Where to buy the train passes?

Where to buy the train passes?

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LeVoyageur
LeVoyageur
38 posts
active member
Nov 16, 2016 - 1:08 AM

Bonjour!

Everything that I can book for my trip has been booked! I am currently exploring the rail passes and I know exactly what I want.

My questions are:

  1. Is it better to buy them in Canada ahead of time or once I'm in Switzerland?
  2. Being Canadian, should I buy my rail passes through SBB.CH to through raileurope.ca?
  3. Once you have purchase the passes, what do you get? A "letter", a card, a pass on my iPhone, or else?
  4. I have the SBB app on my phone and it shows a link to a rail pass, is this only for people living in Switzerland?
  5. If it is possible to go paperless (with your phone)?
  6. What are the differences between: SBB.CH, swisspass.ch. etc. Do I need to register on all of them or is swisspass exclusive to people living in Switzerland?

Thanks in advance! This forum is excellent! Keep up the amazing work!

Merci,

Jean

LeVoyageur
LeVoyageur
38 posts
active member
Nov 16, 2016 - 2:51 AM in reply to LeVoyageur

I was reading through your pages and noticed something I didn't. We will be in Switzerland for 24 days (arrival in Zurich, 13 nights in Wengen, 4 nights in Locarno, 4 nights in Luzern and 2 nights in Zurich). My intention was to get a 15 days Swiss Travel Pass Flex and a 10 days Bernese Oberland Regional Pass. My understanding was that the Swiss Travel Pass Flex would allow me to have a 25% discount on the Regional one, but from what I have just read, I am not sure if the 25% discount is possible with the Flex pass... Am I right?

Arno
Arno
11140 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 16, 2016 - 7:07 AM

Bonjour Jean,

Glad to hear you like our website! The Swiss Travel Pass Flex will not get you a discount on the Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland. You do have the option to buy the following:

  1. Swiss Travel Pass Flex
  2. Swiss Half Fare Card (CHF 120)
  3. 10-day Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland with 25% discount (CHF 97.50) because of the Swiss Half Fare Card.

I'm not sure if that makes sense though. It might be much simpler to just buy a 15 + 8 day Swiss Travel Pass, or a Swiss Half Fare Card for your entire stay. You would have to do the math to be sure. The Excel sheet will be a great help if you're willing to spend some time on it.

Where to buy your pass(es) is explained on our Where to buy page. As for your questions:

  1. It will save you time to buy online as you don't have to spend time on a ticket office. It sometimes saves money too but that varies on exchange rates, promotions, where you buy, etc.
  2. It's up to you where you buy. You find all options on the Price tab of each of the pass pages. E.g here on the Swiss Travel Pass page. It often makes sense to buy through the tourist web shop of the SBB at www.swissrailways.com/ en. But RailEurope Canada has promotions every now and then, and offers payment in CAD which might save banking fees.
  3. That depends on the pass and where you buy. The Swiss Travel Pass Flex is a physical pass. The Swiss Travel Pass can be printed at home (recommended) unless you prefer the physical version.
  4. SBB.ch and the app are primarily geared to Swiss citizens. You'd normally use it for train schedules only. If you have a Swiss Half Fare Card you might use it to buy tickets if you setup an account.
  5. There are no paperless passes.
  6. Please see 2. You only have to buy from one website. I don't know them all as there are lots of (small) travel agencies also offering passes, but the major trusted ones are listed on the mentioned pages. A "SwissPass" is a product for Swiss citizens only.
Last modified on May 17, 2018 - 11:42 AM by Arno
LeVoyageur
LeVoyageur
38 posts
active member
Nov 16, 2016 - 6:27 PM in reply to Arno

I found on the Jungfrau website that this regional pass is 50% discountable with both the Swiss Travel Pass and its Flex version. Is this accurate? I do realize that this pass is not applicable in other areas of Berner Oberland...

Arno
Arno
11140 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 16, 2016 - 6:52 PM in reply to LeVoyageur

For the Swiss Travel Pass: yes. But not for the Flex version. There might theoretically be a way but it would require you to use a Flex day on all 10 days of the regional pass. That's not practical and very expensive. Even using the Swiss Travel Pass and regional pass at the same time is very expensive as you'll be paying for two passes at the same time, albeit that one is 25% cheaper.

The key here is that you need to have a valid pass to get the discount. A Flex pass is not valid on the days you don't use it.

