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Eurail Pass - To reserve or not

We will be in Europe for just over 2 weeks. Venice 4 days to Zermatt 2 days to Basel to Days to Paris 3 days to Maastrict 2 days to Amsterdam 4 days. We plan on purchasing Eurail pass. Must we reserve each leg? I am having a problem finding venice to Zermatt on Rail Europe, only gives me one option. On SBB schedule there are many. Can we make the reservation in Venice or should we do that now. We are travelling Sept 17 -0ctober 5

Posted by
4 posts

It took us a few rides balancing at the end of DB cars last September before we realized that the pass only gets you on the train. Now, we know that a reservation is insurance for getting a seat. It comes down to how much you’re willing to spend to guarantee a comfortable place to sit for a 3-4 hour train ride, as opposed to standing between cars? We also learned that even if the light above the seat indicates the seat is “free”, someone may have a legitimate reservation for it and may come along and have you moved well after the train has left the station.

Posted by
21660 posts

First, make sure you benefit from a pass. Unless you are doing a lot of long distance travel in a short period of time, it is difficult to make a pass pay especially since you have to pay extra for reservations.

Second, Rail Europe is not the best option for schedule information. RE is a travel agency that only lists the trains that they sell tickets for. Use bahn.de for scheduling information.

With the exception of night trains it is very rare to need an advance reservation for any train. Trains have large capacity with frequent schedules. In all of our travels, including some holidays, we have never seen a full train.

Posted by
18237 posts

When looking up schedule information on the Bahn, starting at Bahn.de will eventually get you (probably) to the Query Page with all of the options, why not go there directly in the first place (using the link above).

"that only lists the trains that they sell tickets for."

RailEurope doesn't list every town in Europe as a destination, only the most popular towns (for example, Zermat is not one of them), and they don't list every train between towns, only the most expensive trains, and they don't list a lot of multi-town connections.

Posted by
10 posts

I really appreciate your tips. I have accessed a number of those schedules so I do know how they work. I guess my question is really about reservations. Do I have to reserve from here or can I wait till I get to venice. Do I have to make reservations in order to use the Eurail pass or I can I just hop on?

Posted by
10 posts

So you are saying that we should forget the Eurail pass? If so, would it be wise to buy a Swiss pass and if so, which one? Would it be better then to take advantage of the advance tickets available from basel to paris and paris to maastrict? Then we are locking in again and have to make all the arrangements now. So confused

Posted by
10 posts

So you are saying that we should forget the Eurail pass? If so, would it be wise to buy a Swiss pass and if so, which one? Would it be better then to take advantage of the advance tickets available from basel to paris and paris to maastrict? Then we are locking in again and have to make all the arrangements now. So confused

Posted by
10 posts

I guess I dont really need the cheapest option, just the most convenient. Are there less seats available for Eurail pass holders? If so, then I don't mind doing point to point tickets, and just buy them as we go, that way being the most flexible

Posted by
10 posts

ok, so 2 questions. Must you always reserve in order to use your Eurail pass, even if you make reservation the same day you leave? If we do buy point to point tickets as we go without the benefit of advance purchase cheap prices, would that cost more than using the Eurail pass. Round and round we go! :)

Posted by
21660 posts

I think you and Steve are walking around the bush not listening to each other. Two types of trains -- those that require reservations and those that do not and sometimes a little of both. IF a reservation is required, it is included in the price of a point to point ticket BUT a required reservation is an extra charge if you have a pass. If the reservation is optional, then you can, with a pass, get on and take an open seat. And, finally, if no reservation at all, then get on and take a seat. The high speed or premium trains will always require a reservation and the price can be steep. Most slower trains, locals and IC, do not or it is an option which is an added fee to the p2p ticket. The need to make a reservation very far in advance is low and you easily wait till you get to Europe.

Or another way to look at it. The pass gets you on the train. IF a reservation is required you must pay for the seat reservation. It must be purchased prior to boarding the train and the penalty is sever if you do not.

Posted by
10 posts

Ahh, I see. Now it is my understanding that most trains do not require reservations but the trains from Italy do. But as long as I make the reservation any time prior to boarding we should be good. And there should be no problem with seat limitation for pass holders? Sorry to be so such a pain.

Posted by
3313 posts

Frank - the penalty is "sever"???

I knew the Swiss are strict, but wow!

;)

Posted by
10 posts

Ha, Ha, good one Doug! Ok, you guys have been a lot of help. So tell me, if this were your trip, how would you do it? It would be interesting to see if you all agree.

Posted by
21660 posts

Ah, what is another "e" between friends?

Joanne, you seem to be trying to make this a very difficult subject when it is really very simple. Who said that .....most trains do not require reservations but the trains from Italy do .......?????? Not true!!

One more time -- Regardless of country, the high speed trains or sometimes called premium train will always require a reservation. The IC and local trains will vary a little from country to country but most ICs will have the option of seat reservation and almost none of the local train will have that option. And the tickets for those trains are much cheaper.

But one of the great mysteries is how to figure out if the seat is reserved. Just seat down. Someone will tell you if it is reserved. Apologize in your best broken English and leave. I have not seen the lights that someone mentioned earlier. I am used to little slips of paper stuck in a holder above or on the back of the seat that show that the seat is reserved from one point to another. Ask someone around you to explain the system.

As for what I would do -- I would use point to point because it give max flexibility.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks so much for all your help. It sounds like the point to point is the way to go. Thanks for being patient. It sure is a lot of info to process