Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Question for a Train Expert: Switzerland/Italy

Question for a Train Expert: Switzerland/Italy

Jun 18th, 2007, 03:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 48
Question for a Train Expert: Switzerland/Italy

We'll be arriving in Zurich on a morning flight from the U.S., and then taking a train to Interlaken, where we'll board a second train to Wengen that afternoon. My husband has already booked the train tickets. Does anyone know the best way to deal with luggage? We'll each have a carry-on and one suitcase. We want to keep our carry-ons with us, but have a concern about the suitcases. Can we check them and expect them to be reliably passed from train to train til we arrive at our final destination in Wengen, or should we keep all our luggage with us? This would mean that we board/deboard the trains all loaded up and go running through the station like pack animals--clumsy-looking, but safe and secure with all our stuff. Is there space in the passenger compartment to keep luggage near you? What's the acceptable procedure?

I expect that train travel in Switzerland will be as perfect as possible, but we'll be going from Zurich to Milan midway through our trip, and back again. Would the advice about checking bags be the same with Italy in the mix? Of course, in that case, we won't be leaving the train. If you check a bag at the train station in Milan, can you expect that it will arrive in Zurich?
JeanneE is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 04:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,088
Our trip to Switzerland last month was through Untours, and they provided green luggage tags that were attached before checking in at Dulles. Required info for the tags in addition to flight info was the name of the apartment and landlord in Kandersteg. Our flight arrived ZRH 0815 and our luggage arrived about 1900 in Kandersteg. It is not uncommon for it to arrive the next day. In our case, the landlord retrieved the luggage and brought it to the apartment.

You will have to contact your hotel or apartment landlord to obtain the green tags. I don't know the cost as it was included in the package.

Coming home it cost 20 SFR per piece to have the luggage sent from Kandersteg to the bahnhof at the airport. It had to be delivered to the Kandersteg station the day before our flight, and picked up at the baggage area the next morning.
ronkala is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 06:08 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 48
JeanneE is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 06:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,254
Hi JeanneE. We have taken the train from Zurich to Interlaken and onwards a number of times.

I don't know about checking the bags. Do you mean with the train station? I didn't know they did that.

We just schlep our bags with us onto the train, then off, then on again, however many connections it takes to get to where we're going.

If you are traveling by train 1st class, many times you will find space between the two opposite facing seats to shove a 21-inch roller, and then you can put the smaller carry-on in the overhead compartment.

If there is not sufficient space between the seatbacks, then there is usually a luggage rack on one end of each car.

For 2nd class, it is more crowded, and usually no space for storing suitcases between the seats. So here you would probably need to put everything in the back of the car.

We have never had a problem with solen bags, but we do watch to make sure ours do not get taken at the various stops that the train makes.

I do not think you will be clumsy-looking at all. In fact, you will notice most people schlep their own bags.

Happy travels!
kopp is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 06:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,120
I've visited Switzerland many times, have always traveled by train and usually take my luggage with me on the same route you're planning - Zurich-Interlaken-Wengen. It's not that big a deal unless you've got a huge heavy suitcase. If you can roll it or lift it, no problem. Most large train stations have both stairs and ramps leading up to the train platforms, but this is not the case at smaller stations.

Carting your luggage can be a pain, but it certainly can be done. It's been my experience on trains in Switzerland that there's often a large triangular space between the seats, which is perfect storage for large suitcases. There's also space at the end of the cars. Some trains also have a bike car, which is basically an empty train for bike storage - we've used these for our luggage as well.

You can also have your luggage transported unaccompanied within Switzerland, but I don't know if this would apply to the Milan portion of your trip. This site might help:

Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 06:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,120
Regarding the space between the seats for luggage storage - we always travel 2nd class and these areas DO exisit in 2nd class.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 01:27 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2,206
A check-through luggage exists ONLY in Swtzerland (not in other European countries like Italy).

>Can we check them and expect them to be reliably passed from train to train til we arrive at our final destination in Wengen

It will arrive in Wengen, yes. Some time within 48 h of your checking in. It costs 20 Fr per luggage piece.
altamiro is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 03:19 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
"...all loaded up and go running through the station like pack animals--clumsy-looking, but safe and secure."

You won't have any problems at all if you get to the stations early enough so there is no need for running to catch trains.

Plenty of room for luggage storage either above your head, under the seats, sometimes between the seats, and yes, if necessary at the end of the carriage.

I think you'll find luggage theft isn't an issue in Switzerland. We once left a paperback book on a train and a while later found someone had actually turned it in for recovery (by us) at our disembarkation station.
Dukey is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 03:39 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,120
According to the SBB link I posted earlier, they can transport your luggage to Germany, France, Luxembourg and Austria. No service to Italy, and since it takes four days, it's probably not much help anyway.

