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Advice Needed for Rail Pass

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Feb 14th, 2014, 11:19 AM
  #1
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Advice Needed for Rail Pass

My wife and I will be traveling to 5 european countries in the following order: Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and finally Italy. I had planned on buying the Select Pass for train travel with 5 countries included which would be the cheapest option at about $750 for two people. However, since France is no longer included in the Select Pass I will have to either choose the Global Pass for $1300 for two people or buy individual tickets which ends up being about $1300 for the total trip. Does anyone know of any other options where I might come out a little cheaper?
rc88 is offline  
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Feb 14th, 2014, 12:46 PM
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You could buy point-to-point tickets. Search the individual country web sites looking for fares 90 days out. That will give you a good approximation of what the fares will be when you make your trip. I'm sure buying individual tickets will be cheaper.

http://www.belgianrail.be/en/Default.aspx
http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...005817f90aRCRD
www.sbb.ch
http://www.voyages-sncf.com/
adrienne is offline  
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Feb 14th, 2014, 12:55 PM
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Yes, point-to-point tickets.
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Feb 14th, 2014, 01:03 PM
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Point to point but in Switzerland it does not take much for a Swiss Pass or Half-Fare Card or Swiss Card, etc to save money - a Eurailpass won't even pass on some key mountain trains in Switzerland whereas the Swiss Pass has lots of benefits Eurails don't like 100% coverage of lake boats, postal buses, nearly all mountain trains including those to Grindelwald, Wengen, Murren or Lauterbrunnen from Interlaken (Eurail at most a 25% discount of those) and gives free entry to 470 Swiss Museums - great sources of info on Swiss trains, passes, etc I always spotlight these IMO superb sources - www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.seat61.com.

If just transiting Switzerland then from say Germany to Italy you may get discounted tickets from the German railway website www.bahn.de/en.

the Select Pass you would 'buy for 5 countries' would really be 3 since Belgium and Netherlands collectively are considered to be one country for Select Pass purposes - if not doing much in Switzerland and wanting first-class travel, which does have benefits of course, then the pass may come into play.

to really see if a pass is beneficial perhaps you have to indicate how many train trips and where you will be taking - no one can say just point to point tickets without knowing that and whether you want first class travel or not or want flexibility - the online discounted tickets always seem to have restrictions - unchangeable, non-refundable and being sold in limited numbers must be booked in stone months in advance (France and Italy give nice discounts if those things are fine with you) - but if you want fully flexible chose which trains to take once there then a pass may indeed be better. Do not judge the efficacy of a pass just on price alone but also conditions that are agreeable to you or not.
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Feb 14th, 2014, 04:04 PM
  #5
 
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For all things rail related, go to http://www.seat61.com/ That is the acknowledged 'go to' site to start with.

There is no short cut to determining the advantages/disadvantages of a pass vs. point to point tickets other than to do the actual costing out of each for your planned travels.

I will however ask you this question. How long is this trip going to be and where are you planning to stop? I ask because if you are planning to visit 5 countries in 2 weeks for example, then my advice will be to re-think your plan as it will be trying to cover too much in too little time. Changing that plan changes any question about rail travel.

In other words, it might make sense to back up a step.
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Feb 14th, 2014, 07:50 PM
  #6
 
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>>>However, since France is no longer included in the Select Pass I will have to either choose the Global Pass for $1300 for two people or buy individual tickets which ends up being about $1300 for the total trip.<<<

A pass doesn't include the supplements charged often between countries or for seats in Italy on all the faster trains (mandatory on those trains).

