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Travel On Train IC (Switzerland)
The double deck IC 2000 trains are the most common type of Swiss IC train

IC (Switzerland)

If you will be taking a IC express train service in Switzerland, this guide will tell you the key things you need to know about the different types of train.

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At a Glance

Travel Pass Supplement

Rail Pass Reservation Fees
Reservations

Available
Time of Day

Day
Catering

Food services available

Restaurant
Bar (sandwiches, snacks, salads)
Accessibility

Accessing the train

Wheelchair Spaces
Bikes Allowed
Train Specification

Attributes of the train

Has a Conductor
Country

Which country these trains operate in.

Switzerland
Travel Passes
Eurail
InterRail
Swiss Travel Pass
Saver Day Pass

On Board

First Class

Perks
Power Socket

The power sockets on this train are compatible with standard E.U. two point plugs.

Trolley Service:

A catering trolley with hot and cold drinks and snacks should be taken through the train at some point during its journey.

Second Class

Perks
Trolley Service:

A catering trolley with hot and cold drinks and snacks should be taken through the train at some point during its journey.

Power Socket

The power sockets on this train are compatible with standard E.U. two point plugs.

IC (Switzerland) travel guide:

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 which are now being modernised.

(2) New double deck LD/Twindexx trains, which are gradually replacing the IC 2000 trains on some routes.

(3 Tilting single deck ICN trains.

(4) Single deck trains which use IV coaches.

The IC 2000 trains:

The exterior of the older IC 2000 coaches used on some SBB IC departures The exterior of the older IC 2000 coaches used on some SBB IC departures
Lower deck 1st class seating Lower deck 1st class seating
1st class upper deck seating saloon on an IC 2000 train 1st class upper deck seating saloon on an IC 2000 train

All of the routes taken by these trains have incredible 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:

  • it is easier to move through the train at the upper deck to seek out spare seats
  • 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.

On these trains all the power sockets, (which are only available in 1st class on the yet to be modernised trains, but can now be found in both classes on the refurbished trains) are only compatible with Swiss 3 pin plugs.

Routes:

These IC 2000 double decks are the most common type of train used for Swiss IC services and they operate on these routes:

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

IC 6: Basel - Olten - Bern - Thun - Spiez - Visp - Brig (some departures)

IC 8: Romanshorn - Winterthur - Zurich Flughafen - Zurich HB - Bern - Thun - Spiez - Visp - Brig (all departures)

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

On Board:

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

The trains which are yet to be refurbished can also appear to be a tad worn, they are arguably inferior to the externally similar, but newer, double-deck RE commuter trains that can now be found in some Swiss cities.
However, the modernised trains look very smart indeed!

The LD / Twindexx trains:

Upper deck 2nd class seating saloon on a SBB LD/Twindexx train Upper deck 2nd class seating saloon on a SBB LD/Twindexx train
Upper deck 1st class seating saloon on a SBB LD/Twindexx train Upper deck 1st class seating saloon on a SBB LD/Twindexx train
The smart exterior of these new Twindexx trains The smart exterior of these new Twindexx trains

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

  • it is easier to move through the train at the upper deck to seek out spare seats
  • the restaurant 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 - Geneve Aeroport (now virtually all departures)

IC 2: Zurich - Zug - Bellinzona - Lugano - Chiasso (some departures, particularly the trains which terminate in Chiasso)

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

IC 21: Basel - Luzern - Bellinzona - Lugano (a few departures)

On Board:

In comparison to the older double-decked Swiss IC 2000 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 prams/pushchairs/strollers
(7) More bike racks

As these trains represent a significant step-forward from the older IC 2000 trains, there is a dedicated guide to travelling by these trains; see below.

The ICN trains:

A tilting ICN train as used on some SBB IC routes A tilting ICN train as used on some SBB IC routes
1st class seating saloon on an ICN train 1st class seating saloon on an ICN train

These trains operate on these routes:

IC 2: Zurich - Zug - Arth Goldau - Bellinzona - Lugano (a few departures)

IC 5: Rorsach - St Gallen - Winterthur - Zurich Flughafen - Zurich HB - Olten - Biel/Bienne - Neuchatel - Geneve - Geneve Aeroport (all departures)
and
Zurich HB - Olten - Biel/Bienne - Neuchatel - Lausanne (all departures)

IC 21: Basel - Luzern - Arth Goldau - Bellinzona - Lugano (a few departures)

IC 51: Basel - Delémont - Moutiers - Biel/Bienne (all departures)
(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 the specific guide to using these trains, which you can find below.

The single deck (IV) trains:

The single deck IV coaches used on other SBB IC routes The single deck IV coaches used on other SBB IC routes
1st class seating saloon on a IV coach on a single deck SBB IC train 1st class seating saloon on a IV coach on a single deck SBB IC train
The 2nd class seat on a single-deck Swiss IC train The 2nd class seat on a single-deck Swiss IC train

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

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

IC 6: Basel - Olten - Bern - Thun - Spiez - Visp - Brig (some departures)

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

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.

Common features of all Swiss IC services:

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 some of the coaches on the IC 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'.

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.

You can book reservations online, 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.

If you haven’t reserved check the info screens on the platform which shows which zones the train will occupy when it arrives at a station.
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.

Catering:

The restaurant on a single deck IV train The restaurant on a single deck IV train
The restaurant on an ICN train The restaurant on an ICN train

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.

A new innovation is that between 07:00 and 18:30 on some routes the full restaurant menu is available at your seat when travelling First Class; thereby avoiding the need to have to head to the restaurant car to have a meal.
The routes when this service is available are:
Between Zurich and Bern on route IC1 (Zurich - Geneve)
Between Zurich and Brig on route IC 8
and in certain parts of the train on IC route 5; St Gallen - Winterthur - Zurich Flughafen - Zurich HB - Olten - Biel/Bienne - Neuchatel - Lausanne
and
Zurich HB - Olten - Biel/Bienne - Neuchatel - Geneve - Geneve Aeroport

On single deck IC trains and on the upper deck for the double deck trains, an at seat trolley catering of snacks and hot/cold drinks is USUALLY provided.
It is not complimentary in 1st class.

Bicycles:

All of these trains used for IC services are fitted with bike storage spaces, which are indicated on the outsides of the train
Though as these trains can be up to 12 coaches long, being at the station early to work out where to wait for easy boarding is recommended.

On the SBB trains a day bike pass costs CH 14 and they can be booked online here.
The only other bike ticket available is a short-distance single journey ticket, which costs half the Adult fare.

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