Please sign in to post.

Raileurope Service

used raileurope [RE] for 3per/24mar/13:00 Roma - Firenze one way ES[eurostar]. Searched many sites. Used trenitalia site only for scheduling. RE sold me 2nd class reserved seats at trenitalia online rate of E44. tried -!- trenitalia OL many times ,rate jumped E12 each,[feb '10]while i was working out arrangements, advance discounts-[15-30%] only to EC credit card! no agents either. RE offered complete all ticket insurance[including strikes] for $27-10 day decision. refund rate steep at 20%,and...reservation change requires 'advance notice' and 'may' incur 'penalty' plus any rate increase.[are airlines any different?] also bought tickets[tix]through RE, with 'OPEN' [the best trolley co.in Roma and Firenze]open ended [expires 12/'10]24hr trolley tickets @ E19,their online rate! Paid at RE secure, online cc[credit card] site in US$, no fees. received from UPS no charge in a few days. As we have hotel reservations, pre-purchase is,so far, totally to my satisfaction. to have in hand works for me. call to RE operator [MENUFINALLY!} revealed that only their online[no agent]sales are at $0 fee. with booking #,customer service helpful and pleasant. More to follow...

UPDATE 24MAR Roma,Italy asked conductor at Temini about RESCHEDULE: ONE FREE reschedule for ANY earlier OR later train as long as 1[one] hour PRIOR to departure time on ticket. missed train MUST be rescheduled BEFORE 1[ONE] hour AFTER ticketed departure time, OR the ticket is, indeed, D-E-A-D! added E mail receipt tickets are pain in the --- to reset.

Posted by
873 posts

I don't understand the point of this post.

Posted by
19171 posts

He's obviously "buzz marketing" for Rail Europe.

RE price is almost always more than the price over there.

Example, Frankfurt - Munich on ICE
Bahn online w/ reservation $127.69 today. Selfprint and have ticket immed.
RE $142 w/ reservation. Get it in 2-3 days w/ free shipping. $150 w/ fast shipping.

What's more, if you purchase in advance (which you are doing with RE anyway), you can get Frankfurt-Munich via ICE on a Europa-Spezial fare for about $43, $100 less than from RE. Now, that fare might end up non-refundable, but about that much of the "refundable" RailEurope fare probably won't be refunded anyway.

Posted by
4555 posts

That's the same price you'd get if you walked up to the ticket window in Rome this morning....if you wanted to take the slower IC train, you could get second class tickets for 28 Euro per person.
No one's been able to book at Trenitalia with a U-S credit card for some time.

Posted by
8 posts

todays rate might not be 24mar or 24july fare/exch rate. ES 'reservation' always required and-while unlikely-might not be availiable walk up. I don't NEED to be on a specific train...I WANT to be on a specific train..SO, ES no stop rocket ride @<1.5hr travel time-!-IC option-2nd class also-tix ARE avail thru RE to budget minded[check 6AM IC!]..@+3.5hr travel time-!-....to walk THRU station onto train to MY seat,tix[securely!]in hand,save cc 3%[RE thru NYC]on EACH foreign trans-do the math. to have relaxed, late checkout AM in Roma and quick arrival in Firenze,[also got my ES tix to Verona and tickets to Milan for flyout] Arrive Fienze relaxed early PM, check in and out onto the streets-walk on to the trolleys with tickets, all without lines, machines, or repetitive transactions [while the IC is still out on the tracks somewhere], is,as i said, worth it-works..for ME.totally a matter of travel style/need/OCD preference. peace of mind, convenience and TIME economy my factors. SO...so far....

JEEZ!..INCOMING!....BoomBam...THIS situation,in THIS circumstance, in Italy, through RE- worked VERY well for ME. NOT marketing for anyone at all

Surfing services, catching the best that comes-don't care which-just like the airlines

for all their evil, why does ricksteves use RE?

P.S.-perhaps in wrong place- no questions really, just sharing information on my experience so far. Have all tix,at cost, o% charges, in hand NOW. Mi dispiace!

Posted by
12040 posts

I'm sure many of us would love to answer your questions, but to be quite honest, your posts look like computer code and are almost indecipherable. Perhaps if you clearly state your question, we could be of more help.

Posted by
16936 posts

This was reported on Fodors.com today too (and in a coherent manner, not like this OP).

