For members


Is Swiss rail hiding cheap first class fares?

Switzerland’s Supersaver fares were designed to encourage public transport usage while helping commuters save money. So why is the SBB making them difficult to find?

An SBB train sits in the track in Basel, Switzerland
Switzerland's SBB has been accused of hiding cheaper first class fares. Here's how to make sure you get a good deal. Image: Pixabay

Switzerland’s Federal Railways (SBB) expanded Supersaver fares in 2018 to boost stagnating passenger numbers. 

Supersaver fares are up to 70 percent cheaper than regular fares and are popular among residents and tourists alike. 

However, according to reporting from Swiss news outlet Watson, the SBB has been hiding cheap first class fares from travellers in its online platforms. 

EXPLAINED: How to find cheap train tickets in Switzerland

Instead, the cheapest second class fares have been shown, which are often more expensive than those in first class, particularly when the second class supersavers are sold out. 

Watson looked at several journeys between major Swiss cities, showing that the cheapest fares were often not shown when they were in first class. 

This has led to complaints from travellers, who argue that most who use the SBB app or online booking platform believe they will be shown the cheapest fares available. 


Swiss consumer protection advocate Sara Stalder told Watson the “concealment tactic of the SBB is incomprehensible”. 

“If you travel by train in Europe, you will notice that other providers clearly and transparently identify such campaigns as a booking option, even if a first class ticket is cheaper than a 2nd class ticket. 

“Why the SBB maintains this lack of transparency is a mystery to me.”

The SBB for their part said the issue is caused by a bug which shows the cheapest second class fare rather than the cheapest fare overall. 

A spokesperson told Watson that a fix was being developed, but that the SBB “cannot say when an adjustment will take place”. 

How can I be sure to get the cheapest fare when travelling in Switzerland? 

When booking a train through the SBB platform (online or app), make sure to also check the first class offerings. 

By doing so, you will be able to see first class Supersaver fares and work out if they are cheaper. 

Generally speaking, second class Supersaver fares will be cheaper in most cases, but first class Supersavers will be cheaper overall when the second class Supersavers are sold out. 

For those wanting to save on first class travel, the SBB has announced a range of new first class upgrades at a fraction of the normal cost. Some first class upgrades are actually cheaper than a point-to-point ticket.

Train travel: How you can save on first class upgrades in Switzerland

What are Supersaver fares? 

These fares are only available online – whether via your browser or the SBB app – and not at the SBB machines on the platforms and at stations. 

Booking a Supersaver fare requires a bit of foresight, as they are not available for spontaneous trips. 

They can however be booked for travel a few days in advance (they go on sale 60 days before the date of travel). 

The earlier you book a Supersaver fare the better, although be aware that it must be used for that particular train on that particular day, i.e. you cannot take a later or earlier train unlike with normal Swiss rail tickets. 

Almost nine million Supersaver fares were sold in 2019, the last year before the pandemic. 

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For members


Meals, commuting and ‘home office’: What can you claim on tax in Zurich?

Working from home has been mandatory in Zurich for much of the past tax year. What can you claim on tax - and what costs do you have to bear yourself?

Meals, commuting and 'home office': What can you claim on tax in Zurich?

On Thursday, February 17th, the Swiss government rolled back the working from home recommendation, meaning that working from home was purely up to employers for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

Technological advances and the enduring legacy of the pandemic will see working from home – known in German as ‘Home Office’ – become more common in several industries in the coming years, which has clear tax implications. 

These can be relatively complex, particularly as many of the tax rules are in place at a cantonal level. 

Here’s an overview of what you can claim in Zurich – and what you cannot – when it comes to working from home. 

For a general guide on tax rules in Switzerland when it comes to working from home, check out the following link.

Reader question: Can I deduct working-from-home costs from my Swiss taxes?

Don’t live in Zurich – or want to know what costs other than working from home you can deduct? Check out the following extensive guide. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

What tax deductions can I have working from home in Zurich? 

Along with Zug, Geneva and Basel (both City and Country), Zurich allows residents to claim professional expenses as they would in a normal year, i.e. despite the Covid pandemic.

This means that you can claim meal costs and transport to work, even if you worked from home during this time. 

You can claim up to CHF15 per day, or 3,200 francs per year in Zurich. 

If you employer offers subsidised meals, you can claim a maximum of CHF7.50 per day (or CHF1,600)

Regarding transport costs, you can deduct up to CHF3,000 per year for your commute. 

This includes public transport, bicycles and mopeds. 

If you travel by private car, you can only deduct this if it is difficult to take public transport.

This is deemed to be the case if both your home and workplace are more than a kilometre from the nearest public transport stop, or if more than one hour is saved by travelling by car (per day). 

If you are unable to travel by public transport due to an injury, then you are permitted to deduct your car expenses. 

What about rent, electricity and other working-from-home expenses? 

While several Swiss cantons allow you to claim expenses of working from home like rent, electricity etc, Zurich authorities have expressly ruled this out. 

As the above costs (transport and meal allowances) have been kept in place, this is seen as a form of compromise. 

Taxpayers in Zurich are also able to claim the flat-rate deduction for all professional costs associated with working from home that are not covered by the employer, although this is only in relatively narrow scenarios. 

“This solution is advantageous for most taxpayers” say Zurich cantonal authorities. 

As with all our tax reports, this is intended as a guide only and should not take the place of qualified tax advice. More Zurich-specific information is available at this link.