Interrail validity in Switzerland

Interrail validity in Switzerland

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Henry560
Henry560
6 posts
new member
Feb 10, 2017 - 3:23 PM

My wife and I (in our 40s) and daughter (age 13) would love to visit Switzerland this year for the first time. Our plan would be to travel by train from the UK to Paris, then train into Switzerland, returning via Germany and Brussels to link up with the Eurostar train back to the UK.

Looking at the various tickets available it seems a global interrail pass would be the most cost effective as it covers us from our home town in the UK to London (though not Eurostar of course) then our journeys through France, Germany and Belgium (especially with the 15% promotion now on offer).

However, I've spent much time trying to identify which trains in Switzerland are free to travel on with a global interrail, and it is so confusing to me. Some trains are said to be included, but then you read the rest and it says reservations are compulsory, sometimes at eye watering prices. To my mind if you have to purchase reservations at 59 swiss francs each, then the train is in effect not included in the interrail pass!

Is there anywhere we can easily see in one location a map or find timetables for trains which are truly included for free with the interrail pass and do not require reservations? Any help would be much appreciated.

twiggy321
twiggy321
90 posts
active member
Feb 10, 2017 - 6:41 PM

Hi henry560

We are in the same situation as you as we were going to fly to Geneva and have our flights in place but due to my husband being diagnosed last week with tinnatus we can no longer fly. So our option is similar to yours. We were going to get the eurostar from London to Paris and then change at Paris onto Geneva or Montreux.

Eurostar do promote one way fares at 29 euros but yet to find one of these cheapeast at the moment is £44 and then roughly £140 from paris to geneva

Rome2rio is a good website to look at for information and options.

My daughter went interrailing last year and said the problem is that Switzerland isnt so geared up to Interrail passengers as it has its own very good system of the Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half Fare Card.

If alot of you travelling is in Switzerland then it might be better to get a individual train ticket to the swiss border and then buy the swiss travel pass as then all trains,buses and lake trips are free , also since researching many resorts are offering a free pass such as montreux offer the Swiss Riveria Card which offers 50% of Rochers de Naye the same discount if you had the Interrail or Swiss Travel Pass

i think the big advantage is whether if your stay if prodominately Switzerland and you want ease of just hopping on and off transport and days out without having to worry about carrying money etc then the Swiss Travel Pass is ideal and this is what actually sways the decision for us. with some planning it has paid for itself in more than one way use the SBB website and the planner for best train ticket pass on the website

Hope this helps if i find anymore info out for example train fares i will post info for you

twiggy321
twiggy321
90 posts
active member
Feb 10, 2017 - 6:42 PM

Forgot to say I'm sure that there is some discount till the age of 16 offered for children in Switzerland not sure if its the family card . Hopefully Arno will put me right on that

Lucas
Lucas
3103 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 10, 2017 - 6:58 PM in reply to Henry560

Hi Henry560 and welcome to MySwissAlps!

Twiggy321 has some great comments and I have added some links to the travel cards he mentioned for you to find more information.

I agree that if you plan on using a lot of public transport in Switzerland, it may make sense to just get yourself to the Swiss border and then use the Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half-Fare Card while in Switzerland. When you click on the links I added in Twiggy's post you can see prices and where they are valid for (also some trains aren't free but you do get a discount with the STP).

For comparison check out our page on the Interrail Global Pass to see what is covered on that pass as well.

Here is also a page that will help you do the math on which pass is best for you.

Here is our link for the SBB timetable as well so you can check departure times as well as point to point tickets.
The Swiss Family Card can be added on for free to the Swiss Travel Pass and will allow your daughter to travel free with you while in Switzerland so it a great option if you get the STP for yourselves.

I hope that helps you get started on buying the right passes for your trip. Let us know if you have further questions!

Lucas

twiggy321
twiggy321
90 posts
active member
Feb 10, 2017 - 10:12 PM

Hi TWiggy321 here again

Researching a bit could someone confirm that Basel is on the border of Switzerland so if I go with this idea i would only pay for a train from London to Paris and then from Paris to Basel

1. Catch Eurostar from London to Paris (2hrs)

2, From Paris TGV to Basel (3hrs)

3. Then from Basel i can use my Swiss Travel Pass and the rest of the journey would be free

4. From Basel planning on getting to Montreux go via Bern would take 2hrs or go via yverdon les bains is via Basel on the Golden Panorama Pass train

if this fits your plans henry560 use the website www.rome2rio.com it gives you a good idea of options open as states time taken for train and bus and gives approximate costs, too

Hoping someone can point me in the direction of a good map that show Switzerlands borders with other countries

Henry560
Henry560
6 posts
new member
Feb 11, 2017 - 9:42 AM

Hi twiggy321 and Lucas,

Many thanks for your replies and advice. I think it's a close thing whether we get a global interrail or a Swiss pass, but doing the sums I think the interrail is best for us as the money saved on our journeys getting to and from Switzerland should outweigh the additional cost of the interrail. (Even though our 13 year old daughter would need to purchase a youth interrail pass whereas she would be free with a Swiss pass!) Some sources say that you can get a free Swiss Family Card (for free child travel) if you buy an Interrail or a Swiss Pass, but some say you can only get one with a Swiss Pass. Has anyone been able to get a free SFC with an interrail pass?