For some reason, for tickets for Italy, the RailEurope price is coming out the same as the Trenitalia price (which you can't actually buy from the website because of the credit card probelm). Advance fare purchase deals are included. Free shipping (for a "limited time").

Since you pay in $$, one might actually come out ahead (without the foreign transaction fee).

Posted by
19171 posts

I'm sure RE doesn't sell anything on the No. American market without markup, so I'm wondering if, hurt by their inability (unwillingness?) to accept our credit cards, but wanting to attract Americans, Trenitalia is offering tickets to RailEurope at a lower price to compensate for RE's markup. ???

As if RailEurope needed another nail in their coffin, let me illustrate how bad their prices are with an actual experience. In November, 2008, I traveled from Walkenried (just So. of Harz N.P. to Karlsruhe. A complete ticket, from the Bahn, at todays fares, would have been $125. The RailEurope website doesn't recognize Walkenried, Northeim (where I was to board the train to Karlsruhe), or Göttingen (the biggest city in the area). The only RE ticket I could find was Kassel to Karlsruhe for $118. That still left me to buy my ticket from Walkenried to Kassel locally for $43. That was $161 ($36 more than the Bahn fare). However, I bought a Dauer-Spezial-Ticket for $43.50 (at today's fares and exch rate). That would have been OK for most of the year, but it was mid-Nov and I had an hour's bus trip to catch the train at Walkenried. I was afraid it might snow. So, for insurance, I bought a second Dauer-Spezial-Ticket for a connection 2 hours later. (I really wanted to make the first connection to get to my final destination by dark).

So, even with the extra Dauer-Spezial ticket, I spent only $87 for tickets, compared to $161 I would have had to pay for a RailEurope ticket.

Posted by
16936 posts

I am just referring to people who want to buy in advance to get the Amica fares. It appears---or it did when I checked prices yesterday---that the lower price was offered by RailEurope as well.

Look around the travel boards and you'll see lots of questions aabout how to buy tickets i advance for travel in Italy, since one cannot buy them on the Trenitlia site with an American credit card. This information might be helpful to those people.

But no, one should not be fooled into buying tickets for travel in Germany from RailEurope.

Posted by
4555 posts

Lola...it'll be interesting to see how long RailEurope can maintain this with Italian train tickets, especially with the "no cost shipping" option. I wonder if they're treating them as a "loss leader" to draw people to purchase other tickets as well. However, these aren't the "Amica" fares (which have been replaced by other discoutnts), but the walkup ticket window price. If you arrive in Italy a few days before a planned train trip, you MAY still get these discounts at the station....but reserving ahead certainly takes away the uncertainty if you need to be on a specific train.

Posted by
16936 posts

Who knows why they are doing this. Maybe they do have a deal with Trenitalia and are still making a profit. But I don't see any reason not to take advantage of the situation while it lasts, do you?

Posted by
19171 posts

Let's see. The "advantage" of this is that you don't pay any (or much) more than you would pay at the station over there. Buying tickets over there gets you far more flexibility. The only reason I ever buy tickets from here is to get a much better price.

But, my point was that in this case it might not be too bad, but don't let that affect your decision for other countries. For Germany, buying from will RE cost way more than buying from the Bahn.

Posted by
16936 posts

So now I'm intrigued. Everyone disses RailEurope, and I agree that in general one can do much better on the individual train websites, especially Bahn.de---the German train system sees to offer a bewildering array of discount tickets, ad we have in the past been the beneficiaries of deep discounts there, such as Laender tickets and a Bayern ticket for 5 to travel together, etc.

I've never actually checked prices on RailEurope before yesterday, and that's when I saw the Italian fares. Just out of curiousity, I checked the price for a journey from Zurich to Milan, and compared to the price on SBB.ch. For 4 people traveling together, 2d class:

RE $340

SBB 368 CHF which converts to $347, or $7 more than the RE tickets.

Also, SBB will charge something like 23 CHF to send the tickets to the US. Right now RE offers free shipping.

So, were it not for the "special" on the SBB website that I will mention below, the RE price is better---especially if you consider the foreign transaction fees that may be added on the SBB purchase.

The problem with RE, as far as I can tell from this little exercise, is that they do not offer the discounted tickets. By buying the Zurich to Milan ticket in advance from SBB, I can get the price down to 120 CHF for the four tickets, which is a HUGE difference. So of course I will buy from SBB.

