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.
This card provides savings up to 50% for travel on most trains, boats, and buses in Switzerland.
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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. I understand that some of the train platforms in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy now have gates. How do I get to my train?
A. Many train stations in the Netherlands and the Brussels Airport Station in Belgium now have platforms with entry/exit gates. To enter or exit from the train’s platform, you will need to pass through these gates that are controlled with a bar code reader.
Most paper tickets and e-tickets and all Eurail Pass covers have a square barcode which can be scanned at the entry/exit point of the platform. Just hold the bar code on your travel document to the scanner on the illuminated area on the gate and pass through the gate.
Some of the high traffic train stations in Italy, such as Milan Centrale, Roma Termini and Firenze Santa Maria Novella stations now have entry/exit gates. Access through these gates are exclusively reserved for traveller’s holding a ticket. It is suggested that you have your paper or electronic tickets ready to present upon arriving at these security gates.
Q. What should I do if I missed my scheduled train? Can I take the next one?
A. If you’re traveling with open tickets, you can take any train that doesn’t require a reservation, traveling on the route for which your open ticket was issued.
If you have an open train ticket and a reservation, you can forfeit your reservation and still use your open ticket on a train running on the same route that doesn’t require a reservation.
If your train ticket is a combined ticket and reservation, then you cannot simply board the next train. You may need to purchase a new train ticket for that train or exchange your current ticket for a new one.
First, read the exchange conditions for your train ticket. This can be found printed with your actual ticket if you have a paper ticket, or on your Rail Europe email invoice. This will allow you to determine whether your train ticket is exchangeable or not.
If you have a non-exchangeable ticket you will have to purchase a new train ticket, regardless of the delivery method of your ticket.
If you have a semi-flexible or flexible ticket (i.e. your train ticket can be exchanged for a fee and/or under certain conditions), then you may be able to exchange your current ticket for a new one. In general, these exchanges must take place prior to the train’s departure.
Contact us as soon as possible to initiate the exchange process, before the train’s departure. If you are unable to reach us by phone, seek the assistance of a station agent. Never board a train with a train ticket that includes a reservation for a different train, unless specifically authorized to do so by a railway official.
Q. Should I buy my seat reservations prior to arriving in Europe, or can I just get them at the station locally?
A. We recommend that you purchase your reservations as soon as possible, once you’ve determined which train journeys you’d like to take and what dates you’ll need them.
In most cases, rail carriers set aside a limited number of seats for stand-alone reservations. Once those seats have sold out, only regular full-fare tickets can be bought for the train. Because of the limited reservation-only inventory, these seats do in fact sell out, especially during peak travel seasons such as the holidays or summer. The cost difference between a stand-alone reservation and a full-priced ticket can amount to a hundred dollars or more. There’s nothing more frustrating than being unable to use your rail pass and having to buy a full priced ticket at significant cost. Therefore, we highly encourage you to lock down your reservation and make the most of your travel budget as soon as possible.
Also keep in mind that reservations can be purchased online from Rail Europe’s website and iPhone App. Many rail carriers do not sell stand-alone reservations through their website and in most cases, you will have to go in person to the rail station to buy your reservation when in Europe.
Q. What is the difference between a flexi pass and a consecutive/continuous pass?
A. A flexi pass is valid for a specific number of travel days to be used within the overall validity period of that rail pass. For example, 15 days of unlimited train travel to be used within a 2-month period. With this kind of rail pass, you can pick and choose any days (they don’t have to be consecutive) to travel within the rail pass’ validity period.
Continuous (or consecutive) rail passes such as the Eurail Global Pass, are valid for unlimited train travel during the whole duration of the pass’ validity period. In other words, with a 15-day Eurail Global Pass, you can travel for 15 consecutive days by train. Even if you don’t take the train each and every day, those days will be considered used.
Q. I'm looking to book a train on your site but I can't find it, why?
A. We know it can be frustrating when what you’re looking for is not displaying, let us help, as there could be several reasons for this happening.
1. It could be the case that it is too soon to book the train you wish to travel on. Typically, trains can be booked 3 months in advance. Of course, this can vary by carrier and time of year. Some trains have a longer booking horizon.
2. The train or fare you are looking for is not available. Depending on the time of year, time of day, or train you are looking for, it could be the case that there are no available seats for booking. If your travel dates are flexible, you can select an alternate travel dates to see if the train you are looking for displays.
3. Scheduled track work or maintenance could be scheduled for the day/time you are looking to travel. Carriers will close reservations for these scheduled dates, meaning they will not appear on our site to book.
4. Some trains are private lines or operated by carriers that do not allow other distributors to offer them. In these cases, tickets will need to be secured locally at the station.
Q. Are European trains "child friendly"?
A. Many European trains have baby changing facilities and/or family friendly play areas.
Intercités trains in France, some InterCity Swiss trains, InterCity Finnish trains and ICE trains in Germany offer play areas or dedicated compartments for families with children. The Austrian RailJet is even equipped with a movie theater especially for children.
Please note: If traveling on Eurostar, you should not travel in Premier class with children. This area is dedicated to and caters primarily to business travellers.
Q. What if my shipment gets lost?
A. If you believe that your shipment is lost, please contact us as soon as possible using our Contact Us page.
If you’re departing soon and your booking is lost, we will work with you for the best possible solution to deliver your travel documents before you leave.
Q. Do restaurant cars cater to specific dietary needs like vegetarian, diabetic or kosher?
A. Some European trains do offer special menu items. You can check the menu card found on board the train when you get on. Please keep in mind that you are also permitted to bring food on to the train, so if you have a specific dietary condition that requires special food, you can purchase before getting on the train and avoid any disappointment if the train you are on does not cater to your specific needs.
On Eurostar a wide variety of meals can be arranged prior to your departure to Europe. They include vegetarian, kosher, halal, vegan, diabetic, low fat, low salt and gluten-free meals. For vegetarian meals, we require 24-hours notice in advance of travel. For all other meals we require 48-hours advance notice. If you need to arrange a special meal for your Eurostar journey, please contact us via our Contact Us page.
Q. How do I know the right rail pass and how many days I should purchase?
A. We provide simple tools on our site to help make finding the best products for your journey - easy! Our tools help you find both the most cost effective and logical travel solution for your travel needs.
Use our Interactive Rail Map to help you plan your journey, our site will then display available options to bring that journey to life with rail passes, train tickets, and even great add-on products that can truly enhance your experience. Enter the number of days you wish to stay in a particular city, and where you wish to travel next, and our system will provide you with the best options for your itinerary.
The more you know about the train rides you plan on taking, the better you’ll be able to research which trains are running, how long each of those rides take, whether or not you’ll be traveling on night trains, etc… All these factors determine how many travel days you’ll need on a pass.
Q. Do you offer discounts on tickets for groups?
A. If your group consists of 10 or more passengers, you’ll be entitled to group rate tickets. Please note that for British domestic trains, we can provide a quote for nine travellers. First and second class group rates are available. Simply fill out our Group Quote form and a dedicated agent will answer your request.