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Train Passes - Oh the confusion of it all!!!

Train Passes - Oh the confusion of it all!!!

Jun 22nd, 2008, 06:56 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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Train Passes - Oh the confusion of it all!!!

We are spending several days in the Berner Oberland area staying in Murren. We have read many posts regarding the trains and costs, but the more we read the more confused we are. What is the best pass for that region and why?
captainmoroni is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 06:59 AM
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Hi captainmoroni,

There is no set answer that will work for everyone; the answer will depend on exactly how much travelling is done.

Someone simply has to do the math: get the fares for each trip, add them up, and compare the sum to the varius passes.

You can get all the train fares at these two sites:

for most routes within Switzerland

for the mountain railways around the Jungfraujoch

Then compare to the various passes offered at:


Good luck!

swandav2000 is online now  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 08:46 AM
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Yes, it is a bewildering question until you start projecting with point to point prices on a spreadsheet. Don't automatically assume that a pass will save you money. It may; it also may not, because the benefits of any any pass are totally dependent on how and where you use it.

The times I have done the calculations, my own personal choices came down to two: The Swiss Card and the Swiss Half Fare card.

The two are similar with the primary differences being initial cost and trip coverage.

Both discount instruments will give you 50% reductions on just about everything on rails and cables in the Alps and on the Swiss National Rail System. (I have found 2 minor exceptions where the reduction was 25%.)

Other than cost, the major difference in the two cards that the Swiss Card includes is a trip in and a trip out of the country. For example, the year I came in by rail via Basel, I bought a German rail ticket as far as Basel. My Swiss Card covered the trip from Basel to Lauterbrunnen (south of Interlaken.) When we left the country, the card covered our train trip from Lauterbrunnen to the airport in Geneva.

Note that the arrival and departure points do not need to be the same.

In between, the card yielded 50% off every other transportation cost.

I know there are other passes, but for a visit that is localized to the Grindelwald - Lauterbrunnen - Wengen - Mürren area, I have found the 50% off deal to be hard to beat provided I did some riding on the Swiss national rail system.

So much of the decision is based on expectations that any change can alter the decision. If for example, you encountered a stretch of bad weather and did not take cable transportation at all, then the card probably would not be worthwhile.

On the other hand, if you ride everything in the mountains that you can find for 6 days, and travel by car everywhere else, the Jungfrau Pass might pay off a little better.

My own choice this year has become a function of a car rental misunderstanding with Auto Europe.
For the first time I thought I was not told accurately what I was getting. As a result we will need to take the train from Interlaken to Zürich - Airport, but we arrive by car.

The end result is that the half fare card is the better deal for us this year because of the 50% reduction in the cost of the train ticket to Zürich.

bob_brown is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 10:06 AM
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On my trips to Switzerland I don't move around enough to make any kind of a pass worthwhile. You really need to know how much you're going to use the train, to answer your own question.
suze is online now  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 10:45 AM
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If you are coming to the BOB from Zurich or Geneva airports then almost always in my calculations the 3-day Swiss Flexi pass or 4 or 8-day consecutive pass is probably your best option.

If arriving in BOB by car no.

For lots on Swiss trains and Swiss Passes explained i always refer folks to three great sources: www.swisstravelsystem.com - represents Switzerland's scenic trains, boats (like on lakes bookending Interlaken), postal buses, etc.; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - the latter two having lots on Swiss trains and passes apart from the usual price list and an 'Add to cart button' - on the budgeteurope site you can download their free European Planning & Rail Guide with a good chapter on Switzerland and lots on the BOB.

Compare pass prices and regular tickets and Half-Fare card at www.sbb.ch

If doing a pass be sure to buy it before Switzerland where the same passes i see are a lot lot higher in price due to Swiss Franc rising so much recently i guess.
PalenQ is online now  
Jun 24th, 2008, 01:39 PM
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With the 3-day flexipass in between the first and third days of 100% covered travel you get 50% off everything that moves in Switzerland practically - same as half-fare card - so the 3 unlimited travel days of 100% coverage often more than make up the difference in price between the pass and the half-fare card. Swiss Pass also cover 100% over 400 Swiss museums and attractions, such as the popular Ballenberg one in the Berner Oberland - a $20 entry fee waved with the pass ona 100% travel day.
PalenQ is online now  
Jun 29th, 2008, 09:28 AM
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If you are going to the BOB by car then consider the Half-Fare Card but if going to Zurich and back by train then strongly look at the Swiss Pass, which seems a better deal - the 3-day Flexipass - but it depends on what you may do with the 3rd unlimited 100% covered travel day - and there are lots of great excursions in the BOB that are covered 100% by the pass - such as boat rides on Lakes Thun and Brienz (if going to the popular Ballenberg Open-Air museum near Brienz then the train, boat, postal bus to the museum from Murren would be covered in full as well as the $20 or so museum entry fee.

And since travel to Murren is covered in full, including the aerail cableways from Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg the Swiss Pass would take you from Zurich to Murren with 100% coverage and back.
PalenQ is online now  
Jun 29th, 2008, 03:30 PM
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And to me the Swiss Card is hard to be your best deal in any scenario IMO as it costs not that much less than the 3-day Swiss Flexipass and gives you no 3 days of 100% covered travel. And in those 3 days most folks will more than recoup the minimal difference in price between the Swiss Card and Swiss Flexipass -3 days/1 mo. Both give you 50% off in between the 1st and last day of use.
PalenQ is online now  
Jun 30th, 2008, 11:34 AM
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Swiss Card costs $159 and gives two trips from any border point or airport to any train station in Switzerland by the most direct route. Then like the Swiss Pass gives 50% off practically everything in Switzerland between the first and last day of use.

so the difference is $20 p.p. and you do not get the 3rd 100% covered travel days and many folks, even if just in the BOB, would do an excursion that costs $40 or more (or $20 at half-off) and many would do a third day at much more than $40 IME

and the Swiss Card is specific about most direct route. Thus if from BOB to Zurich you'd it seems have to take the most direct route - via Bern - and not the scenic longer timewise route via the Brunig Pass and Lucerne - where you can easily stop off for a few hours and proceed onto Zurich. Swiss Cards would benefit the few who just want to go skiing or hiking in one area, say Wengen and never use trains, boats, etc. in Interlaken area and then once done skiing, etc. return to Zurich - saving $20 over the Swiss Pass in that to me not likely case for the average tourist.

PalenQ is online now  

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