Trying to book Swiss tickets and seat reservations

Trying to book Swiss tickets and seat reservations

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TrainFan
TrainFan
11 posts
new member
Feb 24, 2018 - 8:02 AM

Hello,

I’m really struggling with trying to book tickets and make seat reservations. I was able to do so for the Glacier Express (reservations--not tickets), but I would also like to do so for the Golden Pass and Voralpen Express routes. When I search these routes, I read directions on their individual websites that tell me to book the tickets on SBB, yet when I enter the required info, I do not get anything that tells me if I am indeed looking at a Golden Pass panoramic train or a Voralpen train. I also can’t find the legend on the SBB website that tells me what IR and IC, etc., mean. Yet, even if I knew what they meant, I don’t know if those are the trains I need.

I’ve spent the past several weeks creating a two month long European itinerary with several flights and trains, including night trains, across 5 countries, but the sixth country—Switzerland—is proving to be really difficult. I feel like I am going around in circles from one website to another and then back again. I realize that some tickets are available on this site, but they are through raileurope which is more expensive than SBB. I even phoned the MOB number from Canada to ask why I wasn't able to book a reservation on March 18 for the Panoramic train. She said all reservations are suspended, yet when I came across this information from a link here in the forum, the media release stated that the panoramic train is running until March 19--only reservations for the Belle Epoch train are suspended from now until then. So, more circles.

Here is my itinerary:

March 17: Geneva to Montreux

March 18: Golden Pass from Montreux to Interlaken. Interlaken to top of Jungfraujoch. Then to Grindewald

March 19: Grindelwald to St. Gallen via the rest of the Golden Pass route and the Voralpen Express.

We're then doing the Glacier Express on the 24th--that reservation was easy to book. I still haven't purchased tickets yet, though, and when I enter the dates and departure/arrival cities (our reservation begins in Chur), I get a list of trains: Ice, IC3, RE, GEX, but I don't know what these mean. I'm entering Chur because I know it's on the Glacier Express route and our reservation begins there, but we are really leaving from St. Gallen.

Anyway, I'm embarrassed to ask for help because it seems like everyone else on here is able to figure things out, but I am pretty confused! Any advice/insight is much appreciated.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3927 posts
expert
Feb 24, 2018 - 9:45 AM in reply to TrainFan

Howdy TrainFan and Welcome to MySwissAlps,

No need to be embarrassed, we’ve all been there. It can be a bit of a puzzle.

On the SBB Timetable (www.myswissalps.com/ti metable) look for GEX ( Glacier Express),VAE (Voralpen Express) and MOB Panoramic OR Belle Époque ( Golden Pass Montreux to Zweisimmen).

The only one on which reservations are compulsory is the GEX. VAE not required. MOB optional. Probably not needed in March. From 19 March reservations on MOB not possible due to construction work. Not sure why not possible on 18 March but don’t sweat it. Seat reservations are rarely used on Swiss trains.

From St Gallen how far are you going on GEX? If Zermatt (for example) search St Gallen to Zermatt via Chur and Andermatt and look for a GEX connection. In fact ticket price is the same via GEX or regional trains. You’ll need to use advanced search.

Have you considered a Swiss Travel Pass? No need to buy tickets then.

IR = Inter Region, IC(E)v Inter City (Express)

Lucas
Lucas
8928 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 24, 2018 - 10:14 AM in reply to TrainFan

Hi Trainfan,

I'm from Canada as well and it took me awhile to wrap my head around everything train related here.

You may be well served by a rail pass for your trip, like the Swiss Travel Pass or other rail pass noted here. They are great products which reduce the need for you to constantly buy tickets for every trip.

The only time you need to worry about the type of train on a particular route is for the Glacier or Voralpen express trains for your itinerary. The reason you see others is because "normal" trains run on the same routes. IR trains tend to take longer to reach the end destination than IC or ICE trains as they have more frequent stops along the route. Otherwise there really isn't much of a difference.