But once those limited-number special price tickets are gone, one might do well to consider buying from RE. Or at least check the prices and compare, before automatically assuming that RE will be more expensive.

Posted by
19171 posts

In case you haven't noticed, Zürich is not in Italy.

I just looked up travel on 5/13 from Rome Termini (10:45) to Venice S.L.(14:33) on train # 9408. The Trenitalia website shows the 2nd cl. fare at €73 ($100.35 according to Oanda if, like me, you would get your Euro from an ATM at the Interbank rate and buy it at a counter). RailEurope gives their price at $105 (4.6% higher). So they are still a little over, not as good as the counter price, but not too bad if you HAVE to get your ticket in advance.

Posted by
16936 posts

I know Zurich is not in Italy. We have been there many times.

My point is that it isn't just Italy where RE's fares are pretty comparable to the national train websites.

I'm not trying to promote RailEurope here; I just was surprised to learn that their fares in Italy (and apparently also Switzerland) are not as overpriced as many people have said, and I have believed for years.

And I think the price comparison you found illustrates this as well. A few dollars more for that run, a few dollars less for the one I checked. It just isn't the ripoff that people often claim it to be.

Posted by
19171 posts

"I just was surprised to learn that their fares in Italy (and apparently also Switzerland) are not as overpriced as many people have said"

I hate to keep going around and around with you, but now you have challenged my integrity.

It only took me a few seconds to find an example, Zürich to Lugano, on SBB for $55.80 (59 CHF). That's the walk-up price at the station. On RE it's $65, 20% higher.

And I still have to go back to Germany. Hannover to Karlsruhe, $43.39 with a Sparpreis from the Bahn, $139 from RailEurope. I didn't even have to use something like Hamburg to Basel!

RailEurope prices have not been comparable, historically, are not today anywhere but, apparently, in Italy, and probably will not be anywhere in Europe in the future.

Posted by
16936 posts

Dear Lee---nowhere have I challenged your integrity.

The prices are there for anyone to see on the websites. I posted ones I found, and you posted ones you found.

I would like to see everyone learn to use bahn.de, SBB.ch, and the other websites to find the best schedules and fares. I have just tried to point out that RE is not always the highest price, and in some cases might work out for someone who wants to purchase tickets in advance.

Posted by
4555 posts

Lee....if you use tgv-europe.com/en, you'll get everything in English, and in Euro, and without being kicked over to RailEurope UK. Just keep telling them you're in Great Britain, and you'll get all the prices you need. That same 7:46 train Paris-Nice can be had for as low as 39.90 Euro, if booked far enough in advance on this site.

Posted by
19171 posts

One of the complaints about French Rail tickets is that, when you say you are in the U.S., they refuse to sell you tickets at the "in Europe" price, switching you to RailEurope (which they own), with higher prices. Of course, if you read French, you can order the tickets on the French language website and pick them up in France. But who wants to read French?

Some people here have claimed that if you say you are in the U.K., you can get English and the European prices. I just tried a couple of things.

First, I tried the U.K. trick. I noticed that the website said "RailEurope UK". They gave me a price for 2nd class on the 7:46 direct train from Paris to Nice as £71,50 ($108.67) for the least-flexible, online ticket.

I did that again, using Germany and German. The ticket price for the least-flexible ticket was €58,90 ($81.07).

Then I used the RailEurope site, and the least-flexible price was $109.

So, two things. First, the ticket price from RailEurope was 34% higher than the "in Europe" online price. If that doesn't qualify as a rip-off, what does? Second, using UK doesn't help (RE has a branch in the UK).

Posted by
113 posts

I tried what Norm suggested (showing Great Britain) as country to book train tickets from Rome to Venice in April, and it showed nothing available in first or second class, then indicated service on the website not available. So I don't know if I did something wrong or if the site is not working at the moment.

This is our first trip to Italy, so I'm not sure if I need to buy tickets ahead or if we should wait and just get them when we first arrive. Does cost increase if I wait? Thanks for any advice.

Posted by
4555 posts

Dellinda...that's because you're booking tickets in Italy, not France. My suggestion was a response to Lee's focus on French railway tickets. tgv-europe is the website of the French national rail network.
RailEurope has apparently cut its prices for Italian train tickets to about the same as what you'd pay over there, and they're offering free shipping right now....so if you want the confidence of knowing your tickets are in your hands, especially if there is a specific train you wish to take, then try them. Otherwise, you shouldn't have a problem buying them there.

