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Eurail passes

I'm planning the itinerary for our europe vacation (will be traveling from munich>salzburg>interlaken>venice>florence)....and am getting very confused. There is the Eurail.com website, raileurope.com, and the DB Bahn website....all with different timetables/schedules for trains, some with vastly different durations from one city to the next. I'm wondering what is reliable in terms of schedule. I have not bought passes yet, but will likely be getting the Select Pass....just don't know how to plan our trip the best....suggestions would be appreciated!

Posted by
12040 posts

The only websites I would trust more than DB for scheduling information are those for other national rail companies in their own countries (ie, SBB in Switzerland, ÖBB in Austria). You would do best to forget you ever heard of Rail Europe or Eurail.

Posted by
23 posts

Is the select pass or similar passes good on all the trains on those individual country s rail websites? And if you want to make a reservation what site do you go through?

Posted by
8700 posts

Yes, a Select Pass will be good on national rail trains for all countries covered by the pass. For the countries in which you will be traveling you can buy seat reservations for trains that require them at train stations as you go. However, if you can commit to specific departure dates and time and book well in advance (90-120 days), point-to-point tickets will be cheaper than a pass. Munich-Salzburg: A Bayern-Ticket costs €22 for the first person and €4 for each additional person up to a total of five people traveling together. You must travel on regional trains and depart after 09:00 on weekdays (anytime on weekends). No need to buy a Bayern-Ticket in advance. Buy it on the day of travel in Munich. Salzburg-Interlaken: Book on the Austrian Rail site to get a discount fare as low as €49.00. Interlaken-Venice: Book on the Swiss Rail site to get a discount fare as low as CHF 92.00. Venice-Florence: Book on the Trenitalia site to get a Super Economy fare as low as €19.00.

Posted by
23 posts

Ok, so just to clarify....the Trenitalia, for example...that would be covered by a Eurail Pass that covers Italy as one of my countries? That is good news, because I was loooking on the trenitalia website and found trains from venice to florence in 2 hours, where on the eurail website it said they took almost 10 or more!
I just want to make sure that if I do get the pass, that I'm not also having to pay for individual trains (that arent covered). I do have very specific dates and times that I'm looking for, so if the DB Bahn website is accurate, which all the posts I've read about it says its the most accurate (not to trust Eurail or raileurope websites), then I should count on those times as being correct? If i do buy point to point tickets, and reserve in advance for some, what happens if i miss a connection? or the train is late, causing me to miss a connection? If i've already paid, can I get on another train??

Posted by
21660 posts

If the train is late and you miss your connection. You have about 60 minutes to go to a ticket office and exchange it for the next train. You cannot get on any train that requires a reservation without a specific reservation, seat assignment, for that train. The penalty can be severe.

Posted by
23 posts

I just went to the individual country's rail websites to look up prices for the dates we are going....and in total it will be about $450/person, with the most expensive being from interlaken to venice, about 173 swiss francs. the rail pass is $463...may be worth just doing the pass and not worrying about purchasing and coordinating individual tickets....thoughts? are there any trains NOT covered by the rail pass? I saw on one website that the Thello trains were not. we are not going to use those anyways, but any others??

Posted by
2828 posts

Try to break the Interlaken-Venezia trip into two separate tickets: Interlaken-Spiez OR Interlaken-Brig. Spiez (or Brig) - Venice. Sometimes that yields a lower total fare.

Posted by
8700 posts

Trenitalia is Italy's national rail company. If your pass includes Italy, it will be good on all Trenitalia trains.

Posted by
7205 posts

I don't see how using a Eurail Pass makes the job of purchasing train tickets any easier. Never ever EVER use RailEurope or Eurail websites to look at train schedules - it's just a waste of your time and only results in frustration. Don't bother with a Eurail Pass. Just buy point to point tickets.

Posted by
23 posts

I definitely learned yesterday that raileurope and eurail.com are not updated...have had much better luck with the DB Bahn and indiv. country rail websites, thanks to all of your suggestions! Several places I have read that if, once you add up individual point to point ticket costs, if they are close to what a pass costs, to get the pass. (that is also what rick recommended in one of the books ) The reason I thought it would be easier to buy the pass if they were the same price is because 1. if you buy the pass all the seats are in first class, point to point is in second class for that price; 2. i guess it just sounded easier to buy ONE thing that covers all, rather than coordinating 5 different train times and buying tickets as you go.

Posted by
27447 posts

1. if you buy the pass all the seats are in first class, point to point is in second class for that price Erin, you can get point to point First Class tickets as well as Second Class. You may not be able to sit in First Class on Regional trains as many Regional trains have only Second Class cars. You get no refund if you have a pass. Are you looking at full price point to point tickets or are the figures you have based on the very cheap advance purchase tickets? 2. i guess it just sounded easier to buy ONE thing that covers all, rather than coordinating 5 different train times and buying tickets as you go. Money buys easy. OK, because you have to go through buying reservations, eas ier, not easy. Easy costs money. Train tickets really aren't that hard. If you can buy plane tickets you can buy train tickets. Your choice. Your money. Your decision.

