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I am traveling by train from Paris to Vienna, via Zurich HB, in a couple of weeks, and there is not much changeover time between the arrival in Zurich and the departure. I know the platform from which the (Nightjet) train to Vienna departs at 20:40, but cannot find any information on my booking reference/ticket about the time my (TGV Lyria) train arrives at 20:26.

Is there any site where I can find full details of the platform numbers in advance, to avoid getting lost at the station? And as a side question, in case the TGV train is slightly delayed, does anyone know if it is common practice for the Nightjets to wait briefly so that passengers can board? This has been my experience with some other European trains but I don't know how popular the France->Zurich->Austria route is.

  • There is a wealth of information at Seat 61, including links to station maps and timetable information – user105640 Jul 16 at 1:33
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    Most internal trains in Switzerland won’t wait for delayed passengers as the regular scheduling usually means you can get another train within the hour, sometimes much less. However the last train of the day on a given route is usually an exception. Make sure you advise the train master of your connection if your train runs late. – jcaron Jul 16 at 7:33
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    @user13536357 Is it on a single ticket? If so talk to the Swiss train manager on the TGV (it's a joint crew all the way), and if you miss it (e.g. due to a delay) you have the right to re-booking and accommodation. If the tickets are separate, AFAIK you're not insured at all, in which case it was foolish to book it like that. – Crazydre Jul 16 at 15:03
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    @OscarBravo no, definitely the correct times (there is also a 21:40 train on some days, but this journey is on the 2nd August). – user13536357 Jul 16 at 18:32
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    Sorry for the confusion, I made a mistake here. My train is actually to Graz¸ which does appear at 20:40 on the SBB website. I got confused and thought this continued to Vienna, and that "Zurich->Vienna" was the correct way to refer to the entire journey. Either way, the SBB website is helpful for now, and I will check again before the train arrives in case anything has changed. – user13536357 Jul 17 at 14:57
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You can find this information On the SBB website. Just use the trip planner, which gives you platform numbers. Zurich is an efficient, well signposted station, and 16 minutes is a generous transfer time. I would expect you to be able to make this transfer in 2 minutes, since both your TGV and the Nightjet use the upper terminal tracks.

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    2 minutes may be optimistic without a bit of preparation: a full double-unit TGV is 500 m long, so if one is at the very back of the train, even when accounting for the two underground passageways, it could take 2 minutes just to get to the closest one. 14 minutes should be plenty, though. – jcaron Jul 16 at 7:42
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According to www.sbb.ch, on the exact date of 2/Aug/2020 your train from Paris (16:21h TGV from Gare de Lyon) arrives at Zürich platform 18 at 20:26h, as you state.

The Deutsche Bahn website (bahn.de) lists your 20:40h train to Vienna as leaving from platform 8. Note that this train (NJ465) stops in Feldkirch (platform 2) and then you have to transfer to NJ447 to Vienna (platform 3).

For some reason, the SBB don't seem to think this is a viable route to get to Vienna and so don't list it if you ask Zürich-Vienna.

Double-check the details on your ticket itinerary - there are quite a few options and it is a bit complicated.

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  • IMO going to see the Lake with just a bit more than an hour to spend is overly optimistic. According to Google maps, it takes about 20 minutes to get from the station to the Lake by foot - if you know where to go, that is. Since OP is worried about finding his platform in time, I doubt he knows the city of Zürich. I can, however, recommend the "Platzspitz", a park at the Limmat right next to the station. – Sabine Jul 16 at 16:01
  • You take tram number 11 or 4 south from the station to Bellevue, look at the lake, then take a 4 or 11 back. The 4 goes down the side of the Limmat, the 11 goes down Bahnhofstrasse (the main shopping street). Eminently doable in an hour. It's less than 15 min each way. – abligh Jul 16 at 21:34
  • There's a Nightjet that leaves Zurich at 20:40 from platform 8 for Feldkirch, with a 7-minute transfer to another Nightjet going to Vienna. (It looks like that transfer probably happens with both trains on the same platform.) The 21:40 train is a EuroNight, not a Nightjet. – Kyralessa Jul 17 at 9:20
  • @Kyralessa That's weird... SBB lists the 21:40h as a NightJet (NJ467) but DBB has it as a EuroNight. I'll edit my answer. – Oscar Bravo Jul 17 at 10:01
  • Both the 20:40 and 21:40 departures are EN and NJ. They just carry carriages to multiple destinations, and as a result the same train has multiple nummers. NJ655 does not terminate in Feldkirch. It is the NJ to Graz which also comveys (under an EN number) a few sleeping cars to Zagreb. – Krist van Besien Jul 17 at 11:42
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Sorry if this answer has already an accepted answer, but unfortunately it needs a major clarification

Is there any site where I can find full details of the platform numbers in advance

Generally not, and depends on how in advance. Train platforms are similar but not identical in concept and management to airport gates. It's a lot less bulky for a train company to get a platform at a station than an airline to get a gate (and all required staff) for a flight.

This because tracks are assigned really shortly to train's arrival at the station, for a variety of reasons. Railway traffic control has a few constraints over the choice of the track/platform to assign to a train:

  • Electrification: a train not running a HSL (25000V AC) must be routed to a regular line (3000V DC)
  • Length of the train: a fully-featured two-stock ICE can't enter a half-track in a terminal station, which is used for regional traffic
  • Availability of outbound track: in my experience, this often results in long-running trains stopping at the middle in the middle of a large station (e.g. it comes from the line on "your left" and will proceed to "your right", to simplify a lot)

Indeed, if you connect to SBB's real time traffic, you can get realtime data

SBB realtime train

And no, you can't know long before departure, unlike airport gates.

to avoid getting lost at the station

Getting lost at Zurich HB is a hard work. Once you get off the train, find your numbered platform, head to the head of the platform and look for the timetable, which will likely indicate your next platform given the short layover.

Kudos to @jcaron's comment, reported verbatim

Most internal trains in Switzerland won’t wait for delayed passengers as the regular scheduling usually means you can get another train within the hour, sometimes much less. However the last train of the day on a given route is usually an exception. Make sure you advise the train master of your connection if your train runs late

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    There’s the general rule, and then there’s Switzerland (though I believe Germany and possibly the Netherlands at least follow this pattern): platforms are known months in advance, and are even published on paper timetables). This is due to the fact that Swiss trains have repeating schedules (trains to X will stop at station Y at always the same time past the hour, and the train in the reverse direction likewise, on the other side of the hour), AND they are very much on time (they usually won’t wait for late connections). – jcaron Jul 17 at 16:32
  • Also, most high speed trains are (at least) dual-current and switch to the local current when exiting HSLs. Exceptions include Ashford International I believe, and for completely different reasons, Geneva. – jcaron Jul 17 at 16:35
  • And in Zürich HB there are two underground passageways running below the tracks. Which can save a few hundred meters of walk, avoiding having to get to the front of the train, which can be quite a distance. Both have escalators and elevators, I believe. – jcaron Jul 17 at 16:41
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    As jcaron noted, for Switzerland (and for Germany) this answer is simply not correct. The timetables are standardized, and many routes have a regular schedule such as every hour, every half-hour, etc. When a train is on a different platform from its normal one, this is due to an exceptional circumstance, such as the train being extremely late. (OK, in Germany this isn't that exceptional, but still...) – Kyralessa Jul 17 at 19:07
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    Most of what is said in this answer is wrong. Railway infrastructure is build around the expected services and even in countries where platforms numbers are not published in advance the departure and arrival tracks are usually predictable. – Krist van Besien Jul 18 at 6:26

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