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Which train reservation sites are most accurate

I have been on TGV, DeBahn and rail europetrying to determine the price of tickets and the schedules.. I thought I had my schedule final using the info on deBahn but then recently went on TGV and they did not bring up the same trains so now I don't know what is accurate Also, for example-trying to check the price and times for tickets from Paris to Florence and Paris to Venice the TGV site gives me prices in british pounds because they say to indicate you live anywhere but the US in order to get quotes from the TGV site and not rail europe.. so I picked Britain but they quote pound obviously however on the rail europe site the price is in US and cheaper! So now I am confused as to which site to use and trust. We are going to London then on to Paris then to Florence then Venice then back to Florence (don't ask) then to Lauterbrunnen then Bern and then back to Paris and then London to fly home (didnt know about open jaw before we booked) At this point most hotels,apts ect are booked.. we are considering flying from Paris to Venice and that is what got me looking at all the prices to compare.. but its hard to do now as all the sites are different.
Sorry for all that but hoping someone can help me with these sites....I am concerned about making reservations and messing up as they are not refundable.

Posted by
12933 posts

For some reason bahn.de is showing only the route through Switzerland, with changes at Basel or Geneva and Milan, and not the faster and cheaper route with one change at Turin. Since you will be buying your ticket from TGV, that is the site you should use. Looking at a date two months from now to see the discount fares, the mini fare for the 10:41 departure is 103 euros. For 113 euros you could leave on the earlier train, at 7:49. TGV also shows the more expensive route via Basel, departing at 8:23, but it costs 203 euro ( piccolo fare) and takes 2 hours longer. The TGV-Europa site gave me prices in euros, not pounds, even tho I ed UK for my residence. I think there is a currency option somewhere on that website.

Posted by
217 posts

What are you seeing that I am not .. I don't see those prices at all.. and I don't pull up that time except on rail europe. I must be doing something wrong!

Posted by
217 posts

113 euros is 148 dollars that is better than what I find on TGV but more than what I find on rail europe When I just looked again --it won't pull up that 7:49 train only rail europe does that and it tells me its 179 euros for the 8:23 train I want the 7:49 train and it shows up on rail europe ( for 120 dollars which is cheaper than TGV)-- but not on TGV even when I put 7AM in there and ask for previous trains when the 8:23 is displayed. I put in the last tues in april as its in the 90 day range even though we would be taking that train on Tues May 29 so I am not sure what is correct at this point. Does rail europe only show prices that do not include a reservation fee.. Everyone says rail europe is more expensive but any price I have seen there compared to TGV is less so I am very confused at this point as what to do.

Posted by
1253 posts

Barbara - I see the train you're talking about on the Rail Europe site. When I go to TGV-Europe, Trenitalia or Bahn web sites I don't see that train time listed. Have you tried calling Rail Europe to verify that time is valid?

Posted by
12933 posts

Joel, I did see the 7:49 am train on TGV for the date I looked. Maybe you are looking at a different day of the week or something. In any case, we all seem to be looking at hypothetical dates, not Barbara's actual travel date, which is more than 90 days away. And note that the RailEurope shipping charge of $18 is per order, not per ticket. so it brings the price up by $9 per ticket.

Posted by
2966 posts

Barbara, I just compared Paris to Florence (for the last Tuesday in April) and RailEurope.com does, for once, appear to have the edge. Bizarre. It is usually more expensive, sometimes significantly, but then again RailEurope is owned mostly by the same people who operate the TGV so maybe they are trying to make the site more attractive to Americans, who knows? The fare you found on RailEurope does appear to be the cheapest one. I know it seems complicated but the best you can do is just shop around at the various sites, and take the cheapest fare. It's generally true that people here have found RailEurope to be the most expensive option, but obviously it isn't always! Edit: The fares on RailEurope do include the reservation fee, since a reservation is mandatory on those trains it is simply included. It shows this (reservation included on both legs of the journey) on the final screen before checkout. Still can't figure out why you can't find the fare that Lola and I did on tgv-europe.com, though. I found the 103 euro fare for the early train as well. but the $121 dollar fare at raileurope is cheaper and legit. Edit 2: HOWEVER - there has to be a catch, it's RailEurope.com - you can't just print out your tickets, they charge you to ship them to you. $18 bucks. Which means that tgv-europe edges it out again. Apparently you can do e-tickets/print at home for trips within France, for Eurostar, and for Spain, but NOT for Italy.
So you're better off going with TGV-Europe and printing at home.

Posted by
12933 posts

Availabililty of the mini fares is going to vary by date. I used April 6 on the website tgv-europe.com. While you can get an idea of the fares by looking at dates prior to your actual date of travel, but you won't really be certain until that date comes up for sale. At that time, if the price on Rail Europe is the same or lower than the price on TGV for the same train, then by all means go ahead and buy from them. I have found that they offer discounts equal to the national train website in Spain, and it appears you have discovered an instance where they do in France as well. RailEurope does charge a service fee, $18 if they send you paper tickets, and I think it is $8 if you print at home from the website.

