Train travel in Europe - tips and info


petetherock

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Oct 9, 2006
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#1
I compiled this thread to help others who may be going to Europe and moving around by train.

Search words:

TGV, Trains, Europe, Carriage, Travel




Trains and travelling in Europe..

If you are trying out the trains in Europe, it can be a fast and fun way to get you from city to city, without checking in, waiting for hours at the airport which is usually out of town and the seats even in 2nd class are much larger than any economy airline seat.

However it can also be fraught with all kinds of goof ups, especially if English is not the default language. Doing your homework is key.

Firstly, there are many websites with varying rates and you can try the local website if you can navigate the language, which is the main bearbug. The local website of the country is often much cheaper and there can be more options. Try and choose a direct train, so it is less confusing. The french trains have no English and can be rather frustrating, whereas those in Holland are mostly bilingual at the airport.

Check the right destinations, train numbers and timings. There can be more than 1 train. Check up the local lingo for train, station, carriage and stop. once the train goes off, it can be rather hard to go from carriage to carriage.

There is a computer sign board which will tell you which berth the train carriage will be at, and you should pay attention to this.

getting on to the train is the main issue and once you find your seat, then most of the job is done. You can leave your luggage at the door area, since it is unlikely that anyone will swipe it.

Then sit back and enjoy, trains allow you to take in the countryside and the ride is swift. Just pay attention to the stops as the time at each terminal is short. Also try and use as little bags so you do not forget.

If you cannot stand sitting backwards, specify your preferences clearly. Also toilets onboard are free, so use them instead of the ones in the station which cost money.


My TGV from Paris CDG to Avignon was a terrible affair of getting onto the wrong coach, and hauling up too many bags. After learning my lesson, my return journey to Paris was much smoother...

Enjoy fast trains and a quiet smooth passage!

As for Italian trains, the same issue with language also exists, but the Rome to Florence train is also quiet, efficient and there are hotels near the train station. Its all very convenient...
 

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Shen siung

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May 21, 2008
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sometimes, a travel pass (EuRail pass) is not a must, if you travel only very little via train, say A to B, then B to C, then C to D. Especially the route involve small cities, where sometimes still need to top up 50% or more on top of the rail pass.

And, buying ticket when you reach the station is not a bad idea. Example, you reach A, then you will leave A to B after 24 hours, then you can purchase the ticket when you reach A

Look for some special ticket.
I bought a Bayern ticket, it is a off peak ticket, valid from 0900 to mid night. I travel from Fussen to Munich (30 Euro for up to 5 person), then Munich to Salzburg (30 Euro for up to 5 person). Only drawback - cannot board on fast train (EC / ICE) trains...
 

petetherock

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Oct 9, 2006
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#4
You can do the walk-in method to get your tickets, if there is no festival, but like the Avignon threatre festival and Bastille Day, the trains will be full, and you may have to wait.

Check the local calendars and also for any rail works.
 

petetherock

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Oct 9, 2006
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#5
Back... and gone next week....


2nd class in a TGV...
You can place luggage at the entrance area, no one will steal the stuff once the train moves.

2nd class in most trains is good enough, you pay much more for a sleep train, but in places where hotels are hard to come by, it is an option, only if you can sleep in one...
Bro, you are back!!! Nice info there...
 

#6
Also, another useful tip is to get a EURAIL pass if you r travelling alot even in a single day. choose between a number of countries that u r traveling to, and also the number of traveling days.
One traveling day allows you to take as many train rides as u want (even crossing borders)
Do note that 1 traveling day is 29 hrs, from 7pm(Day1) to 0000hrs (Day2). Plan your trip in advance, and calculate number of traveling days.

Secondly, reservation for "border crossing" trains are compulsory. So book early to confirm seats and also to confirm No. of traveling days as per above.

Thirdly, booking of sleepers are compulsory for night trains. Book early to avoid having to share with strangers. And mind u, Europe trains are kinda dangerous. Theft and missing items are common.

Lastly, do not be LATE! Trains are 90% punctual. Never risk having to take another train as it might snowball into your "traveling days"

If anyone ever need any help, PM me as i live in Swiss.
Will be more than willing to help a fellow Sporean.

Ciaos
 

petetherock

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Oct 9, 2006
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#7
One other thing:
Our credit cards are not accepted for Holland and France - we do not have the special chip.
So after you buy online, you need to queue for the tickets there. But make sure you arrive there when the boutiques / booths are open... especially if it is Sunday or a PH....
 

