Swiss Pass and Austria Travel

We are considering getting a swiss pass (for 8 days) - probably an epass. We will be in Austria for about 5 days as well. Can you tell me if travel that originates in Austria (such as Salzburg) end ends in Switzerland (such as Lucerne or Interlaken) would be covered by the Swiss Pass, or would we need to use an Austria pass for that portioin?
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) May 26, 2015 20:58
    Thank you for your question.

    A Swiss Travel Pass would not cover travel in Austria. Generally, all countries being traveled through would have to be accounted for on a rail pass. Considering this, you would have to purchase an additional ticket to cover you up to border on a train from Austria into Switzerland.

    With regard to connections from Salzburg to Lucerne or Salzburg to Interlaken, you would enter into Switzerland by taking a train from Salzburg to Zurich (trains from Salzburg to Zurich are high-speed 'Railjet' trains). To be covered up to the Austria/Switzerland border on one of these trains, the ticket you would purchase would be an open ticket from Salzburg to the town of Buchs. Even though you would be purchasing a ticket that displays Buchs as a destination, that does not mean that you'd actually get off the train there. With this ticket and the Swiss Travel Pass, you would remain on the train until it arrives to Zurich. The Salzburg-Buchs ticket would cover you from Salzburg up to the border, and the Swiss Travel Pass would cover you from the border to Zurich.

    In addition to the Salzburg-Buchs open ticket and the Swiss Travel Pass, seat reservations would be highly recommended on trains from Salzburg to Zurich. To purchase the reservation, you would click on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on our homepage and enter 'Salzburg' and 'Zurich' as the cities you'll be traveling between. When doing the search, you would be prompted to enter the type of rail pass that you'll be traveling with; however, entering the 'Swiss Travel Pass' here would not enable you to pull up the schedules and book the reservation (since that pass by itself does not include Austria). Instead, you would indicate that you'll be traveling with a rail pass that does cover the entire route of the train. Therefore, just for the purpose of purchasing these reservations, you can indicate that you'll be traveling with either a 'Eurail Global Pass' or a 'Eurail Austria-Switzerland Pass'.

    You would purchase the open ticket from Salzburg to Buchs by clicking on 'Find Fares & Schedules' (instead of 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations') on our homepage and entering 'Salzburg' as your departure city and 'Buchs' as your arrival city, this time not indicating that you'll be traveling with any type of rail pass when prompted. Here you would do a search for trains from Salzburg to Buchs (instead of Salzburg to Zurich) on the day you intend to travel. To ensure that you're issued the appropriate ticket, just make sure the train you select here corresponds to the specific train from Salzburg to Zurich that you booked reservations for. You would do this just by matching the train numbers and the departure time from Salzburg. Once again, even though you'd be booking a ticket that shows Buchs as a destination, you would just remain on the train as it passes through Buchs into Switzerland and on to Zurich.

    From Zurich to Lucerne, there are direct trains. The trains from Zurich to Lucerne don't accept reservations, so the Swiss Travel Pass is all you would need to board.

    A connection from Zurich to Interlaken would involve changing trains once more in Bern en route. Reservations are not at all necessary on trains from Zurich to Bern and Bern to Interlaken, so the Swiss Travel Pass is once again all you'd need to board.

    For planning purposes, you can just check schedules for the unreserved trains from Zurich to Lucerne, Zurich to Bern, or Bern to Interlaken by clicking on 'Find Fares & Schedules' (instead of 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations') on our homepage and entering the route, this time not indicating that you'll be traveling with any type of rail pass when you're prompted.

    You would purchase the Swiss Travel Pass here: http://www.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/swiss-pass/index.html.
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  • Thank you Jeff for taking the time to respond so well to my inquiry. Since the time I asked this last question, we have purchased both a Swiss Rail Pass and an Austria Rail Pass.

    Would you mind modifying your response for us now that we have the passes? We plan to travel from Vienna to Salzburg on the first leg of the trip. Next we would travel to either Bern or Interlaken or Meiringen. Would we again travel through Zurich for these final destinations? We are especially interested in understanding for which train routes reservations are highly recommended, and how to book the reservations now that we have the Swiss and the Austria rail passes.

    From Interlaken (or Meiringen) we plan to travel to Gimmelwald, and could use your advice again on which routes are most cost effective now that we have our passes, since I understand some lines are either 50% or 25% discounted with our Swiss rail pass. Are reservations highly recommended to get to Gimmelwald?

    From Gimmelwald we will be traveling to Lausanne, with day trips after to Montreaux and Geneva. Can you advise if reservations are highly recommended for any of those routes.

    Last, do you have information about making reservations for the Chocolate Train out of Montreaux?

    Kind regards,

    Tammi
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) May 29, 2015 19:22
    Hi Tammi.

    Vienna to Salzburg

    The trains from Vienna to Salzburg are high-speed ‘Railjet’ trains or regular ‘InterCity’ trains. On these trains, reservations would be highly recommended in addition to the Eurail Austria Pass. For travel with a rail pass, you would purchase reservations for a train from Vienna to Salzburg by clicking on ‘Book your Rail Pass Reservations’ on our homepage, entering the route, and indicating the type of pass you’ll be traveling with (i.e. the ‘Eurail Austria Pass’). Theses trains can be booked once within 90 days of an intended date of departure.

