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Geneva-Cornavin Train Station - Newbie Question

Dear all,

This is a train-related question, but I think it makes more sense to post it here hoping more people experienced with Switzerland will reply. However, maybe this applies to train stations all over Europe - I honestly do not know =)

I will be traveling by TGV from Paris to Geneva-Cornavin this coming summer and I was hoping someone could explain the "exit procedure" when exiting the train station at Geneva-Cornavin. Do I simply get off the train with my bag and walk out of the station, or do I have to enter a customs or security line before I can leave the station? I ask because I have very limited time in Geneva and I'm trying to plan a few sites to see. If I have to wait 45 min to an hour in some line before leaving the station, it would greatly limit my time actually seeing Geneva.

I understand this is a very newbie question, so thank you in advance for your help and patience.
John

Posted by
32964 posts

Both Switzerland and France are members of the Schengen agreement allowing free travel over their borders.

You press the button to open the train door, you walk off, you follow everybody down the platform, enter the station, use the toilet or grab a bite to eat if you wish and walk out the door. Poof, you're in Geneva.

Not my favourite town or city in Switzerland but hey ho, enjoy.

Posted by
8889 posts

I second what Nigel says. There are no border controls between Schengen countries. An international train is the same as a national train, just get on and off. Most trains from Paris to Geneva continue on as Swiss trains.
Switzerland is not in the EU so there is customs, but this consists of some people walking up and down the train between stations eyeing the passengers and their luggage. Very rarely do they actually ask anybody anything.

Posted by
7209 posts

Well, I definitely don't disagree with the experts who've previously posted...but a few years ago I (an American) took the TGV Geneva -> Paris and had to go through a passport control/check at the Geneva train station before I was allowed onto the platform to board the train. I also took the TGV Paris->Geneva but I don't remember the procedure on the return.

Posted by
32964 posts

Tim, were you before Switzerland joined Schengen? 12 December 2008? If so it would have been normal to clear immigration.

Posted by
3391 posts

I did this just a couple of summers ago and there were no customs check in the train station.
I really like Geneva! There's plenty to see and do for a day or two.

Posted by
7209 posts

Nigel, possibly - I really can't remember.

Posted by
768 posts

I just took that route last summer (and many other times before that). There is sometimes a customs agent in Geneva/Cornavin who glances at people walking by, but I didn't even have to show my passport. I suppose if you look extremely suspicious or there is some weird situation going on, you could be held up, but 99% of the time you'll breeze right through.

Posted by
14 posts

I just wanted to thank you all for the replies! I definitely feel better about being able to leave the station at a reasonable time so I can see a few sights in Geneva. Sorry for the long delay in reply, but getting everything settled at work has been stressful and nonstop...

However, it seems I may have to rush after all. Leaving Geneva-Cornavin station into Geneva seems to be okay, but now there's the departure question. I need to be back at the train station before my 3 PM departure to Vevey. Given security lines and checks, what time do you think I should be back at the station to make this departure? Would 2:45 PM be suffice? I'll be traveling with a Swiss Pass so I won't have to make a ticket stop; I'll also only have a backpack if that makes a difference. This new issue came about once I found out that the Bodmer Foundation Museum opens at 2 PM, which will really make me rush the exhibit I want to see =/

Thanks again!
John

Posted by
8889 posts

John, "Given security lines and checks" - what security lines, what checks? Railway stations don't have them. In some places stations have ticket barriers, but not in Switzerland. There is nothing to stop anybody walking onto any train at any time. It will take you exactly as long to get from the street to the correct platform as it took you to do the reverse trip, I guess 3-5 minutes.

Arriving at the front of the station at 14:45 for a 15:00 train is about right. But it doesn't matter if you miss that train anyway, there are trains From "Genève" to Vevey at 15:00, 15:12, 15:30, 15:42, 16:00, . . . . and there is no reservation, tickets are valid on any train.

Posted by
14 posts

Chris,

Thanks for the quick reply. I'm not familiar with European rail so I wasn't sure if there were security checks or anything, but I'm glad I won't be waiting for 30+ min to board a train =). It's important (at least I think it is) for me to catch the 3 PM to Vevey as I'll be boarding a boat at Vevey-Marche at 4:30. Maybe I'm giving myself too much time, but I just want to make sure I have plenty of time to find the dock, the correct boat, etc. Hopefully it'll be as simple and straightforward as the train travel seems to be.

Thanks again,
John

Posted by
8889 posts

John. I went to www.sbb.ch and I looked up Genève to Vevey, Marché at 15:00 on a weekday. It told me:

Genève depart 15:00, Vevey arrive 16:03
Vevey to Vevey, gare (bus station) 3 minutes (on foot)
Vevey, gare depart 16:18, BUS 212, arrive Vevey, Marché arrive 16:20

A walking route is here, estimated at 8 minutes: http://map.search.ch/Vevey,Gare..Vevey-March%C3%A9-Station-Stop?z=512&mode=pedestrian
Since you have no fall-back plan if you miss the boat, and you do not know the area, I would recommend the previous train, 14:42 from Genève, bus arrives at Vevey Marché 16:04. Gives you some time to enjoy the lake view.
You can look up all these times yourself on www.sbb.ch