Zurich and Basel are comparatively close to each other, so it's no surprise that they are connected by express trains which depart at least once, but often twice per hour.
What is unusual about this route is that it's also taken by three international services, which travel beyond Basel:
(1) the ICE trains on the Zurich - Basel - Frankfurt - Hamburg route.
(2) EC trains from Zurich to north-west Germany
(3) TGV Lyria trains on the Zurich - Basel - Paris route.
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.
Though if you will be booking tickets last minute at the station, you'll likely save money by taking one of the alternative IR services, they're cheaper, but slower; though by around only 20 minutes.
IC trains = Basel
EC trains = Hamburg or Dortmund or Frankfurt
ICE trains = Hamburg or Frankfurt
TGV Lyria trains = Paris
Boarding at Zurich:
These express trains to Basel (and beyond) should be departing from the street level platforms/tracks at Zurich HB - gleis 3 - 18.
The train service
This express train service from Zurich to Basel is also unusual because it comprises a mix of Swiss IC trains AND international trains heading from Zurich to Germany = the EC and ICE trains AND trains heading to Paris = the Lyria trains
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 a Lyria service.
Though those discounted 'Supersaver' tickets are less likely to be available on the international trains.
1 - 2 x 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 the 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 the IR trains, but they're around 20 mins slower; though when the cheapest Supersaver tickets are sold out on these IC trains, or if you will be booking last minute at the station, those alternative IR trains can be cheaper.
There are also ICE and TGV trains between Zurich and Basel, but 'Supersaver' tickets are less likely to be available on these trains.
Trainline does not offer upgrades to 1st class tickets.
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.
|Ticket Provider||Approximate Cost|
There is a wide choice of trains and services on the Zurich to Basel route.
In addition to the 1 or 2* express trains per hour, which are non-stop between the two cities, there also slower IR trains, which operate on multiple routes between the two cities.
*In most hours there are two express trains.
If you will be buying tickets in advance, you will have to travel by the departure you have chosen if you opt for the discounted Supersaver tickets; so initially hone in on the faster trains when looking up this journey.
Though the alternative IR trains tend to be cheaper and they're typically only slower by 15 -20 mins.
If you will be buying tickets at the station, the tickets will be valid on any train so choose your departure with care if you want to get to Basel in the fastest possible time, or at the cheapest price.
If you will be travelling with a rail pass, you can just hop to which ever of the express train services; IC, ICE or TGV will be next to depart.
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