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Taking the rail to Zermatt - baggage question

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone,
I feel kind of silly posting this, but I can't seem to find a definitive answer online from the Swiss rail website.

My fiance and I are going on our honeymoon to Zermatt, and the schedule is a bit "tight" to start off... we leave Canada on Saturday, arrive in Zermatt Sunday, and then we have ski school that Monday.

It seems like the options they have for rail-baggage all go something like "check your bags at the train station and pick them up at your destination 2 days later"... is that how it works?

Is there anyway you just carry your skis onto the plane?

Any other solutions??

Thanks!!
post #2 of 13
we stayed in Geneva for a couple of days and shipped our bags on the train the day before
we took the train.

I guess you could take the skis with you. I was travelling with Kids and was concerned about transferring luggage at Brig from one train to the other. I hope you know that you have to change trains in Brig.
post #3 of 13
Sometimes the change is at Visp. When I passed through there, last season, there were plenty of carts, and ramps leading to the underground passage between platforms - so it's quite easy to wheel a loaded cart between trains. Same at Geneva Airport.

Hey, wait a minute, WHIGMI, aren't you the Snowbird snow harbinger? I certainly hope you're in Zermatt the same week I am this winter!

Have a great honeymoon!
post #4 of 13
Check your skis and your luggage as baggage on your flight from Canada to Zurich or Geneva. At the airport, once you claim your bags you have two options.

1.) Take them to railway baggage office in the airport and check them through to Zermatt. In my experience, they usually arrive in Zermatt sometime later that day. The hotel can send their electric taxi to the train station to fetch them. Unless things have changed, it's not a two day process to get them to Zermatt. There once was a time when you could check your bags at the airport in North America and have them delivered directly to your hotel in Zermatt. It only worked if you were flying on a European carrier. I think those days are long gone, but that was by far the best option. It also worked in reverse, which was even better. You could check your bags at the Zermatt train station within 24 hours of your flight departure and claim them when you got back to North America.

2.) The other option (which I still do because I'm anal about not having full control over my ski gear) is to schlep it all onto the train with you. There are luggage trolleys in the airport which you can ride down the escalators full loaded. Stash the skis and luggage in the little entry area when you board the train. Sometimes there are racks for skis in that section to keep things a bit more organized. The tricky part is when you change trains (probably at the new station in Visp). There are luggage trolleys at the train station, but they require 1 Swiss franc to unlock them. With a bit of teamwork (good for a new marriage), one of you can toss the bags and skis off the train to the other. Then one of you scampers along the platform to where they park the trolleys (usually about as far from where you are as possible), puts in the 1 franc coin, unlocks the trolley, comes back, you both load the trolley, and then you dash down the ramp, under the tracks and up the ramp to the train for Zermatt and then repeat the drill of loading skis and luggage onto the train. The reason for haste is that the trains are timed out perfectly for your average fast walking Swiss person to walk briskly from one train directly onto the next. Throwing in the ski/luggage trolley caper ads to the drama and puts time at a premium.

If you are traveling on a European carrier, check with the airline and see if the direct baggage check to and from Zermatt is still an option. You do pay extra for it, but it is worth it. The only time it failed me was when there was a landslide (in '91 I think) that took out the tracks just below Zermatt. We were ferried into Zermatt by helicopter, but it took an extra day for the bags to get there.
post #5 of 13
We used option 1 last March and it was terrific. Cheap, reliable, on time (remember- it's Switzerland!) and no headaches schlepping. Highly recommended.

Quote:
Originally Posted by choucas View Post
Check your skis and your luggage as baggage on your flight from Canada to Zurich or Geneva. At the airport, once you claim your bags you have two options.

1.) Take them to railway baggage office in the airport and check them through to Zermatt. In my experience, they usually arrive in Zermatt sometime later that day. The hotel can send their electric taxi to the train station to fetch them. Unless things have changed, it's not a two day process to get them to Zermatt. There once was a time when you could check your bags at the airport in North America and have them delivered directly to your hotel in Zermatt. It only worked if you were flying on a European carrier. I think those days are long gone, but that was by far the best option. It also worked in reverse, which was even better. You could check your bags at the Zermatt train station within 24 hours of your flight departure and claim them when you got back to North America.

