Please sign in to post.

Seat reservations

We are traveling via train from Paris to Lucerne. We have our passes and we have tickets on the segment from Paris to Basel. We change trains in Basel but we do not have an option to buy seats on the segment from Basel to Lucerne. What do you suggest on how to get seats on this segment. Thank you for your help.

Posted by
494 posts

There is really no need to get seat reservations on trains in Switzerland for the most part, unless it's some special scenic train. Just get on the correct class car and pick a seat. You'll see the big "1" or "2" on the outside of the car indicating if it's 1st or 2nd class.

Posted by
1931 posts

Here is how you "get a seat" on a Swiss Train.

  • Go to the station. (You can skip this step if you arrive by train from outside the country, as you then are already at the station...)
  • Look at the departure board when the next train to your intended destination leaves. (Or look it up on the internet).
  • Go to the platform. When the train arrives, look for a door, open it, and get on. There are displays on the platform that will show you where 1st and 2nd class cars will be.
  • When in the train look for a free seat. You can recognise free seats by the fact that there is nobody sitting in them.
  • Sit down and enjoy the ride.
Posted by
20309 posts

Only a few direct trains from Basel to Luzern are IC trains, the only trains that even have seat reservations for sale. Most are IR trains and you cannot buy seat reservations.

Posted by
3 posts

For the trains that are likely to have some reservations -- such as Golden Pass Panoramic -- is there a way to know which seats have been reserved? Or do you simply get up & move if someone says "I reserved that seat"

Posted by
1931 posts

Where reservations are possible there are normally displays that show you that a seat has been reserved. Same system other railways use.

Posted by
33113 posts

one thing not mentioned in the above excellent description of how to ride a Swiss train (or even a French, Italian or German train which is in Switzerland) is the process of opening the door so you can get on or off.

Step 1. If somebody is closer to the door than you it is highly likely (but no guarantee) that they will do it for you. In which case smile internally, externally if that seems to be a good idea, and if you are a smile on the outside type of person, and follow them on. If getting off, read the sign on the platform or on the in-train display to be sure that where you think you are is where you are, and get off. My work here is done - skip to the end.

Step 2. If there is nobody near to open the door, step towards the door and look for an illuminated button. If getting on or off make sure that the train has stopped before step 3.

Step 3. Press the illuminated button on or next to the door. The door will make a little noise and open.

Step 4. Step on (or off, watching where you are stepping).

Step 5. Sit down if boarding, if you want to - there's no law. If getting off avoid lampposts, ashtrays, notice boards, poles and posts of all sorts. Many and varied are the stories....

Step 6. The end. My work is done.

ps - buttons are in place on almost all trains, but there are a very few ancient ones which are brought out for special occasions or to run vintage equipment which have various exotic gubbins to open the door or doors. I this case refer to Step 1. With those sorts of trains there is always somebody about who knows the system.

Posted by
1931 posts

I can still remember arriving in London on the boat train for the first time (that was in the 80ies) and not being able to figure out how to open the door. Till someone showed me that you were supposed to lower the window and grap the handle from the outside :-)

Posted by
6994 posts

ps - buttons are in place on almost all trains, but there are a very few ancient ones which are brought out for special occasions or to run vintage equipment which have various exotic gubbins to open the door or doors. I this case refer to Step 1. With those sorts of trains there is always somebody about who knows the system

That bit made me smile! On Monday I was on an old French train where the doors...just had handles, like at home. Hadn't seen that in a while; sometimes it's as simple as that.
On the other hand, the Paris métro often puzzles tourists with the handles that you have to lift hard. They're easier to lift if you lift them before the train has stopped, by the way.

Anyway, that's a bit of a digression. Sorry.