I'm just wondering how early we should plan on getting to the rail stations throughout Europe before our train is set to leave? We plan on being in Paris, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Italy and using Rail Europe or the Bahn in all coutries. Thanks
Rail Europe is not a railroad company. It is an American business chartered to sell European rail passes, tickets, and other travel products to No. America. The Bahn (DB=Deutsche Bahn), German Rail, only operates trains in Germany. There are separate train lines (French Rail=SNCF, Swiss Rail=SBB, etc) in each country.
As for pre-boarding requirements, there are no requirements, or procedures. You could probably get to the platform just seconds before train time, but I think I probably try to get to the station 10-15 minutes earlier. It helps if you know your platform number and a layout of the station, in advance.
Especially in Germany and Switzerland, the trains are very prompt. Never assume that any train will arrive early or depart late. That said, 15 minutes is plenty of time to locate your correct track. Have fun!
For the most part, trains in Europe are very punctual; they arrive on time and leave on time. Just to be safe I like to arrive 30 minutes before departure.
This is just an fyi.
I was traveling thru Denmark and Germany along with some other places in the area via train. I got their 30+ minutes earlier at the train stations and some of them didnt post the departing train track until 15 or so minutes before seheduled departure. So if this is the case with some of your trip, you have to pay attention to the reader boards.
Also since i traveled 2nd class on all of my travels, i had to find the 2nd class cars. Some stations had diagrams of the trains with car numbers, some didnt. Some had train car numbers on the train cars, some didnt. it wasnt a big deal in sitting in the wrong car since the ticket conductor would let you know. this has been my experience and your mileage may vary.
There is no specific time you need to arrive in any of the countries you discuss. The only trains in Europe which have airline style check-in are Eurostar trains through the Channel Tunnel between the UK and France/Belgium and, I understand, some high-speed trains in Spain.
PLEASE NOTE: This is another of those ancient threads (from 2008 in this case) dredged from the misty past by the mischievous new programme. No point in contributing to it.
Danish State Railways once had a TV add saying. "And remember that our check-in deadline is 45... seconds!" (as opposed to airlines' 45 minutes, obviously) But I would not recommend cutting it that close, though. 10-20 minutes seems reasonable depending of the size of the train station. There are no formalities before boarding, If you have your tickets in hand, you just jump onto the train. The only exception being Italy and France that require you to stamp your tickets before boarding if you travel on point to point tickets, but this litterally takes seconds.
To start out, 30 minutes is more than enough. As you get more comfortable with the system, you will want to pair that back to probably 15 minutes. Even less if it's just a small local station.
A lot depends on how certain you can be of getting to the station when you expect. If you have to take a taxi across town in traffic, it's better to be extra early than late. If you are walking only a short distance to the station, it's easier to safely predict when you will arrive at the station - so you don't need to allow for uncertainties.
guys, you're still replying to a question from 2008!!!