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Where can you travel by international train from Switzerland this Christmas?

If you feel like getting away over the holidays, Swiss Federal Railways and its European partners offer many international travel options. Here's a run through of what's available.

Where can you travel by international train from Switzerland this Christmas?
You can travel by train to multiple destinations. Photo by AFP

After being mostly suspended due to border closures during the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak in the spring, the trains between Switzerland and neighbouring countries have gradually resumed their operations.

The timetable for various destinations indicated in this article shows just some links between Swiss and foreign cities.

You can see the complete schedule here.

READ MORE: Covid-19: What you need to know if you are travelling abroad from Switzerland

France

TGV Lyria, which is jointly operated by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and Société nationale des chemins de fer français (SNCF), will have several trains circulating both ways between Switzerland and France: Geneva and Paris, Lausanne and Paris, Basel-Zurich and Paris, and Geneva and Marseille.

These are some of the connections:

  • TGV 9764 depart Geneva 08:29 am, arrive Paris Gare de Lyon 11:42 am
  • TGV 9768 depart Lausanne 09 :44, arrive Paris Gare de Lyon 13:42
  • TGV 9770 depart Geneva 12 :30 pm, arrive Paris Gare de Lyon 15 :42
  • TGV 9230 depart Zurich 17 :34, arrive Paris Gare de Lyon 21:38
  • TGV 9230 depart Basel 18 :34, arrive Paris Gare de Lyon 22 :38

 


Italy:

Trains between Switzerland and Italy will also run, with two pairs of EuroCity trains operating on the Gotthard axis and two pairs on the Simplon axis.

  • • EC 313 depart Zurich 07:10, arrive Milan 10:50 am
  • • EC 316 depart Milan 11:10, arrive Zurich 2:50 pm
  • • EC 34 depart Milan 13:05, arrive Geneva 5:21 pm
  • • EC 37 depart Geneva 07:39, arrive Milan 11:40 am
  • • EC 50 depart Milan 07:20, arrive Basel 11:32 am
  • • EC 57 depart Basel 12:28, arrive Milan 4:40 pm

READ MORE: Travel in Switzerland: Geneva airport launches more Christmas flights

Germany:

More than 35 trains are running daily between Switzerland and Germany.

High-speed trains connect Zurich, Basel and Bern to Berlin, Munich, Köln, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart.

  • EC97 depart Zurich 07:03 am, arrive Munich 11:04
  • IR2366 depart Zurich 10:53, arriverFrankfurt 15:08
  • IC764 depart Basel 9:53 am, arrive Berlin 17:27
  • IC984 depart Bern 20:04, arrive Stuttgart 00:21 am

Austria

There are also 18 daily trains running between Zurich and the Austrian cities of Vienna, Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Graz.

  • EC163 depart Zurich 08 :40 am, arrive Innsbruck 12:11, and Vienna 16:30
  • RJX367 depart Zurich 16:40, arrive Salzburg 22:06

International rules

Whether travelling abroad by air, rail, or car, be aware of most recent regulations and restrictions that are in effect at your destination.

First, familiarise yourself with the health measures in each country, such as mask and social distance requirements. 

Also, learn about entry rules at the time of your trip.

Some countries require you to be tested for Covid-19 prior to arrival and present a negative result. Others have a compulsory quarantine.

Switzerland also requires arrivals from certain countries to self-quarantine for 10 days. 
 

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What is the fine for not filling out Switzerland’s Covid arrival form?

There is one essential form all travellers to Switzerland must fill out, but many don’t. If caught, border guards will hand out fines.

A 100-franc fine could be imposed on those who don’t fill out the Personal Locator Form
Important paperwork: Switzerland-bound travellers must fill out the PLF form or risk getting fined. Photo by Zurich Airport

With constantly changing travel rules, it is difficult to keep up with all the regulations that need to be followed to enter Switzerland (and all the other countries, for that matter).

Since September 20th, everyone arriving in Switzerland, regardless of their country of origin, mode of transport, or vaccination status, must fill out the electronic Personal Location Form (PLF).

Once filled out and registered online, you will receive a QR code which you will have to show when entering Switzerland.

However, some people may be unaware of the requirement and enter the country without this form.

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

Checks are done randomly, so many travellers slip in without having filled this form. But if caught, you will have to pay a 100-franc fine.

So far, 200 people had to pay this fine, according to Tamedia media group.

The only people exempted from this rule are transit passengers, long-haul lorry drivers transporting goods across borders,  children under 16, cross-border workers, and residents of border areas.

The PLF requirement is an addition to other travel regulations the Federal Council implemented in September:

Two tests to enter Switzerland are now required for the unvaccinated and unrecovered.

Unvaccinated arrivals and those who have not contracted and recovered from the virus in the past six months must show two negative tests. 

The first proof should be presented when arriving in Switzerland.  Then, four to seven days later, travellers will have to undergo another test, which they must pay for themselves.

Both PCR and antigen results are accepted.

These rules only apply to arrivals from nations not on the Switzerland’s high-risk list. As the United States and United Kingdom are considered high risk, only vaccinated people from those countries can arrive in Switzerland.

This article contains more information on the rules which apply. 

EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s new travel and Covid certificate rules?

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