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Are Swiss Rail Fares That Cheap?

Old Apr 21st, 2003, 07:38 PM
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Are Swiss Rail Fares That Cheap?

I plugged a friend's itinerary into the railsaver.com price comparison and was surprised to see that a 2-week trip involving seven rail journeys didn't justify buying any type of Swiss rail pass.

SBB.ch won't quote the individual journeys (perhaps October is too far off), so I can't verify the prices quoted by Railsaver.

Are Swiss rail fares really that cheap?
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Old Apr 21st, 2003, 09:43 PM
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Considering the cost per mile, I don't think Swiss rail prices are all that cheap. The undiscounted cost is about half a franc a k, or about 35 US cents per K. That is about 50 cents a mile.
A train ticket from New York to Atlanta would run you about $450 at those rates. LA would be about $1500.

I don't which one of about a dozen Swiss rail passes you mean, nor do I have any idea of the trips you mean.

The undiscounted round trip fare from Geneva to Basil to Zuerich and back to Geneva is 167 chf per person in second class. They could then travel round trip to Interlaken Ost for 116 chf each. That is 281 chf each for two trips that cover a lot of Switzerland. They could still travel from Zuerich to Luzern for 39.60 for a total of 322.60 and still not have reached the break even point.

The half fare card is also a good deal.
The above trips would cost 150 for the card plus 161.30 for the trips for a total of 311.30 chf.
It would be slightly cheaper with the card, except for the half fare card you need a color photograph.

The Swiss Pass for 15 days is 349 chf per person with two adults traveling together. The pass is sold at 15% off when two buy together.

The trips above do not quite reach the breakeven point of the Swiss Pass.

I do not understand why you thought it necessary to get October prices. Swiss rail prices are stable for several months at a stretch and today's prices will give you a very good indication of what it will cost in October.

I doubt if Railsaver knows the October prices anyhow, so you would at least be comparing apples to apples.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 12:53 AM
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Having used a lot of passes for rail travel in Europe I always remind people that the more you travel the cheaper the pass becomes. What you also have to remember is that passes also provide a certain degree of convenience in terms of not having to go to the ticket window to buy tickets, etc. For some, that alone justifies the "extra cost" and for some it does not. I don't think anyone has ever said that the railroad consortium is LOSING money on passes and a lot of people who post here like to imply that passes are a waste of money. But that all depends on your own sense of value and convenience. There are a lot of people who think flying Business or First is a "waste of money" too so it all depends on what is most important to you.
 
Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 05:48 AM
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And don't forget that the Swiss Pass gives you lakeboats, those great Swiss Postal buses, and a lot of in-city transport, too.
 
Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 08:14 AM
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My math in my first post is a little off. I rechecked my figures and should have said 283 chf.
As other posters have said, there is always the opportunity to ride something else with a pass on a spontaneous basis. Jump on and go sort of thing which for me is a lot of the fun of ad hoc travel.

The trips I used in my estimate were close to the break even point for just one of the many Swiss Pass options. If you travel more than those trips in my estimate, the pass saves money.

I personally purchase the Swiss Card which is good for half off almost all travel, including mountain cable lifts. Best of all, for me, it includes a free trip from the border to my destination and back when I leave.
I will be coming from Munich this year so my trip from the border to my destination, Lauterbrunnen, is included in the cost of the card as is the trip out of the country.
The round trip fare from the near border town of St. Margarethen to Lauterbrunnen is 167 chf. The Swiss Card cost 170 chf.
I almost recover the cost of the card on the entry and exit trips alone!
Every thing after saves me 50%, so I figure the Swiss Card is a very good money saver.
I don't find buying tickets to be a chore, unless I find Mr. Snobbob at his window in Lauterbrunnen. He is the joker who refused to sell me a ticket from Lauterbrunnen to Vienna three years ago. Why? I have no idea. Must have been lunch time, or someone had put a tack on his stool and he was sitting on it.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 09:03 AM
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Hi Jean:

At the very least, get a second opinion from railsaver.com. When just starting to research my upcoming trip, I plugged my train itinerary in France and Italy into their site and got back that a three-country pass (France/Italy/Benelux) was my "best value." However, I later found out about the France & Italy pass which is quite a bit cheaper and was, in reality, my ACTUAL best value. After finding out about this pass, I went back to railsaver (out of curiosity more than anything else) and tried to get it to show up, but this pass never came up . . . no matter how many "different" ways I entered my information.

My suggestion is to go to the Rick Steves site. You can e-mail their "European railpasses" section with your question and a real, live person will e-mail you back an answer.

Good luck,
Jennie
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 09:08 AM
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Clarification: First line of my post should say: Get a second opinion OTHER THAN railsaver.com.

