Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (https://www.fodors.com/community/)
-   Europe (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/)
-   -   Rail Pass Help (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/rail-pass-help-1019107/)

jojoseph Jul 5th, 2014 04:33 PM

Rail Pass Help
 
I am completely lost here and could use some advice. We will be traveling from Milan to Montreux. We will be in Switzerland for 7 days and I have calculated that a half fare pass would be our best choice. If I buy the pass and have it shipped before we leave I'm not sure how to use it for our first trip. Since we'll be traveling from Italy how do I validate the pass? I looked at the schedule on sbb and we travel from Malpensa to Domodossola to Brig then to Montreux. Thanks in advance for any help!

mokka4 Jul 5th, 2014 06:32 PM

I, too, have been investigating various Swiss passes for my next trip. I am finding www.myswissalps to be very useful in answering questions. According to THEIR info, the HFC can be validated on board by train conductor when entering Switzerland from international destinations. If course, you will be responsible for the cost of transport to the first Swiss border town. Hope this helps.

spaarne Jul 5th, 2014 08:06 PM

<i>Rail Pass Help
Posted by: jojoseph on Jul 5, 14 at 8:33pm Posted in: Europe
If I buy the pass and have it shipped before we leave I'm not sure how to use it for our first trip. Since we'll be traveling from Italy how do I validate the pass? I looked at the schedule on sbb and we travel from Malpensa to Domodossola to Brig then to Montreux.</i>

According to the DB site http://tinyurl.com/7r9hnxf Domodossola is the end of the line in Italy. You get off the train, walk 10 minutes, and take a bus to Brig. At Brig you take a train to Montreux. You should be able to validate your pass before getting on the bus. Contact the sales agent for your pass. If you haven't bought your pass yet I suggest that you contact http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/ for great service. If you need an introduction to traveling on European trains see http://tinyurl.com/eym5b, illustrated.

swandav2000 Jul 5th, 2014 09:28 PM

Hi jojoseph,

Unless something has changed, there is no "validation" for the Half Fare Card. You simply must have it on your person when the conductor looks at your ticket; I usually hand the train ticket and the HFC to the conductor at the same time.

The HFC will have the dates that it's valid for written on it.

I've been using the HFC for all of my trips to Switzerland for about 10 years.

Have fun as you plan!

s

jojoseph Jul 6th, 2014 05:25 PM

Thanks for all the info and especially the links! So does that mean I buy a ticket just to Domodossola in Italy and then buy my next ticket in Switzerland? Also, how do you know if a ticket you buy needs to be validated or not?

I have planned out most of our trip. We're spending 2 days in Montreux then 5 days in Wengen then 2 days in Milan with a day trip to Lake Como. I feel comfortable with most of our plans except the transportation. This is very new to us and a tad intimidating!

mokka4 Jul 7th, 2014 08:04 AM

I'm not unserstanding where your trip commences, but yes, Domodossola would be the border station, so you would pay from wherever the trip in Italy started to D.
Using your HFC at either a self-serve kiosk (if the town has one) or at the ticket counter, you would then purchase the discounted ticket for D. to Montreux.

When using the HFC for tickets, either at the self-serve kiosk or at the counter, you will be purchasing tickets for travel on a specific date (i.e. good for travel on one day). These tickets do not need to be validated. If you buy a ticket for an unmanned train (no conductor on board), there will be a big EYE icon on the platform with a little orange check stamp macine under it, where you insert your ticket to date-stamp it.
OR, if you were to buy a multi-day or limited hour city ticket, you would validate that to show start of usage.
BY AND LARGE, with HFC and tickets, most do NOT need to be validated.

PalenQ Jul 7th, 2014 08:18 AM

anyone contemplating a Half-Fare Card should also look at a Swiss Card which gives you everything the Half-Fare Card does but also two train trips - one from any border station or airport to any place in Switzerland - Domodossola to Montreux in your case and then a final train trip to any airport or border point

and in between you get 50% off everything the Half-Fare Card gives you - for some the Swiss Card may thus be cheaper overall or more beneficial economically than the Half-Fare Card.

And the Swiss Card, like Swiss passes, can be activated on the train if coming from Italy so you do not have to get off if you're on one of the relatively few trains these days that go thru the border - you often now must change at Brig.

Anyway for lots of great info on Swiss trains and passes, cards, etc. I always spotlight these IMO superb sources: www.swisstravelsytem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com.

If finding Swiss Cards a better deal (it would perhaps depend on your final train trip from Montreux to Geneva may not cost that much) - you can order it from RailEurope and its agents in the U.S. for about the same price or perhaps less often IME than from Switzerland, where I think you may have a mailing fee - many U.S. agents don't charge fees.

PalenQ Jul 7th, 2014 12:15 PM

Many trains now have you changing in Brig so you can easily buy your Half-Fare or Swiss Card or Swiss Pass (which I would not dismiss) right at the ticket window - no mailing fees - no refunding in case trip plans unexpectedly get cancelled.

Melnq8 Jul 7th, 2014 06:54 PM

Like swandav2000, I've never validated a Half Fare Card.

I purchase them when I arrive, and because I use them immediately, they're dated to begin that day, and therefore validated.

It's a bit different if you purchase the pass before you arrive in Switzerland:

Per the MySwissAlps.com website:

<<<<<Card validation

You need to make sure that the Swiss Half Fare Card is valid before you start traveling. Depending on where you purchased the card, one of the validation (or: activation) processes below will apply:

1) You can validate the card yourself. This is the case if there is no area on the card that requires a stamp from the Swiss Railways, and if the start date of the card is already printed on it. You will need to fill out a few details: usually the names and passport numbers of all travelers, and their countries of residence;

2) Your card needs to be validated by railway personnel. This is the case if there is an area that requires a stamp from the Swiss Railways, and if the start date of the card is not filled out yet. You can have the card validated at a staffed Swiss station or by personnel on board international trains bound for Switzerland.>>>>>

swandav2000 Jul 7th, 2014 09:29 PM

That's good to know, Melna8!