Posted by
8 posts

after some thought, some after thoughts...

Trenitalia base rate jumped E12 - as RailEurope started offering 'cost' tickets and free shipping Does one not operate the other?
it that actually the daily walk up price today? - better be !

I wonder how other train agencies price tickets they sell in Italy or Switzerland- Forget why they fell off my list after a short look -may be I missed sumpin'

sorry, underway again SOON - WAY all done for now working the web... just curious.

next progress report coming from the field

the eternal flexible X confirmed dispute

Posted by
3206 posts

So who or what is Rail Europe?

Steve says they are a "US representative" and ought to behave better, Lee says they charge too much, Lola says check their fares for Italian tickets, Lee disagrees with Lola, and says they are owned by French Rail and charge more for US people than Europeans who speak German. Lola posted Rail Europe prices that seemed OK for Italy. But Lee seems angry at Lola and was really rude to her. Also, I think Rick Steves is an agent for Rail Europe.

How do I know what to do and who to believe? Some of these people have posted thousands of times so they must know what they are talking about.

We are going to Italy in May, flying into Milan and going to Bologna and Camogli. I would like to buy train tickets in advance if they are cheaper. And I know I cannot buy them from Trenitalia's website. So what do I do???????

Posted by
9109 posts

Why are so many surprised that trenitalia.com won't accept US credit cards? After all, Italy also doesn't sell US root beer. Italy has a logic all it's own...just go with the flow.

Posted by
19171 posts

Steve, I almost agree with everything you said, except,

"All Eurail passes sold in the US come through Rail Europe, including Rick's". [Note, I've delete "including Rick's" to avoid confusion. I agree with that, but RailEurope is only one of several authorized Eurail distributers. Not all passes come from RailEurope.]

I do think Rick gets his passes through RailEurope [this passage has not been changed since I originally wrote it, only bolded for emphasis], but the official marketer and outlet for Eurail passes is Eurail (www.eurail.com). Eurail sells passes directly online, so I don't think those passes come through RailEurope.

Also, note, from the Railpass website,

"Railpass.com is an official agent for a variety of leading railways, rail providers, and distributors such as Eurail, ..."

There was a time when Eurail didn't sell rail passes directly to the U.S. market (and the price that sellers could charge was set by Eurail). At that time they listed several distributors in the U.S., including, but not limited to, RailEurope. Now that they sell their passes directly, they don't show a list of resellers.

Update: Railpass no longer seems to be in business, however, if you go here, you can see a list of Eurail© Authorized Sales Agents. RailEurope is one of 4 in addition to Eurail.com, itself.

Posted by
3206 posts

So Rail Europe is owned by the Swiss and French train companies? and they charge more if you buy tickets in the US than in France or the UK?

If my tickets for Italy are the same price as I see on Trenitalia should I go ahead and buy them now? It seems like some people are so against them and against anyone who says they are OK. Am I missing something?

Posted by
4555 posts

Sasha....with RailEurope's current promotion on right now, you MAY find train tickets for Italy at roughly the same price you'd find as a walkup customer. Use the trenitalia site alongside the RailEurope site to compare prices....all you'll have to do is switch from Euros to dollars, or vice versa. If you want the security of having tickets in hand, and the price is right, buy them from RailEurope. IF you want flexibility, then wait until you get to Italy, remembering that, on busy weekends and holidays, you may not get the first train you want. But, depending on your planned journeys, there are usually several trains per day between the main cities that you are likely to visit.

Posted by
19171 posts

"they charge more if you buy tickets in the US than in France or the UK?"

Sasha, it's not just in the US vs in France or the UK. I haven't looked at the French Rail site in a long time, but it used to be that they would mail their tickets to someone almost anywhere in the world, even to remote islands in the Pacific, but not to No. America.

I actually can't fault them for charging more from RailEurope, because they do have expenses of the operation, but that doesn't change the fact that they are more expensive. What I do fault them for, and I feel they are unethical for this, is actively blocking No. Americans, from buying tickets online, the same as anyone else in the world, just to force us to do business with their more expensive, and in these days of the Internet, no longer necessary, subsidiary.

