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Everything you need to know about Swiss Federal Railways (SBB)

Choosing SBB with Virail

Begin your adventures in Switzerland with SBB, the trusted national railway service. When you use Virail and SBB, you have the option of traveling in 33 countries in Europe. It is a great choice for the thrifty traveler and the ecologically conscious. Working with Virail, you can find the cheapest tickets and the most convenient routes. With your rail journey planned, we will automatically redirect you to SBB’s platform where you can book and purchase your tickets.

About SBB

SBB (or Schweizerische Bundesbahnen, Swiss Federal Railways) is the national railway company of Switzerland, founded in 1902 in Bern. Every day, SBB trains transport over 1.25 million passengers and 205 000 tonnes of freight.

Main routes and stations

SBB has 25 stations going north to Schaffhausen, extending south to Lugano, east to Chur and west to Geneva Airport. It also offers trips to major cities outside of Switzerland in Germany, France, and Italy.

The most popular routes include:

  • Geneva to Lausanne
  • Geneva to Zermatt
  • Zurich to Milan
  • Lucerne to Zurich Airport
  • Geneva to Bern
  • Geneva to Zurich

SSB ticket pricing and categories

There is something for every traveler in the variety of tickets available. They include point-to-point tickets, super saver tickets discounted up to 70%, one day travel passes for as little as CHF 14, interrail passes for European travel and discounted tickets for group travel.

Main transportation types used by SBB

SBB is purely a rail service. Six different train types cater to different traveling needs: The S-Bahn, the Regio, the InterRegio, the Regio express, the EuroCity, and the Intercity train.

Main amenities offered by SBB

SBB offers several amenities meant to make your trip by rail as comfortable as possible:

  • Restaurant cars where you can grab a snack.
  • Luggage racks for large bags and overhead racks for smaller bags.
  • Business zones.
  • Quiet zones.
  • Family areas.
  • Free Wi-Fi.

Other amenities are offered at their stations and include:

  • Currency change.
  • Western Union money transfer.
  • Insurance.
  • Lockers.
  • Luggage services.
  • Lost property services.

SBB – Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any boarding rules?

SBB provides a prompt service. As such, it is recommended that you arrive at the station at least 15 minutes before your train’s departure. Train doors remain open up until 1 second before the listed departure time.

How do I book a ticket?

By using Virail’s handy travel planner, you can select the journey, ticket type and travel dates for SBB services. You will then be automatically directed to the official SBB booking portal for ease of purchase.

How do I choose my seat?

Seat reservations are only obligatory on some of SBB’s services, denoted by the “R” on the timetable. You’ll find that international-bound trains are most likely to require reservation. Reservations cost CHF 5 per seat. You can also reserve a seat in the dining cart before traveling.

How can I change or cancel my ticket?

Tickets can be changed and canceled online before traveling. Exchanges are subject to a charge of 23 francs per application if changed up to 3 days before departure. If you change your ticket up to 2 days before departure, you will be charged 23 francs in addition to the difference in ticket price.

How can I get a refund for my ticket?

You can request a refund for partially used or unused tickets, including supersaver tickets through a form on the SBB site. Refunds can be requested up to 1 day before departure at a cost of 23 francs.

How can I reach SBB’s customer service?

SBB has a robust customer service, which can be reached by calling 0848 44 66 88. The service is available 24/7 in German, French, Italian, and English.

What is SBB’s luggage policy?

SBB provides many options for moving your luggage to your destination: Special luggage services, door-to-door luggage services, station-to-station luggage services, station-to-door luggage services, door-to-station luggage, and services for sending luggage to foreign countries. These freight services allow purses, suitcases, bags, and skiing equipment but not bicycles.

What is the SBB’s pet policy?

Do you frequently travel with your dog? Get the Day Pass or the GA travelcard for dogs. If you have a valid ticket, your dog can enjoy unlimited travel for a 1-day travel pass for just CHF 35. The GA travelcard for dogs goes for CHF 805. To bring your dog in the passenger carriages or luggage vans, you can pay the second-class half fare or the stipulated minimum fare in the case of a Day Pass or travelcard. Small dogs up to 30 cm tall are exempt and can travel with you free of charge.

Does SBB offer reduced mobility support?

Yes, SBB stations have special counters for passengers who use wheelchairs, counters with induction loop amplifiers for people with hearing impairments, free travel for guide dogs, support stations equipped with a Mobilift, and many more support services.

Do I need to book a ticket for my child?

Accompanied children travel free under 6 years of age and at a discounted rate up to 16 years old. These tickets can be purchased during the booking process.

Can my child travel alone?

Children are permitted to travel alone on SBB train services, with a ticket fare of 50% on unaccompanied minors under 6 years of age.

Can I bring my bike?

Bicycles are allowed on most SBB trains – simply look for “carriage of bicycles required” at the point of booking. To take your bicycle onboard, you should purchase a bike pass (1 day - CHF 14) for domestic routes. You can also transport your bike internationally through Europe with an international bike ticket for CHF 20). Services are time and space restricted when it comes to bicycles, with Zurich S-Bahn trains allowing bikes onboard only between 1am - 4pm and 7pm - 6am, Monday to Friday (with no restrictions on weekends).

Tips to travel cheaper with SBB?

There are many opportunities to book cheaper SBB tickets. For instance, the Half-Fare travelcard allows you to travel for half the price on all SBB routes and on most other means of transport. Look for supersaver tickets that have fares discounted up to 70%. The Half-Fare travelcard and the supersaver option can even be combined to get even better discounts. Both options apply to pets. There are also discounts for group travelers, early bookings and travelers with reduced mobility.

Your journey with SBB

Whether you intend to travel with your pet, bicycle or luggage, SBB goes a long way to ensure your trip is smooth and comfortable. We wish you a pleasant trip with SBB and welcome you to use Virail to plan your next trip.

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