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EURail Pass Anyone Have Any Experience?


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#1 seat38a

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 09:44 AM

The old folks and I are headed to Europe this December to visit Christmas Markets in London, Brussels, Germany, Austria along with a day trip to Budapest from Vienna and finally Nightjet overnight from Vienna to Milan where we will fly back home from. I already booked the airfare but currently holding off on buying the EURail pass.

 

I do like the fact that generally I can jump on any train but definitely can make the train fare cheaper if I travel with advanced purchase and planned out tickets. Has only used one before? Also if anyone knows how the Nightjet sleeper supplement works with the EURail pass, please share!

 

Thanks



#2 Twin Star Rocket

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 10:15 AM

Last I checked the Eurail passes with unlimited travel for a certain number of consecutive days had gotten very expensive.

If you are basing your trip in certain cities,  it would be worth it to check out a Flexpass which allows unlimited travel just on certain days you really

need to move by rail.  No point in paying for 15 consecutive days of possible rail travel when you might only actually need 4 or 5 days.


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I have traveled by train since 1956 in the USA (including Alaska), Canada (including the Yukon), Mexico, Western Europe, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Zimbabwe.
My last pre-Amtrak trip was the Texas Chief from Ft. Worth to Chicago and the Capitol Limited from Chicago (Northwestern station) to Washington D.C.
I rode my first Amtrak train in April 1972. I have ridden nearly all the long-distance routes including the Texas Chief (Lone Star), Inter-American, Panama Limited, National Limited, Pioneer, Desert Wind, Spirit of California, Sunset Limited (Florida extension), Broadway Limited, and Chief. I also rode the Rio Grande Zephyr, Southern Crescent, Peoria Rocket, Georgia RR mixed train, and Soo Line mixed train in the post-Amtrak era.


#3 jis

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 10:35 AM

Also a pass limited to only the countries you actually want to travel in can save you quite a bit of money.
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#4 seat38a

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 12:40 PM

Last I checked the Eurail passes with unlimited travel for a certain number of consecutive days had gotten very expensive.

If you are basing your trip in certain cities,  it would be worth it to check out a Flexpass which allows unlimited travel just on certain days you really

need to move by rail.  No point in paying for 15 consecutive days of possible rail travel when you might only actually need 4 or 5 days.

 

 

Also a pass limited to only the countries you actually want to travel in can save you quite a bit of money.

 

In our case, we will be taking the train pretty much daily for 13 days. Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich and Vienna will be our hubs for visiting cities 1.5 hours away. Generally speaking, are walkup fares pretty steep in Europe?



#5 Bob Dylan

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 01:20 PM

Generally, it's much cheaper to Fly between European Countries than to ride a Train, but you miss the Countries and Sites, sort of like our Flyover Country where most people in the US don't have a Clue about what's between the Coasts.
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#6 Johanna

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 01:49 PM

To get a sense of walk-up fares in the regions where you'll be traveling, look at the maps here: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains (Click on the country you're interested in in the right-hand column.)  Take everything else on those pages - particularly the assessments of whether a rail pass is a good value in each country - with a huge helping of salt.  They make money from selling rail passes, so they tend to downplay other options (like advance-purchase tickets or certain country-specific deals) that can often save you a significant amount of money.

 

The man in seat sixty-one also has good information about train tickets and passes in Europe: https://www.seat61.c...-pass-guide.htm


Edited by Johanna, 17 July 2018 - 01:53 PM.

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#7 cpotisch

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 03:50 PM

Generally, it's much cheaper to Fly between European Countries than to ride a Train, but you miss the Countries and Sites, sort of like our Flyover Country where most people in the US don't have a Clue about what's between the Coasts.

It can often be cheaper if you go with an ultra-low cost carrier like RyanAir or Easyjet, but compared to the good airlines, train tickets are often pretty comparable. For example, taking the 186 mph Thalys from Amsterdam to Paris costs as little as €35 each way. Taking a mainstream airline (not a low cost one) usually costs at least $100 more, and though the flight itself is about two hours shorter than the train ride, when you factor in going through security and getting to the airports, the train will be a lot faster.


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#8 PerRock

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 04:04 PM

I used a EurRail Pass to travel around Europe almost 10 years ago... (wow... has it really been that long?) Not sure if I took the "NightJet" train but did take two sleepers. I also understand some of the rules, restrictions, and discounts have changed since then... in fact I don't believe you can get the pass I had anymore.

 

At the time I took it, you could get a more expensive railpass that allowed unlimited rides within a certian time frame (I had a 3-month pass). Booking the sleepers were easy, just showed up a day beforehand at the ticket office of the local station and asked for a ticket on the train & gave them my railpass. For the trip to Austria I had a to pay a little extra to get a berth (shared room) and breakfast upgrade; on my way back to Paris, I did the "free" option which essentially was just a coach seat in a (shared) compartment, the compartment seats did all fold down to make one big bed.