Again, when I say that RailEurope "overcharges" for tickets from Germany, I can't entirely fault them for that. They charge more, but not a lot more, for full fare tickets on the fastest, most expensive express trains. However, I do fault them for not offering tickets on less expensive albeit slower, express and regional trains. Where I really feel they are "overpriced" is in the discounted, online express tickets, such as Sparpreis, where I often see a savings of 75%. Again, to be fair, this is not RailEurope's fault, in that German Rail, to prevent resellers from buying huge blocks of these discounted tickets and reselling them at higher prices, sells only to end users. However, it still stands that they are a lot more expensive than buying directly from the Bahn, and that is what I have said about it.

Where I have said that they are "ripping us off" (and then only once, above) applies to Prems tickets from French Rail. The fact that we (No. Americans), unless we are in on a workaround, are effectively blocked from buying the same, discounted tickets online as the rest of the world is, in my opinion, unconscionable.

Posted by
19171 posts

Does anyone actually know why our credit cards do not work in Italy?. I have a feeling it is somehow related to the high rate of card (or card number) theft in Italy. But did Trenitalia get "burned" on stolen card numbers and decide not to take them any more, or are American banks trying to prevent fraud by not accepting transactions from Italy.

At one time I believe I heard that at least one U.S. bank was no longer accepting transactions, including ATM withdrawals, even when the card holder had told them he would be over there, from Italy.

So, maybe this whole "same price" situation is Trenitalia's attempt to still sell tickets to Americans, in advance, at counter prices. It would be much more difficult to use a card number stolen in Italy to buy tickets from Rail Europe since the tickets are delivered to a U.S. mail address.

If this "promotion" were at the impetus of RE, you would expect it to be for all countries, not just Italy.

Posted by
4555 posts

Lee...some good points, but I think Trenitalia, if it had been so concerned about lost sales from Americans via credit card, would have taken action to fix the problem a long time agop...it's not that difficult to institute increased protection against credit card fraud. I still think this is RailEurope's move to belatedly take advantage of the current situation regarding Italy, and use it as a 'loss leader' to try to get people to purchase other tickets-passes from them. They may not make any profit on Italian tickets, but they aren't losing anything either, and it could be a good draw.

Posted by
16936 posts

I have wondered about the same question that Lee just asked, about Trenitalia's experience with US credit cards. My bank (B of A) will not accept a credit card transaction from Italy unless I call in advance and authorize the specific purchase. I've had to do this three times now to authorize credit card payments I made for our upcoming trip, for hotel reservations and opera tickets. I tried to do the opera tickets, which were under 100 euro, without calling first and my purchase did not go through.

My other bank, Chase, is the same---they need a phone call to authorize before I make a charge in Italy, but at least they are easier to call.

So I'm wondering if Trenitalia just got so frustrated with US credit card transactions not going through that they just stopped taking them altogether.

I've not had this problem buying from Bahn.de and I don't anticpiate having it buying from SBB.

Posted by
19171 posts

"I've not had this problem buying from Bahn.de".

Knock on wood. Let's hope this Trenitalia disease doesn't spread to the Bahn. But then, German Rail requires that you have the card with you to show as identification. Carrying a stolen card with you and presenting it to the conductor could be rather risky!

Posted by
113 posts

Thanks for the advice. I checked prices on both, found one price on raileurope and five choices on trenitalia with varying conditions. Since I know when we want to travel and like having as many trip expenses paid in advance as possible I took the free shipping and the price on raileurope and know I have seats on the date and time we want to travel. I passed on the $18 insurance since I already have a travel insurance policy to cover airfare and other prepaids so will add the cost of the tickets to that policy. One less thing to worry about! So much good information here--thanks to all you experienced travelers who share your comments.

Posted by
8 posts

IN ITALY and have hard info on Raileurope tickets in regard to RESCHEDULING. NO problem and NO need to go back through RE. see original post. pricing is same as RE. conductor confirms reservation are OFTEN unavailiable at certain ,and frequent times, mostly on fast trains. ALL trains around holidays, friday and monday, sat AM and sun PM especially. WED midday train was almost full. also said when train fills,accordion effect as bumped travelers scramble for next trains

everyone take note: Italy is not the EUROPEAN train system. Any reference between them does not really apply. They are a tight monopoly and acts like one. IN Italy it is trenitalia and RailEurope, outside of Italy[ie USA]its RE or nothing.They eliminated the rate differential now and offering 'FREE' services [online only] so its as 'fair' as it is going to get for now. SOME somehow get into trenitalia and buy direct - SO... buon fortuna!