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Bernadina Express - covered under a Eurorail pass?

I would like to know if the entire trip from Chur to Lugano is covered under a Eurorail pass or must it be purchased separately? If covered, how can you reserve your seats and not buy a ticket on the website www.rhb.ch?

Second Question: If I'm going to be in Germany for 11 days and Switzerland for 8, flying from Munich to Zurich, would it be better to buy a 1 country Eurorail for Germany and then a Swisspass for Switzerland?

Here is my itinerary:

Day 1 - fly into Frankfurt, train to Bacharach
Day 5 - train to Rothenburg
Day 7 train to Munich
Day 12 - fly to Zurich, train to Luzern (visit areas around Luzern)
Day 17 - Bernina Express to Lugano (rest in Lugano)
Day 21 - fly out of Milan

Posted by
20309 posts

Don't get a Eurail pass for Germany, most of your trips can be done relatively cheaply. Frankfurt airport to Bacharach is in the Rhein-Main transport district and is just an 11.60 euro ticket.

Rothenburg odT to Munich can be done with a 23 euro Bayern Ticket. Bacharach to Rothenburg odt can be bought on line as late as 2 days before departure for as little as 35 euro. 58 euro is the regular price using an ICE train. Almost as fast is to use all regional trains with a QdL ticket for 44 euro.

A Swiss Half Fare card may come in handy and save a few chf.

Why flying the relatively short distance from Munich to Zurich? You can go by train or a bus plus train in 5 to 5 1/2 hours. 45 minutes to the airport from Munich on the S-bahn, 2 hours check-in before flight. 45 minute flight time. 30 minutes from landing to get to the train station, 1 hour to Luzern on the train. That's 5 hours and assumes perfect timing of the trains and you have only carry-on baggage.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you for your quick input. This is all just so overwhelming to figure out. I can understand the Germany part, but from Munich to Luzern has me baffled by train. I guess it just seemed easier to fly than try and figure out the many trains I'd need to take to get there, especially traveling with a 70 year old and luggage.

Posted by
20309 posts

Use www.bahn.com to investigate train schedules.

You'll see there are direct trains (no changes) between Frankfurt airport and Bacharach every 2 hours. You can use connections at other times if you wish. Deutsche Bahn does not actually sell this ticket because it is in the Rhein-Main district (the RMV), but you can get the 11.60 per person tickets from a vending machine, or at a ticket window for a 2 euro service fee.
Spend a little time on the website for an explanation of how "Laender" tickets and "Quer-durch-Lands ticket work. http://www.bahn.com/i/view/USA/en/prices/germany/regional-offers-overview.shtml

You will need to change trains at least 3 times to get to Rothenburg, at Frankfurt, Wuerzburg, and Steinach. If you take all local trains, (almost as fast as the ICE trains because the distances are short), the cost is 44 euro for the first person and 8 euro for the second person. You must leave after 9 am weekdays, but you can take any local train and stop off on the way if you wish. On weekends you are not restricted to the 9 am start time and the pricing is slightly better.

Rothenburg to Munich is all in the state (Land) of Bavaria, so there they have a ticket called a Bayern Ticket. It works similarly, just restricted to Bavaria, but costs less.

There are several direct trains every day between Munich and Zurich. There are also busses operated by Deutsche Bahn that are actually a little faster. These are International trains and busses, so just buy a ticket at the station if you are not in the mood for finding deals on the DB website.

Posted by
13 posts

Ok Sam - Thank you. I will do my homework some more and I hope I can ask more questions along the way. You have helped a lot!

Posted by
16894 posts

I have deleted your other flight & itinerary question so that replies can stay organized on this thread. If you have a new question later, you can post it separately.

Regarding your first question above, the Bernina Express route is covered by any rail pass, whether a Swiss Travel Pass, a Eurail-brand pass such as Germany-Switzerland, or a Swiss Half-Fare Card. If making a reservation on the rhb link, you start the ticket buying process, choose your train, then under "Tickets/Reductions" for each passenger, you choose which type of pass you have, and then will just be paying for a seat reservation (or for a half-price ticket if you have the Half-Fare Card). Italy is the shortest, cheapest part of your trip, so you should not even consider a pass to cover Italy.

You mentioned avoiding too many connections, which is not an issue between Munich and Zurich, since there is direct train or bus service there, and just one connection in Zurich if you'll continue to Luzern in the same day. It's the travel days from Bacharach to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and on the Bernina Express that will each require several connections.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you Laura. I appreciate each tip everyone gives me. I need to get each detail right as I am traveling with my 70 year old mom.

I think I finally understand how to book the tickets and I downloaded the DB app, which will make things easier. It also sounds like my best bet would be to purchase ticket to ticket in Germany as it seems many of my routes will either be regional or not expensive enough to warrant the Eurail. However, with the many discounts one can get in Switzerland, I think the Swiss Travel Pass would serve me well, especially since there is a good chance I'm switching my plans to travel from Luzern to Lugano on the William Tell express, then from Lugano on the Bernadina Express and fly out of Zurich. It's several hundred dollars cheaper to fly out of Zurich than Milan.

If I did a train or bus from Munich to Zurich, then continue to Luzern in the same day, are there regional trains I could take? Would they be covered under the Swiss Travel Pass and would I have to make reservations, or is this something I easily navigate once I arrive?

I'm also a little concerned how to navigate Bacharach to Rothenburg ob der Tauber with my mom due to the 3 or more connections Sam mentioned. Has anyone used a car chauffeur service? Seems like it might be worth it for this leg.

Posted by
33123 posts

If I did a train or bus from Munich to Zurich, then continue to Luzern
in the same day, are there regional trains I could take? Would they be
covered under the Swiss Travel Pass and would I have to make
reservations, or is this something I easily navigate once I arrive?

