I'm familiar with using the German train website to prepare for our train trips but I was wondering how I can find out how much each trip might cost. We're trying to decide whether to pay as we go for trains or to get a rail pass. Thanks in advance for your input.
We used to use rail passes but on the last three trips we bought our tickets as we went. If you buy your ticket at least three days before you plan on using it you can save up to a third. That would mean you need to stay at each stop three nights. In Germany it is necessary on some trains for you to buy a reservation too if you want to be assured of a seat. I know some who may respond to your answer will say you don't need a reservation but I have stood for an hour on one train and had people stand by me on another.
Lois, it would help immensely if you would identify where you wish to travel. We could then offer suggestions on point-to-point versus a pass.
Thanks. We have the following plans: train from Lyon France to Torino Italy, Torino Italy to Sorrento Italy, Sorrento to Rome Italy, and Rome to Venezia Italy. Thank you for your help.
Also, we've always had 1st class passes but if we are paying for each trip I guess that I'd be interested in finding out the cost of 1st vs. 2nd class.
Lois, In trying to decide between a Railpass and P-P tickets, keep in mind that Railpasses DO NOT include the reservation fees that are compulsory on some trains, such as the TGV in France, Freccia trains in Italy, etc. You'll have to pay "out of pocket" for those. One other point to note is that your rail journey from Napoli Centrale to Sorrento will NOT be covered by your Railpass, as the Circumvesuviana rail system doesn't accept Passes. I believe the bahn.de website only shows prices for rail trips which originate in Germany, so it won't be of much use in providing pricing information for the rail trips you're considering. Use the Trenitalia website to determine pricing in Italy. You could also try the SNCF website (France) or sbb.ch (Switzerland) websites, as they often have good information. Happy travels!
For trains from Lyon to Torino, use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/. Choose France as your "ticket collection country," and refuse to be redirected to Rail Europe (although the site no longer seems to do this, it never hurts to be careful). For trains within Italy, use Trenitalia, following Ron In Rome's detailed tutorial: http://tinyurl.com/c4t693b. Be aware that between Naples and Sorrento, you take the Circumvesiana, a private line that is not part of Trenitalia (I don't think it shows up on their website). So, use "Naples" or "Napoli" instead to find those routes (Torino to Napoli and Napoli to Roma). The Circumvesuviana takes about 70 minutes between Naples and Sorrento, and is cheap (less than €10); railpasses aren't valid. For all of your routes, you will pay less if you can book in advance online and can commit to non-refundable and non-exchangeable tickets, and will pay more if you wait until the last minute. To see the difference, look at prices for travel tomorrow, and then for 90 days ahead (if the train schedules are loaded that far ahead; I believe they haven't yet loaded all of December). Last minute tickets in Italy aren't ruinous, but in France they can be. On these trains, you can print out tickets at home, which then don't need validation at the station (since they're only good for one train). Even though the sites say you need A4 paper, 8.5 x 11 works fine. And you must have a ticket for that specific train, or you'll get a heavy fine.
Thank you for all of your suggestions. I'll be studying those websites in the next couple of days.
Lois, as you are interested in looking at point-to-point tickets, the next question is are you willing to purchase advance tickets online? They are non-refundable and some are non-exchangeable so you would have to be certain of your travel dates and times. For example, Lyon > Torino can be as low as 46.90Euro. Regular fare is 116Euro. Torino to Napoli Centrale (closest you can get to Sorrento on Trenitalia) can be as low as 49Euro. Regular fare is 105Euro. RailEurope is 112Euro. You can see the French/Italy journey on www.tgv-europe.com. Just don't pick USA as your Ticket Collection Country. The website will switch you to RailEurope if you do. Pick Great Britain, France or any other country. It's www.trenitalia.com for you other tickets in Italy except Napoli Centrale to Sorrento. That 1:10 train ride will be on the Circumvesuviana train. No advance tickets. It's a local train. Tickets cost about 4Euro. Again, going point-to-point vs a pass requires more careful planning. We have nice spreadhsheets for our 3-4 week journeys. We know where we will be each night and when we have to be in the train station for a train ride. My wife and daughter went from Venice to Florence last week for 19Euro each. All planned this past May and June.
The cheapest fare for Paris-Torino is 29E.
www.seat61.com is always a source of knowledge for train travel. Trenchant opinions, too.