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Changing Trains in Geneva and Zurich

I will be traveling from Paris to Geneva to Bern. Later in the week I will go from Bern to Zurich to Salzburg. I want to be sure I know where to go in the train stations to change trains. How easy is it to navigate these train stations and change trains? Thanks

Posted by
21857 posts

You go the platform for the next train and get on. Exit the train and look for the message board, generally at the head of the platform - could be electronic or the old water fall -- know your train number, find it and it will indicate the platform number. Sometimes you may walk across the platform for the next train so check the over head signs for the next train. It is pretty obvious once you are there.

Posted by
8889 posts

Swiss stations are all well signposted. Geneva station (Genève) will be signposted predominantly in French, Zürich HB in German.

Geneva station plan: https://www.sbb.ch/content/dam/infrastruktur/trafimage/bahnhofplaene/plan-geneve-a4.pdf.sbbdownload.pdf

Zürich HB station plan: https://www.sbb.ch/content/dam/infrastruktur/trafimage/bahnhofplaene/plan-zuerich-hb-a4.pdf.sbbdownload.pdf
Note Zürich is multi-level, with some underground platforms.

The important thing to know is the platform number of your arriving and departing trains (Voie in French, Gleis in German). Once you know which trains you are taking, you can look this up on the SBB website. There are videos everywhere showing departures. Photo of one here: https://news.sbb.ch/_file/7322/1/_r1280x600cc/abfahrtsmonitor-winterthur.jpg
There are also old style yellow posters on each platform listing departures. Photo here: http://www.geneva.info/gare-cornavin-departures-arrivals/3.jpg

Posted by
5 posts

I have purchased my tickets but can't find information on them about train numbers or platforms. Is this something I won't be able to find out until I'm at the train station? Also, I looked at the SBB site for my train to find more information but when I put in the date of my ticket Sunday Sept 30 it always defaults to Saturday September 29 and my time of departure is not listed. Thanks for your responses.

Update: Checking again the SBB site I double checked the Geneva Station to match my ticket. I found the identical times and destination but it won't let me put in the day of my ticket without defaulting back to Saturday. That's confusing me since my ticket says Sept 30th.

Posted by
28121 posts

tell us and we will find it.

What, by the way, exactly, does your ticket say?

Some of us speak French, some of us speak German, some of us speak both.

Posted by
54 posts

The sbb.ch website is buggy when it comes to selecting dates. It probably works fine as long as you're in the same time zone as the servers (i.e. if you are in Switzerland), but it fails if you're not. There are two ways to make it work. 1) Select one day later than your travels and then when it subtracts a day it will be on the correct one. 2) After selecting the day, click on the time box and then go back to the date and click the arrow to advance the day by one back to the correct date that you had originally selected.

Once the search results appear, click on the journey you have tickets for and you will see the departure and arrival platforms for each train.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you so much for your help. While the SBB site still defaults to Saturday I was able to keep clicking on later times and it eventually went to Sunday. I found my exact ticket and the platform I need in order to make my transfer. Thanks again for all your input!

Posted by
12 posts

I have noticed that issue of the wrong date on the SBB website when using a browser. I just choose the next date (Oct. 1 in your case), and the date you want will be displayed.

You should be able to see the platform assignments for each train.

The app on my iPhone works better.

Posted by
8889 posts

Something you may not realise. Tickets on the TGV Paris to Geneva, and the Zürich - Salzburg trains are for a specific train. It should show date, train ID and seat numbers on the tickets.
Tickets within Switzerland are open - valid on any train on the date on the ticket. Switzerland does not use numbers for each train, just route codes, so I would not expect Swiss internal tickets to list a train ID. You can spend time in Geneva and get a later train to Bern if you want.

Posted by
5 posts

I see the train number and date on our Zurich to Salzburg tickets but can't figure out the seat number.

Posted by
16941 posts

Unless you paid for a seat reservation, you don't have one and can sit in any unreserved seat in 2nd class if you have a 2nd class ticket, or any unreserved seat in 1st or 2nd class if you have a 1st class ticket. If you want one, you can buy it at www.oebb.at for a few EUR.

Posted by
28 posts

Double check the platform numbers for your trains in the station. While your train may arrive or leave from the same track most days, something could have changed the day you travel to cause a track change.

Once you look at the departure boards in the station, you'll learn very quickly how to use them.

Also, if the SBB says that the train is leaving at 8:23, be assured that you'd better be aboard no later than 8:22 because the train will leave on time barring any unforeseen problems.

Posted by
759 posts

If you are buying a train destination in Switz. with a connection or more, you can ask the ticket agent for a printout of the times and track numbers, and they'll be glad to help you out.

And, don't be afraid to ask any conductor if you have the right train. I've done it many times. Just point to the train you think it is, and say, for example, "Zurich??". No problem, that's why they're out on the platform.

Posted by
4370 posts

On our first trip to Switzerland, on the first day we had to change trains in Zurich. We had about 7 minutes. It was not a problem in the least. When I purchased the ticket in Buchs-SG, the agent printed the itinerary for the day with everything included--arrival time, platform, departure time, platform. It was very, very easy and all the employees we dealt with were friendly and helpful. I also felt that locals on the train might not volunteer information, but they are willing to help when asked.

Posted by
89 posts

Get the SBB app for your phone; it includes platform numbers.

Posted by
28121 posts

and the SBB app captures last minute changes in platform - they do happen sometimes - in real time. An excellent app and easy to use and with plenty of good information.