I've done some more research and found that there have been some additions to the validity of the interrail pass since the start of 2017, so the whole of the Glacier Express route is now included for example. I found this page most useful: www.seat61.com/InterRa il-pass-guide.htm Just scroll down to the section on Switzerland.

I can confirm for you twiggy321 that Basel is indeed in Switzerland and included in the Swiss pass so your assumption is correct. There is a good map of Switzerland here: myswissalps-doc.r.worldssl.net/doc s/default-source/rail-network-maps/swisstravelsystem .pdf?sfvrsn=34

Arno
Arno
9572 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 11, 2017 - 10:02 AM in reply to twiggy321

Hi twiggy321,

There are various routes from Paris to Montreux. Often it's quicker through Lausanne or Geneva, sometimes via Basel. It depends on your departure time, so you'd better take a look in the timetable to find the best option.

Arno
Arno
9572 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 11, 2017 - 10:05 AM in reply to Henry560

Hi Henry560,

The Swiss Family Card works with Swiss Travel System passes, including the Swiss Travel Pass. So it does not work with Interrail.

What's included in both passes can be found here:

twiggy321
twiggy321
90 posts
active member
Feb 11, 2017 - 12:57 PM

Thanks all for the info and the information on seat61 is good henry560 .

Henry560 when do you intend to travel we are going at the end of June.

If you are going earlier than this would love to hear which you choose and how effective it was.

One questions i query though is that the Swiss Family Card would allow free transport for your daughter within switzerland would this cost be justified over the cost of a youth interrail ticket.

Arno
Arno
9572 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 11, 2017 - 1:55 PM in reply to twiggy321

Hi twiggy321,

Whether the costs will be justified depends on your exact travel plans. It could be worth it if you would visit places not covered by Interrail at all. The only way to tell for sure is to do the math as suggested by Lucas.

Henry560
Henry560
6 posts
new member
Feb 11, 2017 - 2:54 PM in reply to twiggy321

Hi twiggy321,

Our trip won't be until August this year (school holidays) so unfortunately not before yours.

The cost of a 7 day global interrail for the three of us would be £217+£217+£169=£603 compared to the price of an 8 day Swiss Pass which would be £198+£198+free child=£396, (or 6 day Swiss Pass for £330 total) so it would be £207 (or £273) more for the interrail. However, the interrail would cover the three of us from our home town in Cheshire to London and back, then from Paris to Switzerland (we'll probably take the slower option by standard inter-city train rather than TGV, with a stopover in France), then it will cover the train from Switzerland through Germany (with stopover in Cologne) and then on to Brussels for the Eurostar home. Add all that together and I'm sure the interrail will be cheaper than the Swiss Pass+extra tickets, even if not by much.

The Swiss Pass does have certain advantages such as 25% discount on the Jungfrau, but we don't plan to do that route.

Regarding Eurostar fares London to Paris, I use it 4/5 times a year and as long as you book far enough ahead you can usually get £29 each way in the winter/low season and £34.50 each way in the summer/peak season, but they are limited. Tickets usually go on sale 6 months in advance so if you can plan that far ahead keep an eye on the Eurostar website and book as soon as they become available, that will save you £££s!

twiggy321
twiggy321
90 posts
active member
Feb 11, 2017 - 5:23 PM

Hi Henry560

Sounds like you've got it all sorted now and have a really good itinary for your travels. i hope you and your family enjoy your holiday and thanks for the tips on eurostar etc.

twiggy321
twiggy321
90 posts
active member
Feb 11, 2017 - 6:43 PM

Hi all

Just had an interesting chat with eurostar on line and this is what i found out which has now confirmed my plans and I am going to buy a Interrail Global Pass for my travels as most of the destinations I am using also include a free travel pass which offers in most cases the same discount as the Swiss Halffare card eg from Montreux to Rochers de Naye is 50% with the Rivera Card the same as with the Half Fare Card

This is what swayed my decision

Is a Interrail Global Pass valid on Eurostar and what would i have to pay

Answer Yes it is indeed just need to book seat reservation with is £23 in standard 2nd class and £29 in Standard Premier 1st Class reservations are not possible online please either book by calling 03432 186 186 uk only and have Interrail pass ready. A Service fee is added of £10 per transaction for Standard and Standard Premier . You can take 2 pieces of luggage and one item of hand luggage up to 85cm long included rucksacks.

so very happy hope this helps others

Henry560
Henry560
6 posts
new member
Feb 11, 2017 - 11:19 PM

That is great news indeed! I wonder if it is a new thing as I've never heard that before. I've always bought my Eurostar tickets separately in addition to the interrail so in future this will save me a lot.

