Land Travel Zurich to Zermatt

Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 03:38 PM
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Land Travel Zurich to Zermatt

Help!!!
My wife and I are travelling with 5, 10 and 12 year old children from Toronto Canada. We depart Toronto at 10:15 in the evening and arrive in Zermatt at 2:15 pm local time. How do we connect to the trains and deal with luggage? Is the train station far from the airport? Do they check luggage through even though we change trains? Or should we rent a automobile and drive?
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 07:52 PM
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Your question is confusing, as there is no air service between Toronto and Zermatt. However, I see from your other posts that you are flying into Zurich, and then taking a train to Zermatt. I assume you are on the Air Canada flight which arrives in ZURICH at 2:15 pm.

There is a train station inside the airport at Zurich. The airport train station is in the lower basement of the Zurich airport, follow signs that say "Bahn or Railway". You can buy tickets from personnel at ticket windows located near the escalators on the FIRST level down after arrivals. Personnel speak English, often better than yours. If you already have your Swiss Flexi pass, they can validate it for you (validation is required before you make your first train trip). Tracks are two floors down from the arrivals level. You can take luggage carts on the escalators all the way down to the tracks (a bit unnerving until you get used to it, just remember to let go of the handle so the brakes lock). From there you do have to lug them onto the trains and there are generally some stairs on the trains themselves, so two smaller bags or duffle bags rather than one large bag would be better.

Trains run rather frequently, take a look at rail.ch for schedules. The trip takes just under 5 hours, and requires 1-2 changes, depending on the train you take. There is a train at 4:15 pm that requires 2 changes that you could easily make. There is a train at 2:39 pm that only requires 1 change, however it would be quite difficult for you to make that train, but if your flight is early you might make it. (There is another train at 2:43 pm that also requires 2 changes, so I wouldn't rush to make that one.)

As for baggage, you have several options. As you are flying Air Canada and not a US airline, you may be able to check your luggage in Toronto and have it sent all the way to Zermatt. Please call the airline to determine if the Fly/Rail option is available (Lufthansa and Swiss offer it). However, it may take up to 8-12 hours before it will arrive in Zermatt, so you will have to either pack an overnight bag as a carry on, or be willing to wait that much time for your luggage.

If Air Canada does not participate in Fly/Rail baggage service, you can still use Swiss Rail's baggage service to send your bags on by themselves. You will first have to collect them at baggage claim and then bring them down to the railroad station yourself. However, Swiss Rail only guarantees delivery in 36 hours, so you may not want to wait that long. It could be delivered in less time of course, but they don't guarantee it. Take a look at http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/reisemarkt/...ck-schweiz.htm.

All that being said, IMO it is just as easy to take all your luggage with you. It will be a pain when changing trains and with 3 kids, but only for the 10 minutes or so when you are changing trains. If you pack using smaller pieces/duffle bags which the kids can carry, and this should not be a too much of a hassle. If you have ski equipment, then of course you are going to have more of a problem.

With 3 kids and luggage you could rent a car, but you might want a van instead. Drawbacks are (i) you can't use a car in Zermatt at all so you will be paying for it to sit for all that time in the parking lot (and paying for the parking as well) (ii) gas costs US$6 a gallon, (iii) car rental is not cheap, (iv) I am not sure I would want to drive to Zermatt after an overnight international flight with 3 kids in the car. The drive is not hard, but you don't know the roads, and you could have snow or rain, and you will also have to take the car tunnel at Kandersteg which is again not hard but can be confusing (one of the few places where a little German can help). Most imporantly it will be dark by 5 pm during ski season, so most of your driving would be in the dark, a real reason NOT to drive on top of jet lag, and together with all the above I would skip the car and just struggle a bit with the luggage on the train. If you do decide to rent, I would strongly recco that you overnight in Zurich on your arrival day and then drive out the next day in daylight and after you have had a good nights sleep.

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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 08:04 PM
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There is a train station downstairs in the Zurich airport. From there, it is about a 15-minute ride to Zurich HB, which is the main train station in Zurich.

I think that from Zurich HB, you can catch your train to Zermatt.( Don't have exact info on this because we were on the Zurich-St. Moritz train.)

I'd recommend taking your luggage with you. There are usually porters available, but even when they aren't, trains are typically scheduled so that you're only taking your bags across a small platform to meet your connecting train. We found all of this remarkably easy and simple.

On the train itself, there's room to store bags either by the front doors or in overhead compartments.