Posted by
217 posts

Thank you for checking on that for me Now you understand why I was I checked the train 90 days away it should pull up that schedule but it does not I emailed rails europe and they said the same thing about 90 days before. But I checked on both sites 4 a date with in the 90 day period so I would think that shouldnot be the issue
my problem is I'm trying to make a decision about whether to fly or not and this is making it difficult to find out prices 2 compare

Posted by
217 posts

Thank you for checking on that for me Now you understand why I was I checked the train 90 days away it should pull up that schedule but it does not I emailed rails europe and they said the same thing about 90 days before. But I checked on both sites 4 a date with in the 90 day period so I would think that shouldnot be the issue
my problem is I'm trying to make a decision about whether to fly or not and this is making it difficult to find out prices 2 compare

Posted by
217 posts

I am bumping this up as I am just wondering if someone has a better handle on how to find the "deals" everyone talks about on these train websites. If Rail Europe is cheaper than TGV.. its much easier for me to go through them.. I just heard they are generally more expensive. I am close to my 90 days and really need to make some decisions and need prices to do this... Easy Jet has a price that is competitive at the moment to Venice from Paris on the date I am going 5/29 I compared the rail using a date that is within 90 days and TGV gives one price that is much higher than the one I got with Rail Europe so not sure which one is accurate. Also for the same date Rail Europe gives a train time that is not on the TGV site that I can see although someone else was able to see it.. We really want the 7:49 train to Florence (5/29 is a Tuesday) so I just entered a tuesday the first week in May which is within the 90 day range... Any suggestions or thoughts are appreciated
I am now considering a rail pass (which I really did not want to do) as it might be less hassle if I can't get the discounts that everyone talks about by buying individual tickets when we get to Europe.

Posted by
217 posts

I think I figured it out --I had put in the first tues in may on the site for TGV and they accepted the date and gave me info but Rail Europe would not so I put the last tues in April and Rail Europe gave me 109 pp... so I went back to TGV and put in the same April Tues and got the train time I wanted at a cost of 123 dollars (93 euros) I guess May 1 was not in the 90 day window... and that was the problem SO it remains that Rail Europe is cheaper.. how interesting!
Can I trust them???

Posted by
8700 posts

The reason you are finding different fares for different dates is that there is an allotted number of discount fare tickets for each departure time. As the cheapest ones are sold, the price goes up. For example, if I use voyages-sncf.com, the French national rail site, and enter 8 May (three months from today) as my departure date for the 07:49 TGV from Paris to Milan, I can get a fare as low as €35. If I enter a date only a few days earlier, the best fare I can get is €45. If I enter 6 May (90 days from today) on the trenitalia site, I can get a Mini fare of €42 for Milan-Florence on a EuroStar Italia train. Taken together, I would pay €77 for Paris-Milan-Florence. That's $102 at today's exchange rate.

Posted by
12933 posts

Barbara, be careful with assuming a pass would be better. You still have to make reservations and pay extra on the TGV trains and other fast intercity trains. And the number of seats that passholders can reserve is limited, especially on TGV trains. As for your second question, yes, you can trust RailEurope. Some people don't like their prices, and complain that they don't show complete schedules with all the possible trains. But if they have the train you want at a price you like, there is absolutely no reason not to use them. They are a reputable company, I've dealt with them myself, and have had no problems whatsoever with their customer service or policies. Just be sure you understand about that $18 shipping fee.

Posted by
18228 posts

On thing to remember is that the prices on RailEurope don't change daily with the changes in the exchange rate. They are fixed for a certain amount of time. The price on RailEurope stays constant while the price from French Rail changes daily. And the RailEurope price is based on what the exchange rate was at the time the price was fixed or maybe how they thought the rate would change in the next period. If you look at recent history, the Euro fell sharply in the fall, bottoming out about the first of the year, and has risen by about 5% since then. If RailEurope expected the Euro to keep falling, they might have set a lower price in dollars expecting it to be approximately equivalent when the Euro kept falling. However, as I said, the Euro has, instead, risen since the first of the year. So the price from French Rail, converted to dollars, has also gone up. I don't know if this explains the lower prices from Rail Europe vs French Rail, but it might.