Jul 23, 2009
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#8
Train Travel is the best way to see Europe's cities. Travel by train gets you from city center to city center quickly, and Europe's train stations almost always have reasonable hotels close by. Find information on train travel and rail passes here.:bigeyes:
voiture simulation de credit immobilier en ligne - Simulation credit immobilier en ligne. L’Internet a rendu encore plus facile d’obtenir de l’aide pour trouver le credit immobilier.
 

nemesis32

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Something to add on.. If your travel itinerary is flexible or the train connections that you looking at has quite a few departure, can consider not to RESERVE your seat. Reservation of seats are quite costly.. i think about S$25/seat/leg so it can adds up to a few hundred easily.
 

fuhyong

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I don't think reservation for seats is strictly necessary. I am currently travelling through Germany and Benelux. I was told that reservation cost 10 euros per person per leg and I can just turn up and choose my seats. So far have taken cross border seats between frankfurt to amsterdam and then from Amsterdam to Brussels and then Bruges. Each time, I just turn up on the correct platform and just board the train and choose which ever seats is convenient.

I have purchased the 6 days/2 months first class eurail tickets. Good for any form of train whether within the same country or across borders. The coach is never crowded. Almost never have to share the coach cabin with anyone else so that's convenient. No restriction on ICE/Thalys/Hispeed so far. I think it's good for TGV and Eurostar also.

Trains in Europe are extremely punctual, so do not be late. most popular routes are very well served so there are many trains and connections throughout the day, just check on the board or the eurail booklet or online before you move out.

Tickets are relatively cheap and you may want to save yourself the hassle of buying tickets each and every leg and just buy a eurail pass.

Whatever happens, have fun and enjoy the ride!!
 

#11
I don't think reservation for seats is strictly necessary. I am currently travelling through Germany and Benelux. I was told that reservation cost 10 euros per person per leg and I can just turn up and choose my seats. So far have taken cross border seats between frankfurt to amsterdam and then from Amsterdam to Brussels and then Bruges. Each time, I just turn up on the correct platform and just board the train and choose which ever seats is convenient.

I have purchased the 6 days/2 months first class eurail tickets. Good for any form of train whether within the same country or across borders. The coach is never crowded. Almost never have to share the coach cabin with anyone else so that's convenient. No restriction on ICE/Thalys/Hispeed so far. I think it's good for TGV and Eurostar also.

Trains in Europe are extremely punctual, so do not be late. most popular routes are very well served so there are many trains and connections throughout the day, just check on the board or the eurail booklet or online before you move out.

Tickets are relatively cheap and you may want to save yourself the hassle of buying tickets each and every leg and just buy a eurail pass.

Whatever happens, have fun and enjoy the ride!!
I dont think so... it is based on sessions. During Spring break n summer break. i highly recommend reservation, especially night trains (a must i would say). To play safe. always check if reservations are compulsory for the border crossing train u are planning to take. Many of these trains are strictly reservations only, n train conductors will set up booths at the platform to ensure all passenger have a reservations.

At in all, if u r using a EUrail pass, check if reservations is needed for all trains at any of the International train booth or EURAIL booth. Print out your trains schedules and verify. if reservations are needed, PLEASE book. One again, the last thing u want on a "planned" trip/travelling days is to delay your train.

Anyway just sharing my experiences from my previous spring breaks n summer breaks travelling in the past few years, no flaming intended.
Peace

Ciao,
Travis.K
 

Shen siung

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May 21, 2008
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#12
Something to add on.. If your travel itinerary is flexible or the train connections that you looking at has quite a few departure, can consider not to RESERVE your seat. Reservation of seats are quite costly.. i think about S$25/seat/leg so it can adds up to a few hundred easily.
Yes it is true. As fuhyong said, it cost 10 euro / equivalent amount. But, when I board the train, there are too many empty seats, and surprisingly I can't found any 'reserved' / taken / equivalent tag / paper on my seats.....

I don't think reservation for seats is strictly necessary. I am currently travelling through Germany and Benelux. I was told that reservation cost 10 euros per person per leg and I can just turn up and choose my seats. So far have taken cross border seats between frankfurt to amsterdam and then from Amsterdam to Brussels and then Bruges. Each time, I just turn up on the correct platform and just board the train and choose which ever seats is convenient.

I have purchased the 6 days/2 months first class eurail tickets. Good for any form of train whether within the same country or across borders. The coach is never crowded. Almost never have to share the coach cabin with anyone else so that's convenient. No restriction on ICE/Thalys/Hispeed so far. I think it's good for TGV and Eurostar also.

Trains in Europe are extremely punctual, so do not be late. most popular routes are very well served so there are many trains and connections throughout the day, just check on the board or the eurail booklet or online before you move out.

Tickets are relatively cheap and you may want to save yourself the hassle of buying tickets each and every leg and just buy a eurail pass.
Again depends the season and the way you want to travel, and how much you can afford.
Most importantly, the area your journey will covered.

Example, in southern Germany Bavaria state, there is a type of very cheap ticket - Bayern (Bavaria) ticket. Cost 30 Euro for 2-5 person. Travel from 0900 to midnight.

If you get the ticket for 4 days - 120 Euro, say for 2 person - 60 Euro each (~SGD120)

A Germany pass for 2nd class, 4 days twin pass (2 person travel together) cost 135 + 4 Euro issuance fee, per person.

