IC (Switzerland)

If you will be taking a journey by SBB's IC trains, our guide will tell you the key things you need to know, from insights for travelling by the different types of train, to making the most of the journey experience.

In Switzerland IC (Intercity) is a train service and not a specific type of train.

Four types of train are now used by Swiss national rail operator SBB on its IC routes and services

(1) Double deck IC 2000 trains - these are the older double deck trains
(2) New double deck LD/Twindexx trains, which are gradually replacing the IC 2000 trains
(3 Tilting single deck ICN trains.
(4) Single deck trains which use IV coaches.

Some departures combine both the single and double deck coaches.

THE IC 2000 TRAINS      l           THE LD/TWINDEXX TRAINS      


THE ICN TRAINS
      l           SINGLE DECK (IV) TRAINS


RESERVATIONS
      l           CATERING     


SUMMARY


Common to all Swiss IC trains:

What all of SBB's IC services share are:

- the provision of restaurant cars
- a trolley service of drinks/snacks
- a bistro/bar service
- a lack of Wi-fi provision*
-  'Quiet Zones' in which calls cannot be made in mobile phones - look for the signs on the widows which feature phone with a line through it.

Don't make a call before checking that you are NOT in a Quiet Zone.

*Swiss national rail operator SBB does not provide wi-fi on its trains in the conventional sense - meaning that passengers can't log on to a SBB portal for wi-fi.

Instead SBB has equipped its IC trains most IR trains with signal amplifiers to enable enhanced connectivity with local mobile networks.

The coaches/cars equipped with this equipment have symbols by the doors - and SBB suggests that passengers who wish to access wi-fi during a journey, should travel in these coaches in order to access these 'hotspots'.

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THE DOUBLE DECK TRAINS - IC 2000:

All power sockets on these trains are only compatible with Swiss 3 pin plugs.

Virtually all the IC routes have scenic highlights, so an obvious advantage of being on the upper deck are the better opportunities to make the most of the views.

However, there are less obvious advantages of heading to the upper deck:
(i) it is easier to move through the train at the upper deck to seek out spare seats
(ii) the restaurant on the double deck trains is at the upper level.

The lower deck can feel more spacious as there’s more headroom - and if you have heavy luggage it obviously saves you the effort of heaving it upstairs.
There are luggage racks in the lower and upper deck seating saloons.

The toilets are also located on both decks.

Routes:

These IC 2000 double deck trains operate on these routes:

IC 1: St Gallen - Winterthur - Zurich Flughafen - Zurich HB - Bern - Fribourg - Lausanne - Geneve - Aeroport*

IC 6:  Basel - Olten - Bern - Thun - Spiez - Visp - Brig*

IC 8: Romanshorn - Winterthur - Zurich Flughafen - Zurich HB - Olten - Bern - Thun - Spiez - Visp - Brig

IC 61: Basel - Olten - Bern - Thun - Spiez - Interlaken West - Interlaken Ost (some departures)*

*They are being replaced on these routes by the new LD/Twindexx trains.

On Board:

The seating can seem comparatively cramped on these older double deck trains - particularly on the upper deck.

Some of these trains can also appear to be a tad worn, reflecting the fact that over the next three years, many of those in service will be replaced during the delayed introduction of the newer LD/Twindexx trains  

These older IC 2000 trains are arguably inferior to the externally similar, but newer, double-deck RE commuter trains that can now be found in some Swiss cities.

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THE LD/TWINDEXX TRAINS:

Like the older IC 2000 trains, if you travel on the upper deck:

(i) it is easier to move through the train at the upper deck to seek out spare seats
(ii) the restaurant on the double deck trains is at the upper level.

The lower deck can feel more spacious as there’s more headroom - and if you have heavy luggage it obviously saves you the effort of heaving it upstairs.
There are luggage racks in the lower and upper deck seating saloons.

The toilets are also located on both decks.

