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Rail Europe fares too high? Everywhere but Spain, yes.

Are fares from RailEurope too high for most of Europe? Yes, apparently everywhere but Spain. And Spain has less than 12% of the trackage in Europe. Salzburg to Vienna, Austrian Rail standard fare, $64.17, Rail Europe $91 (+42%), Austrian Rail Savings Fare, $39.18 (+132%). Bruges to Liege, Belgian Rail standard fare $26.48, Rail Europe $44.00 (+66%). Amsterdam to Venlo, Dutch Rail standard fare $27.97, Rail Europe $34.00 (+22%). Zürich to Lugano, Swiss Rail fare $ 33.68 69.38 Rail Europe $ 115.00 76.00 (+9.5%). Cochem to Bad Harzburg, German Rail fare, $137.06, Rail Europe, $210 (+53%) (I paid $44 with advance purchase). Arhus, Denmark, to Copenhagen, Danish Rail standard fare, $68.41, Rail Europe, $86 (+26%). Rome to Venice, Italian Rail Mini fare, $62.15, Rail Europe, $107 (+72%). Note: none of the RE fares include shipping, assuming you will buy enough to get free shipping. So, when someone says, are "Rail Europe's fares are overpriced", unless they are asking for Spain, specifically, I say yes, for Europe in general. Spain is an exception.

Posted by
16926 posts

"How do you get the Half-Fare Card price with Rail Europe?" You don't, of course. But who is suggesting Rail Europe for tickets in Switzerland anyway? If I were doing that journey, I would book it on sbb.ch from Zürich to Milan, far enough in advance to get the special fare of 23 CHF, and just get off the train in Lugano. And just as a point of accuracy, $36 overnight shipping with RE is the "only option" ONLY if you are buying tickets for travel close to today's date, and/or departing the US in the next few days, so they have to rush them. Normal shipping of $18 per order applies if you buy without the time pressure. You must have chosen a travel date fairly close to today to get $36 as the only shipping option. (Where is Jo with that popcorn?)

Posted by
9044 posts

Off to bed and saving some popcorn for tomorrow. Would have rather had Doritos if they sold them here. Sad about the Dorito inventor passing on.

Posted by
19170 posts

I chose December 9. Certainly that's far enough in advance for regular shipping.

Posted by
33337 posts

Sasha, you're right. Buges to Liege, Belgian Rail standard ... You'd think that for somebody so quick to criticize others for poor spelling the OP would have been able to spell the name of an extremely popular town, frequently referenced on this Helpline. For future reference, the French and English speakers spell it, "Bruges" - including an"r"; Dutch and Flemish speakers spell it, "Brugge" - including an "r", two "g"s, and no "s". I have searched the Bahn website, beloved of the OP (me too), and found no reference to "Buges" in Belgium or anywhere else in the Bahn website. The only Buges I can find is a district of Corquilleroy, France, south of Paris. Surely that's not what OP meant? Finally - who in their right mind would go to Liege? Aachen, yes. Maastricht, certainly. Gulpen, for the most excellent pancakes at the mill; and maybe the beer very popular in the area. But Liege? EDIT: I see that the OP has been changed to reflect "Bruges"

Posted by
12040 posts

"who in their right mind would go to Liege?" That would be me, I regularly take the train to there from Germany. But not to see the town, that's just the most convenient location for family in Belgium to pick me up. But we call it "Luik"...

Posted by
14580 posts

As for who would want to go to Liege, I would...it's historical. And, I have stayed and visited Aachen a couple of times but have not as yet done the same with Liege.

Posted by
9109 posts

Please let's not argue about Rail Europe anymore. Haven't you guys heard...the gentleman who invented Doritos died at the ripe-old age of 97: http://tinyurl.com/3lmmgvk Show some respect for this great humanitarian! A moment of silence is in order.

Posted by
33337 posts

Oh dear. {standing quietly, hat off}

Posted by
19170 posts

"Buges" was a typo. I don't criticize people for typos ("Frankfort" is not a typo), because I understand how difficult it is to catch them in this little box (BTW, you can expand the box, making it easier to see what you've written, by using the dots in the lower right corner). I've seen "Slazburg". That's not as bad a Salzberg, which is a different place. Unfortunately, the spell checker underlines not only Buges, but Bruges and Brugge, so it's difficult to see what's actually misspelled. BTW, I'm not suggesting anyone go to Liege. I only used Bruges and Liege because I was looking for a fairly long (and expensive) trip, and that's hard to do in such a small country.

