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RailEurope

Old Feb 9th, 2005, 07:41 PM
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RailEurope

Has anyone used the website www.raileurope.com? Are they reputable? Are their prices reasonable? I was also told that they could make a reservation for me on the train from Austria to Italy but that I would have to pay for that ticket at the train station. That was one area that they were not allowed to sell me. Thanks for your help!
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Old Feb 9th, 2005, 09:38 PM
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Yes, it has been used by thousands of people for a long time (in "internet years: - - and by phone and through travel agents for decades before that.

They used to be the only way to get good train info, and generations of Americans grew up thinking that a "rail pass" was almost as "necessary" as a passport.

They are reputable, but they do market, and mark-up the price on something they do not "produce" - - rides on the trains themselves - - although they are owned by a consortium of the French and Swiss (? I think?) national railroad companies. There are many of "us" (regulars here on this forum, "veterans") who think that their prices are NOT reasonable. They repersent a convenience. I wouldn't buy city bus tickets for some distant city in the US, if my local drugstore sold them at a marked up price, and in general, I wouldn't buy tickets from RailEurope either.

There are exceptions. They have contracts with some countries for fares that were negotiated when the exchange rate for the dollar was more favorable - - and thus, in some cases, they are selling tickets below "face value" (before "shipping and handling charges", though).

I think their biggest transgression is that there is a decades old myth/seduction that a EurailPass is a "pass to "freedom", hopping around Europe unfettered and fancy-free. It comes at a cost that hardly anyone ought to be paying. Intra-Europe low cost air travel is widely available all over the continent - - see www.whichbudget.com for example - - and train rides of less than four hours, ordinary point-to-point tickets add up to a fraction of the cost of a "rail pass" unless you are literally riding the train EVERY day (and you shouldn't be - - get off the train and SEE where you are; the journey is NOT the objective!)

As for Austria-Italy, I don't know why they can't sell it, but thousands of austrians and Italians buy tickets at the train station every day. You can do it, too. The ticketsellers are accustomed to those not fluent in Italian or German - - and writing down what you want makes communication reasonably foolproof, even if it is mostly in English.

Example: 2 psgrs, 2nd class, 15 Feb at 09:26 dep Innsbruck arr Verona 12:59

No ticketseller will be confused by something simple like this.

Best wishes,

Rex

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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 04:55 AM
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ira
 
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Hi memories,

If you give us your itinerary, we can probably help you buy tickets.

For example, you can buy tickets online from Austria to Italy at www.trenitalia.com/en

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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 05:15 AM
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RailEurope is the North American marketing arm of a European rail consortium (mainly SNCF and Swiss Federal Railways) so it is totally "reputable" and using this, or any other outside "agency" has advantages and disadvantages.

The shipping and handling fees will drive up ticket prices; seat reservations are more expensive than they would be if you buy them in Europe; usually ticket prices are less if you buy them in Europe as opposed to using an agency.

It helps if you have used an on-line service such as that offered by SNCF or Trenitalia, but for the first-timer the entire process can seem mystifying.

Ira gives good advice. You can easily order tickets on-line if you know how and you shouldn't have any trouble buying that ticket from Austria to Italy in ANY rail station in Europe if you choose to wait.

Give us more info....
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 06:16 AM
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Excuse me Memories 4 for asking a question on your board, but perhaps it will help you, too.To follow up with more questions: Does this mean that it is probably not a good idea to buy, say, a German train twin pass for 10 days if one were to be there for a month? I plan to spend 35 days in Germany. Is that impractical and would point to point be bettter? If my calculations are correct, it would cost US$486 for those 10 days days of travel for two people. That does not sound bad to me. It would mean that the average round trip would cost $24 perperson for each of the 10 days I would use the pass. Is there a cheaper place to buy these twin passes?
Thanks.
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 06:35 AM
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ira
 
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Hi anne,

Enter your itinerary for two at www.railsaver.com. Click "only if it saves me money".

