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Slides and climbing frames: How Swiss trains entertain children

Occupying young children on trains is not always easy. Questions like ‘are we there yet?’ abound, and even a brief journey can seem long for children and parents alike. But when it comes to kid-friendliness, Swiss trains are on the right track.

Slides and climbing frames: How Swiss trains entertain children
Double decker Intercity trains have play zones for kids.

Youngsters and long train rides don’t exactly go well together.

Very young children often become bored and cranky. Sitting and being quiet for hours is not in their nature, and telling them, ‘sweetie, look out the window at beautiful scenery’ will likely not work.

But Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has found a solution to how to keep children entertained and parents (somewhat) sane.

All long-distance InterCity double-decker trains have a ‘family coach’ which looks like a small version of a playground, equipped with slides, climbing sets and other games.

Trains with family coaches run mainly on the following InterCity routes:

·    IC1: St. Gallen–Zurich HB–Bern–Geneva Airport
·    IC8: Romanshorn–Zurich HB–Bern–Brig
·    IC6: Basel SBB–Bern–Brig
·    IC61: Basel SBB–Bern–Interlaken Ost
·    IC3: Basel SBB–Zurich HB–Chur 

“The play area is located on the upper deck of the coach and can be recognised from a distance thanks to its jungle and dragon-themed motifs,” according to SBB. “The lower floor has spaces for stowing pushchairs. The doors are at least 71 cm wide.”

To access the area, all you need is a regular train ticket; no extra charge is required to use the playroom.

If you are still unsure which trains provide this service, they are marked in the online timetable and the SBB Mobile app with ‘FA’.

READ ALSO: Five things you didn’t know about Switzerland’s rail network 

What about older kids?

If your child is too old to be excited by a slide, you need more sophisticated entertainment.

The SBB has that as well: family zone.

“Some tables are covered with board games. We recommend you use coins as game pieces and visit one of the many dice apps for smartphones in the various app stores for the dice,” SBB says. 

You can find these zones on InterCity trains marked with ‘FZ’ in the online timetable and the SBB Mobile app.

Psst! Be quiet!

Now, if you want some peace and quiet on your train journey, the obvious advice is to sit as far away as possible from FAs and FZs.

Fortunately, SBB trains have just the ticket: ‘quiet zones’ where no cell phones or loud conversations are allowed. InterCity trains with quiet zones are marked with RZ in the online timetable and in the SBB Mobile app.

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How SWISS is expanding flight connections this year

The Swiss airline has unveiled its new 2023/2024 winter timetable which sees the introduction of new destinations and increased frequencies on existing routes.

How SWISS is expanding flight connections this year

The Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) fleet will now take off from Zurich Airport and Geneva Airport and head to 68 short and medium-haul destinations – a broader selection than in the previous winter period. The move, the airline says, comes in response to the continuing strong demand for air travel.

“We are pleased to be offering the many people who are currently showing such a strong desire to travel an even broader range of routes and services in our coming winter schedules,” said SWISS Chief Commercial Officer Tamur Goudarzi Pour. “And, in doing so, to be continuing on our present path of steady and stable growth.”

Moreover, SWISS is significantly reducing the number of so-called ‘wet-lease flights’ during the coming winter with the aim of halving the number of flights operated by both Air Baltic and Helvetic Airways on behalf of the airline during the winter months.

The 2023/2024 winter timetable period will run from October 29th, 2023, to March 30th, 2024.

Zurich Airport

Passengers travelling via Zurich Airport will be pleased to know that SWISS will be offering a total of 63 short and medium-haul destinations in its coming winter schedules, which is four more than in the 2022/2023 winter timetable.

The airline has reintroduced flights from Zurich to Bremen in Northern Germany aimed at both leisure and business travellers, with flights leaving Zurich Airport four times each week. SWISS previously offered flights to Bremen in its winter 2018/2019 timetable, however, the flights were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to Bremen, SWISS will also increase its flights from Zurich to several German cities, with six more weekly flights to Düsseldorf, four more to Hamburg and an additional two to Hanover (compared to winter 2022/2023).

Similarly, the airline will take off for Prague and Bucharest seven and five additional times each week, respectively.

Furthermore, the airline will also resume its Zurich-Vienna route with three flights a day headed to the Austrian capital. The route will also be operated by Austrian Airlines with multiple daily flights.

The SWISS fleet will also fly to Portugal more frequently this winter, with Lisbon receiving 14 weekly flights from Zurich and Porto now being served up to 11 times per week.

Other destinations which will see exceptionally frequent SWISS service from Zurich this winter include Berlin (52 weekly flights), Barcelona (28 weekly flights), Amsterdam (28 weekly flights) and Athens (19 weekly flights).

Geneva Airport

Passengers travelling with SWISS via Geneva Airport will be able to travel to 21 short- and medium-haul destinations from the airport in the coming winter schedules.

Those heading to London, Lisbon, Porto, and Athens will be especially spoiled for choice while the airline’s service to Hamburg, which was introduced this summer, will also be resume with four weekly frequencies this winter.

SWISS will further offer attractive services to Geneva from the UK and Scandinavia that are particularly aimed at vacationers looking to travel to popular Swiss winter sport destinations.