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Various Rail Pass Options - Verify My Thoughts?

Can someone verify that it makes sense for me to purchase the 8 Day Swiss Travel Pass for 2 adult travelers @ $398pp?

  • January 2nd-- Zurich to Lucerne (currently lowest fare in December is $33pp)
  • January 4th-- Lucerne to Zermatt (currently lowest fare in December is $179pp)
  • January 8th-- Zermatt to Geneva (currently lowest fare in December is $115pp)

I am asking for advice because the fares for January 2019 are not yet posted. I think this makes sense based on current fares, but I wanted to get verification from someone who is more familiar with rail travel in Switzerland that time of year. I looked at the Half Fare card as well, but that looks like it be about $460pp for these trips, including the cost of the card. I also looked at the Swiss Transfer Ticket, but that's basically a wash @ $154pp and the trips to and from the airport above are $148pp.

Any input would be appreciated! Thanks!

Posted by
19150 posts

Where are you getting your fares? From the website SBB.ch, for a date within the current period, Dec 6, 2018, I see a Sparbillet from Luzern to Zermatt for price of CHF 93,60 ($97.35) for two people.

Hmm, when I look at the RailEurope website, I see a price from Luzern to Zermatt for two of $358 ($179pp)! Now you know, RailEurope is not the lowest cost provider of European rail tickets.

Posted by
48 posts

Ahh, yes, I see now! I was looking at RailEurope because my company blocks foreign sites, and I don't get good cellphone reception in my building. I was thinking it was like a kayak or Expedia, but clearly I am mistaken. Sounds like individual tickets or the Half Fare are the way to go. I'll check sbb.ch once I get home. Thanks so much!

Posted by
27352 posts

Do not use RailEurope for prices, and do not buy individual tickets from that company. It often is much, much more expensive than buying directly from the rail company itself, or even from other third-party sites.

Posted by
48 posts

Well the good news is that I was just using that site to research prices. I would have bought directly from SBB since I've traveled in Europe before and heard horror stories about buying from 3rd party sites. Dodged a bullet though anyway. Thanks again!

Posted by
16706 posts

Zurich to Luzern is not worth covering with a pass; the fare is only 25 CHF.

Posted by
27352 posts

The default fares shown on the SBB website assume you hold a Half Fare Card.

Posted by
11445 posts

Are you only taking these three trains or will you take some mountain lifts and city buses? Will you go to museums that will be covered by the Swiss Pass?

Posted by
48 posts

Laurel-- I am not entirely positive what we will do. When we go to Europe we do like to go to museums and take day trips, so it's entirely possible that we would use those benefits from the Swiss Pass as well, which could be another opportunity for savings. We would likely use the city buses to get to and from attractions in Lucerne and Zermatt. I have not found a good comprehensive list of the museums and attractions covered by the pass (however, admittedly I have not spent too much time looking-- it's on my to-do list). However, I would imagine that we will ski at least 2 of the days that we are in Zermatt.

Posted by
11445 posts

I know the analysis is challenging. I analyzed three times, second guessing myself on a 3 week stay over a 30 period. (We went to Italy for 9 nights in between Swiss stops.) The nice thing about a Swiss Travel Pass (we got the Flex Pass) is that you don’t have to constantly whip out cash like with the HFC, and it was valid for more situations than we expected. I am confident we saved money, but it was a huge convenience factor as well. Make sure you know what is covered for lifts in Zermatt.

Posted by
48 posts

Laurel-- yes, my plan is to research what other things it is valid for (museums, and discounts for lift tickets or other attractions) and then make a final decision. It seems like a lot of money, but like you said, the convenience is a factor as well. Thank you!

Posted by
7209 posts

Why do people still look at Rail Europe??? Just buy your train tickets directly from the specific country's national rail website. If that's too complicated for you then book through a reputable agency like trainline.eu

Posted by
48 posts

Hi Tim. I’m sure you meant to be helpful, but your comment came off as condescending. If you read my comments above, you can see that I only looked at it because I could not access the SBB site from where I was at. I also stated that I had no intention of buying from them, but I did not know their prices would be so inflated vs. SSB, which has already been pointed out by multiple people. I was just using it to get a general idea. In the future, if you take a friendlier approach, people would maybe be more receptive to your advice, which is the whole point of this forum.

Posted by
20316 posts

I think you need to look from your home computer, or go to the library. www.sbb.ch/en will show you prices.

Can I assume you are going from Zurich airport to Luzern, then to Zermatt, then to Geneva airport?
Leg 1 is 30 CHF, Leg 2 is 117 CHF, leg 3 is 102 CHF. That totals to 249 CHF. If you got a Half Fare Card for 120 CHF, your train tickets would be 124.50 CHF, so your total cost would be 244.50 CHF, saving you a grand total of 4.50 CHF. Right now, 1 CHF = 1.01 $US, virtually equal, so just work in CHF, since that is what all your costs will be in. The 3-day Flex Swiss Travel Pass is 259 CHF, so no savings there, but the convenience of not having to stop and buy tickets might be worth the extra pittance.

Hotels in Luzern and Zermatt should give you a guest card so you can ride local transit free. In Zermatt, there are just a couple of electric bus routes, you can really walk every where. If you get a 2-day lift pass, that also covers local buses. And a lift ticket gets you on all the lifts, including the Gornergratbahn, at least during lift hours. On-line in advance, a 2-day Zermatt lift pass is 152 CHF, a bargain compared to what Vail wants.

Posted by
48 posts

Thank you for all of that. You are correct about our itinerary. I have looked at all the options now that I am home on the SBB site. Like I said— that was my mistake to think the prices would be similar on other sites. I didn’t think about the 3 day Flex Pass— that does seem like a decent option since we will only be in Lucerne for 2 days and then in Zermatt where, as you said, it’s mostly walking and it would avoid the inconvenience of having to get tickets on those days (maybe worth the 15CHF). We will be staying in AirBnBs, so I’ll have to check on what they will give us. We are going to try to get the tickets to tour CERN before we leave out of Geneva on the 8th, but that would be the only other transportation we would likely need in a bigger town/city. Thank you for that advice!

Posted by
174 posts

For the 4 days we spent in Switzerland, we found it economical to buy a Saver Day pass for one of the days, and a Supersaver ticket for another day. The remaining two days were in Lauterbrunnen/Murren/Wengen, where we bought full price tickets for trains/gondolas.