They will tell you if the pass is cheaper than ptp.



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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 07:20 AM
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The Rail Europe site is a good place to check out skeds and fares, and is quite a good resource, but I agree -purchase elsewhere. Their shipping fees are a bit exorbitant, and you can usually save quite a bit booking directly on the site of the rail company you want, such as SNCF in France or DBahn in Germany etc etc
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 07:45 AM
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annetti -

If you check out the following website, it will explain the German Rail line Lander tickets, which is a day pass, good for up to 5 people, which can only be used on regional trains and within the designated state. Depending on what your itinerary is, you might be able to save some money by using the Lander pass instead of the RailEurope pass.

www.bahn.de

Click on Int. Guests (at the top), then How to Purchase Your Tickets (under planning your journey), then click on Lander Tickets (on the right hand side). (I would have cut & pasted the web site address for a quicker link, but a smiley icon kept showing up in the address.)

Hope this helps in your planning and enjoy your travels. Peace. >-

Robyn
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 11:29 AM
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Thanks for all of your help. My itinerary is as follows: Prague to Vienna, Vienna to Salzburg, Slazburg to Innsbruck, and Innsbruck to Venice. I was thinking of buying the Austria N Czech Saverpass at $200 a piece. This will give me up to 4 days train travel.(We are a family of 4). However I have to buy a seperate ticket from Innsbruck to Venice and I was told that that could not be bought from the U.S. That made me nervous as there is one daytime train and we need to be on it to catch our flight back to the U.S. We will be going late July early August and I was afraid the train might be sold out. What would you suggest?
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 01:20 PM
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Call Budget Europe, absolute experts on European rail travel and can book this ticket for you - if you do it along with a pass you won't pay RailEurope's $15 fee - budget Europe (800-441-9413) works thru RailEurope as nearly every agent does but doesn't charge their fee - plus whoever you talk to there has traveled themselves for years on European rails - the ultimate source for knowledgeable info. You can book the Innsburck-Venice ticket here and get a reservation to be sure you have a seat on that train if it's real important to you - if you're flexible then buy it in Europe.
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 01:33 PM
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ira
 
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Hi mem,

Go to www.railsaver.com
Enter your itinerary for 2 people
click "only if it saves me money"

See if you need a railpass.

Trenitalia won't sell the Innsbruck/Venice ticket online.

Also try www.euraide.com or call them at 1 941-480-1555. They are in Florida.
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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Memories04: You've been given some good advice here and I concur with a previous poster - RailEurope is a good resource but purchase tix elsewhere.
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 05:40 PM
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Thanks Ira and Artstuff for your help and thanks Memories 4 for letting me ask a question on your time.
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Old Feb 10th, 2005, 07:31 PM
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Thanks again for all of your help. I will check into your suggestions tomorrow.
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 01:17 AM
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I agree with Rex and all the others: RailEurope overcharge. I can add that the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable for January gives second class one way fares per person as Vienna to Salzburg 37 euros, and Salzburg to Innsbruck 30 euros. The book shows Munich to Venice as 90 euros, so Innsbruck to Venice might be 73 euros. I total this as 37+30+73=140 euros per person. This is second class, which is quite good enough if you book into a saloon car, not a compartments car, except that you may like to pay a supplement of about 15 euros in order to take the first class panorama car on the train, the Transalpin, from Salzburg at 1231 to Innsbruck. You can book at these prices in any large station on the continent. For example, Vienna Mitte is central in the city, and has staff who speak English and take credit cards. So does the station at Vienna airport. Unless you are travelling at Easter, 19 March to 10 April, or in summer, from mid June, you need not book your seats, but can just stroll onto the train when you choose. I like train trips with restaurant cars for lunch, such as the train from Vienna West at 1130 to Salzburg at 1427, from Salzburg at 1231 to 1231 through high Alps to Innsbruck at 1430 (but please ask when you buy whether this ticket is valid for all trains that day, since a firm called OEC run them), and Innsbruck 1326 with good views of the Brenner Pass to Bolzano, and later the strange feeling as you run at sea level from the mainland to Venice. Pleae pause as you leave Venice Santa Lucia station at 1831 to enjoy the view. If you want the comfort of having the tickets and reservations in your pocket when you fly you can use Euraide, or similar specialist agencies in Britain: they take about ten percent mark up. A good approach is to e mail each firm, list your travel and rough dates, and ask their estimate.

