Train/Rail Passes in Europe
In Europe, there are numerous options of trains available for travel both domestically in a country and also across borders. The train travel expenses can be reduced by opting for rail passes. There are passes available – time wise, area wise et al.
Country Passes: This can be used if you are visiting a single country or region.
Eurail Passes: When travelling to two countries in Europe, one can opt for the Eurail Passes depending on the countries being visited. These Eurail passes include –
Austria-Czech Republic Pass
Eurail Select Pass: This is helpful during visits to 3 to 5 countries within Europe.
To buy train passes for Europe (Eurail or Eurorail passes) –
Order from Eurail directly (at eurail.com). They have the facility of delivering tickets to anywhere in the world via Fedex and local courier services.
There’s something called the Pass Security program which is available for about USD 12 per person. This would entitle the holder to get a refund for the unused portion of the rail pass if it is lost or stolen while traveling in Europe
Eurail Global Pass – European Rail Passes
This is meant for visits to 6 or more participating countries in Europe. In this case it does not matter whether the countries of travel are bordering or not (as it does in Eurail Select Pass). The countries include Austria, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Holland, Norway, Portugal, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Spain and Slovenia.
Within this scheme more options are available –
• Eurail Global Pass: First class travel for consecutive 15 days, 21 days, 1,2 or 3 months. Ticket prices range from approx. $750 for 15 days to $2090 for 3 months.
• Eurail Global Pass Flexi: First class travel for 10 or 15 days in a time period of 2 months
• Eurail Global Pass Saver: This is best recommended for people travelling to non-bordering countries. For example, Belgium and Portugal. This provides first class travel for consecutive 15 days, 21 days, 1,2 or 3 months but for 2 to 5 number of people travelling together. Ticket price ranges from $630 (adult) for 15 days to $1800 (approx.) for 3 months.
• Eurail Global Pass Saver Flexi: First class travel for 2 to 5 people travelling together for any 10 days or 15 days in a 2 month period. Ticket prices range from $750 to less than $1000 (approx.) for 10 and 15 days respectively.
• Eurail Global Pass Youth: Meant for people less than 26 years of age. This is second class travel for 15 or 21 days, 1, 2 or 3 months. It is a consecutive day pass. Ticket prices range from approx. $500 for 15 day pass to & about $1360 for 3 months pass. These are cheaper when compared to the general Eurail Global Pass mentioned above.
• Eurail Global Pass Youth Flexi: Meant for people under 26 years of age. Any 10 days or 15 days second class travel in a 2month period.
• Eurail Drive Pass: Combination of rail and road travel. 4 days of first class travel with 2 days of rental car from Hertz or Avis.
Consecutive days means that one would have to either use the days or lose them. Price ranges given above are subject to change. Children under 4 are free and 4 to 11 are half rates of adult tickets. All tickets need to be validated within 6 months of purchase.
Some trains provide concessions for seniors – people 60 years or older. Discounted passes are available for seniors in some cases.
Eurail Select Pass – European Rail Passes
This is helpful during visits to 3 to 5 countries within Europe. However these countries should be border countries or have direct access by train or ship that is included under the Eurail offer. It is advisable to check that the countries being travelled to are covered under the Eurail Select pass. If not one would have to buy a different ticket for the trip.
Youth Discount – If you are 25 years of younger on the first day of travel, you can get a 35% discount on the second class pass.Limitation : Greece and Romanian pass allows discounts on first class tickets only.
Kids Discount – Kids under 4 can travel free and for the older children ( 4 – 11), there is a promotion going on for 50% discount.
Family discount – For small groups of 2 to 5 person, there is a 15% discount (saver pass).
Other Discounts / promotions / Coupons –
Free ferry service between Greece and Italy, including a stop at the tourist island of Corfu.
Free admission to OBB lounges in Vienna (Wien-Westbahnhof & Wien-Meidling)
10% discount at Meininger Hostels & Hotels , A&O hotels and hostels and 20% discount on sightseeing cruises with Blue Danube( DDSG).
50% discount on lake constance boat trips ( by BSB, OBB & SBS — during may to october)
Free access to SBB lounge in Zurich station(HB) — (1st class only)
Free travel on the following boat services in Switzerland ( BLS, BSG, CCN, LNM,SGV, URh,ZSG)
50% discount on cabrio cable car ( to Stranserhorn)
Free travel on Glacier express between Davos/St.Moris and Disentis.
Free travel between Montreux to Lucern on the Golden pass train.
Certain points to remember are:
• In the case of Norway and Finland one has to cross Sweden while traveling on the train, hence are not bordering countries.
• Belgium, Luxembourg, and Netherlands form the Benelux countries and for the Eurail Select passes is considered as a single country.
• Similarly Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro count as one country for Eurail Select pass purposes
• Croatia and Slovenia are considered a single country
European countries and their borders for Eurail Select Pass –
Austria :- Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland
Germany :- Austria, Benelux, Denmark, Finland, France, Sweden, Switzerland
France :- Benelux, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland
Denmark:- Sweden, Norway, Germany
Benelux :- France, Germany,Ireland
Finland:- Sweden, Germany
Ireland:- France, Benelux
Norway:- Sweden, Denmark
Sweden:- Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway
Switzerland :- Austria, France, Germany, Italy
Spain:- France, Italy, Portugal
Bulgaria/Serbia/Montenegro (SMB):- SC, Greece, Hungary, Romania
Croatia/Slovenia (SC): Italy, SMB, Hungary, Austria
Italy:- Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland
Romania:- Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Hungary
Hungary:- Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria
Greece :- Serbia and Montenegro, Italy, Bulgaria
Hungary :- Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Austria
Within Eurail Select passes there are more options –
• Eurail Select pass: Unlimited travel for the single traveler
• Eurail Select Pass Saver: Best for two to five people travelling together. Valid for two months from first day of usage. Unlimited train travel as per Select pass rules.
• Eurail Select Pass Youth: For persons under 26 years age
• Eurail Select Pass ‘n Drive: Three days of train travel and two days of rental car (through Avis / Hertz) in border countries.
Reservations and Supplements Fees for Trains in Europe
Amongst the day trains in Europe some require reservation or supplement fees from Eurail Pass/Eurail Ticket holders. If purchased from outside Europe extra service fees might be charged. The requirements are based on which country one is traveling in though the train may be the same.
Train Reservations in Europe are required on the following –
• The Thalys servicing Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany
• ICE – Sprinter
• CisAlpino to Italy and Switzerland
• Thalys servicing Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany
• EC/IC, Pendolino, Express trains to Finland
• TGV (both within France and outside to Belgium and Switzerland)
• Talgo to Barcelona in Spain
• Artesia to Milan
In the Netherlands:
• Thalys servicing Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands
• Pandolino and Artesia trains
• Eurostar Italia
• CisAlpino from Germany or Switzerland
• Express Trains
• TGV as mentioned above
• Golden Pass – for trains running at certain times
• Bernina Express – reservation required for the daily express trains and not for the hourly local trains
• Glacier Express – reservation required for the daily express trains and not for the hourly local trains
Supplements fees on European Trains are required in –
• Talgo (in some routes)