When making the simple journey by train from Zurich to Bern you can choose between taking the express (IC) trains, or the regional (IR) trains.
The IC trains will get you there faster, but the IR trains can be money savers, particularly if you will be booking last minute at the station.
These are the express IC trains which are non-stop from Zurich to Bern.
So target these trains and avoid the slower alternative service of IR trains, particularly if you will be travelling with a rail pass.
Final Destination: Geneve-Aeroport (on route IC 1) or Brig (on route IC 8)
The double deck SBB IC trains are used on this route; the brand new LD/Twindexx trains should now be operating on some departures that are heading towards Geneve.
These IC trains use the 'higher' speed line between Olten and Bern.
From Zurich HB station:
These IC trains usually depart from gleis (platforms/tracks) 31 and 32 in the lower level part of the station,
(In contrast those IR trains have the advantage of departing from gleis (platforms/tracks) 3 -18 in the street-level part of the station).
Note that these trains should arrive in Zurich HB station around 7 mins before they are due to depart.
So keep an eye on the departure time and don't rush to board by the nearest door (if you don't have to)
From Zurich Flughafen/Airport:
These trains depart from Zurich Flughafen/Airport station 11 mins before they depart from the city centre station - Zurich HB.
2 x trains per hour
Book early and save: Yes - If you book Supersaver tickets (more info is available on the the SBB ticket guide below)
You may need to search through the departures to find them using the ‘earlier’ and ‘later’ buttons; so try and be flexible with your departure and arrival times.
Though the Supersaver tickets tend to sell out particularly quickly on these IC trains on this route; they are usually much more likely to be available on the alternative slower IR trains.
Online bookings open: up to two months ahead of the travel date
Seat reservations are optional on Swiss IC trains, so seats won't be assigned when booking online.
You can book reservations online for journeys by these IC trains, 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.
Seat reservations aren’t available on the alternative service of IR trains.
Travelling with a rail pass:
Rail pass users can jump on any train, without having to make reservations.
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Final Destination: Bern
As these trains complete their journeys in Bern, they tend to stand out on the departure screens at Zurich HB station.
But the alternative IC trains that call at Bern on route to Geneve or Brig are faster.
These slower IR trains tend to depart 3 mins after the departure of an IC train, that calls at Bern.
Though a plus of taking these IR trains is that the depart from gleis (platforms/tracks) beside the street level concourse at Zurich HB station.
You have to descend to the lower level in Zurich HB station, in order to catch those IC trains.
1 x train per hour
Book early and save: Yes
Cheaper ‘Supersaver’ tickets (those with a % on a red circle) are available on virtually on all of these IR trains, if you are booking at least a couple of days ahead.
So these IR trains can be a cheaper option if the 'Supersaver' tickets have sold out for the faster IC trains.
Look for IR in the ‘travel with’ column.
Rail Pass users should target those faster IC trains.
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