I just read on another traveler's messageboard that Rail Europe is the most expensive place to buy train tickets. The author of the post stated to buy tickets from individual services. True or False? And, it wasn't clear which website he purchased his tickets from. Any ideas?
RailEurope: if not the most expensive, it's close. Many of the national rail lines, German Rail, etc sell tickets online at exactly the same price that they are at a ticket counter in Europe, RailEurope marks them up. For example, a ticket from Munich to Frankfurt Hbf is $129 (€91) on the Bahn website. RailEurope charges $151-$163. To add insult to injury, RailEurope charges $182 to the airport when the Bahn charges the same €129. There are slower IC connections available on the Bahn website for $103 ( €73). RailEurope show that fare at $139. If you book in advance, which is what you are doing on RailEurope anyway, you can get Sparpreis fares for as low as $41 (€29). Plus, unless you order $400 worth of tickets, RailEurope charges $18 for delivery. The Bahn allows you to print your tickets at home for free.
If you're getting rail PASSES, you may want to use Rail Europe if by chance they happen to be offering some special service or promotion. Their prices for passes are pretty much the same as Rick Steves' or anyone else's. Always good to shop. An additional warning to add to Lee's... do NOT rely on RE's train timetables as the final word; they simply do not include all the train routes and stops, which you will find at the German Rail website (see Lee's link.)
As Russ said, "Always good to shop." As for Rail passes, shop Rick's rail passes. He has some enticing extras, like discounts in his shop, instructional DVDs, and maps. I still use my Europe map I got with a rail pass in 2000 (and it is literally falling apart). Adding to what Russ said, RailEurope is a seller of tickets for some trains. They only show, and sell tickets for, the trains they want you to use, and it is a very small subset of the most expensive trains.
What if I want to expand outside of one country? We're going on a long trip and will be visiting many countries. Wouldn't a pass make more sense? Thanks for any input. This planning stage is going to be the death of me. LOL.
You must know your itin bef you buy a pass. RS has a guide for this in his guidebks so you can est pt to pt or passes, and the multitude of choices. Ck it out and you can order from RS office in Edmonds if it works for you.
Always lots of time and planning is necessary ahead to see if it is worth it for you. But very much worth your while.
Long trip? Over 90 days? If so, there is another can of worms to open...
Go to www.seat61.com for all you need to know about rail tickets across Europe. All of you questions will be answered and you can learn about getting ferry tickets as well. Take a look--and avoid RailEurope.
It is not a rumor but the truth. If you spend anytime on this site, you will see frequent advice to avoid Rail Europe.
"What if I want to expand outside of one country? We're going on a long trip and will be visiting many countries. Wouldn't a pass make more sense?" It might make more sense. But it depends on your itinerary. It also makes sense for some to build their itinerary around the cheaper travel options. Germany's point-to-point tickets to foreign destinations are a bargain. The German rail authority offers limited quantity, advance purchase tickets for about 40 Euros to Amsterdam, Milan, or Paris from Frankfurt, for example. Or to London for 49 Euros. I have flown from between Brussels and Krakow and between Frankfurt and Pisa for about 20 Euros, between Dublin and Frankfurt for less. Ryanair, Easyjet and others are worth considering as you decide where you're traveling and how. These cheaper options will require certain commitments to your itinerary, of course. Because I don't like to spend travel time searching for places to stay, I always book my stays in advance anyway, so booking my transportation to those places is usually simple (and cheap) using point-to-point. But if you're the sort of person who doesn't want to plan things out in advance, the pass might be a better option, depending on your itinerary.
Thanks for the replies. I'm using a worksheet at the moment to determine the most bang for the buck.
In using the worksheet (that's what I always do), remember: For point to point fares: 1. Use the national rail websites of the countries, not RailEurope. 2. In Germany, look for advance purchase discount tickets and regional (Länder) passes. For rail pass usage:
1. High speed day trains often require a supplement (called a reservation fee) to ride. Be sure to include these with the cost of the rail pass.
For most trains you need not reserve in advance or get much if any discount. Short trips for example. But for long journeys between major cities or countries and for the high-speed lines you will get good discounts for buying ahead. Not all rail lines have good ways to purchase online from the US though. Depending on how many trips you are taking and your desire or ability to pre-purchase, a rail pass can be a viable option. Don't let some here completely dissuade you but just carefully do your homework.