With an excellent rail network and public transportation, Switzerland is a country which is easy to visit. The Swiss Half Fare Card offers a 50% discount for one month of travel.
Due to the current global pandemic, Rail Europe is taking all precautionary measures to keep our employees and communities safe. Electronic passes (Swiss Travel Pass, Britrail England and Renfe) are still available for purchase. We have temporarily suspended the sale, printing and shipping of all paper travel documents (including EURAIL).
Swiss Half Fare Card
This card provides savings up to 50% off for travel on most trains, boats, and buses in Switzerland.
- 50% discount on most trains, buses and boats for one month
- Issued as a paper document
- Discounts off 1st and 2nd class travel
- Free Swiss Family Card: Children under 16 travel for free with a parent or legal guardian
How does it work?
Rail Passes in 3 steps
1. Pick the right rail pass
Rail passes can be booked for travel in one specific country or you can choose one of a few pre-selected country/region combinations. Extensive travel plans? Try the Eurail Global Pass offering train travel in 33 different countries - including Great Britain.
Once you've selected your pass, its price will depend on the class of service selected, passenger type, 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, buses and boats.
- 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. Once on the train platform, how can I find my car? Is there a difference between where first and second class carriages are located or how they look on the outside?
A. Typically you will see a (1) or a (2) or the words “First” or “Second” or a combination of both on the outside of the train car indicating First or Second class. Once you board the train, you’ll notice that some trains have inside indicators for first or second class. Some high speed trains have headrest covers that state the class of service.
For certain high speed trains such as the Thalys, TGV, or Eurostar you’ll also find displays right on the platform indicating where each car of the train will be located for boarding. You can use this chart to find the mark on the platform corresponding to the car you would like to board. It is a good rule of thumb to arrive at the station early so that you can find the train and the right car matching the class of service on your pass or ticket.
And of course, you can always ask a railway official or conductor for assistance.
Q. What information do I need to provide when booking a rail pass? Do the names on the rail pass and the passports have to match?
A. When you book your rail pass, you will need to provide us with your first and last name, exactly as they appear on your passport. The name you enter will appear on your rail pass and will be verified by a railway official when you activate the rail pass. In addition, some rail passes are pre-activated and require you to enter the first date of travel.
Q. Are train tickets exchangeable and refundable?
A. It depends. Exchange and refund rules are governed by the kind of fare you booked.
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.
Refunds, when applicable, can only be applied to unused and unvalidated train tickets.
Be sure to view the complete refund and exchange rules for the product you are booking to see any applicable penalty and administrative fees.
If you’ve purchased the Rail Protection Plan to cover your train ticket, you can exchange it for either the same thing or a new product. To start an exchange under the Rail Protection Plan, please contact us via our Contact Us page.
Q. Do you ship to PO and APO boxes?
A. At this time, we are unable to ship to P.O. or A.P.O. boxes.
Q. I need to cancel my trip to Europe. How do I request reimbursement through the Rail Protection Plan™?
A. Although the Rail Protection Plan™ doesn’t allow you to get reimbursed in case your trip is cancelled, you may be eligible to receive an in-store credit. That in-store credit will be good for two years (from the date the credit is issued) towards your next booking, for the full value of the products covered. You can choose to receive this credit toward a future booking or to request to have your tickets refunded per the after sales policies of the products booked.
If you choose to forego the in-store credit and opt for a refund, the regular exchange and refund rules of your products will apply, and you will be subject to the regular carriers penalties, if applicable, in addition to the Rail Europe booking fee.
Q. Why do some German station names have extra characters in the station name?
A. In a few circumstances, German station names are listed with extra characters extended after the official station name. They are of no concern for travellers, and can be disregarded.
Muenchen Hbf Gl.27-36 = Munich Main Train Station
Koeln Messedeutz11-12 = Cologne Messe Deatz Station
Berlin Hbf (Tief) = Berlin Main Train Station
Q. I selected a ticket but when I went to place my booking, the price changed. I went back to search for train tickets and saw the same price listed again in the results. Why did this happen?
A. For most trains, the price quoted is based on “live” availability, however, for certain trains we cannot check fare availability at the time of quotation due to the technical limitations of the international rail distribution system. Therefore, we use a stored price to build your quote, based on previously confirmed fares for the trip you requested.
In rare cases, we find out that the fare used for quoting your trip is no longer available upon confirming your reservation. At that time, we receive a new price from the system based on that very moment’s availability.
Unfortunately, due to these same technical limitations, we are unable to update the stored price for a specific train, even if we find out at the time of confirmation that a fare is no longer available.
Rest assured that we’re working actively to ensure that all prices quoted to you are based on live availability and limit the usage of stored prices for quotation purposes.
Q. Should I buy my rail pass or train ticket before I leave for Europe?
A. Yes. We find that when traveling abroad, it’s always best to book before you depart from home. That way, you’ll arrive with the proper paper documents in-hand and avoid fully booked trains that can disrupt your travel plans. This is especially important during the summer months when trains in Europe tend to sell out quickly due to increased tourism.
Most trains can be reserved 90-days in advance of the day you’d like to travel. Again, it’s best to reserve as soon as possible to guarantee that you’ll have a seat on board.
Q. Is there WiFi onboard?
A. WiFi availability is increasing on European trains. This service, however, is not currently offered on ALL trains. Where it is offered, it’s usually complimentary with the purchase of a First class ticket. If you’re traveling in Second class, you may incur a fee to connect to the WiFi service.
Here is a brief list of trains offering WiFi:
ICE (select trains)
SJ High Speed
In addition, WiFi access can typically be found at many major train stations throughout Western Europe. More than likely, you’ll encounter a small fee to use the WiFi service. In some stations First class ticket/pass holders will find complimentary WiFi, usually in designated First class lounges.
Q. How can I book an itinerary with multiple cities?
A. Our website makes booking multi-city journeys very easy!
Simply enter the cities you plan to depart from, arrive to, and your travel dates. Our system will then search the database to provide the best matching schedules.