IR (Switzerland)

Inter-Regio (IR) is used to designate a service of trains within Switzerland and not a specific train - in fact multiple different types of train are used for IR departures.

As will be seen below, there is also some variety in the types of IR services, some of them are in effect fast commuter services, but others are seemingly very similar to the express IC services that operate between Swiss cities.

However, there are two not particularly obvious criteria, which set all IR services apart from the IC services.

On the IR services:

(1) The restuarant cars aren't available

(2) It isn't possible to reserve seats

Also regardless of what train is being used for an IR service:

(1) It will not have a bar/bistro counter (if it happens to be included in a trains's formation, it won't be available to passengers)
(2) No Wi-fi portal will be available.

Specific notes of what you can expect on board have been included on the guides below to the main routes taken by these IR services.

The main IR routes (most likely to be used by tourists):

As can be seen on this map most IR services travel comparatively long distances.
(The route numbers used on the map aren't used on the departure screens at stations).

IR services primarily take different routes to the express IC services, so between many destinations, they're the fastest regular trains.
But when they share a section of their routes with IC services, they usually call at more stations than those IC departures, so are slower.

The types of IR services offered can be broadly placed in two groups:

(1) The long distance IR services:

On these routes:

(1) Geneve Aeroport - Geneve - Lausanne - Montreux - Aigle - Martigny - Sion - Visp - Brig (route 90)
(2) Geneve Aeroport - Geneve - Lausanne - Fribourg - Bern - Luzern (route 15)

the trains used have the same single-deck IV coaches, as those that can be found on some express IC services.

The first class coaches on these trains, usually have power sockets, which only accept Swiss 3-pin plugs.

Also on these trains the difference between 1st class and 2nd class is particularly noticeable.

On these longer IR routes, a catering trolley is usually pushed through the train to provide an at seat catering service.

Also the trains used on these services can comprise 10 or more coaches, so if you will be taking a non-folding bike on board, when you book the reservation, ask where you should wait on the platform/track for easy access to the on board bike storage.

(2) The mid-distance IR services:

On the Zurich - Zug - Luzern service (route 70) the coaches used are the same as the older style of double deck coaches, that are used for IC services - the IC 2000 coaches.

On the Basel - Arau - Zurich - Zurich Flughafen/Airport - Winterhur - St Gallen (route 37) most of the depatures will now be by modified versions of the new Twindexx trains.
The key difference with the trains used on the IC routes, is that they don't have restaurant cars.

On these routes:

(i) Zurich - Zurich Flughafen/Airport - Winterthur - Konstanz (route 75)

(ii) Basel - Frick - Zurich - Zurich Flughafen/Airport (route 36)

(iv) Zurich - Zug - Arth-Godau - Erstfeld (route 46)

(v) Basel - Olten - Luzern - Arth-Godau - Erstfeld (route 26)*

...single deck trains are used, usually a slightly more basic version of the single-deck coaches, which are also used on IC services.

If you will be travelling with a non-folding bike, look for the bike symbols by the doors to the coaches equipped with bike racks.

*On this route, some services also convey observation cars, which can be accessed if you have a 1st class ticket or rail pass.

Routes 26 and 46:

Now that the Gotthard Base Tunnel has opened, the service of direct IR trains in both directions between Basel or Zurich and Locarno via Arth-Goldau and Bellinzona has been discontinued.

The IR services on this route via Arth-Goldau now only operate between Basel/Zurich and Erstfeld - where easy connections are available into 'Regional Express' to/from Bellinzona - some of which also serve Lugano.

Futher connections are required in Bellinzona to travel to/from Locarno - but the fastest opton for Basel and Zurich - Locarno journeys is to make connections in Bellinzona to/from the IC trains between there and both Basel and Zurich

An overview of train travel in Switzerland

How to buy tickets for Swiss train journeys


International train routes to/from Switzerland

Travelling on European daytime trains

Travelling on European overnight trains

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