Night train and reservation help

My wife and I are getting ready to take our first trip to Europe. We have been getting ready for about 6 months now. We have got about 90% of the plans ready, but I need help reserving the trains. I know that i will need a sleeper on two runs (Paris to Darmstadt Hbf and Vienna to Venice) but I have not been able to figure out how to do it. I tried raileurope and the have is the day time trains. I saw about ordering from the Eur aide(?) site, but can imagine spending $45 on shipping for about 5-6 reservations (maybe more). I don't want to get there and find that the trains are booked. Any advice would help.

We leave May23rd from Seattle, so I plenty of time... I think.

Posted by Dan
Forest Grove, OR, USA
12 posts

oh yeah, I wanted to add. We are going to be in London First so is it possible (or smart)to book all the reservations when we get to London? (Roughly 6 days before we need the first reservation)

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8641 posts

I think the fact that the new TGVEst will go into service in June has a bearing on what you will find or not find for the Paris-Darmstadt night train. So long as I entered a date before June, I found a direct night train at both sncf.com and bahn.de. When I entered an early July date, then the route Norm listed was shown.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11269 posts

Dan, you can find full tickets (rail and reservations) for the Vienna to Venice train on the Austrian Rail website, www.oebb.at. This far in advance, SparNight or savings night fares are available for little more than the cost of a reservation. I don't think they sell just reservations (accommodation surcharge or Aufpreis) online, but you can call them at (011) 43 5 1717.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11269 posts

As for the train from Paris Est to Darmstadt, I couldn't find it on French Rail (sncf), which probably explains why Rail Europe, which is owned by French Rail, didn't show it.

You can book tickets for that train on the Bahn website, but they don't show the price when you book. You can find the prices on page 40 (pdf pg 21) of the Nachtzugreise broshure, www.nachtzugreise.de/site/nachtzugreise/zubehoer__assets/de/dateianhaenge/fahrplan__1206.pdf. You can call German Rail reservations at (011) 49 1805 99 66 33.

The train does appear on the Nachtzugreise booking website, http://buchung.nachtzugreise.de, but they only book tickets or reservations for seats and couchettes 6 online. Online, you can get a SparNight fare of €39 for a bunk in a couchette 6. For other accommodations, you can call Nachtzugreise direct at (011) 49 1805 14 15 14.

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

Paris-Darmstadt can be found on the French national railway site, at http://www.sncf.fr/indexe.htm. There are three daytime trains and one overnight train from Paris Est. Unfortunately, it requires changes in Karlsruhe (at 445 am) and Frankfurt (at 7 am), each with about an hour's layover. Because the day trips only take about six hours, it's not worth the railways' effort to put on a sleeper service, since it's probably not utilized enough to make money.

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

The overnight train I found, Paris-Darmstadt, was with a May 29th travel date, with stops in Karlsruhe and Frankfurt. Although it appears there is a "direct" train leaving at the same time (taking 8 hrs 50 minutes), the website defaults to the journey I mentioned, with the two inconvenient early-morning stops, and ending up in Darmstadt at the same hour. I assume this is a fault on the website, since I can't see SNCF sending out two trains at exactly the same time to the same destination via the same route, with one taking two hours longer than the other. These are not TGV trains (there are no overnight services on TGV)and so do not use TGV tracks. However, with the new TGV Est service cutting the daytime travel to Frankfurt from 6 hours to 3 hours as of June 10th I wonder how long this overnight train will last.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11269 posts

Norm, I am not sure what might be going on, but I looked at June 1, and Nachtzugreise, the night train operation of Bahn.de, is CURRENTLY selling tickets for a night train leaving Paris at 22:45. This train goes directly to Karlsruhe (at 4:45), where it is broken and part goes to Frankfurt as D 361, with a stop in Darmstadt at 6:33, and the rest goes to Munich as 261. It looks like you can get all sorts of accommodations to Munich, but only seats and couchettes to Frankfurt.

Why doesn't sncf show the complete, direct connection from Paris to Darmstadt? I don't know. You'll have to ask the French, but generally, they don't do a good job on trains outside of France.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8641 posts

Norm and Lee,

I just went to sncf.com, entered 29 May as the departure date, and was given train 361 departing Paris Est at 21:43 and arriving in Darmstadt at 06:33. No changes. Also listed was the same train arriving in Frankfurt at 07:02 and then train 2295 departing Frankfurt at 08:20 and arriving in Darmstadt at 08:35. Go figure!

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

As I say...when I click on Purchase this Journey for that train 361, it defaults to the train that takes two hours longer, with the two stops. I've found SNCF pretty good with connections to other countries from France...except for Germany (?!)

Posted by Dan
Forest Grove, OR, USA
12 posts

wow, I got more than I think I needed, but all the info is great. I did forget to mention that I have a railpass... if that matters?

The train we are looking at from Paris to frankfurt is the 361 mentioned earlier. Will have to do some of my own research on it (make sure it is still there)

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11269 posts

As far as I can tell, that train to Frankfurt has only seats and couchettes, so you can get reservations from http://buchung.nachtzugreise.de. Click the British flag for English, and select "Accommodation surcharge only, ticket exists". You can pay for the reservations by credit card, and they will send you your ticket as a pdf file and you can print it out on your home computer.

Posted by Dan
Forest Grove, OR, USA
12 posts

sounds like that is second class maybe???

Thanks, I may try calling a few places too.

appreciate the website, should be able to book a few other German trains there too.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11269 posts

Not sure what you are referring to as that in "that is second class". On these German night trains, only the single compartments, with or without toilets, require a first class rail pass or ticket to go with the reservations. Reservations for all other accommodations require only a 2nd class rail pass.