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Old 07-31-10, 08:59 PM   #1
spinnaker
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Bicycles on trains in Switzerland?

I want to get a jump start into Como from Locarno by taking a train.

I searched on the SSB website and I have a timetable for Locarono to Como via Giubiasco.

The first train has no designation at all regarding bicycles. What does this mean? Are they not allowed or allowed without restriction.

The second train into Como has a VL next to it which means BICYCLES: Self-service loading by sender limited.

What does the limited mean? Do I need to make a reservation for the bicycle? Can I do this at the station right before I leave? Or do I need to make it well in advance?
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Old 08-01-10, 02:10 AM   #2
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Taking your bike on Swiss trains is quite simple. Here is what you need to know: Most trains allow you to take your bike. I can't remember if I ever encountered a train in Switzerland that didn't allow it. You pay either for a day pass (CHF 15 or so), or buy a regular ticket for the specific route you're taking (whichever is cheaper). Reservations are not required except on the ICN high speed trains. When you get to the platform there is often a legend posted on the track with the locations of the bike cars. The bike cars will have a bike logo on the side where you can load your bike. That's really all there is to it.

The one exception is that you're traveling to Italy, so there might be additional things to buy. I know there is an Italian train that travels a section of the route you're taking, and they don't allow bikes. But if you stick with the Swiss trains, you should be okay. Just go to the ticket counter and they'll set you up.

The other alternative is bike it. Tessin is some of my favourite cycling in Switzerland.

Last edited by chrisch; 08-01-10 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 08-01-10, 09:59 AM   #3
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Thanks chrisch!

Yes I heard the same from another website. with the exception that if the route is international a reservation is required. On the website, if a bike symbol with a slash is NOT shown, it means bikes are allowed. A VL means reservations are required (I probably saw this because of Como). I plan to just get off in Chiasso to avoid the problem with international train travel. It will be a little closer to my destination anyway.

Thank you for the tip on the day pass. That maigh make things a little cheaper.


In Italy, the bike car is often locked. If it is locked then you place the bike in the space between any two cars. Are there problems with the bike car being locked in Switzerland?
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Old 08-01-10, 11:26 PM   #4
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I'm not familiar with the VL designation, so I can't help you there. I've never come across a locked bike car. Often the bike car (or cars) is integrated into the normal passenger cars. Look for hooks hanging from the ceiling from where you can hang your bike.

I don't know what your plans are, but I highly recommend cycling the section from Airolo to Locarno. The first 40km is downhill with some of the most spectacular mountain scenery. The remaining kilometers to Locarno is generally flat.

Have fun!
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Old 08-02-10, 12:43 AM   #5
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Just to follow up, I just took a Swiss train from Basel to Lausanne, and it was as easy as chrisch says. On the IC trains, at least, there are three bike hooks in one of the cars -- best to have a reservation during this time of year.

I have found that it is almost impossible to book a bike reservation online for international travel. Within one country is usually easy, but crossing the borders makes their computers work too hard. Call ahead if you want to be sure of a spot.
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Old 08-02-10, 12:52 AM   #6
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Just a minor point.. I think it's only the ICN trains that require a reservation. Those are the long white trains.
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Old 08-02-10, 08:06 AM   #7
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For what it might be worth, I tried to put my bike on a train from Zweissimmen to Gstaad but was told that it didn't take bikes. I had to wait an hour for the next train.

Don't assume that *all* Swiss internal trains allow bikes. Ask about a specific train if specific time or route is important.

Ray
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Old 08-02-10, 09:15 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by chrisch View Post
Just a minor point.. I think it's only the ICN trains that require a reservation. Those are the long white trains.
OK, come to think of it, it was a long, white train.

The funniest part was working out how to get my bike past the two that were already there, and helping the other two get off in Yverdon. The whole conversation was in English until the very end, when the wife thanked her husband for something by saying, "Tak!"

Turns out they were Danes (I've been living here several years), and we proceeded to have a quick conversation in Danish -- we even live in the same city and he goes to the university where I work!
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Old 08-02-10, 07:18 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone, .

I think one rule is that if it is a fast train or a long distance train, bikes are not allowed or are required to be boxed. It is this way in Italy.

chrisc, the VL simply means you need a reservation for the bike. You are supposed to resverve space for the bike when crossing borders (forever reason).

Gee thanks for giving me some place else to check out. I doubt we will get to Airolo. It is 70km out of my way. Can I go to a closer town and still get a decent ride? Is it worth going to Locarno (from Stresa). But I guess the good section is in the fist 40km, as in your post. Maybe I can ride a bit and then just catch a train??

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Old 08-02-10, 08:02 PM   #10
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I don't know what your plans are, but I highly recommend cycling the section from Airolo to Locarno. The first 40km is downhill with some of the most spectacular mountain scenery. The remaining kilometers to Locarno is generally flat.

Have fun!
Are you talking about the road that follows A2? I just might be able to work that in time wise if I also use a train.

I am wondering if I will have a problem with getting the bike on the train to Airolo during rush hour???
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