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When to buy train ticket if I plan on getting a half fare card...

When to buy train ticket if I plan on getting a half fare card...

Old Feb 29th, 2008, 12:42 PM
  #1  
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When to buy train ticket if I plan on getting a half fare card...

My wife and I will be flying to Switzerland where I plan on getting the half fare card on our arrival for our time in Switzerland.
After 4 days in Switzerland, we will be taking an overnight train to Italy. My initial thought was, upon arrival in Switzerland, buy the half fare card AND the overnight train ticket for 4 days later. Generally, is 4 days in advance enough to get the ticket that we want?
The reason why I don't buy the ticket before we leave is because I think if I had the half fare card when I bought our ticket out of Switzerland, it would discount some of the Switzerland leg of the trip (I think???).
Does this sound right?
Thanks
backpacker_1040 is offline  
Old Feb 29th, 2008, 01:04 PM
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You are correct, the Swiss half fare cards (you will need 2 cards for two people) will only discount that portion of the fare that is attributable to the portion of the journey that is in Switzerland, not the Italian part.

And on an night train you have to pay an additional fee or supplement which varies widely according to whether you plan to have a seat, a couchette (berth) or a separate compartment, each choice getting progressively more expensive.

You can go on the Swiss rail website, www.rail.ch, and ask for a price quote for the train you intent to take both with and without the half fare cards and with the various comfort levels.
lovisa is offline  
Old Feb 29th, 2008, 01:10 PM
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Some reliable sources have said with a Swiss half-fare card you get a flat 25% off trains to Germany and i believe Italy but not sure of the latter - probably however if you got 50% off the Swiss portion you may save more than 25% off the whole fare to Italy as Italian trains are so cheap

that said night trains on Germany-Switzerland-Austria to Italy sometimes have global fares and give a discount to folks who have passes valid in one of the countries or cover the whole fare if you have a pass valid in each country

that said perhaps on www.sbb.ch Swiss rail site you may get a discounted PREM or whatever they call the online discounts that would be cheaper than anything to do with the Half-Fare Card.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Feb 29th, 2008, 01:11 PM
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Let me add that Lovisa has certainly proven to be a very reliable source as well

but on the trains to Germany at least the Half-Fare card apparently gives 25% off the whole journey, not just 50% off the Swiss portion
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 01:21 PM
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Here's a Swiss rail page with price guidance for the night trains:

http://tinyurl.com/22paq6

You can see in the first example that it looks like a half fare card would save each person about 30 CHF.

However, the advanced purchase SMART fare is a lot cheaper. I don't know if a SMART fare is just pre-purchased or if there are other rquirements.
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 01:22 PM
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So, based on the fact that I would be saving some money purchasing the ticket with the half fare card, do you think that 4 days in advance is plenty of time to reserve a 2 person private compartment?

Thanks for the information.
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 01:26 PM
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This is the only place I can find where SMART fare is discussed. It looks like its just a limited number of advance purchase tickets in second class only:
http://tinyurl.com/26phrq
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 01:32 PM
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Since 2 Half fare cards would cost you 99 CHF each for 198CHF spent before savings begin, it really depends on the rest of your itinerary.

Since there is only 1 night train a day, and you know when you want to go, I would feel better trying to buy a SMART fare rather than rely on the half fare card, and the savings are much better than with the half fare card.

Also, I would suspect that the least comfortable option is the last to sell out, so if you waited you could be stuck with the "sit-up-all night" option

I don't think you have to "show" the half-fare card to buy a half-fare ticket, you just need to show it to the conductor. So you could buy a "half-fare" ticket without yet having the card.
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 01:42 PM
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Well,
The rest of our plans include taking a train from Zurich to Interlaken (and then on to Lauterbrunnen) where we plan on riding the lifts and gondola's (as much as we can for the end of March...).

With this plan, I'm still debating if it is worth getting the half fare card or something else since we'll only be in Switzerland for 4 days. Any thoughts...
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 02:05 PM
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The "SMART" fare for international trains to and from Italy seems to be your best choice. Here is the explanation of the fare on the Trenitalia site. At the bottom is a link to the complete explanation of the fare rules:
http://tinyurl.com/yrmylv

Of course, it's non-refundable and non-changable, so you have to bear that risk, but otherwise I see no reason you are not "eligible" to buy one of these fares in advance (which would give you no half fare discount, but are much cheaper to begin with).

To figure out your savings with the card, go to www.rail.ch and figure out the fares (both full price and half price will be shown). Probably all all the cable cars etc., you will be taking will be part of the jungfraubahn system. Fares from Lauterbrunnen are here:
http://www.jungfraubahn.ch/en/deskto...//89_read-6489

Have fun! The trip sounds great.