Sorry, trying to do too many things at once! =0)
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 11:25 AM
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Hi Jean,

I suggest you tell us which journeys by rail (or whatever) you want to do in Switzerland. There are so many experienced Switzerland travellers on this site - you will get a recommendation whether to buy a railpass or point-to-point tickets.

From my experience a Swiss Pass - or in your special case for 7 trips in 14 days a Swiss Flexi Pass - would be cheaper. A Swiss Half Fare Card is another option to consider, often the best one.

Enjoy your Switerland vacation,

Ingo
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Old Apr 23rd, 2003, 04:30 PM
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Thanks everyone. Wish this was my vacation, but alas I'm just helping a friend who is without computer...

She and her husband arrive Zurich. Train to Bern. Round-trip excursions from Bern (weather permitting) to Montreux/Lausanne and Interlaken/Grindelwald and hopefully up to Jungfraujoch and Wengen. Train to Luzern. Day excursions to Pilatus, Rigi, and/or other nearby spots. William Tell Express boat and train to Lugano. Possible round-trip day excursion to Locarno area.

No travel in Switzerland after Lugano.
Jennie, I did try to get a second opinion through sbb.ch, but the site wouldn't quote fares for October. I'll try again using earlier dates. I'll also try Rick Steves. Thanks for the clue.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 03:28 AM
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I had not time yet to calculate the p-to-p fares. (it works with today's date!) But the idea came up that a Swiss Half Fare Card for a month (99 Sfr.) would be cheaper. (Swiss Pass for 15 days: 349 Sfr.)

Reason: You get 50 % discount on ALL fares, also for mountain railways. The Swiss Pass offers a reduction of only 25 % for mountain railways. Even these are very expensive (Jungfraujoch, Schilthorn, Pilatus, Rigi etc.), so you can save a lot of money there.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 03:58 AM
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Hi Ingo and Jean. Ingo, does the Swiss Half Fare card give you 50% off on all trains, boats, buses, and in-city transport? (Just curious; I'll never give up my beloved Swiss Pass.) Affectionately, J.
 
Old Apr 24th, 2003, 07:27 AM
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hi jw!

The SHFC gives 50 % on all trains, boats, buses, but not in-city transport. I know that you e.g. in Zurich get a reduction, but it is less than 50%. In-city transport is not so expensive, so I don't really care about that.

And please note: Some cable cars in Graubünden (e.g. Davos region and some in the Engadine) do not accept the Half Fare Card. Only a very few.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 07:38 AM
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Ingo: Do the cable cards that do not accept Half-Fare Cards also not accept Swiss Cards (for the 50% discount)?
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 02:12 PM
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JoyceL: Difficult question. I'll try to find out and let you know.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 02:40 PM
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I just had a look at the map for the validity range for Swiss Pass/Swiss Card. I was quite surprised (not to say a bit shocked) that MANY cable cars in Graubünden do not accept these passes.

http://www.sbb.ch/pv/files/sts-map.pdf

Due to lack of space not all lines are indicated - but this is meant for postal buses, especially in the surroundings of cities. There is enough space for indication of cable cars in Graubünden! However, you will notice that the fares for those which do not accept passes are considerably cheaper - just compare the gondola Scuol - Motta Naluns to the gondolas around Grindelwald.

In case you stay more than only four days or so in Graubünden I highly recommend to purchase a Graubünden Regional Pass - it covers ALL mountain railways, regular trains, postal buses, cable cars etc. in this canton.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 05:26 AM
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Hello Jean,

Have you found the fares you?re interested in yet? If not, my ennui today led me to play with the sbb site. Here are the fares I could find for the trips you indicate. Note that the sbb didn?t give me fares for the Rigi & Pilatus trips, so I went to those websites. All fares are second class with the half-fare rate in parenthesis.

Zurich airport - Berne 47 chf (23.50 half-fare)

Berne - Montreux roundtrip 72 chf (36)

Berne-Jungfraujoch roundtrip 218.80 chf (107.90)

Berne-Luzern 30 chf (15)

Luzern-Rigi 58 chf (as best as I could determine from the website www.rigi.ch)

Luzern-Pilatus 78.40 chf (40) -- taking the golden roundtrip from website www.pilatus.ch

Luzern-Lugano 56 chf (28) by regular train; 163 chf (105) by William Tell

Lugano-Locarno roundtrip 33.20 chf (16.60)

Have fun!

s
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 04:55 PM
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Wow! Swandav, what a pal! Thanks for doing all that work. I'll pass this on to my friends -- this certainly answers the question of point-to-point tickets vs. rail pass. Thanks again!
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