Switzerland can be discovered by trains, buses, boats and scenic mountain trains. Use the Swiss half fare card to get one month’s of half-price travel, while children under 16 travel free of charge when accompanied by an adult who is a holder of a Swiss Family Card.
Swiss Half Fare Card
- Offers 50% discount to use trains, buses, boats and public transportations in 75 cities.
- Children under 16 travel for free.
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How does it work?
Rail Passes in 3 steps
1. Pick the right rail pass
Rail passes are available in 1, 2, 3 or 4 country combinations for extensive travel on the national rail networks. Going for an extended trip? Try the Eurail Global Pass offering rail travel in 31 different countries.
Once you've selected your pass, its price will depend on the class of service, First or Second, selected and the number of rail travel days.
2. Reserve your seats
Most trains in Switzerland do not require reservations. You can simply board with your rail pass and take any open seat.
3. Activate and travel
Your pass was pre-validated at the time of booking, it is now valid for use for the duration you selected. You're all set and ready to explore.
More than just trains
Main discounts and bonuses in Swiss Half Fare Card
- 50% discount when travelling on board trains.
- 50% discount when using urban public transport in 75 towns.
- Free travel for children under 16, accompanied by a parent, holder of a Swiss Family Card.
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Common Questions, Simple Answers
Q. What credit cards does Rail Europe accept online?
A. You can use an American Express, Diner’s Club, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa card on our website.
Q. What should accompany the train ticket or rail pass I'm sending back for a refund?
A. When you submit your train ticket or rail pass to our customer relations department for a refund, be sure to include a brief letter along with any other supporting documentation, such as letters from local train operators, replacement tickets (if any), etc.
If you are making a claim through our Rail Protection Plan™, please download and fill out the Rail Protection Plan traveller’s Request Form and send, along with the appropriate documents.
We recommend that you send all documents by traceable mail for proof of delivery.
Q. What is a Rail Pass?
A. A rail pass is a travel document that entitles you to travel on European trains in a specific geographic area (country/countries), for a specific number of days.
Be mindful that having a rail pass doesn’t necessarily mean that you can hop on any train at will, within the geographical area covered by your rail pass. Depending on the country, the type of train and the route, you may need to purchase seat reservations at an additional cost.
Lastly, rail passes are packed with additional benefits, also known as rail pass bonuses which can range from discounted shopping in retail stores, to preferential rates on other modes of transportation like ferry or bus, to rebates on hotel nights, reduced admission at museums attractions, and more.
Q. What are the fees associated with getting a train ticket refunded?
A. The first type of fee is carrier penalties. These are charges determined by the rail carrier depending on the exchange and refund conditions associated with your original train ticket. For example, there may be a 15% penalty assessed for exchanges, which means that only 85% of the value of the original ticket will be carried over for the purchase of a new ticket. Or there may be a fixed penalty charged for exchanges, or no fee at all.
When browsing fares on our website, you can read a brief description of each fare flexibility level, and then see the full exchange and refund conditions for each fare.
Once you have booked a train ticket with us, its exchange and refund rules will be indicated in your Rail Europe booking confirmation email, as well as printed with your train ticket and/or on the ticket jacket in the case of paper tickets. Please note that train tickets must be received for exchange or refund within the allowed time frame mentioned in the exchange and refund conditions.
The second type of fee is Rail Europe’s administrative fee. This fee is charged in addition to applicable carrier penalties. The processing fee is 7% of the cost of the original train ticket.
Q. Is it possible to have travellers of different genders in the same sleeping compartment?
A. For gender specific compartments, men and women must be in separate sleeping compartments. However, if you reserve all beds within a compartment, you may mix genders.
Gender-specific compartments include private, double, triple, deluxe double, deluxe triple, and quad sleeping compartments. If your traveling party doesn’t fill the compartment, you will be divided by gender.
Q. Can I bring my bike on board?
A. In general, bicycles can be taken with you as carry-on luggage, free of charge on just about any national or international train- if you put it in a bike bag. In the bike bag, the wheels, pedals and handlebars must be removed.
In addition, many European trains allow bikes in a special bike compartment for free or a small fee. If there is a fee, it’s typically about 5-15 Euros per journey. Bikes are typically permitted on local & regional trains in most countries, at least outside peak travel hours.
Many inter-city trains also allow bikes, however not in Spain. And in France only a few French TGVs allow bikes that aren’t in a bike bag. Some TGV-Lyria trains between Paris & Switzerland also allow bikes. Paris-Madrid & Paris-Barcelona night trains only allow bikes if they’re in a bike bag and if you & your fellow travellers occupy the entire sleeper compartment. Overnight Thello sleeper trains & daytime TGV trains between Paris & Italy only allow bikes in a bike bag. Thalys trains between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam & Cologne only allow bikes in bike bags. Long-distance trains into Eastern Europe such as Cologne-Moscow, Bucharest-Istanbul or Budapest-Sofia only allow bikes in bike bags, primarily because these trains don’t have luggage compartments.
Lastly, some trains, primarily in the UK, will require advance reservations for bicycles. These reservations will need to be made locally at the station.
Q. It looks like my train ticket does not include a reservation. How can I add one?
A. Whenever possible, train tickets sold by Rail Europe include a reservation. If you received a ticket without a reservation, it typically means that the train you’ll be traveling on doesn’t require a reservation, and in most cases is non-reservable.
Q. Who should I contact with questions about my exchange or refund?
A. You can visit our Contact Us page to send us a message about exchanges and refunds.
In your message, please be sure to include the original booking number, your contact information, and which item(s) you’re requesting a refund for. If you’re requesting an exchange under the Rail Protection Plan™, note this in your email as well.
Q. How long are train tickets valid for?
A. It depends if you have a ticket with a reservation or a point to point train ticket.
Point to point train tickets are valid within 15 days from the first day of validity printed on the ticket. You can travel with your train ticket on any date within the validity period (however, remember: separate reservations may be necessary, depending on the route).
Tickets with reservations are only valid for the train for which the reservation was issued, on that specific travel date and time of travel.
Q. Why are e tickets not available for certain trips?
A. Availability of e-tickets depends on two factors: whether the rail company operating the train offers e-ticketing, and if it does, whether Rail Europe was granted technical access to their inventory to enable e-ticketing on their behalf.
Not all European rail companies offer e-tickets. But when they do, we work with them to make this option available on our website. And we’ll continue to do so in order provide more e-ticket options for your convenience.