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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 03:16 PM
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So, my final answer is whether you decide to buy half-fare card, SMART advanced purchase, or full fare, I would do it as soon as it is possible to do so (3 months out?) because the downside if you can't take the train and it messes up your itinerary is too great, and with the half-fare savings on a full fare ticket your savings would only be in the range of $40-60 total.
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 03:16 PM
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Our experiences correspond with lovisa's comments above:

"I don't think you have to "show" the half-fare card to buy a half-fare ticket, you just need to show it to the conductor. So you could buy a "half-fare" ticket without yet having the card."

When the conductor comes through the car to collect tickets, he'll see that yours is half fare, and ask to see your half fare card.

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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 03:27 PM
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I didn't make clear above that I meant you should buy your night train to Italy soon.

Looking at the high cost of round trips Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn, let alone your fare from Zurich, it looks like the half-fare card would pay for itself for you.
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Old Mar 1st, 2008, 07:16 AM
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Even with 50% off on both the Jungfrau and Schilthorn i found that after paying 50% off for both i'd been better off buying the JungfraubahnPass just for those two trips and then have some days of 100% covered travel throughout Jungfrau conveyances and trains

Investigate it perhaps
PalenQ is offline  
Old Mar 1st, 2008, 10:37 AM
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I think the half fare card is your best bet even if it is NOT used to go to Italy because the other fare is better. Even so, don't you have to get to the train to Italy before the deep discounted far takes effect? From Interlaken I think you would board the Italian train at Spiez.

When comparing the potential savings of the Jungfraubahn pass versus the Half Fare card, I calculate that the Swiss Half Fare Card wins.

Based on the map of the pass validity region, the the Jungfraubahn pass does NOT include the Schilthorn; the red line stops at Mürren.

If you are going to BOTH the Schilthorn AND the Jungfraujoch, the Jungfrau Regional Pass is NOT a good option. The half fare care will save you more.

Here is why. First, with the Jungfrau Pass, you will pay full price for the Schilthorn.

Any way you slice it, you pay half the cost of the final leg of the Jungfraujoch trip. (From the Eigergletscher station to the top.)

The fare from Eigergletscher to the top is 94.40 round trip. With the Jungfraubahn pass, you pay half of that.

The Schilthorn from Mürren is 71.40 chf. That section is the one not covered by the Jungfraubahn pass.

As a comparison, if you bought the Jungfraubahn ticket AND went to the Schilthorn and the Jungfraujoch, the total cost would be 195 + 71.40 + 94.40 for a total of 360.80

If no other type of pass, we must add 67 chf on the assumption you are traveling to Interlaken Ost via train from Zurich airport. That makes a total of 427.80

If you bought the half fare card, you would ride to Interlaken (or your final destination) for half off. All the other trips are also half off.

The trips we are discussing would cost you (assuming Interlaken Ost)
(33.50 + 99 + 177.80 + 105.80)/2 or
224.80 (33.5 = half the cost airport to Interlaken Ost.)

The difference so far is 203 chf in favor of the half fare card.

To break even you would need to find 406 chf worth of other rides in the area to break even. (Each ride with the half fare card is 50% off.)

Now where might you find that much in trips. Here are some examples:

Interlaken Ost to First return
Undiscounted20.40 + 51.00)=71.40
Interlaken Ost Schynige Platte
Undiscounted: 62.80
Männlichen via Lauterbrunen
Undiscounted: 64.40

These trips are free with the Jungfrau pass but would cost you
(71.40+62.80+64.40)/2 or 99.3 wsith the card.

Add this to the half fare cost above and you are still ahead
224.80+99.3 = 324.10 to 427.80

I have NEVER found any of the passes in the Berner Oberland to be cost effective compared to the half fare card or the Swiss Card.

I have run these numbers with the new prices several times and the result is always the same.

For me, the Swiss Card, with its free ride from border to border or other exit point (e.g. airports at either Geneva or Zürich), is the best bet.

Last year we used the half fare card because we drove all the way from Munich.



bob_brown is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 05:47 AM
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I was remiss in saying the Jungfraubahnpass covered the Schilthorn - perhaps i was comparing the BernerOberland Bahn (?) - another one to look at and provides half-fare for trains well outside its primary coverage area
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 06:56 AM
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I love this forum...

Thanks for the help. So it looks like the best bet will be to buy the Interlaken to Florence ticket right away and also to go with the half fare card for the remainder of the time in Switzerland.

When I purchase the overnight train ticket from Interlaken to Florence, is it a "ticket-less" purchase? In other words, will I simply need to check in to pick up a boarding pass or will they mail something?
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 01:01 PM
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ttt
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Old Mar 4th, 2008, 08:49 AM
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I don't have the answers to your question

but you say you are going to buy it so from what site sbb.ch

and if so they do not indicate how the ticket is delivered. Usually i think in Italy you retrieve the ticket in a station machine or at the ticket window

keep topping as there are many folks who are experts about this question
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Old Mar 4th, 2008, 12:09 PM
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TTT
Thanks Palen. Anyone else know about how the ticket would arrive?

I did email the sbb site and they haven't replied yet.
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