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To pass or not to pass???

I was considering not getting a rail pass because I added up the cost of my trips I am planning on taking (Paris-Innterlaken, Interlaken-Innsbruck, and Innsbruck to Munich) and it seemed to me that for point to point tickets I would save approx. $300 by not getting the rail pass ( for myself and my 17yo son) But now I am reading other posts about various savings when you purchase the pass. We are staying at each location for 3 days and will taking day trips around each location as well. What are your thoughts?

Posted by
19170 posts

There is no substitution for actually crunching the numbers yourself. Find the best point-point fares between where you are going. Get the "best fare" that are offered. Remember to add in any extra fees (reservations, supplements, etc) that come with the railpasses. I have done this for a lot of trips, and my analysis alway says the same thing - railpasses don't pay.

Posted by
95 posts

Christine,
As Lee said, really look at what your point to point costs are. In some cases you might look at having a combination of p2p tickets and a rail pass. We bought a swiss rail pass for our trip this summer and point to point for other portions. TGV trains from Paris to Switzerland can be bought cheaply in advance.

Posted by
35 posts

Lee,

Thanks so much for taking the time to research all that for me. I really appreciate it. Are you sure you don't want to come with us on our trip? I'll pay for your train tickets and you can be our guide???

Posted by
35 posts

Lee,

1 more question should I buy those tickets before I leave or should I nuy them all when I get to Paris?

Posted by
1575 posts

I agree with Lee above. In most instances Railpasses don't pay especially in Eastern Europe and Portugal, etc. If you have run the numbers then go with that.

The only time we used a railpass was when we spent 8 days in Switzerland and in that case the Swisspass was awesome since it covered not just the trains but also trams and boats, and some of the postbus routes.

Also note that a lot of times there are discounts for multiple people traveling together that are not covered in the guidebooks. In Germany, there are lots of discounts for families traveling together. Similarly in E. Europe some fo the Star tickets yield substantial savings.

Also, remember, that if traveling in one direction, one can normally buy just one ticket even if one is making stops along the way. You just have to pay separate reservation fees for each leg. I think that most tickets are valid for 2 months from date of purchase. We did this going Prague to Budapest via Bratislava.

Posted by
19170 posts

I tried to get P2P prices for your trip . The best I could find, for 1 adult + 1 youth, 2nd cl: Paris-Interlaken, SNCF, €236,40 ($378.24 @ $1.60 $/€), no PREMS found on that route; Interlaken-Innsbruck, SBB, €157.26 ($251.62), full fare; Innsbruck-Munich, €53 ($84.80), ÖBB to Kufstein, Bayern-Ticket to Munich. Total was $715.

Comparing apple to apples, the lowest cost railpass combination is a 4 country, 5 day Adult Select pass and a 4/5 Youth pass for $870 total. Although your pass would be 1st cl., you would ride with him in 2nd cl. The railpass costs $155 (about €100) more than P2P tickets. So the question is, will you spend €100s worth for travel on the other two days? I doubt it. However, the discounts on travel in the Berner Oberland might make it close enough to do it.

However, it looks like there is a passholder supplement (reservation) to ride the TGV to Basel. I don't know where you get those. RailEurope want $232 for 2 reservations on that train!

-cont'd-

Posted by
19170 posts

If you can find the reservations cheaper elsewhere, the railpasses still might be a good deal, but if you have to get them at RE, then the railpasses w/ reservations cost $1100, $387 (€242) more than point to point. I don't think you can make that up with 2 days local travel and discounts in the B.O.

There might still be the possibility that you could make up the railpass "shortfall" with additional days, but those railpass days cost $40-$45; I don't think your local days will cost that much.

Lastly, if you pay $1200, $100 more, for two Saver railpasses and two 1st cl. reservations on the TGV, then the cost of the railpasses would be close to the cost of 1st cl. P2P; however, I don't think I would pay an extra $500 to travel in 1st class.

Posted by
19170 posts

I'll do this in the reverse direction.

The only reason you would need tickets in advance is for reservations. Otherwise just buy them at a ticket window (in Innsbruck or Interlaken).

With all the trains going from Innsbruck to Munich, I don't think you need to worry about getting on one. However, I don't think you can buy a Bayern-Ticket in Paris or in Innsbruck. You could probably take a train to Kufstein, get off there and buy a your Bayern-Ticket, then get on the next regional train to Munich, but you are probably better off buying it from the Ticket Shop on Bahn.de.

The trip from Interlaken to Innsbruck consists of a multitude of short connections. I don't think you will have trouble getting on those trains, but buy your tickets when you get to Interlaken.

As for Paris to Interlaken, you probably should buy that in advance from SNCF. You have to have reservations on the TGF from Paris to Interlaken.

Does anyone else want to comment?