2.) The other option (which I still do because I'm anal about not having full control over my ski gear) is to schlep it all onto the train with you. There are luggage trolleys in the airport which you can ride down the escalators full loaded. Stash the skis and luggage in the little entry area when you board the train. Sometimes there are racks for skis in that section to keep things a bit more organized. The tricky part is when you change trains (probably at the new station in Visp). There are luggage trolleys at the train station, but they require 1 Swiss franc to unlock them. With a bit of teamwork (good for a new marriage), one of you can toss the bags and skis off the train to the other. Then one of you scampers along the platform to where they park the trolleys (usually about as far from where you are as possible), puts in the 1 franc coin, unlocks the trolley, comes back, you both load the trolley, and then you dash down the ramp, under the tracks and up the ramp to the train for Zermatt and then repeat the drill of loading skis and luggage onto the train. The reason for haste is that the trains are timed out perfectly for your average fast walking Swiss person to walk briskly from one train directly onto the next. Throwing in the ski/luggage trolley caper ads to the drama and puts time at a premium.

If you are traveling on a European carrier, check with the airline and see if the direct baggage check to and from Zermatt is still an option. You do pay extra for it, but it is worth it. The only time it failed me was when there was a landslide (in '91 I think) that took out the tracks just below Zermatt. We were ferried into Zermatt by helicopter, but it took an extra day for the bags to get there.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, thanks for all the input and advice... sorry I've been on vacation the last few days and couldn't log in...

But you guys have completely addressed everything I was worried about, so I'm pretty pumped now!!!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Bell View Post
Hey, wait a minute, WHIGMI, aren't you the Snowbird snow harbinger? I certainly hope you're in Zermatt the same week I am this winter!
I will do everything I can!! I do seem to have the good luck with snowfall!

But if you're there the same week I am, you'll be in even better shape... two less people on the slopes half the time
post #7 of 13
I traveled on a Eurail pass from Maastricht, NED to Zermatt, lugging my ski bag the whole way. It is doable, but a real pain in the ass. As others have said, you travel to Visp or Brig then change to the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn and go to Zermatt.
post #8 of 13
One of the joys of many Swiss ski resorts is fly/rail.

The whole kit and caboodle gets checked in at London Heathrow. You get a train at the other end and your luggage is delivered to your accommodation in Switzerland. Luggage mostly turns up soon after you arrive. On the return you check the luggage in at the local railway station and collect it at London Heathrow.

I am not sure if there is a similar arrangement for people living in yankeeland.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
The convenient thing is that we're flying in and out of Toronto (getting married a bit south of there) so we don't have to worry about "US" restrictions... but, I'm still a bit concerned with the timeliness issue... all the online literature says it's there the following day. Normally not an issue, except for her lessons the day after we arrive.

The other issue is that we have an apartment instead of a hotel... although I doubt that is a big problem.

What I think we may end up doing is a combo of the ideas in the thread; check one ski bag (with my SL % SG skis), and then carry on a bag with our all-mountain skis. We're both pretty athletic so lugging the bags quickly won't be too tough.

If you miss your connecting train though, is there another one that comes along in Visp (I think that's our connection), or is it one of those one train to Zermatt per day deals?
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhatHaveIGottenMyselfInto View Post

If you miss your connecting train though, is there another one that comes along in Visp (I think that's our connection), or is it one of those one train to Zermatt per day deals?
I believe one leaves Visp every hour. I know one leaves Zermatt every hour, as I was just there last week. I found that the best website for train schedules, in basically any country on the Eurail system, is www.bahn.de.
post #11 of 13
The Swiss Rail website has all the schedules

http://sbb.ch/en/index.htm
post #12 of 13
Train connection isn't as tight as I feared. I was lugging my skis AND bags on the outward journey, for the same reason as OP: tight timelines. And my destination requires 3 changes!

I was able to casually amble to the next train with time to spare (have to wait a minute or two for the next train to pull in and another minute or two before it actually leaves). When the connection appears tight on the schedule, the two trains just "happen" to be on the same platform, simply walk over to the train on the opposit track! When I wonder why they make me wait for 10 minutes for my next connection? The tracks are further apart, the connection time is a bit longer. Just trust the Swiss on knowing how to do their trains, like magic!

On the way back, without the schedule pressure, I checked the skis to the airport. Being American, I couldn't do fly/rail. Still, not being burdened by the skis, I was able to get off half way and did a touristy stop (pictures + chocolates ).
post #13 of 13

Don't take skis to Europe...

...ever, unless you're on the World Cup circuit, in which case, somebody else will do it for you. Take your boots, ski clothes, apres ski stuff, and so forth..everything you can stuff into a bag or two, no more, and rent everything else in Zermatt...and don't worry about the rail to Zermatt, it's the easiest part of the trip...
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