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Swiss Rail Passes

Swiss train

ABOVE: A double-deck train in the Swiss countryside.

Switzerland has the world's best public transportation system. A tourist can arrive at the Zürich or Geneva airport, catch a train, ride to a distant railroad station, and then switch to a lake steamer, postal bus, funicular, or aerial cable car--often with only the briefest of layovers.

In Switzerland by Rail, Anthony Lambert describes the appeal of public transportation in Switzerland:

Principal among the positive reasons is the pleasure of travelling by train in Switzerland. For those accustomed to public transport systems starved of investment, it will be something of a revelation: every aspect of the system seems to be designed and operated to a standard rather than a cut price. Most trains are modern, clean, and punctual. Stations of any size are staffed and offer facilities that smooth the traveller's path, such as luggage forwarding, cycle hire, money changing, and a restaurant or buffet that is often used by locals because of its quality.

But what probably impresses visitors most is the way that Swiss public transport is planned to offer a seamless, integrated service. Trains connect with each other, buses meet and feed trains, and both are timed to complement a boat or funicular service. At each station, tiimetables give clear information about all local transport, walks are signed from most stations, and many offer cycling routes.

Then there is the view from the window. Some suburban lines apart, is is quite hard to find a train journey that does not offer attractive scenery, and Switzerland has more than its fair share of the world's most spectacular train journeys. Although the best-known are deservedly popular, there are some little-known journeys through equally fine landscapes to provide that sense of surprise which is part of the joy of travel.

Swiss rail passes (also known as "travel passes," since they can be used on multiple modes of transportation) make getting around Switzerland even more convenient, because they offer big discounts and--in many cases--eliminate the need for buying point-to-point tickets in Switzerland. To learn what types of passes are available from the Swiss Travel System, see page 2 of this article.

Next Page:  Types of passes


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Photo (c) iStockphoto.com/Robin Ahle

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