Hello everyone, I will be traveling from Paris to Geneva and Genava to Zurich and from Zurich to Vienna on a single day in June. I have the trip from Zurich to Vienna reserved but need to fill in the remaining legs of the trip. On paper it looks doable. My question is two fold: In Geneva I arrive on platform 8 and depart on platform 4. Is this as simple as getting off one train and moving to the next platform? I only have 13 minutes. Then when I arrive in Zurich, I arrive on platform 33, which I understand is the level below the mall but I depart from platform 8 which is ground level. Again, I only have 14 minutes between arrival and departure. Is this realistic/doable? I will be traveling with my wife and daughter and we will have light luggage.
I have changed platforms within these time frames in European train stations. I have been in the Zurich train station and believe that, unless you know you way, it is very easy to get diverted in the mall and 14 minutes is a gamble.
The good news is that Swiss trains run like a Swiss watch in terms of on-time performance. You can assume that trains arrive and depart within a minute of schedule. That means you have 13 or 14 minutes to get from 33 to 8.
I am wondering why you are going the long way, Why not a single train to Zurich on a TGV-Lyria, then the Railjet to Vienna. That will save time and money. And the TGV will land on the main track level at Zurich Hbf.
But to your direct question, look at the pdf of Zurich station here.
You'll see that from track 34, you take an escalator up to the "Sihlquai" passageway, walk maybe 20 or 30 ft to the escalator marked "Gleis 8-9", take that up and you are there.
10 minutes is enough even for the most 'extreme' conncetions in Zurich (platform 18 to 21/22).
14 min is entirely doable. A trick I recommend is to use the west passageway (the opposite side of the main entrance), because it is much easier to get from level -3 (platforms 33/32) to ground level 0 in less than 3min (there is even a lift all through -3 to 0.
Following signs to the lift is the other strategy... the lift takes you easily to where you want to go.
Excellent advice from Sam on a VERY long train journey. Or why not just fly on Austrian Airlines Paris direct to Vienna in 1 hour 55min??
Thank you to everyone who has typed in. Your experience with such things is much appreciated. We don't get to do a European vacation much, in fact this is my first in over 40 years. While I know the train is the long way, I wanted my daughter to SEE as much of Europe as we could fit in on our short trip. So training through France/Switzerland and Austria seemed like a good way to see as much as possible. After reading all of the advice from everyone, we have decided to play it safe and use an earlier train from Paris to spread out our train changes instead of rushing. It will be a very long day on the train, but for the scenery and experience, we are actually looking forward to it.
As the others say, these connections are all normal times and are what everybody does. It is "as simple as getting off one train and moving to the next platform?". Down to the underpass, across and up again.
I understand your wish to see something on the way, and therefore you are not taking the direct route from Paris to Vienna, which would be via Strasbourg and Munich.
I do not understand why you are going via Geneva. The scenic bit is Zürich - Salzburg (on the way to Vienna). Going via Geneva is an unnecessary diversion. Geneva - Zürich is through the (relatively) flat bit of Switzerland, not through the Alps. You would save time and not miss any sights by taking a direct train from Paris to Zürich.
I also think this is a wasted opportunity, you should stop 2 nights in Switzerland (in the Alps)and get to see some real mountains up close.
If only I had unlimited time!!! Sigh. We will take your advice on our next trip and spend some quality time in Switzerland.
We were very impressed with how easy and well-marked the Swiss trains were. We made numerous tight connections (some as short as 2 minutes), and this was with two kids and luggage in tow.