I assume that if I rang and booked 3 tickets I'd only get charged one £10 service fee. May as well use standard premier as well if it's only £6 extra as you get a meal and a drink included. (edit - just looked on Eurostar website and you need a 1st class interrail to get standard premier)

Thanks for spreading the word twiggy321 :-)

Last modified on Feb 11, 2017 - 11:26 PM by Henry560
twiggy321
twiggy321
90 posts
active member
Feb 12, 2017 - 2:37 PM

Thanks for the info on Eurostar that is a bit disappointing to hear that you need a 1st class interrail to get standard premier as the difference in price is quite significant, as quite happy to travel 2nd class especially in Switzerland as the trains are alot better than the uk.

Awaiting reply on my other journeys that i have asked them to check and then will make a decision on which pass to use.

Henry560
Henry560
6 posts
new member
Feb 12, 2017 - 5:41 PM in reply to twiggy321

You can still get a standard Eurostar ticket with your interrail, just not standard premier with the meal so shouldn't be a problem for you.

twiggy321
twiggy321
90 posts
active member
Feb 12, 2017 - 6:23 PM

Yep but still not sure whether to go with the Interrail thing as it seems alot of extra charges compared to the Swiss Travel Pass you just pay for the pass and thats all .

Looking into our travel itinary there are lots of additional cost on the trains and some only give 50% discount if they are regional trains.

Where is your first destination by the way ??

We are from North Wales and travelling to London and then Eurostar heading for Geneva for 2 nights then onto Montreux and Zermatt and then Lucerne and eventually a week in Salzburg before returning not sure of route for return may do up to Brussels and train back from there .

Henry560
Henry560
6 posts
new member
Feb 13, 2017 - 7:00 AM in reply to twiggy321

I see, if you are planning to travel on a number of lines which are not covered at all by interrail but offer a discount with the Swiss Pass then it could sway your choice. The only way to know is to research and do the sums, as you are doing.

I talk about the interrail pass more as that is the one I have used many times for travel in France, but the Swiss Pass may suit you better. Even if I'm just visiting France I usually buy a global interrail rather than the France only version as it's not a lot more expensive and covers me on any train from Cheshire to London and back. You could no doubt get from North Wales to London and back with a fairly cheap advance purchase ticket but it limits you to a particular train and on the return you'll have to allow extra time in London in case the Eurostar is running late. With the interrail, when I get back to Euston I can just jump on the first train to Crewe be it peak time or not.

Another thing I'll mention, last year my dad went to Switzerland and the hotel he stayed in provided free vouchers for 50% off the Jungfrau line. I don't know how common that is but you may find many hotels do that for their local tourist railway - could be worth checking.

This will be our first trip to Switzerland, apart from a quick pop over the border, and we'll only be there for maybe 5 days so we'll be spoilt for choice. Not decided for certain but the plan is to head for Zermatt then take the glacier express route east. Wife wants a couple of nights in Grindelwald and then I'm hoping to do the Bernina express route from Chur to Tirano which has been highly recommended!

Hope this is of some help and have a great holiday.

twiggy321
twiggy321
90 posts
active member
Feb 13, 2017 - 7:56 PM

Thanks Henry560 for your info

You are definately chosing the best two scenic train rides and I am envious of you, trying to put the glacier express into the equation but don't quite know how. Valid point about the Eurostar running late on return journey. I am waiting for trainline.eu and loco2.com to offer rail trips booking for my initial trip are open from the 23rd February so I am going to leave it till then, as Interrail offer is open till the end of March. If you need any information on Zermatt the tourist office is very very helpfull. We are going to Zermatt and staying overnight in the YHA there which includes free breakfast in their price. We are planning to do the 5 lakes walk which apparently is relatively easy to do and offer different perspectives of the Matterhorn as they are reflected in the different lakes.

With regard to the 50% discounts yes many of the YHA;s we are staying in offer a travel card for discounts in the area for example Montreux has the Montreux Riveria Card which offers 50% discounts on most attractions so this has eliminated the Swiss Half Fare Travel Card from the equation.

Many thanks once again for all your help Maria

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