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Trains (General Inquiry)

Good Day,

It will be my first time to buy a train ticket myself and it seems quite complicated.

Regarding passes, I am allowed on trains a given number of times within a specific period, yet how does that actually work? Do we just show up and hub in? What if it is a busy day... Does it happen that it may be too busy that people with passes may not find a place on a train?

Also, what's with the compartments? I always thought that trains had seats just like a plane... Compartments seem a little weird where you sit with complete strangers in a room for 6 or 8 hours... Is that always the case?

Please Help... Thank you...

Posted by
18025 posts

For regional trains, anyone with a ticket or a pass can get on. You might have to stand (unlikely), but if there is any room in the train, you can get on, and that doesn't depend on the type of ticket.

For express trains that require a reservation, sometimes reservations for pass holders are limited.

Some day trains still have compartments, some have "airplane" seating. I really like the compartments. It's a chance to meet people. One of my best memories of train travel was in a compartment with five Germans who took delight in pointing out all the sights to me.

Posted by
796 posts

If you have a Eurail pass (I buy them in advance from and they have had a promotion recently offering free days) there is nothing complicated. You order your pass, receive it, and hop on. If you have the Eurail pass, there is no limit to how many times you can use it, just a certain number of days (up to 3 months, if you buy the most extensive pass). You can ride as many times as you like in the number of days. There is nothing weird about compartments. You can get private compartments for extra money (book in advance) to sleep in. Sitting with strangers is nice and you can get to know people. It is no different than flying in an airplane with a bunch of people you don't know.

Posted by
44 posts

Terry Lynn's response is incorrect. In Poland you cannot simply "hop on" if you have a pass.

All trains operated by PKP InterCity require a seat reservation, which you must obtain before travel. And if you were to "hop on" one of InterCity's Pendolino (EIC Premium) trains with just your pass, you could be subject to a fine of 650 Polish zloty (about $176US)!!!

Please do not give incorrect information that could lead to difficulties for other travelers.

Posted by
21264 posts

I was going to post the same thing. The days of hopping on and off with a train pass are long over. Most trains now require a reservation. Germany is an exception at the moment. And you don't just hop on the first time. Your pass needs to be activated. So check carefully because it can be expensive if you make a mistake.

Posted by
12400 posts

Yes, it could well be a 6 hr ride and you sit there in a compartment. The compartment in InterCity trains in Germany seat 6 people. Where you are most likely to find compartment seating on German and Austrian train is the InterCity train. "...a little weird...." It's commonly done. You are as much a stranger to them as they are to you.

If you do have a railpass, of course you can hop on the train without reservations in Austria and Germany assuming that railpass has already been activated by a train station office personnel.

Posted by
4637 posts

I would be surprised if Lee from Colorado is not right about trains as Podroznik claims. I checked it. Sure enough, Lee is right. He clearly states: you don't need reservation for regional trains. I know that's the case with other countries. But it's the case with Poland, too:
edit: Oh, mea culpa! Podroznik was talking about Terri Lynn, not Lee and in this case Terri Lynn is quite inaccurate, she should have mention regional trains only.

Posted by
44 posts

Unfortunately, in Poland regional trains are no longer particularly useful for travel between major cities. Most regional services have been turned over to local provincial governments, who are mostly interested in commuter-style services. In many cases, regional trains from one province to the next have pretty much disappeared.

Between major city pairs such as Krakow<=>Warszawa, Warszawa<=>Gdansk, and some others, only trains operated by PKP InterCIty are available.