Zermatt to Munich train question

Feb 28th, 2007, 07:59 PM
  #1  
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Zermatt to Munich train question

Background: We are two families (4 parents and 3 kids ages 11, 13 and 14) traveling to Kandersteg, Zermatt then to Munich late June/early July. Our family has traveled outside the country often. Our friends have not. We enjoyed Kandersteg so much a few years ago that we decided to share Switzerland with our friends!

Itinerary: We fly into Zurich, train to Kandersteg for a week, train to Zermatt for a couple of days, train to Munich for 5 days, then fly out of Munich. We will travel by train exclusively. Before our departure, we will purchase a Swiss Pass with the Swiss Family Card to cover trains in Switzerland. I am very comfortable with travel within Switzerland. We have already purchased air and have made chalet/hotel reservations.

Question: How should we handle train from Zermatt to Munich? I have already checked the connections and am comfortable with the connections:

8:30 am Depart for Zurich. Picnic lunch on train enroute to Zurich.

13:00 pm Arrive Zurich. Transfer for train to Munich.

14:07 pm Depart for Munich. Dinner on train enroute.

19:17 pm Arrive Munich.

My question is what is the best way to purchase train tickets from Zermatt to Munich for our group. We will have time left on our Swiss Pass to travel within Switzerland. Knowing that Zermatt is about as far south and west as you can get from Munich, would it make sense to use the Swiss Pass to a station close to the German border, then purchase a ticket on to Munich? Or would it be easier to simply buy a ticket directly from Zermatt to Munich? Or Zurich to Munich? From whom would you suggest I purchase tickets? Anyonw had luck with Rich Stevesí web site?

Considerations: I would like to make arrangements in advance as much as possible.
I canít seem to make sense of all the different ticket options online to see what the cost differences would be between a ticket from Zermatt to Munich or another Swiss city closer to Germany to Munich.

Any advice is certainly appreciated!
JazzDrew is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 09:54 PM
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If you will have a day left on your passes, you will definitely want to use that as far as the last stop in Switzerland, which will be either Basel or Bern, ddepending on your route. You can check the routes on the Swiss train website, www.sbb.ch

The agent in Zermatt should be able to sell you the tickets for the onward journey from Bern or Basel to Munich. If not, since you have to get off and change trains in Bern or Basel, you could purchase the tickets then. Check the schedules and see which routing gives you the most time to do that.

Sounds like a great trip. I assume you know to take the kids up to the Rodelbahn at Oeshinensee? And they might enjoy an excursion into the Gasterntal. Kandersteg is one of our favorite places. We'll be there outselves just about then.
enzian is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 01:53 AM
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I checked your schedule for the departure from Zurich 14:07 and saw it involves a number of changes and even the ferry across Lake Constance. Too much hassle IMO!

I think you better take the train 14:14 with changes in Schaffhausen and Ulm. Arrival Munich 19:33.

You need to buy a ticket from Schaffhausen via Ulm to Munich in advance. The clerk in Zermatt will gladly sell you the tickets - but give him the details about your schedule. And yes, use the Swiss Pass this last day from Zermatt to Schaffhausen.

Ingo is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 09:13 AM
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Ingo---is that their best route, then---through Zürich and Schaffhausen? The SBB website only came up with routes through either Basel or Bern, through Karlsruhe to Munich when I put in Zermatt as the start and Munich as the end. So I assumed that is the most direct (shortest) route.

But it seems like going via Schaffhausen would keep them in Switzerland longer, and maximize the use of the Swiss pass. And they would get their lunch in Zürich as they planned. IN that case, they could just buy their ticket from Schaffhausen (or Singen) onward right in Zürich. (I say Singen because many Swiss passes are valid to one stop past the border, but I don't know if Singen is one of those. The validity map that comes with the pass will resolve that).
enzian is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 10:02 AM
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In any case before getting on the train in Zermatt show your Swiss Pass and buy the supplemental ticket to Munich before boarding the train so you do not have to get off at the last Swiss station and can stay on the train.
I'd think if you go to Zurich then the best quickest route is via Bregenz, Austria - this is the main route to Munich (4 hrs about from Zurich).
Anyway check schedules at www.bahn.de or www.sbb.ch
As for the 'best' agent to buy a Swiss Pass from i always highly recommend BETS (www.budgeteuropetravel.com; 800-441-2387) who i've used for years and can testify to their Swiss rail expertise and service. Passes are the same price everywhere so service to me is the tipping point. Also they don't charge the oft $15 mailing fee i believe.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 10:30 AM
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I only checked the leg Zurich - Munich on the SBB site. I also thought via Bregenz is the logical shortest connection, but it did not come up at all. I heard that the German Railways do some constructions on that route - it is partially not electified yet.