    Salzburg to Interlaken, Bern, or Meiringen

    The connections from Salzburg to Interlaken and Salzburg to Bern would be the same as I described in my initial reply above. A connection from Salzburg to Meiringen involves 2 train changes along the way; once in Zurich and then once in Lucerne.

    Therefore, no matter which of these serves as your destination, you would enter into Switzerland by taking a high-speed ‘Railjet’ train from Salzburg to Zurich, and seat reservations are highly recommended on these trains. Your Eurail Austria Pass would cover the portion from Salzburg to the border, and your Swiss Travel Pass would cover from the border to Zurich. To purchase reservations, you would refer back to ‘Book your Rail Pass Reservations’ on our homepage and enter the cities (‘Salzburg’ to ‘Zurich’). When doing the search, you would be prompted to enter the type of rail pass that you'll be traveling with; however, it is only possible to choose one pass at this step and entering the ‘Eurail Austria Pass’ or 'Swiss Travel Pass' would not trigger our system to display the schedules and allow you to book the reservation. Instead, you would indicate that you'll be traveling with a rail pass that does cover the entire route of the train. Therefore, just for the purpose of purchasing these reservations, you can indicate that you'll be traveling with either a 'Eurail Global Pass' or a 'Eurail Austria-Switzerland Pass'. ‘Railjet’ trains can be reserved once within 90 days of an intended date of departure.

    If your destination is Bern, the Swiss Travel Pass is all you would need to board the connecting train from Zurich to Bern. If your destination is Interlaken, the Swiss Travel Pass is all you would need to board the connecting trains from Zurich to Bern and Bern to Interlaken. If your destination is Meiringen, the Swiss Travel Pass is all you would need to board the connecting trains from Zurich to Lucerne and Lucerne to Meiringen (‘Zentralbahn’ trains).

    Gimmelwald

    Gimmelwald is in the Bernese Oberland area, near Interlaken. The journey to Gimmelwald consists of a train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen (20 minute ride), a bus from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg (12 minute ride), and then a gondola from Stechelberg to Gimmelwald (5 minute ride). The Swiss Travel Pass is actually valid to cover the entire journey from Interlaken to Gimmelwald, including the train, the bus, and the gondola. There is no part of the journey between Interlaken and Gimmelwald that will accept reservations, so the Swiss Travel Pass is all you’ll need.

    Gimmelwald/Interlaken to Lausanne

    You would then descend back down to Interlaken in order to make a connection to Lausanne. A connection from Interlaken to Lausanne involves changing trains once in Bern along the way. Reservations are not at all necessary on the trains from Interlaken to Bern and Bern to Lausanne, so the Swiss Travel Pass is all you would need to board.

    Lausanne to Montreux or Geneva

    There are short, direct trains from Lausanne to Montreux or Lausanne to Geneva. You would not purchase reservations for these trains, so the Swiss Travel Pass is once again all you would need to board.

    The Chocolate Train

    The Chocolate Train excursion is a roundtrip journey between Montreux and Broc, starting in Montreux. On the way from Montreux to Broc, the train will make a stop in Gruyères. When you get off the train in Gruyères, you'll be taken by bus to the actual village there. The trip includes free admission to the cheese factory in the village. After a couple hours in Gruyères, the bus would take you to Broc, where you'll visit the Cailler-Nestlé Chocolate Factory. After a couple of hours at the factory in Broc, you would take the train back down Montreux.

    The Chocolate Train excursion does require reservations in addition to the Swiss Travel Pass. Generally, you would be able to purchase reservations for the Chocolate Train excursion by clicking on ‘Book your Rail Pass Reservations’ on our homepage and just entering ‘Montreux’ and ‘Broc’ as the pair of cities you’ll be traveling between (the reservations we issue would cover the entire ‘round-trip’ of the Chocolate Train journey, as well as the bus from the Gruyères train station to the village and the bus from Gruyères to Broc.) However, there may currently be an error on website preventing it from being booked there. If you nothing displays when you do your passholder search for the Chocolate Train, then you would have to call us at 1-800-622-8600 to purchase these reservations. Generally, the Chocolate Train can be reserved once within 90 days of an intended date of departure.
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  • Thank you Jeff!

    What an informative response - we are grateful to you for your detailed response! Two more questions:

    1) We would like to confirm that a reservation is not recommended (or even available) from Zurich to Bern, and from Bern to Interlaken.

    2) The connection from Zurich to Bern is quite a tight transfer time (12 minutes). Is this enough time to make the connection, and if not, would we just wait for the next train? If reservations from Zurich to Bern are recommended, how do we handle this?

    Regards, and thank you in advance.

    Tammi
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) May 30, 2015 17:25
    Reservations are not at all necessary on the trains from Zurich to Bern and Bern to Interlaken. Rest assured, the Swiss Travel Pass is all you'll need to board these trains. Additionally, 12 minutes is sufficient to change trains at the station in Zurich. In any case, the trains from Zurich to Bern depart very frequently, so you'd always just be able to hop on the next one. Swiss train travel is great like that.

    For your reference, you can check schedules for these trains under 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our homepage.
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