The bus is quicker, the train to Zurich involves at least one change, portions of it are ICE - not Regional.

Between Zurich and Luzern there are dozens of trains a day. It does not matter at all within Switzerland which train you get on.

Trains within Switzerland are covered by Swiss passes, not outside Switzerland.

Reservations, except those required by the French or Italian cross border trains are incredibly rare.

In decades of travel by train inside Switzerland I have never made a reservation, and have very rarely not found a seat easily. Just don't travel in the flow at rush hour.

Posted by
8889 posts

To go back to your original question: "how can you reserve your seats and not buy a ticket on the website www.rhb.ch?"
You do not need to reserve seats in Switzerland, and it is rarely even possible.
If you don't have a valid pass, just buy a ticket at the station. There is no discount for advance purchase so buying tickets in advance fro Switzerland is a waste of time. Then turn up at the station and get on the next train.

Posted by
16894 posts

From Lugano to Chur via the Bernina Express, reservations are required only for a seat in a Panorama Car and for the bus portion running Tirano-Lugano. There's no deadline to buy that seat reservation or any ticket, but the bus has fewer places than a train and does not allow extra passengers to stand. Regular cars of these trains don't require reservations, just as most trains in Switzerland and Germany do not.

On the William Tell route, the reserved 1st-class package includes a seat in the 1st-class Panorama Car and a voucher for breakfast or lunch onboard the boat portion of the trip. With a 2nd-class pass, you'd pay about $90 per person (upgrade + reservation) for that package. Instead, you can easily take Panoramic trains departing about hourly from Luzern that don't require reservations or extra fee.

Some 70-year old travelers are very agile and capable of changing trains with the best of us, but maybe that's not the case for your mom. For everyone, packing light helps ease train connections and new hotel transitions.

Posted by
20309 posts

I understand your concern about train changes, but they are unavoidable given the destinations you have chosen.
Only Regional and local trains stop in Bacharach, the fast trains just blast right through on the way to larger cities. There is a direct train to Frankfurt Hbf every 2 hours where you need to change trains to make it to Rothenburg.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is on the end of a tiny spur line from Steinach. Rick refers to that train as the "Toonerville Trolley". Still, DB maintains hourly train service on the line because Rothenburg is such a popular destination, and I suspect the tourist board contributes a subsidy to maintain service.
Steinach is not on the mainline between Frankfurt and Munich, so to get there you need to change trains at Wuerzburg, which is. So there you have it, 3 changes minimum. The time to make the train change at Steinach is usually about 14 minutes, which is pretty comfortable as it is a small station. But you will have to change platforms by going down a flight of stairs (or a ramp) walk about 30 feet and up the stairs to the train. It will probably be there waiting for you (and about 95% of the people who got off your train).

Posted by
13 posts

Ok, thanks all. I'm feeling more confident now.

I'm still hung upon Frankfurt to Bacharach - I can see if I choose the Regional I won't have to change from Frankfurt Hbf to Bacharach. Got it. Being regional and the fact that I land in Frankfurt at 16:44, should I book the ticket ahead of time, or is it just as easy to wait and see how long it takes to get out of the airport, to the station and take the next train?

Coming back through, Sam wrote: There is a direct train to Frankfurt Hbf every 2 hours where you need to change trains to make it to Rothenburg. On the DB website I was able to find Frankfurt Hbf and continue to Rothenburg ob der Tauber? So it seems to just be 1 change – Bacharach to Frankfurt then change to Rothenburt OdT, yes?

Should these be booked ahead of time, or again with so many trains it's ok to buy at the station at the time you arrive? What happens if you book a timed train, but are late, can you exchange it or is it lost?

Posted by
33123 posts

Read the post directly above your most recent one, half an hour before you posted.

Frankfurt to RodT requires two changes, at Würzburg and Steinach. There is no direct train, for the reasons Sam gave.

Posted by
20309 posts

Regarding this part of your question:

I'm still hung upon Frankfurt to Bacharach - I can see if I choose the Regional I won't have to change from Frankfurt Hbf to Bacharach. Got it. Being regional and the fact that I land in Frankfurt at 16:44, should I book the ticket ahead of time, or is it just as easy to wait and see how long it takes to get out of the airport, to the station and take the next train?

You can't book this in advance, since you can only buy tickets through the Rhein-Main Transport Authority.
It is just 11.60 euro per person through a vending machine (or 2 euro more through the ticket window). Think of it as a glorified city bus, you don't book in advance, you just buy a ticket and get on the bus, or in this case, the train.
Follow the signs to the REGIONALBAHNHOF after you get your luggage.
Since it is "rush hour" (assuming you arrive on a weekday), the direct trains are at 17:24, 18:23, 19:24, so you should be able to make one of those.

Posted by
4528 posts

I would mention that the famous Swiss efficiency also includes train connections. When you hit the station you need to hit the ground to get to your next train on its platform. Learn how to quickly read the info boards at the station so there is no hesitation.

Also if you haven't tried it, rome2rio is a great overview travel sites.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks for clarifying, Sam. I sure wish it wasn't 2 connections from Bacharach to Rothenburg OdT, but it is what it is. I'm arriving on a Sunday, I hope this isn't a train issue - which I'm now gathering it won't be. Europe is so much more efficient than the US, especially where I'm from (CA).

Phred, thank you for the rome2rio suggestion, I downloaded the app, along with DB, and I see how those can be very helpful.

I can't tell how much you've all made a difference in getting me through such worry in trying to figure this out. I survived on the graffiti boards back in 2008 and 09, but I haven't been back to Europe since, so I didn't rely on this valuable resource since. So grateful those that have been are willing to share. I will have to give back once I return.