Unless you are traveling a lot in each of these countries (which would mean a week or two in each country), I doubt a pass would be economical. For discounted tickets, check the train company for the country you are departing. Most were mentioned above except the Netherlands.

http://www.ns.nl/en/travellers/home
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Feb 14th, 2014, 10:25 PM
  #7
 
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Hi rc88
I am soon to travel by train through the countries you have chosen and done the following.
Between Benelux (Netherlands,Belgium and Luxemborg)and France I have bought point to point tickets through www.b-europe.co and printed them off myself.
For Italy it is a waste of pass and money so buy tickets through www.trenitalia.com or when you get there.I printed mine off again and I will buy more when I arrive.
I chose to get a select pass for 3 countries to cover travel between Amsterdam to Germany and Germany through to Switzerland. I did all the homework etc comparing costs .I choose to use trains that don't have additional supplements as many are not compulsory. I didn't want just a swisspass with all the other benefits but it may suit you depending on how many days you intend to stay.
I found it very frustrating figuring out which was my best choice -financialy and benefit wise -so I did a spreadsheet and it was a great help.
Goodluck.
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Feb 15th, 2014, 02:35 AM
  #8
 
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I think I can safely say that, even at full price, it's almost impossible to get your money's worth from any rail pass for trains in Italy. Almost all the long distance trains require seat reservations, so you have no flexibility anyway. The rail pass doesn't include the cost of the seat reservations, so you have to pay €10 extra for each train you take.
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Feb 15th, 2014, 03:12 AM
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Impossible to give any useful advice as long as we don't know your itinerary.
You give us just a list of countries and nothing else.

Maastricht - Liege - Luxemburg - Strasbourg - Basle - Lake Maggiore
and
Amsterdam - Brussels - Brugge - Namur - Luxemburg - Nancy - Paris - Loire castles - Bordeaux - Toulouse - Carcassonne - Avignon - Lyon - Chamonix - Montreux - Golden Pass - Jungfraujoch - Zermatt - St. Moritz - Bolzano - San Candido - Trieste - Venice - Florence - Rome - Naples - Alberobello - Matera - Taranto - Reggio - Taormina - Siracusa - Agrigento - Palermo
are not the same
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Feb 15th, 2014, 10:13 AM
  #10
 
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I think I can safely say that, even at full price, it's almost impossible to get your money's worth from any rail pass for trains in Italy.>

I suggest you look more at full-fare prices and just the Italy Eurailpass I have figured that 4 longish train trips in first class the pass would be cheaper and even in 2nd vclass - full-fare tickets in Italy have skyrocketed lately - I disagree that at full-fare a railpass cannot be for many (but not just the Venice-Florence-Rome typical trip) going Venice- Florence- Naples- Rome - Cinque Terre, etc it would be a good deal - I have looked this up before - full fare can cost a ton now in Italy.
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Feb 16th, 2014, 12:48 PM
  #11
 
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As said the railpass costs about 40 euros a day - add on the 10 euros and you get 50 - so if you can buy full fare tickets between say Milan and Venice
Venice and Florence
Florence and Naples
Napoles and Rome - a not untypical route for 50 euros the bv is right but that is a break even point you give up all flexibility for booking in stone weeks early - so even if you could buy full fare ticets for 40 euros I'd still go with the chance for complete flexibility to chose which trains to take once there and in using a pass for years in Italy I have never ever not been able to make the required seat reservation - 10 euros - used to be 15 euros - or as low as 5 euros on IC trains I believe I think I've come out ahead of even a series of discounts - but again I travel more than most - so what bv says depends on how many trains you will take and whether you want flexibility or not - do not judge things completely by price alone - saving a few euros and giving up all flexibility(plus often spending hours trying to get the often bulky for novice used trenitalia.com site to work may not be worth savings a few euros.

But if just doing the typical Venice-Florence-Rome route that is probably true in 2nd class at least - it blanket statements should be clarified to what the travelers actual intentions are IMO.
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Feb 20th, 2014, 01:14 PM
  #12
 
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and an Italy Railpass can be very cost effective, especially when compared to full fare tickets - a 6-day flexipass (1 month) costs about 33 euros an unlimited travel day p.p. on a Saverpass 2nd class - yeh add the 10 euros and you get 43 euros a day - compare that to full fare and the savings if say doing Milan-Venice-Cinque Terre-Florence-Naples-Rome would be enormous and give one complete flexibility.

Yet the mantra is like expressed above - even compared to full fare it's impossible to get your money's worth out of a railpass. Well in certain scenarios it certainly is.
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