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Eurail pass scam?

  • 23 November 2022
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Hi, I purchased a eurail pass for my trip travelling throughout Europe for 4 weeks. I thought this would save stress and money however when I arrived for my first train to Paris I was unable to make it on any of the trains and had to purchase a ticket anyway. My question is how can I avoid this happening for other cities where I may possibly be stranded without accommodation. The train company were not affiliated and could not help. There is no personal customer service making me think this pass / company is a total rip off!!

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Best answer by AnnaB 23 November 2022, 11:20

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Eurail clearly states that you should make any needed reservations well in advance, especially on popular routes.

https://www.eurail.com/en?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzZO8qInE-wIVA57VCh0cRw7OEAAYASAAEgKc1vD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

If you let the Community know your travel plans you can get advice on what reservations are needed and where you best make the reservations. 

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Here is some useful information from the experienced travellers in the Community regarding both planning, reservations and activation of pass and travel days. 

 Planning

The rail planner is normally not up to date, as it only is updated once a month, so to be sure of the time table you better check the timetable and availability on the websites of the national railways. The bigger national railways, like DB (Germany) SBB (Switzerland) and ÖBB (Austria) cover several countries. 

 Reservations 

The advice from the experienced travellers in the community is to use other ways to make reservations than the Interrail/Eurail website.  You can look at the guide in the link:

https://community.eurail.com/train-connections-reservations-47/how-to-get-reservations-105

If you, after having looked at the guide, have questions about how to make specific reservation, please give your travel details (departure date, time and route) preferably in a new topic, and you will get advice.

Please note that Interrail/Eurail charges an extra fee of 2 EUR per person and train in addition to the fee for the seat reservation.

 Activation of pass

During the activation process, when you choose the start day of the validity of the pass, the first day of the validity period is automatically made a travel day, even if you don't enter a journey, the advice is therefore not to activate the pass before the first travel day as you only can deactivate the pass before 00.00 on the day the validity starts. If your travel plans change in the last moment you will loose travel days if you have activated the pass in advance.

It can be wise to make a test and activate the pass with a start date well in the future and then deactivate the pass immediately, just to see that everything works.

 Activation of travel day

The advice from the experienced travellers in the community is also never to activate a travel day, that is connect a journey to your pass and create the ticket (QR code), until just before boarding the train, otherwise you might loose a travel day if your travel plans change in a late stage  You can't delete a travel day in the past. A travel day can only be deleted until 23.59 CET the day before the travel day.

Thanks for that Anna. I read all those community resources before purchasing the pass. I was unable to reserve any seats online, I couldn’t do it in person as I came from overseas. My question is, is there a way I can reserve seats for my upcoming trains now that I am here in Europe where I don’t have to purchase an entire train ticket each time I travel and potentially miss all availability ? There was no way to do that at the first intl station I went to and they didn’t care about my pass. Is it better to just cancel my pass and book individual tickets at the train stations ? Thanks in advance 

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We can only answer decently on your question if we know what your travel plans look like. Could you provide us with some details?

Which cities/countries you’re going to visit? Then we can advise you properly. Even with options without reservations.

You started at the most annoying Interrail/Eurail company in France (SNCF). Spain is also quite annoying when it comes to reservations (RENFE). The rest of Europe is much more enjoyable, with mostly optional reservations or plenty of non-reservable routes. But we don’t know if you get to enjoy that, since that wholly depends on your itinerary - that we don’t know.

Thanks Brendan, 

I will be training from Paris to Munich, Munich to Vienna, Vienna to Budapest, Vienna to Rome (overnight) , Rome to Florence and then Milan. 
 

Appreciate any help. 

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When are you planning to do your travels? We need to check that too, for reservation-availability ;)

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Thanks Brendan, 

I will be training from Paris to Munich, Munich to Vienna, Vienna to Budapest, Vienna to Rome (overnight) , Rome to Florence and then Milan. 
 

Appreciate any help. 

For Munich-Vienna, Vienna-Budapest no reservations needed.
For Vienna-Rome, Rome to Florence and Florence to Milan you can do it online on ÖBB (austrian railways website).

Paris to Munich you can do in Paris at a ticket office. If no availability, ask for Paris-Stuttgart or get Paris-Strasbourg and continue with local trains from there to München (regional trains to Karlsruhe and then IC/ICE to München).

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@Lyka Gheesicks The best is to provide travel dates and departure times. So you do the planning and people here sort out the reservations needed.

Additionally, I don't see a train to Paris in your plans or has that been sorted in the meantime?

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Thanks for that Anna. I read all those community resources before purchasing the pass. I was unable to reserve any seats online, I couldn’t do it in person as I came from overseas. 

Reservations for almost all countries, apart from Portugal and Spain, can be done online or by phone from overseas.

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A guide for getting seat reservations for italian trains via ÖBB can be found here:

 

For your trip to Munich, reserve a seat on a TGV from Paris to Strasbourg here: https://travel.b-europe.com/Eurail-GE/en/booking-tgv#TravelWish (10 EUR or 20 EUR) and take local trains from Strasbourg to Offenburg or Karlsruhe (no reservation needed), then to Munich. Like @MartinM explained.

You might have already an ordinary ticket for that stretch, so perhaps try it to refund and do it via the option mentioned above if you want to save money.

For the latest railtime info, don’t use the Rail Planner App, but download “DB Navigator” or any other national operator’s app in the country you’re travelling for the latest correct information about your trains.

Germany - Deutsche Bahn (DB) - DB Navigator

Austria - ÖBB - ÖBB Scotty

Italy - Trenitalia - Trenitalia app

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if you have a mobile pass and want to make a reservation through b-europe you need a Pass Cover Number. The PCN you generate here:

https://community.eurail.com/news-and-announcements-39/pass-cover-number-generator-is-live-5653

 

Thankyou everyone for the help!

