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Switzerland Travel Guide

Travel & Transport in Switzerland

AIR: All services are operated by Swiss. Domestic air travel is fast but expensive, and with the exception of the Geneva to Zürich flight, many businesspeople prefer to travel by rail or road.

RAIL: Rail transport is particularly well developed in Switzerland, with excellent services provided by Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB) and many other operators. Use of the Swiss Pass (see below) is a superb way to view the scenery, although mainline services are geared to the needs of the hurried business traveler. Trains run at least hourly from the major centres and there is a country-wide timetable of regular services. There are dining cars on many trains, and snacks and refreshments are widely available. Independent railways, such as the Rhätische Bahn in the Grisons and the Berner-Oberland-Bahn, provide services in certain parts of the country. The SBB has introduced specialized cars for disabled people using wheelchairs. Facilities include a lift for wheelchairs, a specially adapted WC and radios adapted for people with hearing difficulties.


There are also a large number of mountain railways which are sometimes the only means of access to winter resorts. Some of these are attractions in their own right: the Gornergrat-Bahn in Zermatt is one of the oldest mountain railways and climbs to a height of over 3000m above sea level, offering a spectacular panorama of the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains.

Cheap fares: Available from Switzerland Tourism. The Swiss Pass gives unlimited travel on rail services, those of other main regional operators, boats, an extensive network of buses and city trams, as well as reduced price travel on other mountain railways not included in the full scheme. Tickets can be purchased for four, eight, 15, 21 or 28 days. An STS family card allows children up to 16 years of age free travel when accompanied by parents. There are also regional tickets for unlimited travel in different parts of Switzerland at various rates. Other offers include a Swiss Transfer Ticket allowing return travel from a Swiss border or airport to a selected destination. A leaflet describing all the schemes is available from Switzerland Tourism. A comprehensive timetable for all Swiss public transport can also be purchased. InterRail cards are valid.

ROAD: Traffic drives on the right. Road quality is generally good. Many mountain roads are winding and narrow, and often closed in heavy winter conditions; otherwise chains and snow tyres may be necessary. Rail is often more efficient than driving. Bus: Postal motor coaches provide a service to even the remotest villages, but under the integrated national transport policy few long-distance coaches are allowed to operate. Taxi: All taxis have meters for short and long trips, although it is advisable to agree the fare for longer distances out of town. Car hire: Available in all towns from hotels and airports and at all manned rail stations. All major European companies are represented. Regulations: The minimum driving age is 18. Seat belts are obligatory and children under 12 years must travel in the back of the car. Dipped headlights are compulsory during the day. Drink-driving fines are heavy. Speed limits: 80kph (50mph) on country lanes; max 120kph (75mph), min 60kph (37mph) on motorways; and 50kph (31mph) in towns.

URBAN: Highly efficient and integrated urban public transport systems serve as a model for other countries. There are tramways and light rail services in Basle, Bern, Geneva , Neuchâtel and Zürich. These and a further dozen cities also have trolleybuses. Fares systems are generally automated with machines issuing single or multiple tickets at the roadside. Tickets are also available at enquiry offices. Fares are generally zonal. There is a day ticket for travel in one or more Swiss cities on any given day at a standard fare. Taxis are widely available and drivers expect a 15 per cent tip.
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