Last modified on Feb 24, 2018 - 10:17 AM by Lucas
rockoyster
rockoyster
3927 posts
expert
Feb 24, 2018 - 7:38 PM

G’day TrainFan,

One of the “joys” of the Swiss Train Timetable (www.myswissalps.com/ti metable) is that it will always default to the fastest route. This means for example that finding the VAE can be tricky unless you look for Lucerne to St Gallen via Rapperswil. Been there, done that. šŸ¤“

If you search for Grindelwald to St Gallen you’ll get a lot of options but no sign of VAE. If in advanced search you add via Meiringen, Luzern and Rapperswil then click on the journey with least changes you will see the attached.

Last modified on Feb 24, 2018 - 7:47 PM by rockoyster
Please login to see the attached documents
TrainFan
TrainFan
11 posts
new member
Feb 25, 2018 - 7:12 AM

Thank you so much, to both of you. I spent the past few hours finally able to find the connections, add up the cost (to determine passes, etc.), and then book reservations. The first two parts went well--I was able to find all of the trains thanks to now knowing what to look for (VAE, GE, etc.). I was able to choose the right pass. However, for some reason, I'm still not able to book any reservations. I think part of the problem is that one of the Panoramic trains is on the Golden Pass route, from Interlaken to Luzern. Even though SBB says R for Reservation Possible, the option disappears in the Reserve Seat section. I've attached two screen shots that show this.

I also find it strange that I can't book a reservation on a train from, say, Visp to Geneva Airport (IR 90 Train, direct route, end of March). I prefer knowing where I'm going to be sitting beforehand--we are travelling with luggage as our trip is part business/part pleasure, so we're not as light and nimble as we'd like to be.

In the end, for all of my trips (and there are many), I was not able to book a reservation for any of them besides the Glacier Express. Is that typical? The SBB site implies that reservations are easy and plentiful.

One last question: when looking at a trip option, and it says, "Does Not Operate Daily," can I safely assume that it will run on the day I've entered in the search field? In other words, if it wasn't running that day, it would not show me the option, right? Germany's train schedule will also say that the train does not run daily, but it will then give you a calendar pop-up so that you can check its availability for that day. Right now, my carefully crafted itinerary is full of trains that apparently do not operate daily--but how do I know when they run?

Thank you again for all of your help! I really appreciate it :)

Please login to see the attached documents
rockoyster
rockoyster
3927 posts
expert
Feb 25, 2018 - 7:21 AM in reply to TrainFan

Glad you're on the right track so to speak. šŸ¤“

I think I made my Golden Pass reservation here www.mob.ch/en/reservat ion-procedure. Link at top takes you to the actual reservation page.

If the timetable gives you the option to travel on a specific trip then it means that trip is available. You can safely ignore the "Does Not Operate Daily" thing.

Reserving seats on Swiss regular trains quite rare.

Lucas
Lucas
8928 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 25, 2018 - 7:40 AM in reply to TrainFan

I wouldn't worry about the train reservations to be honest. It is very rare and rarely needed - I've never used one in the last few years here. If you are concerned avoid rush hour times (if possible). If not, consider upgrading to 1st class as it is a lot quieter and there will be more seats available (and luggage space). You can upgrade for 1/2 the cost of the difference between 1st class and 2nd class tickets.

The timetable will show you, historically, how busy that train is on that date and time (under capacity).
1 man is very quiet, 2 men is getting busy and 3 men (in red) is very busy and usually just appears at rush hour times on bigger routes.

Last modified on Feb 25, 2018 - 7:41 AM by Lucas
TrainFan
TrainFan
11 posts
new member
Feb 25, 2018 - 7:49 PM

Hello, and thank you both again! I was able to book two reservations on the www.mob.ch website. We like having the two seats facing each other :)

Just as FYI for others who may read this: Reservations are not possible from Montreux to Zweisimmen from March 15 onward, not March 19 as is stated on their media release (I can't remember when the construction will be finished--June?).

I was also able to figure out how to transfer some of our luggage during one of our trips across Switzerland. You might want to update the links you have on your luggage page as they are no longer valid. SBB seems to be managing this service now: www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/services/lugg age-and-flight-luggage.html

I'm relieved to know that I don't need to worry about the "Does Not Operate Daily."

