Train ticket - better to buy online?

Jul 4th, 2007, 06:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 19
Train ticket - better to buy online?


I've been reading Morgan B's guide to buying train tickets, is it better/cheaper to buy on-line or can we just by at the train station. What's the advantage to buying on-line? (I haven't read this yet, but perhaps I should just assume b/c there are so many posts on train tickets.)

BTW: Morgan, thanks for your extensive info. on buying train tickets.

Malya is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 06:50 AM
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The advantage to booking online in advance is that you may be able to get discount fares. On the SNCF site, for example, PREM'S fares can be very cheap, but they sell out early so it's best to book as far in advance as possible (up to 90 days). You certainly can buy tickets at the station, but you will pay full fare.
TimS is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 06:51 AM
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There's a million posts discussing the same issue. Some people like the peace of mind having the train tickets in hand before you go. I usually by mine after I arrive in Italy. Sometimes a day or two ahead of when I need it, or sometime a half hour before I need it. I usually by it a couple of days in advance only if I really need to be on a specific train to make a connection.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 06:54 AM
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Thanks already to the both of you. I've been reading some other posts too and it seems like many other people also recommend buying train tickets ahead of time.

Malya is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 06:57 AM
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It depends on:

The country -- e.g. to purchase online discount tickets, such as SNCF PREM

The date -- traveling during busy time, such as the Easter.

The route.

The amount of time you have between your flight arrival and your train departure.

The number of people traveling together if you want to sit together.

So if you ask a couple who usually travel off season, you will be told that you can buy tickets once you get there.

I recently recommended a young couple to reserve train seats on Easter day trip in Italy. They decided not to reserve any seats. They were fine on all the trains before and after the Easter, but not on Easter. They had to stand on the train on their longest part of the trip. A lesson learned.
greg is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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It depends entirely on circumstances, and Malia hasn't told us where or when these journeys are. For the vast majority of train journeys, there is no need to book in advance, but in some cases, it is a good idea to reserve.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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It depends. If it is a simple ticket going city to city and you are flexible about time, just walk into a train station.

If you want a rail pass, find a discounted fare, have complicated itineraries, overnight trains, special requirements you might want to book ahead.

Malia, There is no one correct answer to this question. It depends on exactly WHAT train ticket you are talking about. For example certain rail passes you must by in the U.S. ahead of time, they are not available once you are in Europe. But if you're in Rome and want to go to Florence, go to the train station and buy a ticket.

suze is online now  
Jul 5th, 2007, 01:44 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7
one word of caution if you buy tickets online for France - the machines that print out the tickets in the Paris train stations do not take US-issued credit cards. Make sure you build extra time in your schedule to pick up your tickets at the ticket window.
JudyColo is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 03:02 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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Another thing to take into consideration is the distance you are travelling. By buying a Paris-Marseille ticket ahead of time on the internet, you can pay as little as 19€. If you walk up to the ticket window an hour before departure time, you will pay at least 94€.

For a shorter distance like Paris-Reims, the cheapest fare for booking ahead is 15€ while the full fare is 28€. As the savings are not as substantial, a lot of people probably wouldn't bother to book ahead and instead leave themselves total freedom to take any train.

Then again, if there are 3 or 4 of you, the difference in fare adds up quickly...
kerouac is online now  
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