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EUrail and Interrail

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Travel Guide Europe EUrail and Interrail

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Introduction

3_Lugano_Aug11 (2)

3_Lugano_Aug11 (2)

© All Rights Reserved david.byne

This article contains a short overview of the InterRail and Eurail railway passes, and devotes special attention to the situations in which (not) to buy one. More detailed information about the passes can be found on their respective websites.

"Interrailing" has lost its status as a European right of passage through the arrival of discount airlines, but it remains a uniquely flexible way to travel - you can literally arrive at a city, decide you don't like the look of it, and zoom off on the next train out. This makes it a great way to get a feel for a large region, especially when heading out into the countryside. Do not, however, fall into the trap of traveling so continuously that all you see is a blur of railway stations.

Rail passes work just like flexible tickets. After validating the pass, the pass holder is free to board any train that does not require reservations and is within the area/countries specified on the pass.

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Eurail Pass

Eurail is a railway pass issued by a joint-venture of European transport companies, mostly railway carriers and shipping companies. The pass is intended for travellers from outside Europe; for European residents, the cheaper sister product InterRail is available (see below).

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Reservations

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Extra fees can apply for making reservations, fast trains, couchettes and sleepers. The exact rules vary by country and can be very complex, so ask in advance, but a rule of thumb is that anything which requires a reservation in advance (shown with a black [R] in a box in schedules) will require a surcharge. In peak season on popular routes seat reservations are definitely worthwhile.

If travelling overnight, the token fees for couchettes (usually less than €20) are well worth the price. However given the fact that sleeper trains are increasingly being phased out all around Europe you might not have that option.

High-speed trains such as TGV, Thalys, ICE (only lines to France), Eurostar Italia, Cisalpino, X2000, AVE and Talgo 200, may require pass holders to pay supplements. Passes are not valid on Eurostar crossings between UK and France or Belgium, but a discounted Passholder Fare applies to those with valid railpasses for travel in France or Belgium (departure or arrival country). In France, in particular, only a very small number of passholder seats are offered on each train and if all have been taken you will have to pay a full-priced single fare, even if the train is nowhere near full. This means that rail passes for France are now very rarely worthwhile.

The complete list of trains with compulsory reservation can be found at the InterRail website. Detailed city to city connections are listed on the Raildude website. Showing the exact reservation fees and always options to avoid them by using other connections with reservation free train types.

Eurail Pass

Eurail Pass

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Types of Passes

Eurail passes differ in the number of countries they cover, the validity of the pass, and the age group of its holder. In general, passes are valid only on trains operated by national rail companies. In some countries (Italy, Spain and Switzerland in particular) you'll find regional or private companies that don't accept InterRail or Eurail passes, although many of them offer up to 50% discount for passholders. See Interrail and Eurail websites for complete list of train operators accepting passes.

Global Pass
Unlike its name suggests, it covers 20 European countries, but exclude a number of Eastern European countries and the UK. Global Pass is available with a validity of up to three months of unlimited travel, or with a set number of travelling days within a given period. Depending on age (the limit for youth fares being 27), their prices range from €305 to €1633 (July 2017 price level).

Global Pass destinations are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

Select Pass
These passes covers 3, 4 or 5 neighbouring countries of choice. They offer 5, 6, 8 or 10 days of travel within a 2-month period. The '5 countries Pass' also has a 15 travel days option. Depending on age, validity and number of countries, their prices range from €207 to €706.

ZERMATT TRAIN

ZERMATT TRAIN

© All Rights Reserved shamanurse

Regional Pass
Select from various overlapping regions of Europe. They offer 3 to 10 travelling days within a period of up to two months. Their prices are again dependent on region, age and validity. It is possible to combine multiple regional passes although this is hardly ever the cheapest option.

National Pass
This pass is perfect for exploring one European country. They offer 3 to 15 travelling days within a period of one month.

Available countries are Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.

The following are counted as one country for the Select Passes and National Passes:

  • Benelux: Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg
  • Slovenia and Croatia
  • Bulgaria, Serbia, and Montenegro
  • France and Monaco
  • Austria and Liechtenstein

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InterRail Pass

Kobenhavn H

Kobenhavn H

© All Rights Reserved Hien

InterRail is the cheaper sister product of Eurail.

