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Generally confused and afraid, some general questions

  • 24 March 2023
  • 9 replies
  • 189 views

Hi dear travellers,

I haven’t bought my pass yet (I’m looking to get the global pass), but I am a bit confused with how difficult it is to book trains and reserve seats and how reliable the trains are. So before I buy the pass I wanted to check:

  • To book the tickets, do I have to search manually for trains on each company’s website and then book through there, or is there an easy hassle free way to book through the interrail app where you can book tickets and reserve seats all in one place?
    • If manually, is this difficult to do? It seems a little overwhelming just from a first glance to coordinate the ticket and seats especially for night trains
  • How reliable are the trains in Germany/Austria/Hungary/Chezch/Slovenia/Poland? Are they often late (i.e. should I always have a back up plan or always make sure connections are very far apart)? If a train is late and I miss the next connection, does it happen that you’re just stuck at the station in the middle of the night?
  • Do I have to book very much in advance? My plan is to travel between 28/03 and 11/04, is this lowish season or can I get in trouble with no availability? Can I leave the booking for the day before?
  • Furthermore, I’m not even sure if buying a global pass is even worth it.. if it makes things easier or more stressful when it comes to booking and seat reservations...

My destinations are Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Krakow, Bratislava, Budapest, Frankfurt. 

(p.s. I’m an experienced traveller but I’ve never had experience with train travelling through Europe, and also I have never travelled with a tight schedule, so that’s why I’m a bit hesitant with this one...)

Thank you so much!

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Best answer by BrendanDB 24 March 2023, 17:33

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9 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Don’t worry. The countries you’ll be travelling through are generally very pleasant interrail countries.

Reservations cannot be done via the app. You only register the trains you take there. There are multiple ways to get your reservations, other than the Interrail reservation service: https://www.interrail.eu/en/book-reservations.

All of these are listed here, and again. Don’t worry. You’ll not be travelling through France or Spain (which have very annoying, unflexible and rather expensive seat reservation systems):

Trains in these countries and between those destinations are generally very frequent and have cadanced schedules. Making reservations on your trip will be very straightforward too.

Don’t plan your connections too tight, if you do a long stretch in one day (E.g. day trains Amsterdam-Vienna) it’s wise to include 2-3 hours buffer time somewhere in the middle of your journey. It’s also pleasant to stretch your legs and grab some food. Always wise to have a broad buffer when you come from a Night train, these tend to be delayed quite often.

Should an important connection fail because of a delay, and you risk being stuck at a station at night. Speak to railway staff as soon as you fear you’ll miss your connection. They tell you what to do. And will provide alternatives if necessary (let the train wait, book you on an other connection, provide taxi’s or accomodation for the night as last resort...)

If a connection fails in the middle of the day, well. Google, ask around, and just take the next one. Make sure you have the DB Navigator App on your phone, as it has the schedules for most of Europe. I prefer to have the apps of the national companies too, to have acces to the latest real time information.

It’s not low-low season, since it’s Easter. But not too busy too, be aware that some night trains might be fully booked.

 

Don’t stress, it takes a bit of planning (and back-up planning). But once you get the hang of it you’re on the way, it’s a very pleasant, flexible and relaxed way to travel.

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

Hi, 

 

the app does not book nothing (you can book, but it linkes to the interrail.eu website). 

The app is to add all your trips on it, like a diary. You have to do this. The app generates an QR-Code an Ticket Text for ticket check. Your Ticket is the Interrail Pass (as paper or app). Reservations are extra. 

 

For timetable check I would use the website of the train company. The railplanner app is often not up-to-date. If a train is missing you can add it manually. 

 

General, In Germany they are sometimes late. Other countries I don’t know. 

What I can tell you, reservations are optional on long distance trains (except night trains) in Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Austria. 

In Hungary only mandatory on national long distance trains (not on international rides). 

In Poland reservation compulsory, but except on EIP Express InterCity Premium they are cheap (https://www.interrail.eu/en/plan-your-trip/tips-and-tricks/trains-europe/trains-country/trains-poland). Inside Poland are they bookable online via PKP IC. For international via ÖBB or CD. Trains to/from Berlin only at Ticket Offices or Interrail.eu.

 

You could send us your planned route, but except Berlin-Warzawa Eurocity that could make some problems (but like you listed the citys it is not planned anyway) all other trains are easy on your route. Night trains will be mostly sold out. You need to check availability, but Nightjets are often weeks before sold out. 

 

 

Thanks guys!

For booking the trains, is it better to do via Omio / Trainline, or directly with the company? What do you recommend also just for checking all options?

If I’m not worried about night trains, is it too risky to leave the booking to the day before or even to just arrive at the station and buy the ticket then?

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

When you buy an Interrail Pass you don't need an additional booking. The Pass is your Ticket.

Omio or Trainline can sell only normal tickets.

If you need a reservation with a pass than use the website of the train company, but there are some exception. We can help you.

Userlevel 7
Badge +8

The recommendation from the experienced travellers in the community is to only make reservations through the Eurail website if no other options are available. Please read more about that below. 

 

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 you choose the start day of the validity of the pass. Once the validity has started it can't be changed even if you haven't travelled. The advice is therefore to wait with activating the pass and starting the validity until the first day of your travel as you only can deactivate the pass no later than 23.59 CET on the day before the validity starts. If your travel plans change in the last moment you can't deactivate the pass and change the validity. 

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.

Userlevel 7
Badge +3

Never book via a 3rd-party company. Reservations cannot be done there anyway

The Interrail Pass will be your ticket. There are some connections with mandatory seat reservations but not many in the countries you’ll visit (cross-border services can be). You simply board the train and find a free seat.

If you’re interested in buying regular tickets (and not a pass), it is better to book in advance to avoid paying 150€ for Amsterdam - Berlin.

 

Ah ok so I only need to worry when there’s a mandatory seat reservation, otherwise I can just show up for the train?

But if the eurail planner is not reliable, where’s the best website to plan my route? Or is it helpful to use the planner because it shows me where I’ll need a reservation? Or a combination of both?

And then if I need a reservation, this I need to do via the company that I saw on the planner (or in another search website).

Do I understand it correctly?

Userlevel 7
Badge +3

Yes the Interrail Pass will be your ticket. :)

To plan your itinerary you can use bahn.de, it usually is the most-reliable website. Bahn.de will tell you if a reservation is needed. And you can always ask here.

The reservations are usually done on the companies’ website. More infos can be found here :

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +8

As you will be travelling during Easter and the Easter holidays, some trains might be very busy so it might be good to check the expected occupancy for the trains you want to take and for which that can be checked.  For German trains you can do that in the DB app.

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