I definitely think the route through Zurich is less expensive and more convenient than through Basel.
Ingo is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 10:45 AM
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Train EC 195 leaves Zurich Hbf daily at 13:16 and, via Bregenz route, arrives in Munich Hbf at 17:28
should be able to get to Zurich in time for this train and seems to be best connection i see but didn't check other routes. Also would perhaps be less expensive since goes thru shorter part of Germany than via Basel or Schlaffhausen.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 10:46 AM
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Yes---I re-checked this morning, and the Zurich route shows up as the best choice. Maybe it was the (hypothetical) day of the week I was using. Also, I did not check early enough. The best (shortest time and fewest connections) train is the one chosen by JazzDrew, leaving Zermatt at 8:30 am.
enzian is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 08:12 PM
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Wow,

You guys are great! As usual the fodorites have helped me in my travel planning. THANKS!

Ingo - Not sure about the ferry. I did see that as an option. We'll be sure to avoid that!

PalanQ - I'll be sure to check out BETS tomorow. So many choices....

I went to sbb.ch and thought I had the "quickest" route, but wasn't sure. I tried to see how much the tickets were , but my dates are to far out. I checked for dates next week and assume the costs this summer will be about the same? Does this sound correct? Any suggestions to estimate costs?

To summerize, I should show my Swiss Pass at the Zermatt station and ask for a ticket to get me to Munich from the closest Swiss stop to Germany?

Enzia - We depart Iowa on June 22, arrive in Kandersteg on June 23 for a week. We are staying at the Chalet Strucken.

On June 30 we will stay in Zermatt for two nights at the Artist Apartments.

Then we leave for Munich on July 2 for 5 nights. We decided to save some $ and used www.Biddingfortravel.com and Priceline and got the Munich Marriott for $65!

Maybe we'll bump into each other!

Thanks again everyone!!
JazzDrew is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 07:33 AM
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This has brought up an interesting question regtarding the Swiss Flexi Pass. All the literature says that in 2007 the Swiss Flexi pass acts as a Half-Fare card for the whole month of validity, even if you've used up your unlimited travel days.
OK - the Half Fare card i believe, or have read i believe, gives 25% off train trips originating in Switzerland and going to other countries. I wonder if the Swiss Flexi Pass, if it really acts as a Half Fare card would give the same 25% discount on say a St Margarethan (probably last Swiss station) to Munich ticket?
Could be worth asking about.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 09:06 AM
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Indeed an interesting question. But from my experience with the Deutsche Bahn (only the worst) I don't think they accept the Swiss Flexi Pass. At last it *is* not a Half Fare Card. But I'll ask this question at the railway station in my city on Monday.
Ingo is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 09:29 AM
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Ingo: nice to have you back here. thanks for asking. It may well be just for tickets bought in Switzerland i feel if it is at all.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 09:46 AM
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So maybe it would apply to a ticket for a dirrect train from Zurich to Munich (or in my case Zurich to Stuttgart)? Or maybe only to the Swiss portion of that trip?
enzian is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 10:16 AM
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Whatever you do, don't buy a ticket from Zermatt to Munich; it is very expensive. If you have any validity left on your rail pass, it should be sufficient to take you to the Swiss border on your exit journey.

Depending on how much rail travel you plan in Switzerland, I suggest you do a cost/benefit analysis of the Swiss Pass versus the Swiss Card. The Card has a built in trip from your arrival point to your first night's destination, and a built-in trip from your departure point out of the country. The first night's destination and the departure point need not be the same place.

Your route to Munich from Zermatt is as follows:
Zermatt to Brig on the private line; transfer from the private line platform to the SBB platform which involves a short walk.
Zermatt to Brig, dep 8:30, arr 9:51
Brig to Bern, dep 10:18 arr 11:54
Bern to Zürich, dep 12:02 arr 13:00
Zürich to München, dep 13:16 arr 17:28

This schedule results in your shortest travel time from Zermatt to Munich.

With the Swiss Pass, you should buy (be sold) a ticket from St. Margrethen to Munich (München) because St. Margrethen is the last stop in Switzerland. The Pass should cover your trip to St. Margrethen.

The talk above about going through Schaffhausen is not fully correct because it will require a longer travel time, with more of it in Germany.

I have travelled several routes between the two, and the shortest travel time, is the one you describe.

In years past, I have ordered my tickets from the SBB. The agent knew what I needed and sent me the correct tickets for the trip, i.e. no ticket within Switzerland because I had a pass and the correct ticket for the German part of the trip.

A route through Schaffhausen is possible, and I have come in that way and gone out that way, but only when I wanted to go to Stuttgart, or my travel schedule was such that taking the Zürich-St. Margrethen-Bregenz-Kempten line was not timely for me on that occasion.

I think in this case you would have more than ample time to buy your final tickets in Kandersteg. You will be there for a week and that is sufficient lead time to buy your tickets. I will, however, recommend seat reservations so that you will not run the risk of be scattered about the train to Munich.

It is a popular route and the cars can be very crowded. You will have 16 minutes to change trains in Zürich.
The current schedule calls for arrival on Gleis (track) 11 and departure on 13.
That means a very short walk if memory serves me correctly.

In Bern, your connecting time is a little less, something like 8 minutes, and you will need to go from Gleis 2 to 7.

Therefore be ready to move it so to speak. Fortunately, the Bern station has ramps rather than steps!

Given that a 15 day pass is 446 chf and a Swiss Card is 178 and you pay no extra from Zurich to Kandersteg and from Zermatt to St. Margrethen, you will need to amortize 268 chf to reach the breakeven point.