 

I could hop on almost any "regular" train and travel for free around Europe. Restrictions included the TGV (but not ICE or RailJet), Sleeper Services (although I think there may have been some coach seating I could have done), urban "light rail" services (Metro, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Streetcars, etc.) The UK is not covered (although there is a separate pass you can get) but you can use your pass for the EU portion of either the Eurostar or Enterprise services.

 

Using the pass was fairly easy... when the conductor comes around for tickets you hand him the pass & he denotes that you've taken one of your journeys (like I said some things w/ the pass have changed... & mine was a different pass). There's a little more of a process the first time you use it as he has to "activate" the pass.

 

peter


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#9 Seaboard92

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 07:45 PM

Rail passes are valid on most trains there are a handful where it isn't such as the Paris-Berlin-Mockba train. Seeing you are doing three countries you have two choices.

The three day rail pass or the Global pass. Sometimes there is no real difference in the price then I would do the global. That would give you access to Hungary, Czech Republic, and other countries in the areas you are nearby.

Nightjets are all reserved services and do require a supplement. When I've ridden it both times it was fairly reasonable but I don't remember what it was exactly. It was really nice however.

To use a railpass on a night train you must have two days available for the night the train leaves, and arrives in.

If you have any other questions I am qualified to sell them so I'm more than happy to help.
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#10 seat38a

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 08:41 PM

Rail passes are valid on most trains there are a handful where it isn't such as the Paris-Berlin-Mockba train. Seeing you are doing three countries you have two choices.

The three day rail pass or the Global pass. Sometimes there is no real difference in the price then I would do the global. That would give you access to Hungary, Czech Republic, and other countries in the areas you are nearby.

Nightjets are all reserved services and do require a supplement. When I've ridden it both times it was fairly reasonable but I don't remember what it was exactly. It was really nice however.

To use a railpass on a night train you must have two days available for the night the train leaves, and arrives in.

If you have any other questions I am qualified to sell them so I'm more than happy to help.

Thanks!

 

How did you book the Nightjet supplement? Online in advance or at the station? Taking the Nightjet really works out perfect for us when we couple it with my Marriott Platinum's late checkout guarantee. It gives us a whole extra day in Vienna.



#11 PerRock

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 05:45 AM

 

Rail passes are valid on most trains there are a handful where it isn't such as the Paris-Berlin-Mockba train. Seeing you are doing three countries you have two choices.

The three day rail pass or the Global pass. Sometimes there is no real difference in the price then I would do the global. That would give you access to Hungary, Czech Republic, and other countries in the areas you are nearby.

Nightjets are all reserved services and do require a supplement. When I've ridden it both times it was fairly reasonable but I don't remember what it was exactly. It was really nice however.

To use a railpass on a night train you must have two days available for the night the train leaves, and arrives in.

If you have any other questions I am qualified to sell them so I'm more than happy to help.

Thanks!

 

How did you book the Nightjet supplement? Online in advance or at the station? Taking the Nightjet really works out perfect for us when we couple it with my Marriott Platinum's late checkout guarantee. It gives us a whole extra day in Vienna.

 

 

Acording to the Eurail website you can book NightJets in one of three ways:

  • Online
  • Over the Phone (+43 5 1717)
  • In the station

peter


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#12 seat38a

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 06:08 AM

 

 

Rail passes are valid on most trains there are a handful where it isn't such as the Paris-Berlin-Mockba train. Seeing you are doing three countries you have two choices.

The three day rail pass or the Global pass. Sometimes there is no real difference in the price then I would do the global. That would give you access to Hungary, Czech Republic, and other countries in the areas you are nearby.

Nightjets are all reserved services and do require a supplement. When I've ridden it both times it was fairly reasonable but I don't remember what it was exactly. It was really nice however.

To use a railpass on a night train you must have two days available for the night the train leaves, and arrives in.

If you have any other questions I am qualified to sell them so I'm more than happy to help.

Thanks!

 

How did you book the Nightjet supplement? Online in advance or at the station? Taking the Nightjet really works out perfect for us when we couple it with my Marriott Platinum's late checkout guarantee. It gives us a whole extra day in Vienna.