Have a great time!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 08:38 PM
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Please don't assume that you should just take the train to the main train station in Zurich; many trains to Zermatt from the airport go directly to Bern and then you change; if you just go to Zurich main station, you may end up waiting longer at the main train station for a train than if you take the right train from Zurich airport. It is best to look at the rail.ch timetable to determine what the best train is to take from Zurich airport.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 05:55 AM
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Hi travelwith3kids,

Just to add a note to Cicerone's usual great & thorough reply --

Even if your airline doesn't participate in the SBB Fly/Rail baggage service, you can use it. Raileurope (www.raileurope.com) sells the service for about $20 per bag. They send you customs paperwork and a clear plastic tag that you attach to your suitcase, then you just send your bag on the plane as usual. You can breeze through customs at ZRH and pick up your bag in Zermatt later. I'm not sure, though, if they will guarantee same-day arrival.

I did this twice: once with a big ski bag and once when I was travelling with my mom. It's an expensive luxury --

Good luck!

s
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:09 AM
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First of all, there are a few trains which can catch at the Zurich airport rail station which will take you toward Zermatt; however the majority of trains will require the short 15 minute ride from the airport rail station to the main rail station in Zurich itself where you will have to change.

You may very well have to change again somewhere such as Bern along the way but eventually, no matter which routing you take, you will have to make a final change in Brig and that's where things can get confusing so please read on...

In Brig, you not only have to change trains, you also have to change railroads and stations but this is not as hard as it sounds.

After getting off the train in Brig, go to the main entrance of the railroad station and out the front door.

Look across the street slightly to your right and you'll see the open-air platforms for the Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn which is the railroad that takes you up to Zermatt.

Cross the street and take the next train. the trip up from brig takes about 1 hr and 20 minutes.

Frankly, I'd bring the luggage along with me despite the changes. If you have rolling suitcases you'll probably have little problem.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 07:48 AM
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When you find the train you'd like to take, make sure you get a printout of the exact times and platforms you will be arriving on and departing on. This will help you to find your next train. You can get this printout on-line or at the train ticket counter.

Check out special rates for children. I believe children up to 12 can travel for free if parents purchase a children's train pass for SFr. 20.--. Definately worth your while.

There is a Migros grocery store near the airport train station. You can grab something to eat there and eat it on the train if you don't have time to sit for a meal.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 08:12 AM
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Just a couple of additional remarks:
1. Motor vehicles are not allowed in
Zermatt and must park at Tasch and take
rail the last few km's into Zermatt.
2. Some hotels have transportation meeting the rails, either small electric cards or horse drawn vehicles. The is also a seperate taxi service to
handle both people and luggage, check with your hotel for the best option.
3. A long drive after arriving in Zurich
would think be outof the question as to the amount of driving as it is just over
200 km from Zurich to Zermatt..4. If you can make the 12:32 train from Zurich HB with a change at Bern and again at Brig would be into Zermatt
just before 1700 hrs......Richard of LaGrange Park, IL>PS have used the Fly/Rail twice on Swiss to Grindelwald from Chicago and on one time the luggage arrived on the s ame train with changes in Zurich and Bern..Have of course packed a day pack in case it was delayed, tho always got the same day upon arrival... rjv
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 10:24 AM
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If you are arriving in Zürich at a scheduled 14:15, my estimate is that the first train you can take to Zermatt leaves the airport station at 16:13.
(As stated earlier, the train station is in the same building as the airport terminals. The tracks themselves are on the lowest level.)

Porters? I see them sometimes, but when you change in Bern, don't expect one to be standing there waiting for you.

You will not need to change trains in the main Zürich station. The trains departing from the airport go directly to Bern where you change for Brig.

If by chance your flight is early, you might make the 14:39 train from the airport which goes without requiring a change all the way to Brig.

Unfortunately, the next such train does not leave Zürich until the following morning.

This particular connection to Zermatt requires you to change trains at Bern and Brig.

The change at Brig is mandatory because a private rail line serves Zermatt and you have no choice. The change in Bern should be no problem if you don't have too much luggage that you are carrying.

You have 9 minutes in Bern to make the change, and the departing train is on the next track over, i.e. the train from Zürich comes in on track (gleis) #5 and you leave from #6. All you do is walk across the platform.

The route the train takes is from Bern to Kandersteg and then you go through a rail tunnel to the Valley of the Rhone.
Then the route goes through Visp to Brig where you change trains for Zermatt.
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