SBB stands for 'Swiss Federal Railways', the national railway company of Switzerland. The company controls passenger and freight traffic throughout the country. In addition, some rail lines in Germany and in France are used by SBB trains. Under the name "SBB Historic", the railway company operates a foundation whose task it is to preserve historical goods from the history of the Swiss railway for future generations and to make them accessible to the public. These include a library, several archives and collections of railway items from different eras, as well as historic cars and locomotives, which can also be used by the public for special trips.
InterCity (IC) and InterCity Tilting Train (ICN) - Long-distance express trains that reach up to 200 kilometres per hour and connect centres. On board there is either a dining car or a mobile snack car; Other amenities such as an extra family car in second-class and first-class tranquillity will make the ride enjoyable. For bicycles and wheelchairs are storage facilities available. Although it is equipped with the comforts of long-haul travellers, it is often used by commuters and is therefore often quite crowded at peak times.
EuroCity (EC) - Express train used in international long-distance service, the maximum speed of the train is 200 kilometres per hour. The equipment of this train type is similar to the IC - there are a Bordbistro, family, rest and business compartments and mobile radio amplifiers in certain areas of the railway and bicycle parking. Travellers can choose between the first and second car class.
InterRegio (IR) - A long-distance train connecting regions and stopping at only a few selected stations. The cars are usually equipped with an onboard cafe, air conditioning and bicycle parking.
RegioExpress (RE) - The RegioExpress is a regional train that stops at some stops in a region. It is equipped with toilets and bicycle parking spaces. Most of the RegioExpress runs on shorter routes than national trains.
Regio (R) - Regional train stopping at all stations in one region. The region is used in areas that are not covered by the S-Bahn network and thus connects places and cities of a region with each other.
S-Bahn (S) - Connects all stations of an urban area. SBB S-Bahn trains operate in the conurbations of Aargau, Basel, Lausanne, Geneva, Lucerne, Schaffhausen, Zurich, Zug and Sion.
Travelling with children
Children under the age of six travelling with an escort do not need a ticket. If the escort is over 12 years old, up to four children can travel for free, and if the person is over 16, the number increases to eight children. If more children are required to travel, they must buy a ticket for half price. Alternatively, there are several offers available specifically for children:
Children's Day Card - Valid for one day for a child between the ages of six and 16 travelling with an adult. The costs amount to CHF 16, - (second class) or CHF 32, - (first class).
GA Child - The annual subscription for children between the ages of six and 16 costs CHF 1645, - (second class) or CHF 2760, - (first class) and monthly payments CHF 160, - in the second and CHF 250, - in the first class.
Grandchild and Child Carrier Ticket - For CHF 30 per child, this card entitles children between the ages of six and 16 to travel through Switzerland with a parent, grandparent or another person for one year with SBB.
Wi-Fi is not available throughout the SBB trains, however, most long-distance trains are equipped with signal amplifiers that improve 3G or 4G reception. This way, you can also go mobile on long journeys.
Travelling with bicycles
If you want to take your bike with you on SBB trains, you must book your ticket through the SBB website, as Trainline does not offer this ticket type. There are several options to take your bike on SBB trains: disassemble the wheel and take it as hand luggage on the train for free, buy a bike ticket and transport the bike in one piece, or send the bike to the destination station for a fee.
Not all SBB trains allow bikes on board - In the online timetable on the SBB website under the advanced search, the option "Velo-taking" can be selected, so only where bikes can be taken on board are displayed. Sometimes a bike parking space reservation is necessary in advance - these connections are marked accordingly. The reservation usually costs around CHF 5 and can be made at the train station and online up to five minutes before the departure of the train. The price of the "Velobillet" (bike ticket) depends on the chosen travel route.
The carry-on option is especially popular on international trains that travel from Switzerland to neighboring countries. If you decide to take your bike with you in a carrying bag, you must remove the front wheel and make sure that it does not exceed certain dimensions - these differ depending on the railway company. For more information, see our pages about Deutsche Bahn, SNCF, Trenitalia and ÖBB.
If you are planning a bike holiday in Switzerland, you can easily give up your own bike at the station as a piece of luggage. This service usually costs CHF 18 for standard bicycles and CHF 36 for special bikes such as recumbents, tricycles and tandems. Bicycle delivery is possible at most stations, you can find a list of exempted stations on the SBB's cycling website.
Travelling with pets
Small dogs with a shoulder height of up to 30 cm are considered as hand luggage if they are carried in a carrying case or transport box and travel for free. Larger dogs travel at half the price of the 2nd class minimum fare unless you buy a special ticket for your four-legged friend. Special tickets for dogs are on the one hand the dog day pass for CHF 35 and the dog GA, which amounts to a price of CHF 805 per year. The GA for dogs is valid in the first or second class, depending on which class the dog owner has purchased a ticket for.
Train tickets are called 'billette' in Switzerland and are available in different versions. The prices of the SBB are not different by train type, but are calculated for the route - that is, the price remains the same, for example, for the connection Zurich - Bern, whether passengers travel with the InterCity or the InterRegio. Travelers from abroad can benefit from special offers. The advance sale usually starts 180 days before the travel date.
Round-trip tickets - Tickets at standard price. These can be booked either as a single trip or as a return ticket. When buying online, the travel date must be specified and can not be changed or exchanged. If you book at the vending machine or ticket office, you can freely choose the travel date - one-way tickets are valid for one day. If the distance covered is more than 115 kilometers, the ticket can be used within 10 days. Those booking a return ticket must travel back the same day for a journey of less than 115 kilometers; if the route is 116 kilometers or more, the return date must be less than 10 days after the departure date.
