Point to Point tickets in Europe

Old Jan 25th, 2005, 03:03 PM
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Point to Point tickets in Europe

Hello.

Is it generally more cost-effective to purchase point-to-point train tickets within Europe on-line beforehand if you are set with your schedule, or at the train station? Or are prices generally the same?
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Old Jan 25th, 2005, 06:40 PM
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rex
 
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Prices are generally the same, though for some "premium" trains (e.g., London-Paris Eurostar) there are some advance purhcase discounted train fares. Doesn't seem to be true in Italy.

I have tended to regard train travel as somewhat "fluid" as to the exact departure time - - so I have tended to buy 2-24 hours in advance, and hae never been disapopinted.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jan 25th, 2005, 11:16 PM
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Europe's railways are run by a bewildering combination of steam-age state monopolies (most of the East), commercially astute state monopolies (France) and competing private companies (Britain). So there's no absolute rule about anything.

It's universally the case that in Britain, advance purchase on longer-distance trains (over 120 miles or so) will give considerable saving. Put a journey onto www.nationalrail.co.uk, follow the journey through to the price section and you'll see in full detail how much advance purchase can save.

Both France and Italy have recently launched advance purchase cheapos, with very different conditions from those in Britain. Again, these seem to make sense only for relatively long journeys. Search the FS and SNCF sites in detail for more details, or this site for country-specific information.

I'm not aware of similar deals in Spain or Germany, and most trips elsewhere in Europe are either too short or too cheap anyway to be worth faffing about with advance buying, though I'm far from being an expert on this.

Don't forget though that on longer journeys reservations may be mandatory or highly advisable, and that the times trains get packed aren't always easy to intuit.
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 01:31 AM
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Thank you for the replies thus far. For a bit of clarification I would be considering taking the following train journeys. These would not all be back to back, so I have ruled out a rail card:

Cologne to Brussels (possibly round trip)

Basel to Zurich - roundtrip

Berlin - Dresden

Dresden - Prague

I'm wondering if there is a difference between buying national train tickets and international train tickets - i.e. can one buy both in advance? Also, what website generally works best? It's my understanding that the German website is good for scheduling, but I would obviously not be able to use this for all of my purchases.
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 03:25 AM
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I can tell you that if you are planning on reserving a seat (vs. simply buying a ticket) on trains the "general" guideline is that you can do so no more than 60 days in advance.

Journeys do not necessarily have to be back to back for a rail card or pass to be "economical" since many of those are for varying periods of time. However, rail passes are more economical the MORE you use them and for just a few journeys it probably makes sensse to buy point to point ticklets BUT

have you compared the prices? Don't assume one way or the other despite the usual "anti-railpass" rhetoric often seen on this board. Inputting your itinerary at www.railsaver.com or www.railpass.com might be enlightening.

In terms of buying the tickets...you can wait until you arrive in Europe and buy ALL your tickets at one time which will save any shipping and handling fees incurred using agencies such as railsaver or raileurope...unless you are really worried about getting space....

and there are "strategies" you can employ to help ensure a place to sit on trains even if you don't have a seat reservation.
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 03:37 AM
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Hi Joe,

You can buy all of your tickets originating and/or terminating in Germany at http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en
up to 60 days in advance, except for the THALYS which you buy at www.thalys.com.

The prices are the same as buying at the station.

You can have the tickets delivered to your hotel.


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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 03:40 AM
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Thanks very much. I had input my information into railsaver and found that a rail pass would be less economical. Any tips on these "strategies"?

If one buys a specific ticket and the misses that train time (perhaps due to airplane delays) can the next train be taken, or is there a change fee such as with airline tickets? My apologies for all of the questions, but I am a bit inexperienced with train travel.
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 06:25 AM
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If you possess a ticket that did not require a seat reservation, and if that ticket was not a special fare discount/promotion, then you should be able to travel on any train that day for that route.

Fares bought at a discount are typically non-exchangeable/non-refundable.

Full-fare tickets with seat reservations (ie. Thalys) are good for other times -if- you rebook the seat reservations.
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