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I will soon accept a job offer in Geneva downtown, and I am living in Valais canton in Switzerland.

In my current field of expertise, there is no opportunity in the area; it looks like everything is located in Geneva; a little less in Lausanne. I ended up with an opportunity in downtown Geneva.

Relocating is not something I would enjoy in that city; neither to settle on the French side and commute cross-border.

The option I am considering for some time is to make an extreme commute of 2 hours each way, by train.

I live within 5 minutes by foot from a station served by Regio trains, which is 3 stops away from Martigny where I catch the InterRegio to Geneva.

There are different options for this case :

  • Take the local train then transfer in Martigny
  • Drive to Martigny (15 min), park there then take the long-distance train
  • Drive to Sion the other way (15 min), park there then take the long-distance train, and be able to catch the EuroCity trains that are quicker but do not stop at Martigny.

Which from the above would be the most time-effective?

Also, would be upgrading the pass to a first class one a good investment? In the 1st class cars of these trains, the seats are actually wider but there are no tables to work on.

  • Thank you for the comments. The real question, in fact, is about getting the experience of someone who has done such commutes, and also getting advice from someone who is more used to the Swiss trains than me. – DavGin Mar 9 '15 at 12:20
  • How did your earlier plan work out, btw? I would be curious to know how this livret L thing works in practice. – Gala Mar 9 '15 at 12:20
  • +1 I think the question is clearer and better that way. I removed some of my comments now that they are irrelevant. – Gala Mar 9 '15 at 12:56
  • How is a commute from one place in Switzerland to another place in Switzerland an expat question? – gerrit Mar 9 '15 at 16:13
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    The only comment I can add is that in Switzerland, there is no reason to buy a 1st class ticket. All the trains are very nice; first class is only for people who want to conspicuously spend their money. – Douglas Held Mar 15 '15 at 19:15
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To be honest, it sounds like it'd an extremely long trip that would not be suitable to do every day. Personally I make a 1 hour trip and it's pretty close the upper limit of what is bearable in the long term.

Using the Euro City only make you win 20 minutes for a Sion-Geneva trip (1:33 instead of 1:53), and there is only a couple of those trains per day, so you should not rely on those. Because those trains connects to Italy there is much more often trouble with them being late than other trains who stays in Switzerland.

Taking the local train and transfer in Martigny will probably be fine, but keep in mind that there will be once in a while cases where you will miss your train because one is late and the other didn't wait, making you loose 30 minutes. This may easily happen in average once per week if you are not lucky. (but it could also not happen for a month and then happen twice per day 3 days in a row)

In theory you have a nice 8-10 minute wait each time so it will not be too bad, like if you only had 4 minutes (a situation I had to deal daily not long ago, before I got a bike), so this worst case will happen less often, however the stress of being in a late train and worrying if you'll miss your next one is a horrible feeling, I know what I am talking about.

Parking in Martigny also sounds like a viable option, the town is currently small enough so its traffic should be bearable even in rush hours. Unfortunately I have no idea if you can get a P+R subscription and/or if large enough parks are available. You could also use a 2-tire vehicle, and use the regional train only during winter, as a compromise.

Another option you'd want to consider is to get some shared housing closer to Geneva for Monday-Friday, and keep your geniune home in Valais.

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