Posted by
16926 posts

A minor point but Zürich to Lugano is 61 CHF (regular fare) on sbb.ch. I believe you used the price with Half-Fare Card. Please pass the popcorn, Jo.

Posted by
19170 posts

Except when I can get a big discount for advance purchase, I always purchase my rail tickets the day of travel. I've only been "bitten" once that way, but advance purchase would have been inadvisable then because I flew into FRA from the U.S. I took a 1 hr ICE to Karlsruhe. It was a national holiday and every seat in the train was occupied. I stood for 1/2 hr until we got to Mannheim. People got up to get off, and I found a seat. However, less than half the seats were reserved, so, had I known, I could have bought a reservation when I bought the ticket and had a seat. (Two years later, I rode exactly the same train and was one of 5 people in the coach, no reservation needed.) So, I only use the rail websites for the schedules and to budget my trips. Rail Europe's prices would give me a conservative budget, but I like to know exactly what I will spend. Plus, a lot of places I go to aren't in the Rail Europe schedule database. My other complaint is that, for people comparing rail pass prices with point-point tickets that they would buy at the counter, Rail Europe's prices tend to skew the results in favor of a rail pass.

Posted by
19170 posts

"I believe you used the price with Half-Fare Card." You're right. I didn't realize it defaults to the Half-Fare Card price. That's inconvenient. I don't think most Americans will have Half-Fare Cards, but it might be a good idea. How do you get the Half-Fare Card price with Rail Europe? So I doubled the $ cost from yesterday and multiplied by 1.03 (which I wouldn't see if I bought the ticket at the counter) and got $69.38. That compares to $79 from Rail Europe w/o shipping, which is $36 (overnight, no other option) for that ticket.

Posted by
16926 posts

What did you put in for your date of departure? That may have been determinative. (Especialy if you did not specify). I used Oct. 18 for date of travel and Oct. 10 for departing the US, and got the $18 shipping option.

Posted by
19170 posts

I didn't put in anything. Apparently it saves the date as a cookie and uses the same date, without asking, until you change it. Strange. It asks you your name every time you use the site, but it assumes whoever you are, you all leave on the same date. I tried it three times with three different names and it still used the same departure date. Oh well. It only affects the shipping method, and cost. Wonder what happens when that date is exceeded? Do they have last week delivery? With a time machine? ("Sir. Here is the ticket you will order next week.) Wonder what that costs?

Posted by
3206 posts

OK, so your price for tickets from Swiss rail is too low by half, and you doubled the Rail Europe shipping fare, both to get your 241% excess (which you have not corrected, so your first post is false advertising). How many other mistakes are there that no one has noticed? I have no confidence in your numbers. And no one I know would use Rail Europe for tickets in Denmark. Just go to the station, buy a ticket, and get on the train. Why not use valid comparators like TGV tickets in France, night trains from Florence to Munich, and other routes where people might actually turn to Rail Europe for help?

Posted by
19170 posts

"I have no confidence in your numbers." OK, why don't you do the analysis yourself and show us your numbers. Then I can pick it apart. But no analysis is going to show that in most countries Rail Europe saves you money. "Why not use valid comparators like ... night trains from Florence to Munich" OK Economy double, CNL 484, Florence to Munich, Nov 10: RailEurope (10/4/11): $262 for a semi-flexible ticket. Refundable, less $44.54, up to 2 days before travel date. Shipping $18 if less than $399 order. DBahn (10/4/11): $219.16 (€164,60 @ today's Exc rate) for totally flexible (exchangeable or refundable) fare. Online price (+3%) with print at home or counter price, or $131.82 (€99) for online (+3%) Europa-Special fare, refundable, less $20 up to day before travel date. Print at home.

Posted by
33337 posts

oooh he's back for another round. Awaiting the counter punch. Jo, how's that popcorn? (my guess - this round may go to Lee?) Corners, please!

Posted by
2193 posts

Who cares? The bottom line is that Spain's state-owned rail system is far superior to Germany's rail system. Everyone knows that. Not only did the Doritos guy expire, so did Heidi, the cross-eyed opossum in Leipzig.

Posted by
16926 posts

When it comes to bahn.de v. RE, there is no dispute-- bahn wins. My point on the other thread was about Spain, and not relevant here. But I I can't resist saying it: The trains in Spain dance not to the Lee refrain. And I agree with Michael about the superiority of the Spanish rail system---those AVE trains are amazing. Unfortunately, the price parity I found a few weeks ago has shifted with the decline of the euro. RE has not yet adjusted their prices in response. So the best buy for discounted tickets on Spanish trains is Renfe, if you can manage it.