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Eurail and Swisspass Comparison - Review my math

  • 8 August 2023
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  • Keeps calm and carries on
  • 33 replies

I'm looking for guidance on whether I should get the Swiss pass or Eurail pass.

This will be for one adult and one 6 yo (she gets rides free)

 

Below is my itinerary.

Day 1 Paris to Geneva

Day 2 to Montreaux

(Golden Line pass)

Lucerne

Day 3 (Titlis)

Day 4 (Golden Round Trip)

Day 4 Zurich.

 

 

Based on my research, (All amounts in EUR)

1. Let's say Paris to Geneva costs $60 for 2 in advance.

2. Seat reservation of $30x2 Eurail

3. Both passes get me rides on the GoldenPass.

4. Titlis costs 129 w Eurail, 62 for SP

5. Golden roundtrip both have the same $41 surcharge.

 

I should factor what I'll assume to be small amounts for local trips on the tram/bus if I do not have the SP.

I  will need 3 days of the WP 257 and the minimum for Eurail is 4 days at 194 and

They both come about the same? $420 or so? Factor in local trips in Lucerne and Zurich, I probably should get the SP as it’s more convenient than scrambling for change to get tram tickets?

Not staying city center in Geneva, Lucerne.

 

Thanks

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Best answer by thibcabe 9 August 2023, 01:22

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Userlevel 7
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TGV Lyria (TGV Paris-Switzerland) has horribly overpriced seat reservations with interrail. You’lld best go to Mulhouse by ordinary TGV (get your seat reservations here: https://travel.b-europe.com/Eurail-GE/en/booking-tgv#TravelWish only for French domestic journeys) and continue your journey to Switzerland via reservation free TER (via Basel) and swiss domestic trains.

With a 2-3 month booking window in advance, you can score cheap advance tickets (seat reservation included) for TGV Lyria for 29 EUR per person.

So Eurail might be a bit cheaper if you avoid the TGV Lyria, but not much.

Please note that In Switzerland, you often can do the same route as these expresses with reservation free regional trains (bot not entirely possible with the golden pass train).

As far as I know, there is no need to make reservations on the golden pass unless you are travelling during the high season in the summer and you want to be absolutely sure to get a seat. Again a bit of money saved.

But if you plan to take a lot of local public transport and visit museums, the swiss pass combined with an ordinary TGV Lyria ticket, will be the best value.

 

Userlevel 7
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To Geneva it is best to go via Bellegarde :)

Either you take the direct TGV Lyria for 29€ or you switch to a regional train in Bellegarde and only pay 10€ (limited fare) or 20€. It doesn't take much longer.

You can make reservations for the Golden Pass Express but I took it twice without one and there were 4 people in the whole carriage... frankly don't bother with reservations in Switzerland.

When are you travelling ? Usually the best combination is a cheap advance ticket to Geneva + the Swiss Half-fare card (120 CHF). You then enjoy half-fare prices on all public transportation.

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Thanks for the tip. The trip to mulhouse takes 3 hrs and another 3 to geneva. I don't have 6 hrs to waste as I got luggage to deal with a long w a cranky kid 

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Yes that's exactly why I advised Bellegarde where the regular Paris - Genevs TGV stops.

Of course you can go all the way to Geneva direct.

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  1. I’m traveling April 24. 
  2. Based on current quotes on the Lyria, i’ve seen prices of $60 sometimes lower for 2 thus I budgeted 60 for this trip. Google maps didn't show a route for Bellegarde and Paris. Anything that takes more than 4 hr and multiple connections, I rather fly to save time.
  3. For my intercity travels, it will primarily be city to hotel than any other traveling. HOpefully local trips dont exceed $30 total.
  4. I need to do some research on the half fare card. What are the chances the trips to Titlis and Pilatus can be saved w this pass?
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You've got plenty of time then and you'll be able to get the cheapest TGV Lyria tickets.

Paris - Bellegarde - Geneva is the same train so that's why it isn't really shown on Google Maps. But Bellegarde is only "important" for Eurail which you'll probably not need in the end.

The half-fare card (120 CHF per adult) gives you 50% discount on all public transportation, including Jungfraujoch, Titlis, Pilatus,...

