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Figuring out train fares--please help!!

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Hi,

I'm trying to determine if it's better to get a train pass or just buy as I go along. I know Rail Europe's fares are higher than buying in the country, but when I go to the Italian and Swiss rail sites, not many fares are available for my destinations. I might be doing something wrong, but I don't think so, when I input the information. I would like to find out the fares for:
Siena to Luzern 8:10-17:38 Sept 17
Luzern to Murren 18:35-21:27 Sept 18
Interlaken to Milan 9:40-13:50 Sept 21

Also, it is possible to get a discount on the trips up to Schilhorn with a rail pass? I believe the answer is yes, but I wanted to double check. And I recall reading that the mountaintop excursions needs to be paid in cash. Does my memory serve me correctly?
If anyone can help me, I would be very grateful. Thanks.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Linda, you are trying to make the toughest travel decision I know of because the data just are not there!
    The only train website that gives international prices is the SNCF, and it only gives them for trips that originate within France. (or terminate).
    The Swiss seem unsure what to tell you.
    At times, you can get prices and at times you cannot. The cost from Luzern to Lauterbrunne is 31.20 chf. But the ^*&* system will not give the whole thing. Why? Because the transportation line from Lauterbrunnen to Murren is privately held; it is not part of the Swiss Federal System.
    The system does give the cost of the Schilthorn trip; it is 89 francs round trip. Sort of steep [no pun intended].
    Discount cards do help and the amount depends on which one you have.
    The point in your thinking should be this: will I amortize the cost of a discount card? Probably not.
    The best you can do on the Schilthorn trip is 50% off the list price, with one slight exception.
    A Swiss Card is 160 chf. So you would need to purchase 320 chf worth of tickets to break even. Of course the Swiss Card does provide a free trip from where you enter Switzerland to your destination. But, you need it before you get there, or arrive at an airport and purchase the card before you start riding trains. The Swiss pass for 4 days is 196 chf if two people travel together. It gives some discount on the Schilthorn trip, but I don't recall the exact amount.

    The Schilthorn trip can be included on a Berner Oberland Pass. Here, you could take the leg as far Murren as part of a free day. BUT, the last leg, and the most expensive part, from Murren to the top is NEVER free; 50% off is the best you can do. (As far as I know.)
    I recall that the Eurail type of pass got you a 25% discount on the Schilthorn and the Jungfrau trips. That was one reason I got the Swiss Card: It gave me 50% off and I used it extensively.

    The Berner Oberland Regional Pass is amortized if you take the 4 most expensive rides in the immediate region around Grindelwald - Lauterbrunnen. But that is a lot of riding in a short period of time. (But the last leg of the Schilthorn trip and the last leg of the Jungfrau trip are never free; 50% off is the best you get.)
    I paid with a credit card last year when we went to the Schilthorn. (I just checked my year end summary, and it was on there.)

    Rail Europe is not much help because it does not have a lot of the routes in its data bank, and its prices are so much higher than the same ticket bought in Europe that I don't understand how they can continue to function. I guess so many people in the US are scared witless of buying tickets in Europe that they will pay premiums of 40% or more to RE just for the security of having the ticket in hand. Or, they just don't know the market and do not realize that RE is much more expensive.

    Wish I could help more, but those prices are not available unless you want to start making phone calls to Europe.

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    Hi Linda

    Oh, I know about your confusion. I'm trying to make decisions about a European trip and have been to the Italian, French, German and Swiss rail sites. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and none has the complete picture!

    This site may help in your planning. One caveat: they may be in business to sell passes, so take the information with a grain of salt.

    When you have decided the best thing to do, will you post here so we can learn too?

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for coming through again. I didn't realize the portion from Lauterbrunne to Murren was operated on a private line, hence no fares on Swiss Rail's site. From a very rough estimate using fares in Lira, CHF and according to Rail Europe's point to point prices, it seems a Eurail Selectpass may be the best option. However, I've written Rail Europe to verify I'll be able to use a Eurail Selectpass between Lauterbrunne and Murren. I'll post their response as soon as I find out. Thanks again for the very detailed reply!

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