Posted by
217 posts

Thanks Lee and Lola all that is very helpful. Lee your explanation makes sense as to why the lower price..guess I best scoop it up now if I want it,.:) We looked into easy jet now that I had a good comparison and it works out to 216 for the two of us with baggage and all the other fees compared to the train which the two legs will run us 338 plus the 18 dollar fee you mentioned --the apt in Venice is 230 vs 100 for the hotel in Florence so in the end flying straight to Venice is about the same but the advantage for us is that we not have to check in and check out of one more place and can just stay in Venice for the three nights and it gives us an extra afternoon in Venice. So it seems that flying this part of the trip may work out better for us in the long run even if its not cheaper Thanks for all your help with this.. I am glad to finally get the info I needed to make this decision!
BTW can I trust easy jet... there is only one flight that day to Venice

Posted by
8700 posts

Barbara, EasyJet flies to Venice from both CDG and Orly so you have more flight choices than you realize. Here is what I found for 29 May. CDG-Venice: Departure at 11:10. Orly-Venice: Departures at 07:20 and 18:30. EasyJet is a very good budget airline. I don't think you'll have any "issues" flying with them.

Posted by
334 posts

sometimes (rarely) RailEurope is a better deal. Maybe they buy blocks of tickets? I got $25 tickets from Zurich-Milan for August travel last year.

Posted by
18228 posts

"sometimes (rarely) RailEurope is a better deal" But rarely is the key word here. From Frankfurt, Hbf or Flughafen, to the Munich Hbf, a German Rail ticket is $131 (€95 + €4 for a reservation) from the Bahn, online or at the couner. That is for either a direct ICE or a two train connection with at least 1 ICE. You can go by IC/EC in a little more time for $106 (€76 + Reserv.). Finally, with sufficient advance purchase (up to 92 days), you can get the ticket online for $45 (€29 + Reserv.). That's a popular route, so the cheapest Savings Fares sell out quickly, but I did find tickets closer to travel time for $85 (€59 + Reserv.). On the RailEurope website, the least expensive tickets I found were $144 for a direct ICE from Frankfurt Hbf to Munich. If you took a two train connection, for which the Bahn still charges $131, you'd pay $183 from RailEurope. For a direct ICE from the Frankfurt airport to Munich, again $131 from the Bahn, you might pay $171 from RailEurope. Probably because it's a highly visible route, the RE prices from Frankfurt to Munich are not marked up as much as for some other routes. In 2008, I went from Cochem to Bad Harzburg, at the edge of the Harz, with a 2 hr stopover in Koeln. I got a Sparpreis ticket for $45 (€29 + Reserv.) Full fare would have been $139 (€101 + Reserv.). Rail Europe charges $199 for the same trip. When I did that route, I scheduled a two hour stopover in Koeln for lunch and to see the cathedral, all on the same ticket. On RailEuorpe, you would have to buy three separate tickets, although still for $199 total. None of my prices include RE's $18 shipping because you might include other tickets on the order. So, in general, RailEurope does charge more.

Posted by
18228 posts

I was commenting on an earlier statement, "sometimes (rarely) RailEurope is a better deal". The statement did not refer specifically to "countries other than Germany", so Germany was fair game. For Austria, Salzburg to Vienna, Austrian rail charges $63 for either the 9:01 RailJet or the 9:10 ÖIC. Rail Europe charges $72 for the same IC, $81 for the RailJet. For Switzerland, Basel to Brig, SBB charges $42.74 for the 10:31 direct IC connection. RailEurope, which doesn't show many options, charges $98 for the same ticket. For Rome to Venice on the 9:45 ES*AV, RailEurope charges $103. Trenitalia charges $101, but there is a $90 (€68) Mini fare for two day advance booking. Added: I just used the TGV -Europe website (using Germany, since I understand the language). Paris to Strasbourg on the TGV website was $40, $76, and $125 for non-flexible, semi-flexible, and fully flexible fares respectively vs $52, $80, and $131 on RailEurope. For Paris to Marseille, it was $40, $76, and $126 vs $42, $80, and $132 for R/E For Madrid to Barcelona at 12:30, $156 from Renfe, $161 from R/E. So, not much more for RailEurope, but NOT less. I'd say "rarely" is an understatement.

Posted by
18228 posts

I think you have to be very careful here to compare apples to apples. For April 24, RailEurope shows 3 connections from Paris to Florence via Torino, all leaving at 7:49, but using different trains for the second half to Florence. One arrives at 16:30, one at 17:30, and 18:30. The only one I can see on the TGV site is the one arriving at 16:30. For that connection, RailEurope shows the three fares at $127, $169, and $245. TGV shows them at $123 (€93), $163 (€123), and $236 (€178). All are less on TGV. For the 10:41 train, arriving Florence at 19:30, the fares are $141, $169, and $245 on RailEurope. TGV shows them as $137 (€103), $163 (€123), and $236 (€178). Again, all are less on TGV. There is a 10:41 train changing in Milan and arriving at 9:05. It has a $121 mini fare, but it's apparently less because it arrives later. So make sure you are comparing fares on the same train. TGV won't yet allow me to look at fares for May 29. I found these fares on the German language side of the website so they would be in Euro. All the fares are less than on RailEurope. Are the prices higher for UK?