Train stating in Basel, and taxi?

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#1
389 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
We are planning on taking the train from Basel back to Amsterdam in May, and I am trying to figure out which station we should depart from. I see there are 2 - Basel SSB & Basel Bad BF. From what I can see, if we get the train at the SSB station, we will go through the Bad BF station...so should we possibly just go to the Bad BF station to start?

My second question is Avalon is willing to provide transport to the station, but are asking $48.00/person CDN. I know taxi's in Switzerland are expensive, but would a taxi be cheaper? Just rough estimates are fine.

If anyone has experience using trains in Europe, I would really appreciate some help, as we have never done so, and would like to know how to do so.

Thanks,
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#2
Nashville, Tennessee USA
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"The Passenger in Seat 61" is a good starting place for train information. He has a specific note about Basel to Amsterdam:

https://www.seat61.com/international...land-Amsterdam
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#3
389 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
Thanks, I have that site bookmarked already, it's how we planned our route. I am just trying to figure out which station to book from, as the SBB one goes to the Bad BF one.
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#4
Midwest, USA
1,232 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Bad BF is closer to both Basel river cruise terminals. However, Swiss stations named “SBB” are the main station, and more likely the starting point for high-speed express trains, which may not stop at smaller stations. I would research your route from both stations on www.sbb.ch (scroll all the way to the bottom to select English), and choose the fastest train.

Viking’s front desk was able to arrange a shared van for us from Dreilandereck to Basel SBB for 54 euros, or 20 per couple with tip. That was from Dreilandereck; from the southern cruise terminal it should be less.

Hope this helps!
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#5
New York
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The starting station should also be better for boarding without a rush and for finding room for your luggage.
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#6
389 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
Thanks Susan, we are looking for a leisurely train trip back to Amsterdam, as we will have the whole day. Figure it may be another way to see some of the countryside (and hopefully not all trees!). We want to go back along the Rhine. If the Bad BF station is closer, I will check out from there.

Jazz, we have planned on the train, so am only taking carry on & backpacks to make it easier to get around. Since we know nothing about how the train system works, we will probably be at the station early to figure things out.
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#7
Albany, NY
5,312 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
One other tip. Swiss trains are expensive. Try looking at the same route on each country's website to see who's selling it cheaper. On international routes that go to/from Switzerland, the Swiss prices are almost always more expensive so you should avoid paying their fare if you can.

Concrete example: I just checked your itinerary from Basel SBB to Amsterdam Centraal for this upcoming Sunday. Leave Basel at 8:13, one change in Frankfurt, and arrive Amsterdam 15:28. The Swiss site (sbb.ch) wants 205 CHF for a one-way ticket. The German site (bahn.de) is selling the same itinerary for 139 Euro. That's equivalent to 162 CHF, so a 20% discount. You can get first class for 159 Euro, still less than the second class ticket on the Swiss site. So it pays to look around. I'd also check the Dutch website (I don't know it but google it).

If you start checking about 3 months before you travel, you can probably get a heavily discounted fare from the German site. The caveat is that the discounted fare from the German site is tied to the exact itinerary for which it was purchased, and you have to ride that exact train or trains.

The Swiss tickets are (almost always) flexible, so you can decide on the day of travel that you want to take the 8:00 train, or whatever other train you choose. And the Swiss ticket allows you to stop off wherever you'd like and jump on the next train, should you choose to do that. BUT that is why the Swiss fares are so much higher.

So theoretically, with a Swiss ticket, you could hop on in Basel, change in Frankfurt, stop off in Cologne for an hour or two of sightseeing, and take the next train to Amsterdam. Not that you'd do that with luggage, but you could... You can't do that with the discounted German ticket. So for you, since you probably know exactly when you want to get to Amsterdam, shop around and buy the cheapest restricted ticket you can find.
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#8
389 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
Thanks JP, I had been doing most of my searching on the German site as it seemed more affordable. Since we are planning on the "milk" run, we won't have much time to hop on/ hop off. I guess that settles it, it's the Bad BF station as that's the one that is the German one.

How do the tickets work.... we will be having printed tickets mailed to us, as I'm not sure if we will be able to connect with wi-fi all the time (no data on our phones, I'm considering getting a SIM card in Holland, but just in case we don't, I want to be prepared). Do we have to go to a special desk to "check in", or do you swipe them on the same thing you would swipe an e-ticket?

Sorry for the dumb questions, but last time I was on a train I think I was about 8, and my husband has never been on one, so we are really flying blind....
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#9
Albany, NY
5,312 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Just buy the tickets on-line from bahn.de and they will email you a .pdf document with your tickets. Print them at home on paper. The conductor scans the ticket barcode when you're onboard. They are supposed to check ID and/or ask to see the CC that you bought the ticket with but sometimes they don't bother. No check in needed, just go to the station and get on your train.