It really is a good offer and that's why more than half the Swiss population has it. Children travel for free with the Family Card (don't forget to add it before checkout). More info here : https://shop.switzerlandtravelcentre.com/?affiliateId=249#/en/product/swissHalfFareCard

It seems to me like a good choice. You don't have to buy any ticket in advance : prices are fixed and tickets cannot sell out (valid the whole day on long distances). See also : https://www.seat61.com/train-travel-in-switzerland.htm (very useful)

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So you are saying the 50% half fare card at a cost of 120 CHF or 125 EUR will allow me to get half off on Titlis? I see a charge of roughly 135 when I plugged it into their calculator.

https://shop.swiss-pass.ch/#/en/product/excursionTitlis

 

that is 70 more than the SP

Golden roundtrip is 78+39*104%  = 122  This is an additional 200 that I’d have to pay for these two trips vs the SP.

https://www.pilatus.ch/en/booking/prices

I was assessed a fee for the kid. Does the kid get it for free w Half fare pass?

 

For Golden LIne, I couldn't find a official link but one site said w the kid the cost is 40 Montreaux to Lucerne.

https://www.happyrail.com/en/depart?from=luzern&to=montreux&departure=2023-09-29T06%3A00%3A00&return=

------------------

Golden line 40

Titlis 125

Golden round trip 122

Half Fare pass 120

Total is 400+ and this excludes my Paris to Geneva trip, let’s call that 60. or 460 which makes it the worst card to get.

 

let me know if I made a mistake w my math.

Userlevel 7
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Let's count per adult to make things easier.

The kid will travel for free everywhere in Switzerland with the Family card (either with half-fare or STP).

- 120 CHF Swiss Half-fare card

- 48 CHF Titlis -> https://shop.titlis.ch/en/home (I don't know why your link is quoting 60 CHF, it's usually correct)

- 39 CHF Pilatus (boat is covered by the Saver Day Pass)

- 2 x 29 CHF half-fare Saver Day Pass* (for days 2 and 4), prices vary like air fares so buy in advance

- 18.40 CHF Lucerne - Engelberg, it also includes transportation within Lucerne

Total : about 285 CHF

With a Swiss Travel Pass :

- 232 CHF 3-day Swiss Travel Pass

- 48 CHF Titlis

- 39 CHF Pilatus

Total : about 320 CHF

I think this should be correct. The difference is not that big but still 70 CHF less for 2 people :)

*Valid for the whole day on all public transportation of the country

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Most important question.

So the Kid (6yo) doesn’t have to pay any fee for Golden Roundtrip nor Titlist due to Half Fare/SP????? None of these sites fare pages are explicit and confused me immensely

Why do they have a full column of prices for kids 6-15? My kid is 6yo. Can you reconfirm that my kid is FREE????

 

    Titlis. I think your 48 excludes the Ice flyer supplement. Myswissalps site shows a 60CHF price  
    https://www.myswissalps.com/titlis/tickets


For the Lucerne to Engelberg, I did random sampling for far out dates and got under 8CHF. Where is the additional 10 coming from?

How do I pay for the local city tram/busses w the half fare on day 3? Do I pay cash or? I’d need 2 trips intracity on day 3 (on S 4, 5 or bus 14) as my hotel is not at the city center.


The reason to get the saver day pass is to cover the cost of the Golden Pass trip? (along w w trip from Geneva to Montreaux )?

Why buy it on day 4? SBB shows ticket from Lucern to Zurich at only 10? What’s the value add of that pass on the last day?  I see the boat ride costing 4 to 15 CHF. 29 vs 10+15 = 25is for the sake of convenience?

https://www.pilatus.ch/en/booking/prices

It doesn’t mention anything about the day pass. I guess the 39 supplement does NOT cover the boat ride from Alpnachstad  to Luzern

 

Updated Summary:

Golden pass (day pass cost)

Titlis 60

Golden Roundtrip 39

Half Fare card 120

Day pass 29x2 58

Total of 277

 

Userlevel 7
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You can find more info here about the (free) Family card : https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/planning/transport-accommodation/tickets-public-transport/swiss-family-card/

Yes they won't have to pay anything as long as you get the free card. A price for children is always listed if you don't have the Family card (tourists) or Junior card (residents).

Ah yes you're right about the Ice Flyer. Then it's 60 CHF.

I searched Lucerne - Engelberg on sbb.ch/SBB app. Click on the price and select return. It offered me a ticket valid the whole day in 7 zones, which include buses in Lucerne. You may be able to get tickets for 6.80 CHF (just for Lucerne - Engelberg) but then it is tied to a specific train and you lose flexibility whilst not saving much.

Either you buy tickets at ticket machines by card or cash or you buy them online on sbb.ch/SBB app (covers the whole country). Short-distance tickets are usually valid 1h from the chosen time.

Yes the Saver Day Pass would cover everything from your accommodation in Geneva to the one in Lucerne.

Lucerne - Zurich one-way costs 12.50 CHF, valid the whole day. You can get cheaper tickets bought in advance but then they're tied to a specific train (saver tickets).

