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Rail booking here vs there

I had a question about buying tickets ahead of time for rail travel from Zürich to Milan. Is it cheaper to buy the tickets in the US rather than at the train station? Also, if purchasing here which companies are the most reputable?

Posted by
23232 posts

If you are purchasing in the US then purchase via the train site. Second, the only reason to purchase early in the US is to take advantage of any discount that might be available because of early purchase. However discount ticket comes with lots of restrictions -- mostly no change, no refund. The price is the same either here or there. We tend to buy locally but sometimes miss a discount.

Posted by
3156 posts

Tickets may also be purchased from TrenItalia. Compare prices because TrenItalia might be less expensive. Train options on SBB have numerous trains that require changing trains. The ones on TrenItalia are intercity through trains. You can buy the same direct intercity tickets on SBB.

Posted by
32683 posts

are you planning to land at the airport and go immediately to Milan (or onwards)? Or are you going to be in Zurich the night before?

The SBB website is the one for Swiss trains. It is full of good helpful information. What needs deciphering?

Posted by
7248 posts

Even before Covid, train stations tended to have long, slow-moving lines at an insufficient number of ticket windows. The US is not the only place where businesses try to reduce labor expenditures. Trains with reserved seats do sell out in vacation season.

I've saved a lot of money with advance purchase train tickets. It's not really practical to travel the way Arthur Frommer did in postwar Europe. I imagine there a YouTube videos that might help you learn how a rail ticket website works. Since you can always cancel just before paying, practicing is possible on the actual site.

Change is hard. It can't be stopped. Learning is lifelong. (Age 70 poster.)

Posted by
1394 posts

Check Omio.com for SBB’s Supersaver fares which can be as low as €32 for the Zurich to Milan run in April, for example. These are tickets you buy online in advance. If, for some reason, you miss your pre-reserved train you can apply the unused ticket value toward the cost of a replacement ticket for a train departing later on the same day. Buying these tickets online in advance makes them a great bargain. You can save about 70%.
Have a great Trip!

Posted by
4366 posts

you could also get the opinion of that Man in Seat 61

Posted by
367 posts

Create an account with SBB and you will be able to see all the options and prices. You can pretend to purchase so you'll get all the options. You'll have it figured out quickly. Rome2Rio is good for some initial looking and might help you determine if your route is non-stop, direct or requires changes at some point,

Out of curiosity, I checked Omio for the dates of our travel from Basel to Lucerne and return. Plenty of choices on SBB but Omio showed nothing. This for the end of May.

Posted by
1394 posts

I think Omio only posts train tix up to 60 days in advance which is why you can’t find anything for the very end of May. BTW The “Man in Seat 61” does mention Omio as a train ticket aggregator, and also Trainline. I found both very easy to use.