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New benefits for Swiss Half Fare Card holders?

New benefits for Swiss Half Fare Card holders?

Old Mar 12th, 2019, 01:51 PM
  #1  
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New benefits for Swiss Half Fare Card holders?

Not a stranger to Swiss rail/train travel or the rather confusing and seemingly ever-changing Swiss transport passes, but I just ran across a new (to me) offering:

The Month Rail Pass (Monatskarte / Carte mensuelle), which is valid for unlimited travel on the Swiss public transportation network for one month within a given year for 420 CHF per person (second class) 690 CHF (first class).

My understanding is that the month long pass can only be purchased in conjunction with a one year Half Fare Card (185 CHF).

We'll be in Switzerland for 25 days in October, and we were actually considering this option, but aren't convinced that it will be cost effective for us - but we might crunch the numbers just out of curiosity (605 CHF per person, including the 185 CHF each for a year long Half Fare Card, which would only benefit us if we returned to Switzerland within a year, a possibility, but not a forgone conclusion).

Another new 'benefit' I've just run across is that holders of the Half Card Card (not clear if this only applies to the one year card or also works with the 30 day card) are eligible for discounts of 15% on German and Austrian rail tickets for cross border journeys provided that the tickets are bought inside Switzerland. I've long thought that Swiss travel passes already covered transport to the nearest bordering station, so I'm unclear if this is actually a benefit or a downgrade.

New to me is also the Swiss Pass (not to be confused with the former Swiss Pass that is now called the Swiss Travel Pass which covers just about everything in Switzerland that moves for 3-15 days of consecutive travel). From the SBB site:

The Swiss Pass is a new transportation and travel card system used in Switzerland. It allows bearers to add all manners of transportation including travel passes for trains, buses, ski passes, and other services onto a single card and manage the accounts online. A new Swiss Pass is CHF 30 or free when a half-fare card is bought.

I'm not clear on the benefit of a Swiss Pass for visitors - it just seems like a document for storing multiple passes - can anyone here enlighten me?

I guess the point of my post is to determine if the above changes are indeed new for 2019 and if anyone here has any experience with them.
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Old Mar 14th, 2019, 10:25 AM
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"Month Rail Pass (Monatskarte / Carte mensuelle), which is valid for unlimited travel on the Swiss public transportation network for one month"
It's just a upgrade of the Swiss half Fare Card to a Swiss Pass GA (Generalabonnement/abonnement général) for 1 month. It makes only sense if you travel a lot within this month, otherwise it remains more advantageous to buy Saver Day Passes for 29 CHF.

Swiss Pass is the actual name for the former Generalabonnement and Halbtaxabonnment. Since a few years, you can integrate ski lifts and other things into this Card (and pay for, or course). Swiss Passes can only be read electronically (by the train staff).

The 15 per cent discount for Swiss Pass holders on standard fare tickets from Basel SBB, Schaffhausen, Konstanz, Romanshorn ferry, St. Margrethen, Buchs SG to Germany resp Austria isn't new, but not too useful, as it's usually not too difficult to get highly (much more than 15 per cent) discounted tickets on the DB and OeBB websites (and for trips like Konstanz - Munich or Basel - Mannheim, Flixbus is much cheaper anyway).
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Old Mar 14th, 2019, 01:46 PM
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Thanks for that neckervd. Does the Half Fare Card apply for the Saver Day Passes?
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Old Mar 14th, 2019, 02:42 PM
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It's just a upgrade of the Swiss half Fare Card to a Swiss Pass GA (Generalabonnement/abonnement général) for 1 month. It makes only sense if you travel a lot within this month, otherwise it remains more advantageous to buy Saver Day Passes for 29 CHF.

29 is half-off right - so they'd have to have it to get 29CHF or half-off?
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 02:18 AM
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Yes. Otherwise it would cost 52 CHF
https://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-an...-day-pass.html
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 07:00 AM
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Thank you neckervd. I've never used a day pass nor have I stacked passes (meaning used one to buy another). I'll look into it to see if they might come in handy on our October visit.

And while I've got you here, what do you think about a base in Lax, Mörel or Fiesch for those of us looking for a quiet village with at least one grocery store, a few restaurants/cafes, nice scenery and easy access to the Aletsch Arena for several days of hiking? We'll be traveling exclusively by train and bus, and will probably make a day trip to Brig to check out the old town on one of our four full days in the area. We might buy the three day Altesch hiking pass (45 CHF each with Half Fare Card) and spend most of our time exploring the trails and viewpoints of the Aletsch Arena.

This trip is coming together nicely, and much easier than the last one - I've already made accommodation bookings in Adelboden, Flims and Soglio.

