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Anybody having difficulty making reservation on Swiss trains (Reservation Only option)?

  • 26 January 2024
  • 6 replies
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My wife and I have purchased the Eurail Global Flexi First class pass. And because of the excellent guidance on this forum, I was able to make my reservations on the OBB app, except for two connections, which I was told I need to wait until 60 days before departure to make the reservations (per the agent when I called SBB). So, when the due date arrived (-60 days), I tried to make the reservations and am failing to do so. I am wondering if anyone else is having this issue. Here are the two journeys I am trying to make:

  1. Saturday, 23rd March 2024 morning: Zurich HB to Zermatt. The connection is thru Visp and the first train is an IC train and per the SBB agent, I can make reservations on IC trains, but not on Regional Trains. But, when I try the first segment (InterCity 1304 @7:16AM), and select “Seat Reservation Only”, the SBB app says “Unfortunately, we cannot offer you a reservation for this connection”. I called SBB and the agent was confused as he was seeing the same at his end. He said that maybe the reservation hasn’t opened up as yet because he doesn’t think the train is full.
    1. When I try to make the same reservation on the OBB app (my favorite app for train reservations), it keeps saying that “No ticket required”.
  2. Monday, 25th March 2024 morning: St Moritz to Zurich HB. I am trying to get back from St Moritz to Milano Centrale, but the trains via Tirano are all sold out! So, I made a reservation on the EC-319 train from Zurich HB to Milano a month back. I need a train or two from St Moritz to Zurich HB, and I am facing the same issue as above! St Moritz to Chur is a regional train and hence no reservation. However, the Chur to Zurich HB is an InterCity train, but I seeing the same issue as bove on SBB and OBB apps.

Everyone have so far told me that I don’t need reservations on Swiss trains, but it is my anxiety that I haven’t accepted that fact and continue to have everything in order for our travel. It also bothers me as we have carry on size suitcases with us and will it inconvenience others.

Appreciate any suggestions. Thanks in advance 🙏

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Best answer by Al_G 26 January 2024, 19:13

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Userlevel 7
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Firstly trains via Tirano CAN NOT sell out.

Only the tourist panorama carriages on the Bernina Express trains can be booked, the general cars on that train and all other trains on that route are not reservable, the trains from Tirano to Milan are also not bookable.

From experience you will not have trouble getting seats on anything but the tourist services in Switzerland.

Firstly trains via Tirano CAN NOT sell out.

Only the tourist panorama carriages on the Bernina Express trains can be booked, the general cars on that train and all other trains on that route are not reservable, the trains from Tirano to Milan are also not bookable.

From experience you will not have trouble getting seats on anything but the tourist services in Switzerland.

Thanks for the guidance. “Tickets not available” on all the trains on 25th March for the St Moritz to Milano Centrale must mean something else. It does sound strange that none of them have availability. I wish software developers behind these apps took care of better error reporting.

What would be your recommendation for this trip? Take the two regional trains connecting via Tirano OR take the regional train + IC Train to Zurich and travel on the EC train to Milano? One worry was that I would have just 8 minutes to change trains in Tirano with all our suitcases. However, there is another train to Milano 2 hrs later from Tirano which means we will get to enjoy Tirano for couple of hours. We definitely need to get to Milano on 25th as we have an early morning flight out on 26th.

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Reservations for domestic journeys in Switzerland are not needed and basically a waste of money, if they're possible at all. Unless you really want to book the Glacier Express or the panoramic coaches of the Bernina Express, you don't need to book.

Userlevel 7
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Regional trains cannot be booked, neither in Italy nor in Switzerland. 

1st class is always empty in Switzerland. As I always say, 2nd class tickets are expensive enough.

Do not miss the Bernina route ! It is simply stunning. Go to the front of the Allegra unit, there is a small 1st class section (always empty) where you can see the driver's cab if the blind isn't shut. Really fun !

Be aware that Italy only has 2nd class carriages on those trains. You can sit there with no issues.

Reservations for domestic journeys in Switzerland are not needed and basically a waste of money, if they're possible at all. Unless you really want to book the Glacier Express or the panoramic coaches of the Bernina Express, you don't need to book.

This is so amazing, contrary to train journeys anywhere else in the world (except the 3-5 non-reserved coaches Shinkansens in Japan - other than the Hokkaido Shinkansens which have no non-reserved cars). I have to get used to this “relaxed” style of Swiss travel, a skill I am still trying to learn in my retirement after a lifetime of working and living in the silicon valley.

I have booked the Glacier Express on the day the reservation opened up for the season and I am looking forward to the experience. That is the reason I am trying to get to Zermatt from Zurich.

Regional trains cannot be booked, neither in Italy nor in Switzerland. 

1st class is always empty in Switzerland. As I always say, 2nd class tickets are expensive enough.

Do not miss the Bernina route ! It is simply stunning. Go to the front of the Allegra unit, there is a small 1st class section (always empty) where you can see the driver's cab if the blind isn't shut. Really fun !

Be aware that Italy only has 2nd class carriages on those trains. You can sit there with no issues.

Excellent suggestion! I will take the Bernina route on the regional train as Bernina doesn’t run in that direction on Mondays which 25th March is.

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