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.
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 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.
|Ticket Provider||Approximate Cost|
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.
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.
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...
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