Lucerne - Alpnachstad by boat is 15 CHF + Kriens - Lucerne 3.10 CHF = 30.60 CHF

You may also need public transportation from/to accommodations so it's more convenient to get the Saver Day Pass and simply hop on hop off as you like.

The Saver Day Pass indeed does not cover Alpnachstad - Pilatus - Krienz so you pay the half-fare price, 39 CHF.

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Thank you so much for explaining. This has been very helpful. I forgot to do the return for Engelberg.

So actually on the boat, there wont be one to take as it is not in service in April. They will only have Kriens–Fräkmüntegg–Pilatus Kulm–Fräkmüntegg–Kriens I’m kinda bummed by this now.

 

Debating whether to go Rigi instead as they have all inclusive winter activities (Pilatus charges extra)

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Ah that's too bad for Pilatus... at least boats run to Vitznau (the departure for Rigi) even in April as far as I know.

Rigi (boat + cogwheel train) is fully included in a Saver Day Pass too so you'd save money. I don't know how it works for winter activities since the day pass probably only covers the journey.

What you could do is buy a Saver Day Pass in advance and decide on the day itself where you'd like to go. No need to buy tickets to Titlis/Pilatus/etc. in advance : if the weather is bad you'll lose money imho and it's not cheaper anyway.

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For the rental of sled and skis those cost money. I initially misinterpreted that they be included.

For titlis. Tubing is included. 

On your comment of buying saver day pass are you saying not to get the half off pass anymore or. 

Once I get to zrh, my hotel is at the airport. I intend to get into town in the morning before my flight in the afternoon, I saw the price of the ticket at 3.20 each way. Does my kid also need a ticket (if I didn't have the sp/half off passes)? If I had the half off, can I buy this in the app? 

 

 

Userlevel 7
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@thibcabe  Are you sure that the SBB Familienkarte is for free? At least the Information in German on the SBB website says it costs 30 CHF.

https://www.sbb.ch/de/abos-billette/abonnemente/junior-karte.html

 

 

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https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/planning/transport-accommodation/tickets-public-transport/swiss-family-card/

 

This is the family card, you're talking about a different card

Userlevel 7
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I put in the wrong link, but it still costs 30 CHF.

https://www.sbb.ch/de/abos-billette/abonnemente/junior-karte.html

 

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I got that link from the sbb site.

 

Translated version says junior card? English version site says family card. 

 

Another popular forum

The Swiss Family Card is a free add-on to any Swiss Travel System rail pass. You can request for one when you order such a pass. If you forgot to do so you can get one at staffed Swiss rail stations. Below you can find who's issuing Swiss Family Cards.

 https://www.myswissalps.com/swissfamilycard/price

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If you use the Swiss Travel Pass,  then the children 6- 16 get the family card for free, but if you buy a Halbtax Abo, then you need the Juniorkarte för 30 CHF for the children.

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Hmm. Then I gotta get the sp. As this 30 would exceed my costs w the sp

 

232. + 60 for titlis? If I don't do Golden round-trip rigi is completely free including boat and cog correct? 

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**W the half price 

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Here's the information in English about the Juniorkarte.

https://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/railpasses/junior-travelcard.html

 

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I am getting confused. Myswissalp sure includes half off pass in the qualifying list?

 

The parents need to travel with a Swiss Travel System rail pass: a Swiss Travel Pass, Swiss Travel Pass Flex or Swiss Half Fare Card.

The Swiss Family Card is free of charge

 

https://www.myswissalps.com/swissfamilycard.

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I am getting more confused

Your link goes to a junior pass than family card?

I was leaning towards sp for convenience purposes as it was 292 sp vs 277 half 

 

From the site, 

Practical: parents do not need a SwissPass themselves to buy a Junior Travelcard for their child.

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@AnnaB tourists get the Family Card (equivalent of the Junior Card) for free if they buy the Swiss Half-fare card (1 month for 120 CHF) or Swiss Travel Pass.

@kaiotes the Junior Card has the same validity as the Swiss Family card although the first one is for residents or tourists who don't buy the half-fare card/Swiss Travel Pass. You'll get the free Family Card, don't worry.

Now it's up to you if you prefer the Swiss Travel Pass or the Half-fare card. The half-fare is generally better value but maybe not for a short 3 day trip.

 

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How do I use the half fare card on the local bus and tram. i'd need to take them in lucerne on day 3 in which I won't buy the day pass. 

I also will need to take it in zrh. Buying it each trip is such an inconvenience although if I do sp I can't use it when I am in zrh day 5? I also realized the price of 3.20 that I wrote is half fare. 6.40x2 if I do sp as it will no longer be valid. Plus another 6.40 for my kid. That ain't cheap for a short ride. 

 

 

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