Changing trains in Basel SBB station

Bern to Basel / Bâle by train

How to take the rail journey from Bern to Basel

Bern and Basel are comparatively close to each other, so it's no surprise that they are connected by express trains which typically depart twice per hour until laate

What is unusual about this route is that it's also taken by two international services:
(1) the ICE trains and a daily EC which travel beyond Basel to Germany;
(2) EC trains from Italy which are heading to Basel.

These international services are slotted into the timetable, so in effect their departures are substitutes for the SBB IC trains, which comprise most of the services.

However, when booking tickets for these express trains, or using rail passes on this route within Switzerland, it doesn't matter whether you take an Swiss express IC train, or one of these international trains; it is the demand per departure which impacts on the ticket prices and not the type of train being used.



From Bern main station to Basel SBB/Bâle CFF

Travel Information

This express train service from Bern to Basel is unusual because of the variety of trains used on this international route.
Most of the departures are by Swiss IC trains operated by the national operator, SBB, but it uses a mix of its single deck and double-deck (IC 2000) trains; some departures comprise both single and double deck coaches.

However, two international services also travel between Bern and Basel;

  1. ICE trains on the the Interlaken - Bern - Basel - Karlsruhe - Frankfurt (Main) - Berlin or Hamburg route; ICE 4 trains are used on most of these services
  2. EC trains on the Milano - Brig - Bern -Basel route; Astoro trains are used for most of these departures

The timetable is arranged so that these international trains aren't additional trains, so in the hours in which they depart, they in effect take the place of a Swiss IC train.
But if you will be buying a ticket or using a rail pass, it doesn't matter which train service you will be travelling by; Swiss 'rules' apply to the journey if you won't be travelling beyond Basel.
Meaning that reservations are optional, even if you will be travelling on an EC service.

Though those discounted 'Supersaver' tickets are less likely to be available on the international trains and the EC trains in particular tend to be busier; many of the IC services commence their journeys in Bern, so finding available seats on these departures won't be a problem.
The ICE trains on to Germany typically depart at 07:04; 11:04 and 16:04.
The EC trains typically depart at 10:34; 14:36; 18:36 and 21:26.

Final Destinations:

IC trains = Basel
EC trains = Basel
ICE trains = Berlin or Hamburg

All trains also call at: Olten

Onward connections summary:

Connect in Basel SBB for destinations in eastern France including Colmar, Dijon, Mulhouse and Strasbourg.

Also for other ICE services to Germany including trains to Koln/Cologne and Hamburg and overnight Nightjet services to Berlin and Hamburg.

2 x trains per hour until 21:40 then 1 x train per hour
Final departure typically at 23:36


Book early and save: Yes - If you book Supersaver tickets; more info is available on the SBB ticket guide below.

Online bookings open: up to two months ahead of the travel date

Seat reservations:

Seat reservations are optional on Swiss IC trains, so seats won't be assigned when booking online.

You can book reservations online, AFTER you have booked a ticket, by using the SBB (Swiss national railways) seat reservation service - OR request a reservation when booking at a station ticket office.

Travelling with a rail pass:

Rail pass users can jump on any train, including the TGV or ICE trains, without having to make reservations.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost

SBB Guide

SBB is the main national rail operator in Switzerland, but tickets for journeys by the other significant operators including BLS and SOB can be be booked on the SBB website.

SBB also sells tickets for journeys to many destinations which involve a combination of SBB trains and services provided by the many independent operators who serve the Alpine resort towns.
However, if you will be making a long-distance return day trip, look out for he possibility of SaverDay passes being cheaper than tickets.

Though if you download the SBB app, booking tickets on SBB's mobile services can be simper than using the website.
Also watch out for the fact that booking international tickets can be comparatively quirky.

Omio *

Omio Guide

Omio is an online ticket agency which offers tickets for rail journeys in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.

The three key advantages of using Omio are

  • it offers prices in multiple currencies
  • it usually offers price comparison with other modes of travel including flights and buses
  • when visiting Europe, you can book journeys in multiple countries in one transaction.

The disadvantage of booking with Omio is that it often adds a booking fee to the final price; therefore when it does so without offering a price advantage, SMTJ doesn't tend to offer Omio as a booking option.

Trainline *

Trainline Guide

Happy rail *

Happy rail Guide

Happy Rail is a Netherlands rail ticket agency which sells tickets for both national and international journeys within a range of countries including Belgium France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland.

HappyRail doesn't charge booking fees in the conventional sense, but if you're not Dutch you can expect to pay additional transaction fees, which will be added to the total cost.
That's because the most common form of online payment used in The Netherlands is 'iDEAL' and HappyRail doesn't charge a transaction fee for 'iDEAL' payments, but only Dutch residents can sign up to 'iDEAL'.
Other forms of payment include Visa debit cards will incur a fee.

On this journey

Good to Know

The Swiss IC trains and the EC services will terminate at Basel SBB, but the ICE trains also call at Basel Bad Bf which is located to the north of the city centre.

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