I usually buy my HFC ahead of time, and it arrives in the mail. However, I buy the 1-year version, and it has the dates it's valid printed on it.

s

PalenQ Jul 8th, 2014 06:42 AM

Also, how do you know if a ticket you buy needs to be validated or not?>

regular tickets must be validated I believe by yourself before boarding the train (in Switzerland) - there is a cancelling machine you stick the ticket into to cancel it - many Swiss trains run on the honor system without ticket checkers (conductors) but there are spot checks.

But if you have a Swiss Card or Half-Fare thing then you have to go to the ticket window and buy a ticket so just ask about that then and the seller can validate it for you too.

swisscat Jul 8th, 2014 07:15 AM

>>> 1) You can validate the card yourself. This is the case if there is no area on the card that requires a stamp from the Swiss Railways, and if the start date of the card is already printed on it. You will need to fill out a few details: usually the names and passport numbers of all travelers, and their countries of residence;

Slightly confused by this - "the names and passport numbers of all travelers" - we will have 4 half fare cards (and JF passes when we get to the hotel) and a family card for our 14 year old. Surely we don't need to fill out all travelers' details on each pass - just the details relevant to that individual pass?
I know that we have to carry our passports when travelling by train etc for ID but do we need to carry them all the time -e.g when on a hike, or walking through the village etc?

PalenQ Jul 8th, 2014 08:52 AM

I know that we have to carry our passports when travelling by train etc for ID but do we need to carry them all the time -e.g when on a hike, or walking through the village etc>

No not IME - no one will check your ID and some folks prefer leaving them in their hotel room for security against accidentally losing them I guess. I always carry mine because I am a lone traveler and it has relevant ID in case I... whatever happens to me.

jojoseph Jul 8th, 2014 10:53 AM

swandav2000 , I'm planning on ordering our half fare card prior to leaving. Are you saying yours had the start date on it and you didn't need to validate it? The reason I'm ordering it in advance is because we're flying into Milan then going to Switzerland and I figured it would be easier for us to already have it, especially since the trains will be new to us.

PalenQ Jul 8th, 2014 11:23 AM

the general rule with passes and I would think the Half-Fare Card falls under that is that if you are coming into Switzerland on a train that goes thru the border the conductor will validate that for you on the train. This is definitely in the conditions of use for Swiss Passes so you do not have to get off the train to validate and thus miss going on on that train.

What is the mailing fee for Half-Fare Cards - I guess if not much it is worth the peace of mind but I do believe the conductor is to validate it for you in those circumstances.

bvlenci Jul 8th, 2014 11:31 AM

Unless you're planning to spend time in Domodossola, you can get direct Eurocity trains from Milan to Brig (or even to Montreux). Your Swiss half-fare card is probably not valid on Eurocity trains, but the full-price fare from Milan to Brig is only €36, and the trip takes about half as long as the transfer to a bus in Domodossola and then a Swiss train. If you buy your tickets early enough, you can get the Smart fare on the Eurocity train for €19, so you might save as much money as you would with the Swiss half-fare card. I'd rather spend the extra euros rather than waste so much time and all that changing from buses to trains.

You can buy the Eurocity tickets on the Italian rail site, and print out an e-ticket:

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...005817f90aRCRD

You can also get them on the Swiss rail site, but do that only if you can print the tickets. When I last bought tickets on the Swiss rail site (about 4 years ago), some of their tickets had to be picked up at a station in Switzerland, which obviously you couldn't do if you're departing from Milan.

Melnq8 Jul 8th, 2014 04:58 PM

swisscat -

The last time I bought a Half Fare Card was from the ticket office in Zurich - it was a single document with each traveller's name and passport number written on it. Same for every Swiss Pass I've ever purchased, it's always been a single document with space for each traveler's name and passport to be entered.

<I know that we have to carry our passports when travelling by train etc for ID but do we need to carry them all the time -e.g when on a hike, or walking through the village etc?>

I never have.

In all my rips to Switzerland, of which there have been many, I've only been asked to show my passport when entering the country, purchasing train passes and once at a casino.

Chances are though, you'll have reached that hike or village via train or bus, so you'll have them with you anyway. We just keep them in a backpack.

PalenQ Jul 9th, 2014 03:46 AM

and the trip takes about half as long as the transfer to a bus in Domodossola and then a Swiss train>

Bus transfer - there appears to be one of two of many daily trains requiring a bus transfer to Brig - zillions of trains change directly to another train, either in Domodossola or Brig so ignore bienvci's misinformation about having to transfer to a bus - peruse schedules and avoid the very very few links requiring a bus transfer.

tipsygus Jul 9th, 2014 04:49 AM

Re the question about carrying or not carrying your passport at all times. Having visited Switzerland now for over 40 years I carry mine on me. Why only because on two occasions have I been asked for my passport on the trains.

I don't have a money belt and when I'm out I have system for where I carry my passport in my back pack. I am also very conscious of my personal space. If I'm eating out my back pack sits on a seat beside me or on the floor with my foot on it.

swandav2000 Jul 9th, 2014 06:15 AM

Hi again,

Yes, that's what I'm saying. I buy the 1-year version and not the 1-month version, and when I buy it, it has a start date and an end date. It is automatically valid between those dates, and I don't have to do anything more.

When you ordered yours, did you give the dates for it to be valid? When it arrives, look to see if it has the valid dates printed on it. If not, then you need to look at Melnq8's post on 8 July.

s


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:05 AM.