Eligibility

You can only use the InterRail Pass if you are a European resident. You are considered a European resident and eligible for the pass if you have been staying in a European country for at least six months from the first day of validity of the pass. The following count as European countries (note that this does not coincide with the European Union, nor with geographical Europe):

InterRail community members are Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom,

Other participating countries are Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Cyprus, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Russia, San Marino, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

Types of Passes

InterRail Global Pass
The Global Pass is valid on the national trains of over 30 European countries and on various private railways. This pass also entitles you to benefits such as discounted or free shipping services and reduced admissions in museums. It is available for a continuous period of 22 days or 1 month, or for a flexible duration of 5 or 10 days.

Budapest Train Station

Budapest Train Station

© All Rights Reserved FlimFlam

  • Any 5 days in 15 days: 1st Class Adult £324; 2nd Class Adult £243; 1st Class Youth £259; 2nd Class Youth £188
  • Any 7 days in 1 month (most popular): 1st Class Adult £385; 2nd Class Adult £290; 1st Class Youth £307; 2nd Class Youth £231
  • Any 10 days in 1 month: 1st Class Adult £460; 2nd Class Adult £344; 1st Class Youth £368; 2nd Class Youth £274
  • Any 15 days in 1 month: 1st Class Adult £566; 2nd Class Adult £426; 1st Class Youth £453; 2nd Class Youth £339
  • 15 days continuous: 1st Class Adult £508; 2nd Class Adult £381; 1st Class Youth £406; 2nd Class Youth £317
  • 22 days continuous: 1st Class Adult £594; 2nd Class Adult £445; 1st Class Youth £476; 2nd Class Youth £351
  • 1 month continuous: 1st Class Adult £769; 2nd Class Adult £526; 1st Class Youth £616; 2nd Class Youth £449

Note: Prices as at Jul 2017. Adult means 28 years or older, Youth means 27 years or younger. There are also separate passes for those aged 60 and over and for children.

The Global Pass is not valid for free travel in your own country of residence (Unless it is the first journey or last journey).

InterRail One Country Pass
The One Country Pass allows unlimited train travel in a participating country (not eligible for your own country of residence). It is perfect for exploring one European country on train. This pass also entitles you to benefits such as discounted or free shipping services and reduced admissions in museums. Prices vary from one country pass to another and also depends on age and validity.

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Balkan Flexipass

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Although the slow and infrequent trains are by no means the most efficient way of traveling in the Balkans (this is by any standard the bus), it is one of the more comfortable and scenic.

The Balkan Flexipass allows unlimited rail travel for 5, 10, 15 days of rail travel in a 1 month period in Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey (including the Asian part).

Caveat is that trains in the Balkans are already really cheap and that it only pays off for longer distances. Another thing to take into account is that the rail network in the Balkans is a lot less dense than in the rest of Europe, so some places simply cannot be gotten to by rail.

National Passes

Some countries, for example, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland offer their own one-country pass. They are often only available as special offers and tied to a specific season or age group. See the websites of the national railroads for more information.

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Other Things To Keep In Mind

Ferries

On both InterRail and Eurail, ferries between Ireland and France, Italy and Greece as well as many ferries in the Baltic sea between Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Finland, are either free or steeply discounted. Many boat rides on Switzerland's lakes are free as well. The exact conditions vary according to the ferry operator. Always check the daily schedules during the specific week of travel. Some ferries cease operation in the off-season altogether, while others reduce service to one roundtrip daily, from several trips a day during peak season.

Travel Days

Travel days are generally counted from midnight to midnight. There is one useful exception: If you board a direct overnight train or ferry after 7PM, your travel day will last until midnight the next day.

Others

Eurail Passes cover border city stations outside their countries as well. For example, Salzburg in Austria is considered a border station of Germany and therefore is covered by German railpasses.

A vacant seat is not guaranteed unless you make a reservation.

One-month passes last longer when validated (on any day) within a 31-day month.

Passengers with 1st class passes may travel in second-class compartments at any time. Those with 2nd class passes can pay the difference (generally 50%) between 1st and 2nd point-to-point fares to upgrade to 1st.

Check the actual prices of normal point-to-point tickets, in some cases your journey can be cheaper with them than with a pass. Especially in eastern European countries a pass tends to be bad value for money as the local cost of point-to-point tickets is very low. In Western Europe you may be able to cobble together an itinerary with non-refundable non-changeable discount tickets that works out cheaper than a pass would, but this lacks the flexibility and sense of adventure that makes InterRail unique.

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This is version 24. Last edited at 10:54 on Jul 31, 17 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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