So am I to understand that the Eurail pass only benefits for free seat reservations and discounts on some tickets through only some train companies? I’ve been planning my train journeys in the months leading up to now, since the Eurail company / app stated I would simply show my QR code of each travel journey and I could hop onboard. When I travelled from London to Paris the only international train company available there were not affiliated with Eurail at all and I had to buy a ticket full price and barely made a seat on the last train. So am I just to purchase tickets for every train I plan to catch at full cost? 

 

For my next journey from Paris to Munich, I just booked from Paris to Strausbourg thanks to the TGV link^, but the trains from there to Stuttgart or Karlsruhe are highly priced and there’s no option to apply my pass online and reserve a seat on DB. I am skeptical to just rock up without a ticket as I have really struggled navigating London and Paris trains so far.  Ultimately I am looking to save money (hence the eurail pass) so if I can utilise that then that is ideal. Any advice is appreciated :-)

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So am I to understand that the Eurail pass only benefits for free seat reservations and discounts on some tickets through only some train companies?

You need to differentiate between ticket and reservation. Your pass is your ticket. If a train doesn't need a reservation, you just need your pass. If a train has optional reservations, you can get one if you want.

Some trains have mandatory reservations and although some reservations are free of charge, most come at a cost.

I’ve been planning my train journeys in the months leading up to now, since the Eurail company / app stated I would simply show my QR code of each travel journey and I could hop onboard.

When the app indicates that for the train you chose, chances are that that's indeed all you need for the train you're looking at.

When I travelled from London to Paris the only international train company available there were not affiliated with Eurail at all and I had to buy a ticket full price and barely made a seat on the last train. So am I just to purchase tickets for every train I plan to catch at full cost? 

London to Paris (Eurostar) is covered by Eurail but 1. they have mandatory reservations and 2. they only have a limited number of pass holder seats, so the pass holder seats are gone before the train is full.

For my next journey from Paris to Munich, I just booked from Paris to Strausbourg thanks to the TGV link^, but the trains from there to Stuttgart or Karlsruhe are highly priced and there’s no option to apply my pass online and reserve a seat on DB.

Reservations for long distance trains (TGV and ICE) from France to Germany cannot be booked via the DB website. They can be booked online via the Eurail website (plus 2€ booking fee) or at a French or German ticket office (no booking fee). You can also use a regional train to Offenburg and then continue with any train to your destination in Germany, reservations are optional. Use the DB planner and enter Appenweier as a stopover.

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With a pass, which actually is your golden ticket, you can take about 90% of all trains in Europe without any form of reservation. It is the trains we take to work, for our day to day activities,... Put the right train in "My Trip", activate a travel day, et voilà. Board. You're off. 

Some trains require seat reservations (TGV, AVE, Frecce, Nightjets,....) and some of those trains have strict limitations on the number of pass holders being able to reserve (Thalys, Eurostar, International TGV's,... ) . Because they want the big money usually or are very business travel and touristically focused. Some trains you cannot take at all (luckily very limited to private operators (Flixtrain, some small private railways, heritage railways,...) .

As a tourist, you usually take those remaining "difficult" 10% of the trains, for 90% of your journeys. Because those ride mostly  on the high speed lines between the biggest or most popular touristic destinations. They're fast and convenient, but costly and have more of an airplane system to book, wvich can sometimes sell out weeks in advance on popular times! 

You can avoid them usually, by taking slower, regional trains or adding more layovers. Creativity is needed and very difficult for people who are not used and do not know how to travel with the (generally good) public transport in Europe. 

Those trains don't immediately show up on your rail planner app, since it'll only show the fastest or most convenient train. You need to tweak the options a bit in the app. You can e.g. only select trains without reservation, add extra stops or via options, only travel by high speed, or only by slow regional trains,...

 Or check the webpage of reservation free itineraries on the eurail/interrail website, or ask here on the forum when in doubt. 

Honestly, even google maps is usually more reliable than the rail planner app. Click on your station, and see which trains leave the next couple minutes/hours in real time.

Only use the rail planner app to briefly check if you can use a train without reservation. For the rest you use planners from the local companies. Deutsche Bahn usually has the most all encompassing app.

But you're almost out of France. You did the most annoying part, rail freedom without mandatory reservations awaits soon in central Europe. ;) 

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That planner of bahn.com will also show very clearly if RES is mandatory or optional or not possible at all. All regular followers in this forum note that about anyone from far away over the oceans-down yundah or kiwi etc.-seems to be hell-bound on using exactly those trains that are the hardest to get. Whereas even the general site offers several routes with more places to explore and without need to RES.

In the distant past most uses of EUrail were US (or canuck) college students in gap yr or long holiday-they could even read real boox and not just on fones and there were plenty of such detailing it all. Plus that at that time the smart guys who had done it made some pocket money acting as small-scale travel-agent and providing advice from own experience. Has gone all down the drain with the new media.

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Btw @Lyka Gheesicks 

Your trip from Strasbourg to Munich would look something like this (Example is for next Tuesday at noon. Dunno at what time or day you'll be there at Strasbourg, but connections will be likely similar. That's why it's important to always mention time and dates for your preferred route, then the community can help the best). The example underneath has tight connections, so don't worry if it fails, trains enough in Germany.

Check the DB navigator app or website for other possible connections.

With your pass, you can take any of these trains, without reservation. Add it to your pass, hop on, find a free unreserved seat. Hoppa. On to Munich. Like Eurail/Interrail should always be :)  You can completely ignore the ticket prices the app mentions.

 

Thankyou for these replies and specific information!  :)

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