Train travel on Christmas Eve from ZRH

Old Aug 17th, 2008, 06:32 AM
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Train travel on Christmas Eve from ZRH

We will be flying into Zurich the morning of Christmas Eve & taking the train for 3 hrs to a ski resort near Brig. We will purchase a roundtrip ticket. I've flown into ZRH many times & bought my train ticket after getting my luggage with no problem, but with it being a major holiday I have some questions. Will the trains be crowded? Should we buy tickets in advance (Swiss Card or Swiss Tranfer Ticket) or wait until we arrive that morning? I usually buy the 2nd class ticket and go to the dining car. Will the dining car be full at that time of year? Should we buy 1st class or 2nd to avoid crowds or to ensure a good seat? Any info you can provide will be greatly appreciated!
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Old Aug 18th, 2008, 07:42 PM
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I used to live in Zurich and have not traveled by train on Christmas Eve, but have done so on the 26, and trains were indeed very full at that time, the fullest of all the year. Christmas Eve may be a bit less given that people may celebrate at home, but you will be running into people traveling home for Christmas from Zurich, in addition to families going on holiday in the mountains. Overall I think I would opt for a first class ticket to avoid more of the crowds, have a bit more luggage room, etc, esp if you are with a group and want to sit together.

You may be able to buy a 2nd class round trip and also reserve a seat in the dining car, you might look into that. Also, I think you could buy a 2nd class for the return and have no seating issue (I believe you can split them this way but check), as the traffic returning after Christmas tends to get more spread out. To the best of my knowledsge, you can buy tickets on line and have them mailed to you, that would save you some time with lines on the 24th, check the rail.ch website.
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Old Aug 19th, 2008, 09:07 AM
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Strongly look into the Swiss Flexipass for this - as you may find that the 3-day flexipass may not be that much more than the round trip regular train fare and you would have one other day of unlimited travel to boot and between the first and third day of the pass you get 50% off practically everything that moves in Switzerland except cows. Definitely better than the Swiss Card so forget that - Swiss Transfer ticket may be good if once you get to Brig you will stay put and have some kind of ski pass for lifts, etc. Swiss Transfer tickets and passes are significantly cheaper if bought in the U.S. right now - see Swiss prices for Switzerland at www.sbb.ch - for tons of objective info on Swiss Passes and Swiss train travel i always refer two fine sources that do more than the usual listing pass prices and an add to cart button - www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - on the latter you can download their free European Planning & Rail Guide that has a good chapter on Switzerland and Swiss trains. www.swisstravelsystem.ch is run by Swiss Railways and lake boats, specialty trains, etc. with links to many sites. Strongly consider the 3-day Swiss Flexipass Saverpass (two names on one pass, cheaper than two individual passes
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Old Aug 19th, 2008, 10:34 AM
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For example a 2nd class ticket from Zurich Airport to Brig costs, according to www.sbb.ch 83 SF each way or 166 SF r.t. - So that's at least $175 or so

and the 3-day Swiss Flexipass costs (Saverpass) $179 and also gives you half off everything that moves in between the 1st and 3rd day of use - in effect everything you will be using. And you'd have a third unlimited travel day in case you wanted to hop the train in Brig and go up to Zermatt and back or down the Rhone to Montreux, etc.
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Old Aug 20th, 2008, 06:41 AM
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You also have the Half-Fare card which is only sold in Switzerland, at any station i think, and costs CHF 99 or about $110 with exchange fees figured in

It gives you 50% off everything like the Swiss Flexipass does in between days of 100% coverage

But since you would be paying 1/2 of $175 or about $78 just to go Zurich to Brig and back the total would be about $188 - $9 more expensive than the Swiss Flexipass, which also gives you a third day of 100% travel if you can use it. Even if just to go to the airport from Zurich if nothing else - or you take a train back to Zurich the day before your flight then you could also take a free boat ride on Lake Zurich (though in December this may not be the best idea and they may not be running - but the third day could be valuable.
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Old Aug 20th, 2008, 11:53 AM
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Or consider the Swiss Transfer Ticket, only sold outside of Switzerland and designed for folks like you who may be heading to a ski resort where lift tickets will cover all their local travel and just need transport to/from airport.

Swiss Transfer ticket costs $108 and gives a round trip ticket from any airport or border point to any single destination in Switzerland via train, lake boat and local transport.

Vs the regular round trip fare of $175 or so this could be a great deal if not wanting any other transport once at your base.

Not sold in Switzerland to me knowledge - marketed by RailEurope who would i think charge $18 postage however per order - Budget Europe Travel i believe charges $5 but not sure of either. Like passes this product must be sold at one cartel set price but mailing and handling fees can be tacked on.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2008, 12:17 PM
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I can't see trains being much more crowded on Dec 24 than a normal day - many folks off work and lots of Switzerland's train travelers seem to be commuters IME

and on a normal day reservations are a waste of money IME - but first class certainly will be lots of seat on normal days and the cost-effectiveness of a 1st-class Swiss Flexipass are even greater i think that comparing 2nd class point-point tickets with a 2nd class pass. You could reserve tickets for a certain train when you buy your pass thru the same agent if it is a worry.
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