Routes:

These new LD/Twindexx trains are gradually being introduced on these routes:

IC 1: St Gallen - Winterthur - Zurich Flughafen - Zurich HB - Bern - Fribourg - Lausanne - Geneve - Aeroport (most departures)

IC 3:  Basel - Zurich HB - Landquart - Chur

IC 6:  Basel - Olten - Bern - Thun - Spiez - Visp - Brig

IC 61: Basel - Olten - Bern - Thun - Spiez - Interlaken West - Interlaken Ost (some departures)

On Board:

In comparison to the older decked Swiss IC trains, these new LD (Twindexx) trains have:

(1) Electronic info screens on board, which gives details of the route and list the details of the connecting departures available at the next station, which the train will be calling at.

(2) Power sockets available in 2nd class, as well as 1st class

(3) More wheelchair accessible compartments and toilets

(4) Toilets which have baby changing facilities

(5) A dedicated family car

(6) More space for parms/pushchairs/strollers

(7) More bike racks

As these trains represent a signicant step-forward from the older IC 2000 trains - whe have produced a dedicated GUIDE to travelling by these trains.

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THE ICN TRAINS:

These trains operate on these routes.

IC 2:  Zurich - Zug - Arth Goldau - Bellinzona - Lugano

IC 5:  St Gallen - Winterthur - Zurich Flughafen - Zurich HB - Olten - Biel/Bienne - Neuchatel - Lausanne 
and
Zurich HB - Olten - Biel/Bienne - Neuchatel - Geneve - Geneve Aeroport

IC 21:  Basel - Luzern - Arth Goldau - Bellinzona - Lugano

IC 51:  Basel - Delémont - Moutiers - Biel/Bienne (connect in Biel for Geneve and Lausanne

These single-deck TILTING trains are quite different to the SBB trains used for other IC services. They used to be specifically designated as ICN services on timetables - hence our specific guide to using these trains here.

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THE SINGLE DECK TRAINS:

The single deck trains with the IV coaches are more common on these routes

IC 3:  Basel - Zurich HB - Landquart - Chur (some departures)

IC 61: Basel - Olten - Bern - Thun - Spiez - Interlaken West - Interlaken Ost (some departures)

Though the new double-deck LD/Twindexx trains are gradually being introduced on both of these routes.

These IV coaches are also used on the longer IR routes in Switzerland.

On Board:

The single deck trains/coaches are spacious, airy and comparatively comfortable – a big plus for scenic journeys is that the majority of the seats line up with the large windows on the single deck trains (all do in 1st class).

However, the single deck IC trains have no wheelchair access, though they do have bike racks - look for the symbol on the exterior of a coach - normally located in the first or last coach.

Some of the single deck coaches have Swiss 3-pin AND standard E.U. sockets.

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RESERVATIONS:

Seat reservations are optional on Swiss IC trains but a big plus of the double deck trains is that they have a lot of seats, so making a reservation isn't essential.

Though if you're going to be travelling in 2nd class for more than an hour, during business hours, reservations can give peace of mind.

If you have reserved then check the coach number in which your seat is located and wait in the appropriate zone on the gleis/platform/track.

Don’t be surprised if the zone you need is some distance from your entrance point to the gleis/platform/track, IC trains can be very long.

If you haven’t reserved still check the zones in which the coaches will be located.

Head for the zones furthest away from the entrance to the gleis/platform/track, fewer people will have headed to the far ends of each train, so you should increase your chances of finding a seat.

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CATERING:

All Swiss IC trains have restaurant cars and they're popular at meal times, as prices aren't exponentially more expensive compared to standard restaurants.

If you want to have a meal head direct to the restaurant car when boarding and spend your journey in the car - it doesn't matter whether you have a 1st or 2nd class ticket.

On single deck IC trains and on the upper deck for the double deck trains, at seat trolley catering is usually provided.
It is not complimentary in 1st class.

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Catering
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Restaurant
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