The DB app allows you to download an e-ticket if you want. Then it can be displayed whether you have a connection or not. I've used it and it's pretty cool. Then you don't even have to print a copy.

Just because you buy from the German site doesn't mean that you have to start the journey in Germany. You can leave from SBB or Bad BF. Whichever is easier.

PS. The trains are a breeze. Do not worry at all.

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JP and Chris

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#10
Ontario, Canada
290 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by Daisi
Thanks JP, I had been doing most of my searching on the German site as it seemed more affordable. Since we are planning on the "milk" run, we won't have much time to hop on/ hop off. I guess that settles it, it's the Bad BF station as that's the one that is the German one.

How do the tickets work.... we will be having printed tickets mailed to us, as I'm not sure if we will be able to connect with wi-fi all the time (no data on our phones, I'm considering getting a SIM card in Holland, but just in case we don't, I want to be prepared). Do we have to go to a special desk to "check in", or do you swipe them on the same thing you would swipe an e-ticket?

Sorry for the dumb questions, but last time I was on a train I think I was about 8, and my husband has never been on one, so we are really flying blind....


Your questions aren't dumb at all, Daisi. As you have never travelled by train in Europe I throughly recommend that you look at the marvellously informative website, The Man in Seat 61. I first took a train in Europe 55 years ago and have often travelled by train there, but I now turn to it every time for useful and up to date information on trains, fares, buying tickets and a host of other really useful information. Here's his page for Germany:

https://www.seat61.com/Germany-trains.htm


For my last four train trips in Europe over the past couple of years, I have bought my tickets through Trainline as recommended by Seat 61. It shows all the fares available on the railway sites and is easier to use than most of them.

https://www.thetrainline.com

You mentioned that you want see the countryside and particularly the Rhine as you travel back from Basel to Amsterdam. You will discover on your cruise that much of the Rhine is not particularly scenic, but will want to make sure that your train goes along the river between Mainz and Koblenz. So if you take the train from Basel to Frankfurt, for example, you will need to switch to a regional train in Frankfurt rather than a fast one (IC, ICE, EC etc), as the fast trains generally go directly from Frankfurt to Cologne, for example. If the regional train goes to or stops in Koblenz you should be fine, but it might take a bit of searching.

Others have mentioned that in Basel you should opt for the Basel Bad station and that is correct as it is closest to the Dreiländereck where most cruise ships berth. It is also operated by Deutsche Bahn even though it is in Basel. There is actually a customs barrier in the station but it is no longer in use as far as I could see. There is also a berth near central Basel that is also used by some cruise lines and it would be closer to the Basel SBB station. However, you won't know that when buying your ticket, so stick to Basel Bad.

The proposed transfer fee of $48 pp from Avalon is outrageous. Simply have them order a cab to the station for you. I can't recall exactly but a cab from downtown Basel to Dreiländereck last year cost me about €20 or perhaps it was SF25.

The train is a great way to travel in Europe and I'm sure you will enjoy it. Have a great trip.
#11
389 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
Thanks laverendrye, you are most helpful. We realise that we may not be seeing much, but figure it will be a relaxing day after the cruise. The route I am looking at does go through Mainz, & Koblenz, so hopefully I'm on the right track. I have been looking at the "official" train sight, but will check out the one you recommended.
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#12
Toronto, Canada
1,353 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
I also recommend loco2.com for train information and booking. I believe that they also check multiple sites to give you your choices. (They are run by self-described train geeks in the UK.) You can book in either pounds or euros.

When I took the train in Spain there was a section that explained exactly what was displayed on the ticket which was only in Spanish. It also explained that there was one section where the track was under construction and you would have to get out and take a bus. I seemed to be one of the few people on the train who understood that. You can see the routings of the train options on a map as well.
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#13
389 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
Thanks gnome12, I have looked there but guess I'll look again to check things out.
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#14
Vienna, Austria
29 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Having lived close to Basel for some years, I think I can comment on this:
To my knowledge, most of not all trains going through Basel towards Germany stop in both stations. Basel Badischer Bf (Bad Bf) is much smaller and more easy to navigate, and might also be closer to the dock. However, it may still be worthwhile to check prices from both stations, as sometimes the German train company runs specials for international travel called Europa Spezial. It can save you some money to check all possible route combinations (being technically a German station, Basel Bad Bf doesn't qualify for international discounts).

Since you mentioned you want to go along the Rhine, maybe check to take the Eurocity train train that goes via Bingen and Koblenz, as the route is very scenic. The regular route on the Express trains is much less scenic and you don't really see the Rhine. The scenic route would probably take you to Cologne (speculating here) but from there it should be easy to connect to a train to Amsterdam. Be advised though that the scenic route is much slower, and even on high speed trains it's at least a 7 h trip.

Regarding using trains in Europe, there's not much to it. Train stops usually for a few minutes, so no rush to get in and out. Sectors at the platform indicate where first and second class coaches are located, or even particular coach numbers. That way you can wait in the correct sector before the train arrives.