Around Kandersteg and Zermatt, you will pay half fare to ride any of the mountain cable lifts and trains with either pass.

Unless you are taking several excusions from Kandersteg purely on SBB trains, the Pass will not yield a good return.

For example if you went to Geneva from Kandersteg, the cost is 67 chf with the Card, 0 with the Pass. But that leaves you about 200 chf more to amortize before reaching the breakeven point.

Mountain trips don't count because you pay 50% regardless of the pass you hold.

So my question is: Do you plan on taking that many SBB trips while in Kandersteg. Perhaps Wengen or Mürren or the Jungfraujoch?
bob_brown is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 10:27 AM
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But in Bob's example he uses 446 Swiss francs for a 15-day pass - this is about $362 but he should be using prices in US $ thru RailEurope as the same pass thru them costs $336 currently, $26 less. Similarly the Swiss Card is cheaper in the US than at stations in Switzerland (this one is only $4 cheaper - $139 vs 178 france or about $143.
For some reason Swiss Passes are cheaper currently significantly if bought in the US than for the same pass bought at Swiss stations!
Mailing fees of $15 from RE for the 15-day pass can be sidestepped by using the few agents that don't have such fees - of course i always recommend BETS (www.budgeteuropetravel.com; 800-441-2387) for their expertise in my years of buying passes thru them and they usually don't charge the $15 mailing fee except on very rush orders.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2007, 10:42 AM
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Thanks PalenQ! Good to be back here.

I bought discounted tickets here at the railway station in Dresden/Germany with the Swiss Half Fare Card before - it must be a ticket to Switzerland, though, in my case it was Basel SBB, the first stop in CH.

enzian, I found it to be less expensive to split up the tickets: The Half Fare Card gives you a discount of 50% in Switzerland and 25% on the German part of the trip. If you buy the ticket in Germany you get a 25% reduction for the entire trip - that means also for the portion in Switzerland! They are crazy!!

So I split up the trip in two portions. The first one from Dresden, Germany to Basel SBB (25% discount) and the Basel SBB to whereever in Switzerland (don't remember) and I got 50% discount EVEN at the same ticket counter in Germany. Weird.
Ingo is offline  
Mar 4th, 2007, 08:35 AM
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Thanks again for the replies. Sorry for the delay in responding. We have been on a short ski trip and just returned.

I think I have a good plan based on the info provided here. We will purchsed our Swiss Pass in the US and we'll work with the rail station in Kandersteg for the Zermatt to Munich ticket and ask if the Swiss Pass offers the discount. The last time we were in Kandersteg the train station was very user friendly for us. It would be nice to have the ticket in hand and not to habe to worry about potentially longer lines in busier Zermatt.

Bob - Great info. Yes, we plan to use the train alot. I do believe the Swiss Pass cost is less if purchased here in the US. Our 15 day pass appears to cost $322 per person. That includes free transport for our 3 kids, 1/2 price on mountain trains and free museums. Seems like a bargain for the how much we plan to use it! We want to show our friends as many of our favorite places as possible. We'll be sure to hit the biggies and like to ide of being able to jump on a train when we want. I think we understand the additional mountain train 50% costs. I considered not using the Swiss Pass for this trip we decided to uset it again. The peace of mind and lack of concern (except mountain trains) is well worth the potential extra cost for this trip with our friends. I am concerned that they may not feel comfortable exploring on their own if they needed to arrange tickets on their own. With the Swiss Pass they are more likely to sprout new wings!!

Thanks again for all the help.

Andrew

JazzDrew is offline  
Mar 4th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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I can understand what you are saying, but you still must have some idea of schedules otherwise you might not get back to where you started!!

Because Swiss rail tickets are "straight line" in that there is no discount for round trip or for going to from HomeBase to X, and then deciding later at X you want to go to Y, and then from Y to HomeBase, there is no extra charge for a piecemeal ticket.

I buy the Card because of how and where I travel. Buying tickets is usually quick, even in Interlaken.

I don't ride SBB trains much once I get to Lauterbrunnen; mostly we ride cable cars and mountain trains where the Pass or the Card yields a 50% discount.

I know last year we had a car for part of our trip, and still exceeded the breakeven point of the cost of the Card.

Of course, we did that because we came in via Basel and got the section of our trip from Basel to Lauterbrunnen free of extra cost.

I am looking at Munich to Lauterbrunnen schedules right now. The best connection leaves Munich before I want to leave, so I am trying to figure out a good alternative.

I will have to wait until I see what the discount prices are on Die Bahn for mid August. So I will bide my time, and then order my ticket.

My account is estsblished, and I am assuming I can print it out like I did last year and stick it in my passport case. (One great thing about preprinted tickets, you can make backup copies.)
bob_brown is offline  
Mar 4th, 2007, 03:51 PM
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PS I forgot I bought my Swiss Card here last year. It was cheaper!
Then I bought a reduced fare ticket from Die Bahn from Munich to Basel SBB for about half price.

Right now the only reduced fare is on the direct train from Munich to Zürich.
bob_brown is offline  
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