Between Biel and Neuchatel on route IC 5

Zürich / Zurich to Lausanne by train

How to take the rail journey from Zurich to Lausanne

What is unusual is that the IC trains from Zurich to Geneva/Genève take two different routes, one of the hourly trains travels via Bern awhile the other hourly train travels via Neuchatel and takes a more scenic route along the shore of Lake Biel.



From Zürich HB / Zurich main station to Lausanne

Travel Information

There are two different IC express train services available between Zurich and Lausanne

(1) Route IC 1 via Bern

The brand new LD/Twindexx trains are now operating most departures, but regardless of whether you will be travelling on an older or newer train, double-deck trains are used on this route.

This train will usually depart from the lower level platforms/tracks in Zurich HB station (gleis 31 or 32)
It will normally arrive 5 mins before it is due to depart, so keep an eye on the departure time, you many not have to rush to board by the nearest door.

Final Destination: Genéve-Aeroport

All trains also call at: Fribourg

(2) Route IC 5 via Biel

The tilting ICN trains are used on this route.

At Zurich HB these trains will depart either from the platforms/tracks (gleis 3 - 18) which can be accessed from the street level concourse, OR from gleis 31-32 in the lower level of the station.

What may not be obvious is that two ICN trains can be joined together on departure from Zurich, so on some departures only the front train will travel on to Lausanne, the rear train will be terminating in Biel.
Though when that is occurring multi-lingual announcements are made on the train and you will also need be asked to move seats if need be by the train conductor.

All trains also call at: Biel and Neuchatel

From Zurich Flughafen/Airport:

The trains on route IC 1 via Bern all call at at Zurich Flughafen/Airport station 16 mins before they depart from the city centre station, Zurich HB and 50% of the trains on route IC 5 via Biel also call at the airport station.

So there are one OR two direct trains per hour between Zurich Airport and Lausanne

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 these 'Supersaver' tickets using the ‘earlier’ and ‘later’ buttons.

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

The train service between Zurich and Lausanne is split between:

1: Double deck IC trains that travel via Bern (these trains are slightly faster)
2: Tilting ICN trains that travel via Biel

So try and be flexible with your departure and arrival times and don't be overly concerned whether you will be taking an IC or ICN train; though the Supersaver tickets are much MORE likely to be available on the ICN trains.

Seat reservations:

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.

Travelling with a rail pass:

Rail pass users can jump on any train, 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.

Trainline *

Trainline Guide

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.

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

Journey Features

Scenic - YesLake views

Good to Know

Which route should I choose?

A quirk of the timetable is that the trains on route IC 5 via Biel are usually scheduled to depart from Zurich only 2 mins before the trains on route IC 1.

So if you will be buying tickets at the station or using a rail pass, the trains via Biel become a logical choice for making this journey.

Though it can be fun to travel from Zurich on one route and return on the other; between Olten and Lausanne the two routes are very different.

Though if you will be booking tickets in advance online, you save money if you can purchase Supersaver train tickets.
Be guided by price, rather than the route, though the cheaper tickets tend to be more widely available on the trains via Biel.

Journey description:

via Bern

It's worth travelling on the upper deck in order to see these views at their best; these two videos below were filmed from a train travelling in the opposite direction.

This part of the journey is so fabulous that it merited a place on the list of the 15 Most Beautiful Swiss Train Journeys.

via Biel

From the left of the train (when facing the direction) of travel there are some wonderful views over the lakes...

over Lake Bienne after departure from Biel/Bienne station...

...and after Neuchatel the lake which takes its name from the city...

Between Biel and Neuchatel on route IC 5 Between Biel and Neuchatel on route IC 5
Departing from Neuchatel on route IC 5 Departing from Neuchatel on route IC 5
Travelling through the vineyards south of Neuchatel Travelling through the vineyards south of Neuchatel
On route IC 5 the best of the views are on the left On route IC 5 the best of the views are on the left
The stunning view over Lake Geneva which can be seen on the IC 1 route The stunning view over Lake Geneva which can be seen on the IC 1 route
Lake Geneva can be seen on the left hand side of the train Lake Geneva can be seen on the left hand side of the train
The descent to Lausanne on route IC 1 on a glorious day The descent to Lausanne on route IC 1 on a glorious day
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