Traveling overnight via train from Venice to Graz in May - best options?

The hubby and I are travelling through Europe in May and I'm trying to nail down our itinerary now. Monday, May 17th we'll be in Venice. That night we'd like to take an overnight train (we'll have eurail flexipasses) to Graz, Austria since it's a long leg. We're going to Graz because we have relatives there. Looking at the Deutsche Bahn website, I do not see any direct routes without stops. Am I looking correctly? Of course a route with no stops would be best for our sleep...

Otherwise, I see this option:
Venezia Mestre Su, 17.01.10 dep 21:18 EN 236 EuroNight
Schwarzach-St. Veit Mo, 18.01.10 arr 03:18 3
Schwarzach-St. Veit Mo, 18.01.10 dep 03:24 3 EN 465 EuroNight
Graz Hbf Mo, 18.01.10 arr 07:00

Only a 6 minute connection time? This makes me extremely nervous, but we don't seem to have many options...does anyone know of this connecting station? I see that we would arrive and depart on the same platform. But still...Also wouldn't this count as 2 days, not 1, on our eurail pass? The other option I see is:

Venezia Mestre Mo, 18.01.10 dep 01:30 EN 234 EuroNight
Bruck/Mur Mo, 18.01.10 arr 06:39

Bruck/Mur Mo, 18.01.10 dep 06:50 REX 1905 RegionalExpress
Graz Hbf Mo, 18.01.10 arr 07:30
This option might be better since we have a longer chunk at once to sleep, but it does leave at 1:30am... And another very close connection window! Thoughts?

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11268 posts

Night trains don't run from everywhere in Europe to everywhere, only between some large cities. It's not surprising you can't find one train direct between Venice and Graz. Looks like there are no good options for a complete night's sleep.

The first connection would take two days of your pass. Although it leaves after 7 PM, the "7 PM Rule" also says no change of trains before 4 AM. You might consider staying on that train until 6:27 (Linz), or even Vienna, and then taking a day train to Graz. That would take longer but give you more sleeping time and save a day of your railpass.

And, I would not worry about a 6 minute, same platform change. The first train only stops for 2 minutes, and you'd better get off in that time. As long as you get off in time, you should have no problem being ready to board the next train.

Posted by Jim
Oklahoma City, OK, USA
430 posts

If it were me, I'd look into doing the Venice-Vienna night train, then pay cash for a connecting train back to Graz. Yes, you'll double back on yourself, but you'll give yourself time to get a full night's rest, save a day of your pass with what should be an inexpensive ticket, and just have breakfast on the 2nd train.

I do not get concerned with connections of 6 to 9 minutes in Germany, Switzerland or Austria -- -- those only worry me in Spain and Italy.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11268 posts

If you use the night train, you validate your rail pass for the day of arrival. You can then use it for other trains that day, such as a day train from Vienna to Graz.

Posted by Corey
Norristown
54 posts

Thanks for the info, all. It might be a better option to just go from Venice to Vienna, then go to Graz in the morning. Jim do you have any idea how much that ticket might be normally? The DB website will not show the prices as it is more than 92 days in advance...

Posted by Jim
Oklahoma City, OK, USA
430 posts

The trouble is going to be making the reservation. Go to TrenItalia.com to search using the Italian reservation system -- but they won't let you book using an American credit card.

Here is search I did showing depart Venice 21:05 arrive Vienna 8:19 for 99 Euro. (Note that I did not search your exact date.)

There were some options on RailEurope that showed 2nd Class Couchettes from $79 or 1st Class Slepers from $199.

You'll have to double-check that whatever one you pick doesn't have a 3am train change -- some do.

Here <-- This one is on your date, and arrives Vienna West Station -- 99 Euro -- Dep 21:05 Arr 08:28. Might be workable. (Keep in mind that price is either the 4 or 6 bed couchette --- private cabin will be higher -- I'll see if I can sort out some more of the details.)

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11268 posts

You also might be able to book the "reservations" with German Rail by phone (49-1805-996633). They won't book tickets entirely outside Germany online, but it is my impression that you can get anything by phone that is available at a ticket counter over there by calling them.

You can also use Euraide (www.euraide.com) to book reservations, but they will charge you a $50 fee for doing it in Germany and mailing the tickets over here.

Posted by Corey
Norristown
54 posts

You know what? I just realized something silly - if we do that option, going overnight from Venice to Vienna (hopefully no stops), and then go from Vienna to Graz that morning - I don't need to worry about the price of the Graz ticket. Because the overnight and that morning back-trip to Graz would all be dated for the same 1 day on our eurail selectpass, right?

Posted by Corey
Norristown
54 posts

Oh! I did not know that regarding stops. So we don't have to try to find a route that has no stops? But how does that work then with the 1-day marked EUrail pass...if a stop on the route happens before 4am? Does that not count for us? On the DB website, how can we tell the difference between just a stop and a train change? Because we are also considering this method for later in our trip, going from Munich overnight to possibly Interlaken.

Thanks for your help and patience everyone. I know what it's like as a seasoned forum member of (x) to try and explain stuff to newbs :)

Posted by Jim
Oklahoma City, OK, USA
430 posts

That is correct. Lee pointed that out earlier -- but to reiterate: Your pass is charged for the date of the train arrival, not departure. You will need to pay for the reservation fee and upgrade fee to a sleeper for the night train (and when you do that, the stops the train makes will not affect you -- you slumber peacefully as the conductor checks you through international customs, etc...), then use your pass to Graz.

EDIT: To set you at ease, here's the language on the night-train validation rule from a Eurail.com page.
"What is a travel day?
A travel day lasts 24 hours, from midnight to midnight (from 00:00 to 24:00 hours).

Exception (7pm rule): if you board a direct, overnight train that deoparts after 7pm and arrives after 4 am, then only the following day (the day of arrival of the night train) is counted as a travel day. On your Eurail Pass, you would write the day of arrival on the pass prior to boarding the overnight train. You effectively will receive 5 hours of travel for free! Please note: travel cannot begin before 00h01 on the first day of the overall validity period of the Pass. If your first travel day is for example Wednesday 6 August, you cannot use the '7 pm rule' on the 5th yet."

Posted by Jim
Oklahoma City, OK, USA
430 posts

On the TrenItalia website ther is a column in the timetable labeled "Change Station" -- if that entry is a '0' then the trip is 'non-stop' as you never change trains. Note that the train may actually make several stops along the way, but you personally never have to change trains to finish your journey 'uninterupted'.

On the DB Bahn website it is a column labeled "Chg." -- abbreviated for 'change'.

For a night trip you want to get 'no changes' -- that is what helps you avoid any issues with arriving before 4am, being awakened at 3am to change trains, etc...

Sometimes it is possible to select a journey that includes a train change, but one that happens early in the evening (which will still hit your rail pass) or late the following morning, but the route you are considering has at least 1 choice that is a true 'no changes' -- Train 236, May 17, 2010, Dep. VE S.L. Mestre 21:05, Arr. W. Westb 08:28 +1 day.