With DebConf13 registrations opening very soon, it's about time to share some more about Swiss travel.

For all those who enjoyed the Glacier Express video, now there is another. This is the Rigi Bahn rack railway which goes from Vitznau up to the top of Mount Rigi (often just referred to as Rigi). At the top, it meets another train which goes to the junction of main railway lines at Arth-Goldau, and a cable car to Weggis

The video starts at the station in Vitznau (beside the ferry terminal) and rises up rapidly in a breathtaking ride to the snowy peak at approximately 2,000 meters. There are spectacular views of mountains to the south across the lake, and look out for the wild animals on the way. You need at least a 2Mbit connection to stream this video:

and here are download links for those who prefer to download now and watch later (about 250MB):

Swiss railway tickets

When looking at the price of rail passes, keep in mind the maximum price paid by a Swiss resident is never more than 8 CHF per day, because that is the cost of the unlimited annual ticket that many people have. People who don't have the unlimited pass have what is called a `half price card' which costs 150 CHF per year and allows them to buy any ticket at half the advertised price. This means that only the tourists pay the full advertised price, which is usually quite exorbitant. It is an extremely effective system of discrimination. A touist pays 8 CHF just for a 1 day pass for the center of a city like Zurich.

Switzerland does offer some short term unlimited passes that provide some discounts to visitors, it is necessary to think carefully about how many days you want to use to get the optimal package:

  • Swiss Travel System web site offers the passes for all of Switzerland. Visitors can buy a multi-day unlimited pass, and also get several days of half-price travel as well. For 5 days unlimited travel within 1 month, the cost is 364 CHF, includes half price travel for all other days in the month. Shorter and longer periods available.
  • The Tell Pass, named after William Tell is significantly cheaper, offering unlimited travel just within the central mountain area. The Tell Pass includes use of the Rigi Bahn train shown in this blog, and is valid for travel to Andrematt, where you have to buy an extra ticket to ride on the Glacier Express train from the other blog. That is not so bad though, because you can buy a one-way ticket from Andermatt up to Natschen and then walk back down. The region covered by the Tell Pass is really quite big, centered around Luzern, it goes all the way west to Interlaken and south-east to Andermatt in the high mountains. Tell Pass costs 246 CHF for 15 days half-price travel including 5 days unlimited travel. Shorter periods available too.
  • More regional passes like the Tell Pass are available for people who want to spend less money by just visiting one area of Switzerland.
  • The SBB.ch web site has all the timetables for the trains, ferries, Postbuses and other services.

Please click here to access some of my previous blogs about Swiss travel with videos and useful ideas for day trips.