This is taken directly from the SBB site:

Travel lighter let us carry your bags for you!

Would you like to travel without having to lug bags around? We'll transport your luggage for you within Switzerland and a number of other European countries. And if you're flying, we'll take it from the rail station straight to the airport or even to the plane. Here's what we have to offer.

Baggage Switzerland.

Standard service: Within Switzerland we can deliver your luggage to, or pick it up from, any of 650 stations. Take your luggage to a station in Switzerland by 7.00 p.m. and collect it at your destination station two days later.

Fast baggage.

The same-day service: from and to 45 railway stations. Just check in your luggage by 9.00 a.m. and collect it again at your destination any time after 6.00 p.m. the same day.

Baggage international.

We'll also transport your luggage to Germany, France, Luxembourg and Austria. It will reach its destination within four working days (drop-off day + 3 days).

Check-in at the railstation.

Now you can check in your luggage at the railstation the day before your flight. And you'll be given your boarding pass with your requested seat straight away.

Fly Rail Baggage.

You can have your luggage sent from any airport in the world to your rail station destination in Switzerland via Zurich or Geneva airport.

FYI - We've used the SBB luggage transportation service within Switzerland once or twice and it worked really well.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 03:43 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549

Thanks for posting that info. However, two days waiting for luggage isn't always the best solution but for some probably accepatble.

We once tried to use the luggage service transfer for an airline departure from Geneva but found it doesn't work for every airline.
Dukey is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 04:46 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,254
Thank you, Melnq8, for clarifying about the shipped-thru luggage and also the 2nd class storage.

There is an image that will forever be etched in my brain from a trip back in the '80s. A group of 3 middle-aged women were trying to board the train at Interlaken, heading to Grindelwald.

Each woman had -- I kid you not -- 3 large suitcases. After they finally suceeded in getting on board, after much help from other passengers, one of them sat near me. I curiously asked how long of a vacation they were taking.

To which she replied, "We'll be gone a whole week!"

So JeanneE, how large are your suitcases?
kopp is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 05:38 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 48
Thanks, everyone, for all your help. My husband, who's traveled to Switzerland before, has never had to carry a suitcase--only his bike, so this is a new experience for him. He's used to the bike car, where you just toss the bike in and out from station to station, and he expected you could do the same with luggage. Having to wait up to 48 hours for the suitcases to show up is a bad idea, so we'll have to carry them with us. We have two 27", wheeled suitcases. They'll be heavy and difficult to put overhead, so it sounds like we'll have to put them at the end of the car. We'll be traveling second class and leaving next week. Will the trains from Zurich to Wengen be very crowded? I need something else to worry about.

JeanneE is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 06:22 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9,334
No, they shouldn't be. School is still in session and there are no public holidays.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 07:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,088

Fly Rail Baggage was the system we used in my previous reply.

We carried our luggage with us on the return trip because we were bringing so much chocolate home with us and didn't want it sitting out in the sun somewhere. Check the SBB timetable to see which train you can get with the fewest transfers.
ronkala is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 07:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,509
"Fewest transfers"---every 2 hours, there is a direct train from the airport to Interlaken. Otherwise, you must transfer at the main Zürich station, or Bern, or both.

Interlaken has 2 stations, West and Ost. Make sure you get off at Interlaken Ost, the second station. Transfer there to Lauterbrunnen, and from there to Wengen.

The minimum possible number of changes is two, if you catch one of those direct trains to Interlaken Ost. Otherwise, you have 3 transfers.
enzian is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 05:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,120
ronkala -

Sounds like you and I pack alike - more chocolate than clothes.

JeanneE - there is Fast Baggage service - drop off by 9 am and pick up by 6 same day at your destination. Of course, this won't help much if you arrive in Zurich after 9 am.

If you plan well and pack your carry on bag with everything you need for your first night or two, the two day service could work too.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 06:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,000

Most of your train questions are answered on this illustrated guide http://tinyurl.com/eym5b.

Your comfort level will all depend on the weight of your "suitcase." You carry your own stuff on European trains, not only on the trains but up and down stairs getting to the trains.
hopscotch is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 06:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,088

I made an appointment to tour the Frey chocolate museum in Buchs. After the tour we were invited to the sales room to taste tons of samples. We ended up buying a big bag of assorted types that totaled 92.00 SWF. They then gave us a twenty percent discount and invited us to the cafeteria for coffee and more samples. Target stores is or will be carrying some of their products. I have to get to Winchester or Front Royal to check it out.
ronkala is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 10:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,120
ronkala -

Unfortunately, I'm nowhere near a Target store (I live in Indonesia). We took a tour of the Lindt & Sprungli Chocolate Factory in Kilchberg once - not much of a tour really, just a museum and a film on the history of the company, but all those samples certainly made it a worthwhile stop for this chocoholic!
Melnq8 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:59 AM.