Taking the train from Basel to Zurich is straightforward as it's a journey which doesn't have to be planned with care.
There are typically 4 or 5 x trains per hour travelling between the two cities, two or three express trains and two slightly slower InterRegio (IR) trains, which will be cheaper when booking tickets last minute at the station.
What does make this route unusual is the variety of trains used for the express (IC) services.
Because in addition to Swiss trains, TGV trains which have travelled to Switzerland from Paris and ICE trains heading to Zurich and beyond from Germany are also slotted into the timetable.
In effect they replace one of the Swiss trains in the hours in which they operate, so the national rail operator SBB applies the same conditions of travel to them, as it does to its IC trains.
Meaning that reservations are available, but optional and the type of train being used for a departure has no impact on the ticket price(s).
Final Destination: Zurich or Chur
If you want to take one of the fast non-stop trains from Basel to Zurich, it doesn't particularly matter which type of train you travel by, the ticketing terms and conditions are generally the same; as reservations aren't compulsory on the Lyria services when travelling between Basel and Zurich.
Though you're slightly more likely to see discounted Supersaver/Sparbilletter tickets available on the Swiss IC trains.
There are also additional IR services which have not been included in the frequency of **these express trains
They're around 20-25 mins slower than these express trains, but they're likely to be cheaper when booking last minute at the station.
One of these hourly IR trains provides the direct rail link from Basel to Zurich Fughafen/Airport.
1 - 2 x express trains per hour
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
It’s worth targeting These IC trains when travelling from Zurich to Basel, as they're the fastest trains on which 'Supersaver' tickets are most likely to be available.
(They’re easier to spot on the SBB app).
Supersaver tickets are also available on IR trains between Basel and Zurich.
Those IR trains around 20 mins slower, though when the cheapest Supersaver tickets are sold out on these IC trains, they can be cheaper.
So they tend to be cheaper when booking tickets just prior to travel.
There are also ICE and TGV trains between Zurich and Basel, but 'Supersaver' tickets are less likely to be available for those trains
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
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By Swiss standards the journey between Basel and Zurich is unexceptional, but there are some fleeting views over the landscape to be enjoyed, which anywhere else in Europe would be exceptional; particularly around 20 minutes into the journey when the train has passed through Sissach.
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This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.