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Advice needed on booking CIS between Zurich & Milan

Advice needed on booking CIS between Zurich & Milan

Jul 10th, 2006, 08:41 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,479
Advice needed on booking CIS between Zurich & Milan

We (a family of 3 including 1 15 yr old) are flying into Zurich at 6.30pm on Sept 28th 2006 from Sydney Australia. We have booked a villa with two other families outside Lucca from Sept 29th. We plan to take the 7.09 am train to Milan and then on to Lucca via Prata or Genoa. These trains both get into Lucca within a couple of minutes of each other at 3.30pm.

Swiss Rail quoted the price for the train tickets by Swiss Rail of CHF 211 (AUD 229)

Tickets: (one way, 2nd class)
2 persons:
CHF 170.00 / Zürich - Milano, CIS

1 person, 15 years:
CHF 21.00 / Zürich - Milano, CIS*, Juniorcard
CHF 20.00 / Junior Card

Now my problem is that Swiss Rail will not sell international tickets by internet and direct all sales to Rail Europe and their affiliates.
"According to the General Conditions of Business, only residents of Switzerland and the countries of the European Union may effect purchases using the rail.ch-Ticket Shop facility.

You may submit your order to a travel agency accredited for the sale of public transport tickets in Switzerland. Please find a list of outlets under the following link:

You can also purchase your tickets at a train station on arrival in Switzerland."

The Australian affiliate has quoted AUD 102 per person plus a booking fee of AUD 30 for a total of AUD 332. They do not sell any childrenís or youth fares. Iím sorry but I donít want to pay a 33% surcharge.

Trenitalia website has quoted the equivalent of AUD 266 for the same trip but I have the quandary that the tickets will only be mailed to an Italian address or printed off at an Italian train station. I can book the Milan Lucca trip on Trenitalia and print off the tickets when we get to Milan. So that part is OK.

Can anyone advise if we would have problem buying tickets for the CIS train leaving on Friday, Sept 29 at 7.09am? Does that train book out? Alternatively, does anyone have any ideas on how I can access the Swiss Rail tickets at the posted rate prior to us leaving Australia.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Sarvowinner is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 08:48 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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www.cisalpino.com - check them for tickets - that said i don't think you'd have any trouble buying the Cisalpino tickets at Zurich airport train station so i'd put agnst to rest.
Cisalpino now runs all trains that run between Italy and Switzerland whereas previously only a few of the crack train services were cisalpino ("Chis-Alpino"). Reservations are required for international journeys but not for portions running in Switzerland.
PalQ is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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Thanks PalQ for the reassurance on buying tickets once we arrive in Zurich.

I looked at the Cisalpino site however it also doesn't issue tickets and directs queries to Rail Europe and its affiliates which doesn't help me.

It is an interntional trip (Zurich to Milan) we are taking so we will need reservations.

Is anyone very familiar with this route and seat availablity?

Sarvowinner is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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Thanks PalQ for the reassurance on buying tickets once we arrive in Zurich.

I looked at the Cisalpino site however it also doesn't issue tickets and directs queries to Rail Europe and its affiliates which doesn't help me.

It is an international trip (Zurich to Milan) we are taking so we will need reservations.

Is anyone very familiar with this route and seat availablity?

Sarvowinner is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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A friend of mine used to take the 7:09 Cisalpino out of Zürich to visit her boyfriend in Ticino. No reservation, nothing needed (within Switzerland). She say the train is half-empty. The reservations are formally needed for cross-border trips, but you can get them when you buy your ticket the day before. It is late september, so no need to worry.
altamiro is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 10:25 AM
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And there are many such Zurich-Milano trains - a nice scenic route via the Gotthard Tunnel - just before Goschenen look out for the church at Weissen - a nice thin steepled classic parish church that the train - blink, blink, blink again passes three times - each time going in an opposite direction as the rail line climbs by making circles inside the cliff, emerging to go by the same church at a higher level and due to the twisting on its second pass in the opposite direction! A nice trans-Alpine scenic line.
You just should have NO problem buying the tickets when you land.
PalQ is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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There is a train station in the Zürich Airport down on the lower level.
You can buy your tickets before you leave the building and have them in hand for the next day.