Another thing just coming to my mind, depending on where the dock is, you could try to catch a German or French cab, much more economical. Otherwise, both railway stations are also well connected in the tram and bus system. Hope that helps
#15
Toronto, Canada
1,353 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Originally posted by jpalbny
Concrete example: I just checked your itinerary from Basel SBB to Amsterdam Centraal for this upcoming Sunday. Leave Basel at 8:13, one change in Frankfurt, and arrive Amsterdam 15:28. The Swiss site (sbb.ch) wants 205 CHF for a one-way ticket. The German site (bahn.de) is selling the same itinerary for 139 Euro. That's equivalent to 162 CHF, so a 20% discount. You can get first class for 159 Euro, still less than the second class ticket on the Swiss site. So it pays to look around. I'd also check the Dutch website (I don't know it but google it).
loco2.com has the same trains that you do for 119.90 euros (Standard, semi-flexible) and 139.90 euros (first, semi-flexible). Flexible fares are much more expensive, 177.20 and 298.60 respectively. For April 15, however, rates are less; 69.90 and 79.90 for the semi-flexible fares and 165.40 and 278.40 for the flexible. Booking early is important; the cheaper tickets go fairly quickly.

I'm not sure why JP's note came up, since it isn't recent. My same dates were for Sunday Feb 18.
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#16
Toronto, Canada
1,353 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Loco2 also has information on taking the train between Basel and Amsterdam, including the fastest trains, and when to book.

https://loco2.com/en/destinations/basel-amsterdam-train
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#17
Sydney Australia
181 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
Daisi, we caught a train from Basel SBB(we were heading to Lugano) following our Avalon cruise last October. Reception pre booked a taxi for us for 8.30am as we were wanting to catch a train at 10.00am and had to purchase our swiss travel pass- we had plenty of time. Our taxi fare was 43CHF. Our last train journey during our stay in Switzerland was from Thun to Hannover which I booked through bahn.com. I booked a few months before and was able to book a discounted fare and reserved our seats. I had the app on my phone so could have shown my ticket to the conductor via my phone but I also had a printed ticket sent to me as a PDF. Always had our passports ready to show the conductor but were only asked on 3 trips(did over 20 trains journeys). We loved all the train trips and the scenery, would do it again!
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#18
Toronto, Canada
1,353 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Daisi, again loco2.com helps with scenic trains. If you search scenic trains Rhine Valley you will learn that there are 2 routes south of Cologne; one goes inland, and one follows the river. I looked at the 12:30 option from Basel Bad Bf. If you click on the train name from Basel to Cologne - Eurocity (EC) #8 - you will see that it goes by Mainz and Koblenz, which is the valley train. If you look at the 13:23 train you will see that it is and InterCity Express (ICE) and goes via Frankfurt and is not the scenic one. If you want to take the time (8 1/2 hours) you will get both a scenic train to Cologne and cheaper fares, but at least on a Sunday it is only the 12:30 from Basel Bad Bf that goes that route..
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#19
389 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
Originally posted by Anarinya
Having lived close to Basel for some years, I think I can comment on this:
To my knowledge, most of not all trains going through Basel towards Germany stop in both stations. Basel Badischer Bf (Bad Bf) is much smaller and more easy to navigate, and might also be closer to the dock. However, it may still be worthwhile to check prices from both stations, as sometimes the German train company runs specials for international travel called Europa Spezial. It can save you some money to check all possible route combinations (being technically a German station, Basel Bad Bf doesn't qualify for international discounts).

Since you mentioned you want to go along the Rhine, maybe check to take the Eurocity train train that goes via Bingen and Koblenz, as the route is very scenic. The regular route on the Express trains is much less scenic and you don't really see the Rhine. The scenic route would probably take you to Cologne (speculating here) but from there it should be easy to connect to a train to Amsterdam. Be advised though that the scenic route is much slower, and even on high speed trains it's at least a 7 h trip.

Regarding using trains in Europe, there's not much to it. Train stops usually for a few minutes, so no rush to get in and out. Sectors at the platform indicate where first and second class coaches are located, or even particular coach numbers. That way you can wait in the correct sector before the train arrives.

Another thing just coming to my mind, depending on where the dock is, you could try to catch a German or French cab, much more economical. Otherwise, both railway stations are also well connected in the tram and bus system. Hope that helps
Thanks Anarinya, We booked our train already, and are travelling through Koblenz & Cologne as we did want to go along the river. Hopefully I got the right route, we shall see...)

gnome12, I used your site to help select the stations, and we are going through Mainz and Koblenz. We leave Basel at 9 and arrive in Schiphol at 6....so it will be a full day on the train....our relaxing day before flying home and rushing back to work.
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#20
Toronto, Canada
1,353 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
I hope it works out for you. I once took an all day (I think it was 14 hours) from London to north Wales and back, hopping off and on trains. It was tiring, but I had a good time.

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