Of course sleeping trains will be a different story. But sometimes, to me, a short 6 hours journey, not necessary to change it to a night train.
 

nemesis32

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#13
Yes it is true. As fuhyong said, it cost 10 euro / equivalent amount. But, when I board the train, there are too many empty seats, and surprisingly I can't found any 'reserved' / taken / equivalent tag / paper on my seats...../quote]

There should be some small white slip that they indicate the seats are reserved. They won't put your name.



Again depends the season and the way you want to travel, and how much you can afford.
Most importantly, the area your journey will covered.

Example, in southern Germany Bavaria state, there is a type of very cheap ticket - Bayern (Bavaria) ticket. Cost 30 Euro for 2-5 person. Travel from 0900 to midnight.

If you get the ticket for 4 days - 120 Euro, say for 2 person - 60 Euro each (~SGD120)

A Germany pass for 2nd class, 4 days twin pass (2 person travel together) cost 135 + 4 Euro issuance fee, per person.

Of course sleeping trains will be a different story. But sometimes, to me, a short 6 hours journey, not necessary to change it to a night train.
If you book overnight train, booking i recall is recommended as it's usually filled quickly.
 

Shen siung

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May 21, 2008
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#14
There should be some small white slip that they indicate the seats are reserved. They won't put your name.
Yes it is true. As fuhyong said, it cost 10 euro / equivalent amount. But, when I board the train, there are too many empty seats, and surprisingly I can't found any 'reserved' / taken / equivalent tag / paper on my seats.....
Yes as I mentioned they don't even put a small tag / paper on my booked seats indicate the seats has been reserved (by someone, which is me). I did not said it should label my name.
 

nemesis32

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Yes as I mentioned they don't even put a small tag / paper on my booked seats indicate the seats has been reserved (by someone, which is me). I did not said it should label my name.
That's a bit strange. One possible explanation is that you might actually be in the wrong cabin... For example, you are seat 56 and say 2nd class. There will be seat 56 in 1st class and business class too. Sometimes it's quite messy and lots of people sits in the wrong class.

Of course, it's also possible that they may just have missed out your reservation and forget to put in the white slip. However, so far in my experience, as long as i have reserved the seats, there's usually a slip indicating.
 

Dec 29, 2006
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Thanks Peter & everyone for compiling & adding useful info for travellers to Europe.
I'll be traveling this weekend to Paris and so i cannot use local creadit card (eg DBS, etc..) but Citibank or AMEX credit card should be ok right? How about accessing our local bank account via ATM card?


Cheers
Ming
 

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#17
you can use hsbc Credit card!
infact, you can find few of hsbc atm in the airport too...
my bf tried withdraw money from ATM in Paris before.. :)
i will be going there mid august!! :D

t

Thanks Peter & everyone for compiling & adding useful info for travellers to Europe.
I'll be traveling this weekend to Paris and so i cannot use local creadit card (eg DBS, etc..) but Citibank or AMEX credit card should be ok right? How about accessing our local bank account via ATM card?


Cheers
Ming
 

nemesis32

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#18
Thanks Peter & everyone for compiling & adding useful info for travellers to Europe.
I'll be traveling this weekend to Paris and so i cannot use local creadit card (eg DBS, etc..) but Citibank or AMEX credit card should be ok right? How about accessing our local bank account via ATM card?


Cheers
Ming
I have not tried but actually local banks' credit cards i think can use... as long as the merchants accepts visa/mastercard etc. Of course in china it may not be acceptable as they have the local system called Unionpay (银联), which is similar to Visa/Mastercard but only acceptable in China.

When using credit cards, best is to check which cards gives you better exchange rates and whether any forex charges.
 

nemesis32

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For withdrawl of monies, it's similar again. You can withdraw if your bank accounts has the cirrus sign etc, different bank networks is different. Again, exchange rates and charges applies as you will receive money in local currency. I think it's slightly more favourable in terms of exchange rate than signing teh amount on credit cards. However, withdrawal usually has a small transaction fees (same bank i.e. citibank, will have lower fees also than if you use hsbc atm to withdraw from your citibank account).
 

Shen siung

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May 21, 2008
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That's a bit strange. One possible explanation is that you might actually be in the wrong cabin... For example, you are seat 56 and say 2nd class. There will be seat 56 in 1st class and business class too. Sometimes it's quite messy and lots of people sits in the wrong class.

Of course, it's also possible that they may just have missed out your reservation and forget to put in the white slip. However, so far in my experience, as long as i have reserved the seats, there's usually a slip indicating.
I'm 100% sure I am on the right cabin, right class (1st class are very 'class', so is not the one I was in) Maybe the train just not 100% full.

I purchase a point to point ticket (no rail pass involved) the counter staff ask me for 10 franc reservation fee for the cross border train.

When I board the train, I cannot find my seats with the "reserved equivalent" tag but some other seats were labeled. But nobody were sitting on it so I just sit on it.
 

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