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Train Help: Zurich to Milan with Swiss Travel Pass

Hello—

I understand how the Swiss Travel Pass works in Switzerland, but I get a little confused when multiple countries are involved in a train ride.

In April, I’d like to travel from Zurich HB to Milano Centrale on the 11:10 train. (We like this time because it involves no changes). I know I only have to pay for the Italy portion of the trip, but I’m not sure how to do that. I see on the SBB site where it will allow discounts for the GA, half-fare, junior, and children’s cards. But I am not seeing an option to enter that I have the Swiss Travel Pass.

So, I guess my first question is, is this even a trip I should purchase a ticket ahead of time for? Is this particular train all reserved seats? I know no reserved seats for trains in Switzerland, but as stated above, I get confused because this goes to Italy. I’m wondering if this is a long-distance train where there are reserved seats?

If I should purchase ahead of time (we really would like to make sure we are on this particular train), how do I do that since I don’t seem to be able to be able to let SBB know I have the Swiss Travel Pass?

I was originally thinking I would just purchase a ticket for the last stop in Switzerland (Chiasso) to Milan, but if the train is full in Zurich, I’m thinking they won’t let us on the train for the earlier portion without a ticket.

I’m so confused. 😊 Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Carrie

Posted by
8889 posts

Carrie, the way this works, it is a Swiss train when running on Swiss rails, and Swiss rules apply; then it is an Italian train when running on Italian rails, and Italian rules apply.

Swiss rules: You do not need a reservation, all you need is your Swiss Pass, and get on and sit in any seat.
"I’m thinking they won’t let us on the train for the earlier portion without a ticket." - You have a ticket, your Swiss Pass. Nobody checks who gets on the train, they check onboard once the train is moving.

Italian rules: You MUST have a reservation. You need to buy a ticket (Swiss Pass not valid), which will be specifically for one train and will include a reserved seat.

What you need to do: Go to the Trenitalia (Italian Railways) site: https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html
And buy ticket(s) for this train. This ticket will list train ID and seat numbers.
And then just get on the train at Zürich HB, and sit on any seat (hopeful you can get the seat reserved for your from Chiasso). The Swiss ticket inspector will want to see your Swiss Pass(es). At Chiasso there is a staff changeover, and when the Italians check. show him your Italian ticket(s).

P.S.: "where it will allow discounts for the GA," - GA is the same as a Swiss Pass. GA is the annual Pass for Swiss residents.

Posted by
2853 posts

Thank-you so much Chris for the great information!!!

And now that you said it, I do recall you saying in previous posts that the train is a Swiss train when in Switzerland and an Italian train when in Italy. I got too wrapped up in my confusion and didn’t remember that.

And thanks for the info. that the GA discount is the same as the Swiss Pass discount. Very good to know.

Just a heads up, I am going to have a Basel train station question in the near future, but I haven’t gotten to that part of my itinerary planning yet.

Thanks again!! Two and a half months til our trip. We are so excited!!!!!!! 😊

Posted by
901 posts

Keep in mind, when leaving Switzerland, always try to book your train travel on the destination country train site. If you book through SBB you may find that you pay quite a bit more. Also, when searching for departure stations on Trenitalia, note their spelling as "Zuerich HB". Otherwise it will tell you invalid station if you spell as Zurich.

Posted by
20447 posts

Just did some checking. For a random April weekday (April 15 in this case), the cost from SBB with a Swiss Travel Pass for the 11:10 EC train from Zurich Hbf is 20 CHF. Seat reservation is included. Then I checked the price at Trenitalia for the same train is 39 EUR for a "Smart" fare, with no STP. Smart fare is buy now non refundable. Then the same train from Chiasso to Milano Centrale and the "Base" price was 16 EUR and the "Super Economy" price was 9.90 EUR. Reservation is included with these.

So yes, buying the Italian portion at Trenitalia is the best price.

Posted by
2853 posts

Thanks for taking the time to check the prices Sam!! I’ll purchase the tickets from Trenitalia (Chiasso to Milano Centrale) this weekend. I used the Trenitalia website a few weeks ago to purchase some tickets for our Italy trips without any problems. So, I know it will accept my credit card.

Posted by
1038 posts

At Chiasso they will also check your passport as you will be entering the Schengen zone from a non-Schengen country (Switzerland).

Posted by
20447 posts

Switzerland is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

Posted by
16883 posts

Trenitalia will credit the Swiss travel pass, bringing the fare down to 17 € for the Italian portion. It is still cheaper to get the Super Economy fare from Chiasso to MIlan, but if that were not available, the through ticket would be a good option.

Posted by
8889 posts

Second what Sam says, Switzerland IS a member of the Schengen Area. There are no systematic passport checks on Switzerland's land borders. There is technically customs (goods checks), as Switzerland is not in the EU, but that mostly only affects vehicles with cargo.