Posted by
23 posts

THanks Nigel,
I realized that too today...if i can buy plane tickets i can buy train tickets! it will save money....i think i was looking at the full price tickets (after further looking, it does save much more money, buying the advance saver tickets) i just have never had to buy 5 plane tickets at a time, so I will just have to learn to get used to it! my only concern on buying the "advance tickets' that are usually a lot less money, is, are they guaranteed seats? I know many are nonrefundable and nontransferrable, so as long as I show up....I have a seat. right? with point to point tickets, do i have to make any "reservations" or is that included in the ticket.?

Posted by
2353 posts

We just returned from 30 days in Europe traveling on a Global Saver Pass. The DB sight is the best for schedules & routing. Our experience was MOST regional trains had at least a small 1st class area or car. We loved the flexibility of the pass The pass worked on the S-Bahn for travel within several cities. We did NOT make one reservation - even on ICE trains. Only 2 times we spent our train trip in the restaurant car due to no available seats on the train We were able to take day trips on the train to nearby places at no extra charge For us the pass worked out cheaper than point to point - we had several long legs. Have a ball!

Posted by
27447 posts

advance tickets' that are usually a lot less money, is, are they guaranteed seats? I know many are nonrefundable and nontransferrable, so as long as I show up....I have a seat. right? Yup There are exceptions - when, like many British trains and Regional trains which don't do reservations at all, nobody has reservations. If you have an advance purchased discount ticket on a train which offers seat reservations - yes.

Posted by
18237 posts

I last used a rail pass in 2000, before I know better. For the trains I used, I just about broke even, but, with a few adjustments, perhaps taking a few more minutes, I could have saved significant money. Since then (eight trips done, another planned), I have always compared the cost of a pass to individual tickets, Savings Fares, and regional day tickets, and I've always found a pass to be much more expensive - two to three times more expensive. Traveling alone, my transportation costs average 15€/day. It's possible for a rail pass to cost less, but in my experience, unlikely. Of course, this takes a little research and thought. Just buying a pass is easy, and, as Nigel says, "easy costs money". "We were able to take day trips on the train to nearby places at no extra charge" No extra charge? You mean no extra charge other than using a day of your pass. In Germany, you can take day trips to nearby places using a Länder Ticket for less than a day of a rail pass (Ex: 13€/person for 2 people for all day use of a Bayern-Ticket.) "The pass worked on the S-Bahn for travel within several cities." An all-day ticket for the S-Bahn in Munich AND all other transit (buses, trams, U-Bahn), which are not covered by a rail pass, is just 20,40€ for 2 people (up to 5, actually).

Posted by
23 posts

So, if I purchase the point to point tickets for trains that accept/require reservations, I do not need to do anything because the reservation is already guaranteed by purchasing the ticket... If a train does not accept reservations, but I have purchased a point to point ticket....I am still guaranteed a seat Are these correct?
Basically, I dont have to purchase the ticket, then ALSO make a reservation, do I?

Posted by
27447 posts

If a train does not accept reservations, but I have purchased a point to point ticket....I am still guaranteed a seat No, of course not. Nobody has reservations, nobody is guaranteed a seat. Regionale trains, with no reserved seats, are like city buses. They stop at all or most stops, and seats are first come first served. Basically, I dont have to purchase the ticket, then ALSO make a reservation, do I? correct

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks for clarifying, Nigel. Sorry it is all foreign to me, literally! I'm a big planner and make me nervous to take the chance of missing connections! Where I come from, a ticket is as good as a reservation! Thanks for your help.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you all so much for your help and suggestions. It did take a lot of work and investigating, but kind of fun coordinating everything in the long run. I just hope it all works out! I saved over $300 by doing individual tickets and not the Select Pass. You all are wonderful and this entire forumn/website has been very helpful. Getting excited now!

Posted by
2353 posts

"We were able to take day trips on the train to nearby places at no extra charge" No extra charge? You mean no extra charge other than using a day of your pass. In Germany, you can take day trips to nearby places using a Länder Ticket for less than a day of a rail pass (Ex: 13€/person for 2 people for all day use of a Bayern-Ticket.) "The pass worked on the S-Bahn for travel within several cities."
An all-day ticket for the S-Bahn in Munich AND all other transit (buses, trams, U-Bahn), which are not covered by a rail pass, is just 20,40€ for 2 people (up to 5, actually). Let me clarify - we had a pass for a 30 day period - unlimited - not a specific number of days allowed so using our pass for day trips & the S-Bahn did NOT cost anything extra nor "use a day". When you are in, say, 5 different cities and purchase all day tickets in each city that starts adding up - it is just one of the many factors to consider when comparing passes with point to point. The same would NOT be true if your pass was for a set # of days in a time period - I agree - using a day for local travel would be foolish.