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Rail Pass Coverage

I have a couple questions about the rail system if anyone has any answers...
Is there some way to figure out if a specific train/route I am planning on taking is covered under the rail pass?
Also, when a transfer is listed for a train ride, is there a way to determine if you physically have to move from train to train, or if the cars are just switched and you stay on the same car?

Posted by
2353 posts

If a transfer is listed that means you will change trains.

For the route - if the country is covered by the pass the route should be covered. There are a few exceptions/caveats. Many private trains are not covered

Can I travel with my rail pass on all high-speed trains?
Your rail pass is not valid for travel on the Italo trains within Italy or the Thello trains between France and Italy servicing such cities as Paris to Milan, Florence or Rome. You’ll need to purchase a train ticket for travel on these trains. And you will not have to add this date to your rail pass.

There are a few others.

Some trains routes require reservations which there will be an additional fee.

Posted by
13026 posts

Hi,

Look at the chart on the platform showing how the trains set up to see which cars/couches are going to be separated/detached. In Austria that chart is called "Wagenreihung." In Germany it's called "Wagenstandanzeiger." It's best to inquire first, then get on the correct coach so that you can stay and not have to move to another car. Also, if a train is detached, the "yellow" departure schedule indicates that will take place in which city; in Germany look for the word "Zugteilung" (that tells you the train will separate at which stop)

Posted by
2353 posts

Not sure why on every thread here that mentions a rail pass at least one person has to post that rail passes are more expensive than point to point and you need reservations which cost more and so on. All without inquiring about the OP's plans - just make a generalized blanket statement that is not always true.

But making your reservations in advance to get the cheap rates means you must stick to a schedule and route. And if you miss that cheap pre-booked train most times that's it no changes, no refunds. We prefer to keep our travel more spontaneous & flexible - the pass works very well for that.

It is very possible to travel on a rail pass without making reservations - even in France, Belgium & the Netherlands - all notorious for needing reservations. True you will not get on a TGV without a reservation and TGV limits the seats for pass holders but there are other ways to get from point A to point B.

If you are traveling a set route with set dates and with hotels pre-booked then advanced tickets will save money over the pass. If winging it, add up the full fare - the price you would pay at the station before getting on a train - for your anticipated routes and compare the cost.

For me the convenience & flexibility of the pass have a value as well - even if the pass runs a little more it is worth it for us. On our last 30 day pass we more than got our money's worth out of it.

Posted by
4698 posts

Rail passes are so heavily marketed on this website; Google puts RailEurope at the top of search results. I feel it is important to offer a counterpoint to balance the discussion. I would pretty much guess that the OP hasn't even heard of point to point tickets until asking this question.

I would like to point out that very often the walk up fare at a train station will still be less than what an average daily rate would be for a rail pass. Flexibility achieved! I also have found repeatedly that this website and RailEurope give inflated price figures and outdated schedules.

I think the best advice, however, is to read up from the experts on the differences between a rail pass and point2point. Here a link to get the OP started:

http://www.seat61.com/Railpass-and-Eurail-pass-guide.htm#Should you buy a railpass or pay-as-you-go

Posted by
2353 posts

If you are taking short hops a just buy a ticket a the station - definitely cheaper. If your trips are longer then a pass will probably save money. Check the prices at the individual rail sites for each country not re-sellers.

Posted by
16883 posts

All trains run by the national railways of each country are covered by rail passes. Exceptions that might be important to you, such as those Christi listed, are mentioned on each country page (right-hand links) at http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains. Reservation fees are also summarized on each page and vary by country and speed/type of train. You should be aware of the route of your train, that is which countries it crosses. All parts of the trip must be either covered by a rail pass or purchased as a separate ticket (with rare exception for direct France-Spain TGVs).

Posted by
13026 posts

"...all notorious for needing reservations." How very true! That's why going from France to Germany (or vice versa), there are ways without having to go through Belgium. with its expensive reservations, limited seating for Pass holders, and 2-4 train changes. I get my Pass from EurRail and never have had to pay for shipping.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you to all for the helpful replies. We have determined we should buy our tickets point to point. Our plans are to book places to stay before we leave for Europe, and therefore we would like to know specific train schedules and routes. Is there a certain website(s) we can go to look at detailed train schedules? (since this may determine which nights we book in which cities -France, Germany, and Italy, likely passing through Austria between Germany and Italy). Thank you again!