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A little help sorting through rail passes?


Mar 11th, 2012, 07:37 PM
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A little help sorting through rail passes?

My wife and I are going to Europe for the first time. We'll be there the last week in August and the first week of September. Plenty of time to plan, but I'm having a hard time making sense of all the rail pass options.. Our itinerary so far:

8/25- 8/28: Cotswolds (fly into London, then bus to Chipping Campden as home base)
8/29: bus to London, do the quick tour and stay the night
8/30- 9/2: Train to Paris, where we'll be for 4 days. Possible day trip to Versaille or Fontainebleau
9/3- 9/7: Train to Interlaken, then to Lauterbrunnen, where we'll be for 5 nights (with trips to Schilthorn, Jungfrau, Lake Thun, etc)
9/8: Train to Zurich Airport for return to US

What's the smartest way to do this? Coming from Paris to Interlaken, we'd like to get the quickest route, although we'd consider spending more time on a longer, more scenic route. While in Lauterbrunnen, we'll be using the cable cars and funiculars pretty much every day, and I know most rail passes offer half off; I don't want to get anything unnecessary, though.

If anyone can offer any help, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
johnboote is offline  
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Mar 11th, 2012, 07:46 PM
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Look at the various Swiss passes. You'll have to know how much you are traveling and check point-to-point prices to see if it will save you any money.
kybourbon is online now  
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Mar 11th, 2012, 08:56 PM
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For that small amount of train travel, point to point tickets would be less expensive. Because rail passes incur surcharges for usage on many trains and advance purchase tickets can be obtained with deep discounts, rail passes are not automatically a good deal anymore.
fmpden is offline  
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Mar 11th, 2012, 10:08 PM
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Hi johnboote,

You can get the best prices for the trip from Paris to Switzerland if you buy your ticket 90 days in advance; those fares can be as low as 30 Euro or so. So it pays to mark your calendar and be ready to buy when your dates come up. You can buy from these sites:

www.voyages-sncf.fr (if you can manage in French)
www.tgv-europe.com (But do NOT select North America for delivery or they will bump you to Raileurope, where prices are higher. Select Antarctica or some such)

Once in Switzerland, you may want to investigate the Half Fare Card -- it costs 110 chf and gives you half off practically everything that moves for one month. I've always found it to be the most economical option for my own trips.

Have fun!

swandav2000 is online now  
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Mar 13th, 2012, 06:33 PM
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Thanks! Sounds like point to point tickets combined with the Half Fare Card may be the way to go. I appreciate all the help.
johnboote is offline  
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Mar 13th, 2012, 07:11 PM
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You can check the Swiss fares at www.sbb.ch. They will have advance purchase sale prices also. For the Paris to Interlaken leg of the trip, it might be less expensive than the fare from French rail site. Can't say for sure, but it is worth checking. I found the Swiss site pretty easy to navigate and they e-mailed the tickets and I printed them from home. Last year, I went from Innsbruck to Zug and got a reduced fare on sbb.ch, the first class ticket ended up being less than I would have paid for a 2nd class ticket elsewhere. Sounds like you have a wonderful trip planned!
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