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Switzerland Train Travel Tip

We learned that you can purchase a second class Swiss Rail Pass, which is considerably less expensive than first class. BUT, you can ride in the first class cars and IF the conductor comes through, you can pay for the upgrade on the spot. It is far less expensive than purchasing a first class pass. We did this successfully, without any problem, and were informed of this by a SBB customer service rep in an information office. It worked great! And the first class cars were more comfortable and less crowded.

Posted by
24814 posts

After having ridden trains throughout Europe for many years, I would never have such cheek as to purposely put myself in First Class hoping that I'm not caught. I saw your capitalized IF.

I don't know what would happen in Switzerland but to me that is theft of services.

If you try that trick in England you will likely find yourself at the wrong end of a Penalty Fare, ejected from First Class, paying a full fare First Class ticket, and possibly having your details taken.

Posted by
8924 posts

Thanks for the tip Marney! Excellent info! In my travels through CH, I have often found the SBB customer service folks to be very helpful with intel like this. They are very tourist friendly. I'll give it a shot on my next visit.

Posted by
16815 posts

When you say that you "did this successfully," do you mean that a conductor did come and you did buy the upgrade on the spot without any fine or question? We normally advise paying for the upgrade before boarding the train. At least some trains in Switzerland don't sell tickets onboard and do have fines if you're found without a complete/valid ticket.

Posted by
3 posts

Didn't mean to imply that we were trying to get away without paying by sitting in first class, altho did see someone do that. What I meant, to be clearer, was we did experience that sometimes a conductor didn't come thru the train. We had no plan to "cheat the system", and as posted earlier, was a wonderful way to sit in first class and pay for the upgrade "on the spot" and not incur the higher priced first class pass cost.

Posted by
3 posts

Laura - we were told that we could pay on the train, which we did. We used the SBB information services often - so good and so available. We learned ahead of time if we couldn't pay first class in the car, for example you can't do that on the "Golden Pass Panorama" train, so bought the front seats ahead of time, as well as the required reservation.

Posted by
7204 posts

Yep - the ability to upgrade on the spot on Swiss Trains has been around for a while. When the conductor comes through and checks your 2nd class ticket while you're sitting in 1st class he/she will inform you you're in the wrong carriage and you can either pay the difference on the spot or move yourself to the correct carriage.

Posted by
1546 posts

but how much was it? $3? $5? $20? or depends on trip?

Posted by
7204 posts

depends on the trip of course. You were thinking flat rate?