Train fares in Switzerland
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One-way fares, if you buy ordinary tickets for each journey, work out at a very reasonable Fr.31 per 100km in second class. However, it’s unlikely you’ll need to buy ordinary tickets, since there’s a plethora of ways to save money using passes and season tickets, some geared towards foreigners (details), others taken advantage of by the locals to get around their own country.

The Swiss are the most frequent train users in Europe – not surprising, given both the quality of the network and the astonishingly good-value half-fare travel card (Halbtax-Abo, Abonnement demi-tarif, Abbonamento metà prezzo), which costs Fr.150 for a year and lets you buy unlimited first- or second-class tickets at a fifty percent discount across virtually the entire network. This is such a popular way to go for the locals that most published offers, and all automatic ticket machines, are marked for full price (1/1) and half price (1/2); if you intend being in Switzerland for more than a month, the card is certain to repay itself, not least because it also gives discounts on bike rental from train stations. You need a passport-sized photo in order to buy it. Once you have one, you can then buy day-card add-ons for Fr.52 (first class Fr.86) to give free unlimited travel nationwide for that day; multi-day add-ons, valid for any six days, cost Fr.260/430. If you’re under 25, you can pay Fr.99 for a Track 7 card which gives a year’s free travel nationwide after 7pm; unlimited half-price travel before 7pm plus free travel after 7pm costs Fr.249.

With no barriers on the platforms, inspectors on the trains are the sole method of fare-enforcement, and they’ll move through the whole train more or less between every station: get caught without a valid ticket or pass for your journey and they’ll blithely slap a Fr.50 fine on you, which rises to Fr.60 if you can’t pay on the spot. Quite a few of the regional and local trains are marked with a prominent swirly eye pictogram: this means that there’s no conductor and that you’re trusted to buy a ticket, either from the station staff or from a platform ticket machine. Roving bands of inspectors may board at any point to check tickets. If you intend using any kind of multi-day pass or undated ticket, you must stamp it before you board in the little boxes marked with the same swirly eye pictogram on platforms or near escalators.

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