Rail Costs-Rail Europe vs. buying there

Nov 3rd, 2002, 07:57 AM
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Rail Costs-Rail Europe vs. buying there

We will be travelling from Berlin to Prague via rail in November. Is it cheaper to buy the tickets there or shoud we buy through Rail Europe BEFORE we leave home?
Nov 3rd, 2002, 08:39 AM
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Cheaper to buy there. Timetable on www.vlak-bus.cz
Nov 3rd, 2002, 08:52 AM
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RailEurope fares INCLUDE a service charge.Whether you book on line or on the phone.This service charge allows them to operate,period.So if you see a fare from A to B and its $100,the local fare over there wherever "there" is might be $70.Plus,there is a "reservation fee",usually $11 per person to make a seat reservation.When I've booked with RE,that fee was not an optional itme.Then,there is a processing fee,per order sometimes $15.Thats the S/H fee.If you positively without a doubt want a reservation to get where you are going at the time you want to go,then do it with RE.If cost is your priority,book it when you get there.
Nov 3rd, 2002, 08:59 AM
Bob Brown
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It is difficult to get direct price comparisons for trans border travel.
For some reason the national web rail Internet sites do NOT give multi national prices. The SNCF, the French national rail system, gives a few if the train is "French" all the way, e.g. Paris to Geneva.

In my experience, Rail Europe prices can be considerably higher than the same ticket purchased in Europe. Another factor that raises RE prices is the mandatory cost of having the ticket sent to you, something like $10 per ticket.

Right now the SNCF system is not giving out any price information for some reason, so I could not check a precise example for you. Try later and you may be able to get a comparison.

However, I think most of us will tell you that in our experience RE prices are higher by 25% to 80%.
The upper end of the range is a little extreme, but I recall I figured one that was more than 70%.
Nov 3rd, 2002, 09:13 AM
Bob Brown
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Let me throw one other fact into the hopper. Where the French system is concerned, I have reserved and paid for reservations before I left home. I collected the paper ticket itself at a train station in Paris, not necessarily the same one I was leaving from.

Also, I bought Swiss Cards from the Swiss national system, and had them sent to my home address. So you can buy before you get over there by dealing with the national web sites for several of the train systems. I am not sure I saved any money by dealing directly through the mail, but if the ticket in hand is vital, it can be done.

The only time I have encountered a problem by waitisng was for Sunday afternoon travel.

This summer in Switzerland I procrastinated until Friday night to buy a ticket for a Sunday afternoon trip from Zurich to Munich. (I could have bought sooner; but I did not.) I was told I could not make a seat reservation in any of the non smoking cars. I do not know if there were absolutely no seats left in non smoking, or if there is only a limited number of seats made available on the web. I was reserving at a private line station, and the ticket agent knew only what his computer screen was telling him about a German train. Because I had my Swiss Card, the portion of the ticket in Switzerland did not cost me anything extra, so I opted to ensure a smoke free trip by riding first class.

I might add that even smokers opt not to ride in the smoking cars! If they need a puff, they go out to the area between cars or to the smoking car!!
I saw that happen on the TGV from Paris to Berne. A young man got on the train who was so addicted he could not be still unless he had a cigarette in his mouth. His friends did not want to ride in the smoking car, so he rode 80% of the way between cars with a cigarette stuck in his mouth. When he returned to his seat, he fidgeted, wriggled, and writhed until he could stand it no more and went back for another smoke.
At least he did not invade the non smoking car.
Anyone who says nicotine is not addictive is deep in the throes of denial!!
Nov 3rd, 2002, 09:50 AM
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Our first class rail pass was purchased through AAA and part of our package. What I do know is the rail system was a wonderful way to travel. The USA has missed the boat there!!! Once we learned how to read the schdule we flowed through Germany so easy and loved every train ride. I highly suggest the first class pass. Trains will be differnt for for some of our longer rides the private car and reclining back was great. Have fun and dont forget to spend some time in the "bar car"
Nov 3rd, 2002, 09:56 AM
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Glad to see your enthusiasm for Europe train travel. But I do not understand why you would wish on other travelers the curse of paying 50-100% more by buying a railpass, than they would pay for the tickets of the train routes they will end up using.
Nov 3rd, 2002, 11:09 AM
Bob Brown
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People who claim cheaper this or that without offering specific figures are suspect, so here are some actual facts to go on.
The SNCF price for a second class ticket from Paris to Berne on the TGV that leaves Gare de Lyon at 7:44 is 72E.

The Rail Europe price for a second class ticket on the same train is $90 + $15 for a total of $105. The $15 is postage and handling, and you cannot escape it.

The total cost of the RE ticket is 45.83% more than the SNCF cost.
[As derived by: (105-72)/72 ]

Another note on the RE web site was that the ticket was an "open ticket". You could not reserve a seat!! If I read it correctly!!
Nov 3rd, 2002, 12:52 PM
Ben Haines
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In November few people travel nd you need not book in advance. If you want to, then to book with a small or no markup you can use either of two agencies in the States.
Euraide, offices in Florida and Germany: http://www.euraide.de/. Telephone in USA 1 941-480-1555. Fax 1 941-480-1522. E-mail [email protected]
DER travel agency in the USA, owned by German Rail: http://www.der.com. E-mail for information [email protected] and for sales [email protected]

Ben Haines, London


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