Multi-Ticket - Discounted ticket for six single journeys on a route specified at the time of purchase. The tickets are transferable, so they can also be used by several people traveling together. The ticket must be validated and is valid for 4 hours in local transport from validation. In long-distance traffic, the ticket can be used once on the entire day of validation, at the latest by 5 pm of the following day. The tickets can be bought online or at the train station.
City-Ticket - Train ticket, which in addition to the train journey includes a day ticket for local transport at the point of departure or arrival. The ticket is valid for one day and can be purchased online, at most ticket machines and at the counter in Swiss railway stations. If you would like to use public transport at your starting point and destination, you can book the City City ticket - this is valid in both places. The City City Ticket can only be purchased online or via the SBB App.
Discount tickets are only available online and are up to 50% cheaper than the regular price. The tickets are available for many SBB connections and can be purchased 30 days before the departure date at the earliest - the earlier you book, the higher the likelihood of receiving a discounted discount ticket as the number of discounted tickets per route is limited. There is train tie for this ticket and it can not be exchanged or refunded.
Train tickets for Switzerland can either be purchased online on Trainline or via the smartphone app. Also, an acquisition directly at the station is possible - at the ticket office and ticket machines.
Tickets can be presented either as a printed paper version, as an online ticket in PDF format or as a mobile ticket in an app.
The General Abonnement is, so to speak, the flatrate card of Switzerland and entitles travelers to use all SBB trains as well as most of the other trains in Switzerland and buses, trams and ships without further bookings. The GA is offered to many target groups at a discounted price - so children, students, seniors and people with disabilities receive a special price subscription and even a special GA for dogs. In addition to maximum flexibility, the GA offers other benefits such as a 25% discount on routes from Switzerland to Austria and Germany and the option to purchase a Rail Plus card that gives passengers 25% off rail travel to other European countries.
The GA at the standard price costs for adults with a one-time payment CHF 3860, - in the second and CHF 6300, - in the first class. Those who prefer to pay monthly, the SBB for the second class CHF 340, - and for the first CHF 545, - guilty. It is valid for adults from 25 to 64 or 65 years (ladies and gentlemen). The subscription is valid for either a whole year or a month - depending on the payment interval - but has a minimum term of four months at the beginning. It will be renewed automatically after the expiry date, unless it is terminated within a certain period of time - SBB also sends a possible termination date with the invoice so that subscribers do not have to worry about it. The subscription can be ordered online or by post via invoice. In both cases, a passport photo (a digital purchase when buying online) and a copy of the passport or ID card will be required. Payment can be made online by debit or credit card.
GA Senior - Annual payment: CHF 2880, - (2nd class) or CHF 4840, - (1st class)
GA Senior - Monthly payment: CHF 260, - (2nd class) or CHF 430, - (1st class)
GA Junior - Annual payment: CHF 2650 (2nd class) or CHF 4520, - (1st class)
GA Junior - Monthly payment: CHF 245, - (2nd class) or CHF 405, - (1st class)
The GA Junior applies to teenagers and young adults between 16 and 25 years.
For children from 6 to 16 years there is the GA Child at the price of CHF 1645, - or 2760, - (second or first class with annual payment) or CHF 160, - or 250, - (second or first class with monthly payment ). If a parent already has a general subscription in the household, it will be even cheaper for other family members. You can order the GA Familia Youth, GA Familia Youth or GA Familia Partner. These must be ordered by the form provided by SBB. The costs are divided as follows:
GA Familia Child - Annual payment: CHF 680, - (2nd class) or 2760, - (1st class)
GA Family Child - Monthly Payment: CHF 75, - (2nd class) or 250, - (1st class)
GA Familia Youth - Annual payment: CHF 925, - (2nd class) or 2790, - (1st class)
GA Familia Youth - Monthly payment: CHF 95, - (2nd class) or 255, - (1st class)
GA Familia Partner - Annual payment: CHF 2180, - (2nd class) or 3520, - (1st class)
GA Familia Partner - monthly payment: CHF 200, - (2nd class) or 310, - (1st class)
Menschen mit einer Behinderung erhalten das GA zum Sonderpreis - bei Jahreszahlung für CHF 2480,- (2. Klasse) beziehungsweise CHF 4050,- (1. Klasse) oder bei Monatszahlung für CHF 225,- (2. Klasse) bzw. CHF 355,- (1. Klasse).
Holders of the half-fare discount card receive a 50% discount on all rail travel with the SBB as well as on many tickets from other Swiss private railways and ships, buses and trams. Since 2015, the Half-Fare travelcard has been issued on the SwissPass, a ticket which, in addition to a 50% discount on rail travel, gives access to car and bike sharing and other offers. In the future, the SwissPass will be considered a universal passport, for example, train discount tickets and ski passes. Subscriptions are saved. The price of the Half-Fare travelcard is CHF 185, - per annum, with the purchase an indefinite contract is concluded, so that the subscription automatically extends after one year and at the second year costs only CHF 165, -. With the annual bill, customers will receive a reminder for a possible termination date so that notice can be given in good time if an extension is not desired. The subscription can be purchased online or by invoice with a credit or debit card, a digital passport photo and a copy of the ID. 16-year-olds receive the half-fare at the reduced price of CHF 99, -.