 

 

Acording to the Eurail website you can book NightJets in one of three ways:

  • Online
  • Over the Phone (+43 5 1717)
  • In the station

peter

 

THANKS for this! I was playing around with their mobile app and was worried because I was not able to check for reservation on the train. I've been searching and searching and was not able to find satisfactory info but you found the prices and all!  :)



#13 Seaboard92

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 07:44 AM

Well the times I've ridden it I was in Germany. All I did was walk to the ticket machine. Input I needed the supplement. Then paid a small fee. Not too bad. They are very good trains
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#14 seat38a

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 11:57 AM

Well the times I've ridden it I was in Germany. All I did was walk to the ticket machine. Input I needed the supplement. Then paid a small fee. Not too bad. They are very good trains

How are on time performance in Germany? I'm considering right now to take a day trip from Frankfurt to Strasbourg, which has one of the the oldest Christmas Market in Europe. In 2015, when I was in Switzerland, I had no problems with 15 min connections between trains but not sure about Germany. We here think everything in Germany is punctual but when I watch DW news, the Germans have a lot of complaints about their trains, specifically with time keeping.



#15 cpotisch

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 12:40 PM

 

Well the times I've ridden it I was in Germany. All I did was walk to the ticket machine. Input I needed the supplement. Then paid a small fee. Not too bad. They are very good trains

How are on time performance in Germany? I'm considering right now to take a day trip from Frankfurt to Strasbourg, which has one of the the oldest Christmas Market in Europe. In 2015, when I was in Switzerland, I had no problems with 15 min connections between trains but not sure about Germany. We here think everything in Germany is punctual but when I watch DW news, the Germans have a lot of complaints about their trains, specifically with time keeping.

 

Apparently it's gotten a lot worse in recent years. Still a lot more punctual than what we have in America, but compared to trains in Japan, Switzerland, etc, it's not too good.

 

Deutsche Bahn on time performance in 2016:

 

Current values, as published by Deutsche Bahn, the main operator:

Regional trains - 95% within 5 minutes, 99.2% within 15 minutes as of June 2016

Long distance trains - 78.5% within 5 minutes, 91.6% within 15 minutes as of June 2016

This state of affairs is generally considered disgraceful, and is attributed in part to underinvestment.


Edited by cpotisch, 19 July 2018 - 12:42 PM.

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#16 Gemuser

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Posted 24 July 2018 - 08:29 AM

In 2016 I  travelled extensively in Switzerland and in 2017 in Switzerland & Germany. I did not user Eurail passes but found it much cheaper to buy a Swiss Travel Pass and a German Rail Pass. They are effectively a single country pass and work the same as a Eurail pass. They also give better discounts on mountain railways, cable cars & boats than the Eurail pass.

I have NOT travelled in Austria but it is in planning. I have found the Austrian Tourist Office to be very helpful [the one in Sydney anyway]. There is an Austrian rail pass and they have very good information on OS services.

 

Some other comments:

*Vienna to Milan is about the LAST route in Europe I would travel overnight. You will go through some of the best Alpine scenery in the dark, what a waste! If I was doing that run I would use the Nightjet from Brussels to Cologne/Frankfurt, if there is one. You'll make up for that scenery in the boat trip from Koblenz.

 

*Walk up fares are VERY expensive in Switzerland and expensive in Germany. The Swiss have a Half Fare card, which does exactly what it says,, it cost about $80-90 USD, Germany has something similar but I have not used it. It is also valid on even more transport options than the others. In 16 I made the cost up in two trips . Suggest you look into these for the countries you are visiting.

 

*​I found DB timekeeping very good [generally not as good as Switzerland, but even there I had a 20 minute delayed connection in Spiez at 2C with a substantial wind chill, so even Swiss railways can have problems!] Also a missed connection in Germany is really not a problem, there will be another train along within 30 minutes on local/secondary lines and 10-15 minute on main lines.

 

*About that "just jump on any train" thing. It's true IF there is room. In Germany no domestic train requires a reservation but most main line trains [ICE, Intercity, etc} CAN be reserved. If you get on a train, even ICE and there is no free seats you stand for up to six hours. Even if you get a seat you can & will be turfed out of it if someone with a reservation for that seat gets on at subsequent station. This actually happened to me on an ICE train from Friedrichshafen to Koblenz, with the best will in the world its very hard if you have no common language. Luckily for me a very nice German lady who spoke excellent English jumped in to help me understand what the problem was & helped me find another seat..Apparently mid October can be very busy around the weekends on DB. I booked all long distance trains after that and indeed I had to push somebody out of my reserved seat on one of them.

 

Hope this helps, please ask any other questions you have and have a great trip!


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#17 slasher-fun

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 10:08 AM

Honestly, if you already know which trains you plan to take on which days, buying individual tickets in advance will be cheaper than a pass.



#18 jis

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Posted 12 August 2018 - 10:51 AM

That’s true. Eurail Pass primarily gives you flexibility.

Japan Railpass on the other hand actually is a bargain compared to regular fares.

Edited by jis, 12 August 2018 - 12:46 PM.





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