Arno
Arno
11140 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 16, 2016 - 6:56 PM

You're still talking about the Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland, right? If you are referring to the Jungfrau Travel Pass: it's for a smaller area and the same discounts apply.

A Swiss Travel Pass gets you a lot of free traveling and discounts too in that area, please see the map and zoom in to see the details: myswissalps.com/ swisstravelpass/validi ty.

Last modified on Nov 16, 2016 - 6:57 PM by Arno
LeVoyageur
LeVoyageur
38 posts
active member
Nov 16, 2016 - 7:33 PM in reply to Arno

I guess that I have problem understanding this notice found on the Jungfrau Regional Pass page:

"If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, Swiss Travel Pass Flex (only validated days) or a Swiss Half Fare Card, select the price reduction "Half Fare"."

My idea is to have a Flex pass of 15 days within a month. Considering our planning, I would use the Flex Pass for the first one or three days, use the Regional Pass for the next 10 straight days, and then go back to the Flex pass for the remainder of our trip.

So if the above notice means that a validated day is any day in my 1-month period, I would be OK. On the other hand, if Validated means a day within my 15 day bank in a month, well you are right, this doesn't make sense!

Why am I keen on a Regional pass?Mostly because the gondolas (50% for Mänlicchen, First, etc.) as well as the trains between Wengen and Grindewald (25%) are free with them instead of being discounted. Considering that we will likely use them often, it is interesting...

But there may be someting I do not quite understand!

Arno
Arno
11140 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 16, 2016 - 8:02 PM in reply to LeVoyageur

A validated day is one of the 15. The Flex pass is of no use on all other days. Sorry!

LeVoyageur
LeVoyageur
38 posts
active member
Nov 16, 2016 - 8:12 PM in reply to Arno

Ok! Thanks.

If I forget about buying a regional pass with a discount, can the "strategy" mentionne in my previous message work (meaning, using both passes independently)?

LeVoyageur
LeVoyageur
38 posts
active member
Nov 17, 2016 - 2:56 AM in reply to LeVoyageur

Well, I have to admit that this thread has convinced me, I need to push my exercize in comparing my options... Your spreadsheet is very useful...

Arno
Arno
11140 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 17, 2016 - 7:16 AM in reply to LeVoyageur

Great to hear that :-) You have various options to compare:

  1. The Swiss Travel Pass Flex and non-discounted Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland. The Jungfrau Travel Pass could work too, but the covered area is small so you have less flexibility.
  2. The 3 pass approach in mentioned in my first reply. I expect this to be too expensive.
  3. Two Swiss Travel Passes. This is convenient, and remember than a Swiss Travel Pass is cheaper (per travel day) than a Swiss Travel Pass Flex.
  4. One Swiss Half Fare Card.

Be sure to check the coverage map included on all pass pages carefully. The Swiss Travel Pass (Flex) covers some mountain rides for free as well (including Mount Pilatus as of January 1, 2017), so that could make a real difference if you happen to go there.

LeVoyageur
LeVoyageur
38 posts
active member
Nov 21, 2016 - 2:58 AM in reply to Arno

Did my maths and it seems that my original idea is still the best, a 15 day Flex pass plus a B.O. Regional pass.

1. Any advice on when where I should buy them (travel dates are June 23 to July 16).

2. Îve read that the B.O. regional pass can be bought only in Switzerland; is this true?

3. Also, we would like to use The Gothard Express from Lugano to Luzen, how far in advance do we need to book for this (I will need my Flex Pass for this).

Merci!

Arno
Arno
11140 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 21, 2016 - 6:52 AM in reply to LeVoyageur

Hi Jean,

1. All of the pass pages I referred to have a Price tab listing trusted retailers. You can buy both passes through www.swissrailways.com. The pages www.swissrailways.com/ en/products/regionalbe rneseoberlandpass and www.swissrailways.com/ en/products/swissflexi pass are the ones you need.

2. No, that's not true, please see the Price tab.

3. It's hard to say how far in advance would be best. It depends on demand: theoretically you can book just before departure, but waiting longer increases the chance of the train being booked out. This is a new train/boat combination as of mid April 2017, and I don't think there is a way to book yet. It will probably be possible from early next year. You don't need to posses a pass to book seats.

Last modified on May 17, 2018 - 12:02 PM by Arno

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