Still working on the Altesch area, debating between Sils and Scuol and choosing a spot for our last two nights near Zurich (still need to explore all the great suggestions for that up thread).
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 11:15 AM
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Moerel, Grengiols, Lax, Fiesch:
Grengiols is the most authentic and quiet one, but - as said above - 990 metres above Sea level and 100 metres above the train station. 2 restaurants and a VOLG grocery. https://www.grengiols.ch/gemeinde/de/grengiols/gewerbe
Moerel isn't a gem and most accommodation is along the noisy road (Brig - Ulrichen - Meiringen/Andermatt/Airolo). Several restaurants and a Coop Supermarket. Accomodation at Moerel Breiten is better but (again) some 100 metres above the railway station. There is also accommodation at Ried Moerel, 400 metres above Moerel with frequent gondolas to both, Moerel railway station and Riederalp.
The old village of Lax is nice, but Hotel Gomesia is a bit too close to the noisy road (see above). 2 restaurants, but no shops at Lax (Fiesch is too close).
Fiesch consists of a tiny old nucleus around the church and a lot of newer houses and chalets. Migros and Coop supermarkets. Many hotels, holiday flats and restaurants. Those along the Furkastrasse (same road as mentioned above) can get noisy. The rather modern tourist settlement Fiesch Feriendorf (southernmost part of the village) has it's own railway station.
Trains Brig - Moerel - Grengiols - Lax - Fiesch every 30 min.

East of Fiesch, you find 2 untouristy old and unspoilt villages:
Ernen: bus from Lax - Fisch every hr (10 min journey), 2 restaurants, VOLG grocery.
Muehlebach: 5-10 min on foot (pedestrian rope bridge over the Rhone river) from Fuergangen railway station (trains to Fiesch - Brig and to Oberwald - Andermatt every hr); no shops AFAIK.

Aletsch area: there are tons of well signmarked hiking trails, but if you wlak/hike from Riederfurka visitor's center (above Riederalp West) along the Aletsch Glacier to Lake Marjelensee and back via Fiescheralp - Bettmeralp to Riederalp, you have seen almost ever thing. It's easy to do this hike in 2 days and to go back to your accommodation at hte end of day 1 thanks to the many lifts in the area.
Other nice hikes in the area:
Fiescheralp - Lake Marjelensee - Burghitta - Aspi Rope Bridge - Obflieh - Bellwald (gondola to Fuergangen train station);
Riederalp - Riederfurka - Rope Bridge - Oberaletsch - Hotel Belalp - Belalp gondola (to Blatten, then bus to Brig);
Ried Moerel - Riederi (water channel trail) - Gragg - Blatten bei Naters (bus to Brig);
Lax - Ritena - Water channel trail - Riten/Fieschertal (bus to Fiesch);
Furggulti (to reach by gondola from Fuergangen train station via Bellwald) - Mittelsee - Wirbulsee - Lengsee - Brusee - Biel railway station;
Bellwald - Bieligertal - Reckingerbach - Muenster railway station (Gommer Hoehenweg);
Fuergangen - Rope Bridge - Muehlebach - Trusera water channel trail - Binnegga - Ausserbinn - Steinmatten - Binn;
Grimselpass bus stop - Jostsee - Lengsee - Rundsee - Uelisee - Obersts Seewji - Truetzisee - Galehitta - Muenster railway station;
etc. etc......
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 11:30 AM
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Wow neckervd, you've gone above and beyond. Interesting that you mention Ernen as we'd found a promising apartment there.

Perhaps a two day hiking pass will be sufficient, then a day in Brig, and if, feasible, I've been hankering to walk across this bridge near Zermatt (all would be done from one base village):

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/trave...dge-180964275/
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Old Mar 15th, 2019, 11:52 AM
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Another vote for Ernen, if you don't mind the extra bus ride (last bus 9 pm on workdays/7 pm on weekends). It is a very beautiful, unspoilt village.
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Old Mar 18th, 2019, 04:07 AM
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....and if you missed the last bus: the walk from Fiesch Feriendorf railway station (upwards) or from Fuergangen railway station (downwards) takes about half an hour.
BTW: the Kuonen suspension bridge is some 700 metres above Randa railway station. Nice for people who like steep ascents. The access from Sunnegga rope railway station (Zermatt) is much longer but more panoramic and all more or less at the same altitude.
But if you go to Ernen,try first the Suspension bridge over the Rhone river between Fuergangen railway station and Muehlebach (or the more popular one between Riederfurka and Belalp).
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Old Mar 18th, 2019, 05:55 AM
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Thanks again neckervd and Ingo. I think we've decided against Ernen as a base due to the extra bus ride and once hourly schedule. I've looked at dozens of apartments and the majority seem to be in Fiesch, but we're having trouble avoiding the road you mentioned.

Found a nice one in Lax, but it's also in a busy spot per the reviews (on a hiking trail with lots of passersby) so we're now considering one in Fieschertal, but not sure if that makes sense either.

Even with a map it's proving difficult to get a good feel for the area.

Found a really nice place in Grengiols, but that uphill walk just to get to town is discouraging. The 990 meter elevation certainly isn't an issue though (we live at 8,400 feet).
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Old Mar 20th, 2019, 06:24 AM
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Booked the place in Grengiols. Looks quiet and off-the-beaten path...and a bit uphill, but we're used to that.
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