Just one more bit of feedback: this site would benefit from a legend that explains the types of trains to look for (GEX, VAE, MOB, etc.). If I had had access to that information, I would not have needed to post in the forum, which in turn would save you time. My apologies if it is posted somewhere and I missed it.

Thank you again for the help. And btw, your Excel train fare calculator is amazing!

TrainFan
TrainFan
11 posts
new member
Feb 25, 2018 - 7:52 PM

Sorry, that should say from March 17 onward, not March 15.

Debra
Debra
153 posts
active member
Feb 25, 2018 - 10:11 PM in reply to TrainFan

Thanks TrainFan, I am curious about the night trains, I have seen articles about them and some seem quite fab; where have you found comfortable night trains and which destinations?

rockoyster
rockoyster
3927 posts
expert
Feb 25, 2018 - 11:26 PM in reply to TrainFan

Good suggestions TrainFan.

Arno
Arno
11170 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 26, 2018 - 8:40 AM in reply to TrainFan

Hi TrainFan,

Thanks for your valuable suggestions. I have added more details to our train types page: www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/practical/traintyp es. I will also add a few details to the Route sections of our scenic train pages: www.myswissalps.com/ac tivities/scenictrips/t rain.

As for the luggage page at www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/practical/luggage: which links did not work for you? I tried the ones under "More on other websites" and could not find any issues.

Thanks again!

Arno
Arno
11170 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 26, 2018 - 8:44 AM in reply to Debra

Hi Debra,

You can find all trains in the timetable that Lucas mentioned. Night trains will be displayed automatically if there are available for your route, date and time. There are no night trains for transfers within Switzerland by the way.

Here's a good source for night trains in and around Germany: www.bahn.com/en/view/o ffers/europe/nightjet. shtml.

TrainFan
TrainFan
11 posts
new member
Feb 26, 2018 - 7:16 PM

Hello again,

Debra: I booked a night train from Krakow to Prague. I've read that some of the night trains aren't very comfortable on account of the many track changes they make, but for us, we didn't want to lose a day of travel, so some jolts in the night are worth it. I've found a lot of helpful information regarding European train travel on www.seat61.com. This is where I learned about the night train I'm taking.

Arno: glad to see you've added a legend! Don't forget to include VAE, MOB, GEX, etc :)

I've attached two screenshots to show the broken links. All four of those links bring you to the main page of RailEurope where there is no information about luggage. Furthermore, here is a post from RailEurope where they explain that they no longer do Express Luggage services.

forum.raileurope-world.com/responses/ex press-flight-luggage-switzerland

Hope that helps!

TrainFan
TrainFan
11 posts
new member
Feb 26, 2018 - 7:26 PM

Oh, I see that you entered the train names (GEX, etc.) on the individual route pages. I think listing them within the legend is still helpful since those abbreviations are what people see when they are on SBB's website, so then if they check the legend, they won't be able to learn what a given abbreviation means. They would have to know what GEX means for them to look under Glacier Express to confirm that GEX means Glacier Express, which defeats the purpose of having a legend, if you know what I mean :)

However, it is still beneficial to list the information how you have it now (on the individual route pages) for people like me who struggled to figure out tickets and reservations. Maybe both places?

Thank you, regardless!

TrainFan
TrainFan
11 posts
new member
Feb 26, 2018 - 7:42 PM

Hello again,

Arno, can you please delete my two screenshots from the second last post? I accidentally included my email address in there. I tried to delete attachments under "Edit Post" but it would not allow me to get rid of the attachments. I thought I would post this request here instead of emailing you privately as posting is faster than email. My apologies for causing you extra work!

Arno
Arno
11170 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 26, 2018 - 7:51 PM in reply to TrainFan

No problem TrainFan, the screenshots are deleted.

TrainFan
TrainFan
11 posts
new member
Feb 27, 2018 - 5:18 PM

Thank you!

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