You will want seat reservations. In my experience is riding the Cisalpino trains the seats can fill up and you probably don't want your group separated.

brookwood is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 08:39 PM
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Thanks everyone for all your advice. We are looking forward to the trip throgh Switzerland - albeit it will be short & sweet. The last time I did it, we were two very naive 17 year olds girls who landed a ride in the backseat of one of those tiny fiats. We had to nurse our backpacks for the duration. It started pouring and the car kept breaking down. We didn't speak any Italian and our Scilian drivers finally dropped us in the night time in the miidle of nowhere We hiked for a couple of K to the nearest village, jumped on a train to Milan. This was the end of our European hitchhike adventre. Trains from then on. This trip will definitely be a little different.

Brookwood - are you suggesting that if we get reservations the night before we shouldn't have a problem? Because, if so, we are back to square one.
Sarvowinner is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 11:16 AM
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You do not need seat reservations for the stretch from Zürich to the Swiss-Italian border, but you do need them for the Italian portion of the Cisalpino.

As of Dec. of 2005 the Italian railways don't even sell the tickets separate from the seat reservations fee, it's a "pauschal" or "global" ticket now that includes both. There is indeed a discount for youngsters etc.

Question: Do you really get into ZRH from SYD at 6:30 PM? Not AM? I've done that, and never got in in the evening. Are you doing some circuitous route?

Reason I'm asking: You will need to go stand in line (can take a while) to get your tickets. The best time and place is on arrival at the ZRH airport - from the immigration and then (via baggage carousels) the green customs exit ("nothing to declare") you walk into the adjacent building, follow the signs "trains" up and over and down, and look for the SBB/CFF logo at the far end of the lobby, or ask - the railways agents will sell you what you need.

Don't leave it for the next morning, you wouldn't have time.

Also - why take the 07:09 - it's brutally early for a morning after your late arrival, and there are plenty more trains, and better ones.

For example, the 07:42 via Florence saves you changing trains in the huge and unwieldy and not family-friendly Milan station - and you won't need the other change in Prato. Goes direct from Zürich to Florence and you change to the train for Lucca, gets in at 16:30.

But even that is brutally early. The 09:09 still gets you there during daylight, again via Milan and Prato, arr. 18:30.

Don't wait to buy the tickets at the principal station in Zürich (called Hauptbahnhof, abbr, Hbf or HB), you'll have to take a number and wait and it can take a half-hour or much more before you get to step up to an agent. Do it at the airport, no matter how tired you are, then take a train into Zürich HB where I suppose your hotel will be, that's only a ten-minute ride or so.

Good luck.

WallyKringen is offline  
Jul 11th, 2006, 05:36 PM
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Hi Wally

Thanks for your advice - that's great feedback. I definitely going to buy our tickets at the airport.

Yes we are getting into Zurich at 6.30pm. We are using QF FF for this trip and leaving via Melbourne at 11.30pm - not am. We are travelling via Heathrow.

I looked at the 7.49 train but figured 40 minutes wasn't that much more sleep but I will take into consideration the fact we won't need to change trains in Milan. As we are staying in a villa and we have rent a car in Lucca, I didn't want to get there too late so that's why we haven't really considered the 9.09. Given your comments (and those from the other helpful fodorites), we will have a family conference to run through all the pros and cons.

Thanks again

Sarvowinner is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 01:51 PM
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Mate, that's a killer of a trip! In case you're amenable to a change that will preserve your health and prolong your life, check this out, mate:

Forget Zürich and the mad rush to get there only for a minimal night's sleep.

Instead, sleep off the long trip in London and the next day fly cheaply to Italy, from either Stansted or Gatwick. Here's how - but you have to act fast:

When you get to Heathrow, make your way to a hotel near the Stansted airport north of London (details to follow), have an early dinner and go to bed around 6PM. Get a ten-hour sleep and take a cab to Stansted airport to pick up one of these flights (note that there is 1 hr time difference between the UK and continental Europe - flights take one hour less than it appears).:

Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) lvg 06:30 arr Pisa 09:45, £107.31 total for the 3 of you.

Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) lvg 08:35 arr Pisa 11:45, £177.31 total for the 3 of you.

The train from Pisa airport to Lucca takes one hour, and that includes a change of trains in Pisa Centrale. While there, you might as well stash the bags with the deposito bagagli service and walk to the Field of Miracles where the cathedral and the wacky leaning tower stand - it's a good leg stretch at that stage, have something to eat in the city as you walk through, then pick up a regional train for Lucca after lunch - that takes all of 25 minutes.

Or you could take this flight from Stansted:

Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) lvg 07:15 arr Bologna-Forli 10:20, £107.31 total for the 3 of you.

There's a short bus ride into Bologna, and then the train from Bologna (with a change in either Florence or Prato) takes 2:10 to Lucca - again you could spend a bit of time in Bologna before going on, there are plenty of trains. Or in Florence... Once you have a ticket, you can break the journey, these are regional trains without reservations etc., except for Bologna-Florence where you'll need a seat assignment.

Or you could go from Heathrow to a hotel near Gatwick airport and crash out there, to pick up this flight:

Meridiana (www.meridiana.it) lvg LGW 09:45 arr Florence airport 12:45 €386.63 total for the 3 of you. (Note: Euros, not Pounds).

Then it's a short bus ride into Florence and a trainride of about 1:22 to Lucca.

After another good night's sleep, this time in Lucca, you should be over the jetlag. but if you do the Zürich bit, you'll lose at least another day before you become fully functional.

For transfer from Heathrow to Stansted, look at this bus:
or consider a chauffeured car that might not cost you much more for the three of you:
http://www.heathrowtransfers.net/ (and there are others I'm sure once you begin searching).

There are several options from Heathrow to Gatwick - use google etc., it will take about two hours or less.

The only snag in all of this: If you pack too much, you can't use these airlines. But you shouldn't have too much anyway, they sell anything you need in Italy - read the airline websites and follow the weight rules or it will cost you, just like it is with VirginBlue and Jetstar.

Happy trails

WallyKringen is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 06:21 AM
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Posts: 1,479
Thanks Wally

Wow, you put a lot of effort in with your suggestions. If we did not want to do the stopover in London, it would have been great. The thought of facing imigration etc. at Heathrow, pay for transport to and from the city for only one night Ugh, we would rather take the extra four hours of flying & transit time.
However, your comments made me focus on our flights. When we first booked, the late night flight fom Melbourne was the only FF award flight available. We have Virgin Blue flights down there in the afternoon. That was in March. So I went online today and there was three tickets available on QF 31 leaving Sydney, where we live, at 16.55 and getting into Zurich at 12 noon. Still the same length of time but a lot more convenient. The only problem was that I had only 13,200 points and as the ticket had to be rerouted (Sydney versus Melbourne) I needed 15,000 points. I couldn't use DH or DD's points as they had already transferred points to me in the last 12 months. Called my cousin who very generously transferred 5, 000 points.

At the same time, I went back into Trenitalia and found the Smart Price tickets on the 7.42 am train for a total of 59 euro or AUD 95.00. I hadn't realised the inconvenience of changing trains in Milan -now we are going right through to Florence. THanks for pointing that out. Hopefully, we can see some great scenery in Switzerland and Italy, and snooze in some of the less interesting parts of Italy.

Our very helpful landlord of the Villa in Lucca has let me use his address to send the tickets. He is then going to send them on to me.

So Wally & All - thank you for your advice and warnings.

I think those posting on Who uses travel agents should read this post to see what the Fodor's One Small Village can accomplish.

However, I won't even get started about our Ryanair flight that gets into Beauvais at 22.40pm. The bus connection doesn't get into Paris until after midnight.
Sarvowinner is offline  
Jul 13th, 2006, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,273
You're welcome. Just think of it this way: When you get into Paris, it's time to rise and shine in good ol' Sinny. That should cheer you up as you sink into bed after midnight!

Have a super trip!

WallyKringen is offline  

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