

On your advice I went on to the SBB timetable website and located a train leaving Tirano at 12.24PM so that fits in well with the Bernina Express arrival of 12.08PM. So I proceeded with a booking and finally got the response shown in the attachment. What next??!!

Again thanks to you and your colleagues for your help

Cheers

GeoffD

Attachments
Arno
Arno
15678 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 19, 2022 - 10:25 AM in reply to GeoffD

Hi GeoffD,

The Bernina Express leaving St. Moritz at 09.17 arrives in Tirano at 11.32. I can't find the 12.24 train Tirano-Milano you mentioned. I did find there are maintenance works going on between Tirano and Colico from late June to early September, so it seems there are no direct trains Tirano-Milano for August 16 and that there will be replacement buses between Tirano and Colico. Maybe the SBB timetable got updated between your search and mine.

The SBB timetable is dependent on information by Italian railway companies to provide correct prices. So it sometimes can't offer fares for journeys within Italy. If you want to pre-order a ticket you can use one of the websites listed at https://www.myswissalps.com/traintickets/italy/price. At https://www.thetrainline.com for example I found a ticket for a 12.29 connection, existing of a bus from Tirano to Colico and the train from Colico to Milano.

I hope this helps!

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