I would STRONGLY recommend against the purchase of the Global Eurail Pass
(i.e. 3 Month pass, for an adult traveler)
I've been travelling in Europe now for over two months on this type of pass.
Highlights... or rather "LOW"-lights of my experience with the Eurail Pass system and infrastructure:
- NO customer service whatsoever.
- ZERO accountability for railway agent errors, scheduling mistakes, etc.
- NO system for maintaining your account, assessing transit options, making reservations, etc.
- Very POOR online resources (i.e. I was just trying to figure out which Black Forest scenic routes are covered and which are discounted - no easy way to do so.
- MAJOR run-arounds to schedule "Reservations". (This is really disappointing - After spending $2100 on a pass, you have abandon your city touring for a half day - and then wait in line for several hours at a busy rail station to spend more money on a reservation!)
- Getting thrown off trains (almost) due to local train-agent errors (see Note 1)
- Having agents in one country (i.e. South of France) literally refuse to make reservations for an essential connecting segment in another Country (i.e. Italy). Without a workaround, this will literally prevent you from securely and reliably getting to and from certain places.
- Getting harassed constantly by ticket inspectors
- Inflexibility to choose more efficient transit options
- Overall LARGE investment that - when all is said and done - is very unlikely to pay off
Again, based on my experience, I would strongly recommend against the purchase a Global Eurail Pass!
But if you're even thinking about it, consider the following red flags:
Red Flag 1. The Eurail pass cannot be purchased once you arrive in Europe.
Reason: In my view, this is a marketing play on your anxiety to purchase the pass before you leave the states.
In other words, once you are already in Europe, and you experience typical frequency of rail use, actual cost of rail travel, and other travel options, you would not want to buy a rail pass.
Red Flag 2. No online account system or pass registration. There is no way to do anything online. Note that if you lose your physical pass, there is no possibility of replacement. So you seriously have to ask: With all the combined resources of the European rail-lines, why is it that they can't come up with an online account system? Even the most small-scale businesses these days have online customer systems. Just go on eBay and buy an iPad, or a pair of hiking boots, whatever. Credible business operations generally keep records of transactions for follow up consumer reference and support.
Red Flag 3. No customer service. This means no accountability to anyone for pretty much anything. Essentially, they (someone, somewhere) already has your money, but when it comes to getting you transported efficiently - which is what you think you paid for - you're on your own.
(Note 1: I was nearly thrown off a train last month while on a connecting schedule from Sicily to Bari - the train station agent in Rome that set up the itinerary a week earlier did not properly make a reservation on one of my train segments. And despite the fact that I produced officially-issued paperwork directing me to be on the train (i.e. a customized and printed travel instruction given to me by the agent in Rome), the ticket inspector insisted that I un-board (and potentially miss my connecting segment).
He didn't yield until I stated - through an Italian translator "If you are so confident that this is the right decision, then please provide your name and ID - I will leave this train if you provide me your ID so I can write a complaint. " After I asked him to identify himself - essentially a request for accountability - he left me alone.