You can use Euraide in Florida, http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homep...e/homepage.htm, telephone 1 941-480-1555 fax 1 941-480-1522 [email protected]. Thereis a note on how Euraide work at www.ricksteves.com/news/travelnews/euraide.htm. Also you can book through four firms in Britain:

Trainseurope Ltd, of Cambridgeshire and London, take credit card bookings by phone and mail tickets to any address. Have the widest access in Britain to rail systems and tickets. http://www.trainseurope.co.uk/ - E-mail [email protected]. Phone 00 44 900 195 0101 - calls from Britain cost 60 pence or 40 euros a minute, maximum 5, but if the enquiry results in a booking, the cost of the call is deducted from the final invoice. Phone Mon to Fri 10 to 5 British time

German Rail UK: www.deutsche-bahn.co.uk/ Phone : 00 44 870 243 53 63 then 6. Fax : 00 44 208 339 4700. E-mail : [email protected]

Ffestiniog Travel, site http://www.festtravel.co.uk, e-mail [email protected], phone 00 44 176 651 2400

Inside France (Canterbury). Phone 0044 1227 450088. 29/30 Palace Street, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2DZ. Booking form on site www.rail-canterbury.co.uk/. Or e-mail [email protected]/. This is the only agency for the slow connection rail, boat, rail from London to Paris or back.

I am afraid I have not come across Budget Europe: please does anybody know their charges and what services they offer ?

For international tickets, berths and seats Trainseurope are ten percent cheaper than German Rail UK or Ffestiniog Travel. For domestic Italian trains they are cheaper again. German Rail UK are cheaper than Trainseurope or Ffestiniog Travel for domestic trains within Germany and may be competitive with them for international trips with a big proportion of miles in Germany. Trainseurope take Visa and MasterCard, but not Amex or Diners. But really, except in peak periods I should just buy in Vienna.

[email protected]

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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 01:22 AM
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Their web site shows that Budget Rail sell no point to point tickets, but only passes.

[email protected]
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 09:34 AM
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Ben Haines: Budget Europe Travel Service does not have a web site - you must have got some other entity. They are old fashioned phone oriented - an unusual service i've used for eons for railpasses - there are just a few folks there but they have all traveled around Europe on trains for decades - at one time they organized bike trips but no longer do that. They are a RailEurope agent and thus sell everything RailEurope does, including point-point tickets. Thus they have the same products but you are sure to be talking to someone who has actually traveled by rail in Europe lots and can answer all your rail questions - not just sell a product like RailEurope staffers i've talked with do. (Talking about RailEurope US not the UK one on Picadilly in London - same owners, French and Swiss rail, but controlled by French as the President of US RailEurope is always from the SNCF, or has been.) Also Budget Europe (in Ann Arbor, MI; 800-441-9413) doesn't charge RailEurope's $15 mailing fee. Anyway unusual in Internet day where there's a load of into there but you can't really talk to anyone and ask questions and get a personal response. Their European Planning & Rail Guide is an excellent free publication that will help any novice greatly in planning european rail trip. As for RailEurope's point-point tickets, these are called Eurail Tariff tickets sold by a cnosortium of dozens of European railways - many more than in the Eurail scheme. Eurailpass prices and point-point fares i believe are set by the Eurail Commission based in Utrecht, Netherlands under the auspices of Eric(?) Molin, who i believe is with the Nederlandse Spoorwegen.
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 08:16 PM
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Thanks again for your detailed help. As I am going in the summer during a very busy time, I feel much better having a reservation.
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