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Interrail or national train apps?

  • 8 March 2023
  • 6 replies
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Hi everyone, I’m new to Interrail so I still have a few questions. Ofcourse i’ve read the interrail user guide. This guide says that I’ll need to add my pass first. After that I need to activate my pass by choosing my first travel day. Once that’s done, I need to choose a journey and save it to my trip, then I can connect it to my pass. This is the part that I understand. 

I’ve been reading some different topics on the community site and I’ve read somewhere that it’s advised to use the national train app from the country I’m travelling in. But how does that work with choosing a train? For example: if i connect a journey to my pass in the interrail app and it’s a train from Naples to Rome and it leaves at 10:40 and arrives at 12:00. When and how is it advised to use the Italy train app itself? If I pick a train from the Italy train app, how will the train people (??)  know I’m using the train with my interrail pass.

 

also: I’ve seen some advices about seat reservations via another site. But how will this connect with my interrail pass? Does that mean I will have 2 different tickets? My interrail pass and my seat reservation (made trough a different website)?

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Best answer by BrendanDB 8 March 2023, 17:33

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Userlevel 7
Badge +7

The national apps are used to check if your train is on time, double check the exact departure time (it differs sometimes), information on which track you can find your train, track changes, amenities on board, if it's gonna be busy or not, possible incidents… it complements the train information much better than the rail planner app. It's not connected to your pass. 

The Rail Planner App just has theoretical times, only updated once a month. Only use it to register your journeys and creating your QR-code = train ticket. More than that, the app can't really do. It has no acces real time information, national apps do have that. 

For example, you're travelling in x months. Because of hot weather the electricity cables broke, so the train you're on cannot take its ordinary route. It needs to take a detour, adding 30 minutes to your travel time. The rail planner app wont have any info on this, the national apps will have the latest information. In thit way you know if you can make your connection or not. 

Seat reservations are completely separate from the app. Even the the reservation gotten from Interrail/Eurail are not connected to your pass. It is just a proof that you have a guaranteed seat. It's not a ticket. Your pass is the ticket. On trains with mandatory reservations (like TGV or Eurostar) you'll need to have your pass valid (=ticket) and a seat reservation (=guaranteed seat).

On all other trains, without mandatory reservations, your pass suffices to travel. 

The national apps are used to check if your train is on time, double check the exact departure time (it differs sometimes), information on which track you can find your train, track changes, amenities on board, if it's gonna be busy or not, possible incidents… it complements the train information much better than the rail planner app. It's not connected to your pass. 

The Rail Planner App just has theoretical times, only updated once a month. Only use it to register your journeys and creating your QR-code = train ticket. More than that, the app can't really do. It has no acces real time information, national apps do have that. 

For example, you're travelling in x months. Because of hot weather the electricity cables broke, so the train you're on cannot take its ordinary route. It needs to take a detour, adding 30 minutes to your travel time. The rail planner app wont have any info on this, the national apps will have the latest information. In thit way you know if you can make your connection or not. 

Seat reservations are completely separate from the app. Even the the reservation gotten from Interrail/Eurail are not connected to your pass. It is just a proof that you have a guaranteed seat. It's not a ticket. Your pass is the ticket. On trains with mandatory reservations (like TGV or Eurostar) you'll need to have your pass valid (=ticket) and a seat reservation (=guaranteed seat).

On all other trains, without mandatory reservations, your pass suffices to travel. 

Thankyou so much! It makes perfect sense now! 

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

The advice is that you don't activate your pass until just before boarding the first train of your travel, please read more below.

There is no need to have an active pass for adding journeys to your pass or for making reservations.

 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 1

And always check localy in the train station itself. That is the latest information. Sometime it even posible to take an earlier train because it was delayed. I then change the train in the interrail app because conductors like to see the correct train on the QR ticket. (And use the official departure time) One problem with the interrail app is that if you activate a complex journey and have to change the last train you have to delete the complete journey and reintroduce all the trains, also the one without problems. The app checks if there are parts of the journey wich are travelled twice. You cannot be on two trains al once. To prevents this I split the day in many small journeys and only activate the next journey into the ticket when needed. When the train service is disrupted or your train is delayed. You start planning the next stage at your next connection point, with the most up to date information. When travelling in Germany the trip almost never goes to plan and I other trains and sometime other routes. It is usefull the explore the what if situationeel if you mis a connection. When is the next train? A train every two hours or evers hour or half hour. Example: Cologne (Koln) to Linz (and to Wien). The shortest route is via Nuerenburg, but there a train every two hours and the last train is fairly early. The more frequent but longer route is via München. At least hourly, with local RE posibilities. There is also the international München Salzburg Villach route, wich connect to the buzy Austrian Salzburg Wien route. Be flexibele, think ahead and consider it a challenge to get the maximum out of the situation. Paniking or ranting at the help anybody. Be creative and maybe join with strangers to command a taxi. 

If you conclude that you wil not reach the destination today. (and keep in mind that some smal local hotels close the reception at 10 pm or earlier), you have to change plans quickly. Where can you stop early enough so that you still have a change to find a hotelroom. Certainly by major disruptions where everybody is stranded. Have an evening meal, sleep wel and tomorrow is another day.

 

 

And always check localy in the train station itself. That is the latest information. Sometime it even posible to take an earlier train because it was delayed. I then change the train in the interrail app because conductors like to see the correct train on the QR ticket. (And use the official departure time) One problem with the interrail app is that if you activate a complex journey and have to change the last train you have to delete the complete journey and reintroduce all the trains, also the one without problems. The app checks if there are parts of the journey wich are travelled twice. You cannot be on two trains al once. To prevents this I split the day in many small journeys and only activate the next journey into the ticket when needed. When the train service is disrupted or your train is delayed. You start planning the next stage at your next connection point, with the most up to date information. When travelling in Germany the trip almost never goes to plan and I other trains and sometime other routes. It is usefull the explore the what if situationeel if you mis a connection. When is the next train? A train every two hours or evers hour or half hour. Example: Cologne (Koln) to Linz (and to Wien). The shortest route is via Nuerenburg, but there a train every two hours and the last train is fairly early. The more frequent but longer route is via München. At least hourly, with local RE posibilities. There is also the international München Salzburg Villach route, wich connect to the buzy Austrian Salzburg Wien route. Be flexibele, think ahead and consider it a challenge to get the maximum out of the situation. Paniking or ranting at the help anybody. Be creative and maybe join with strangers to command a taxi. 

If you conclude that you wil not reach the destination today. (and keep in mind that some smal local hotels close the reception at 10 pm or earlier), you have to change plans quickly. Where can you stop early enough so that you still have a change to find a hotelroom. Certainly by major disruptions where everybody is stranded. Have an evening meal, sleep wel and tomorrow is another day.

 

 

 

Thanks for your reply! You say if you take another (earlier or later) train than you’ve connected to your pass you will have to connect the right one. You also say you have to delete the complete journey and add them again. Do you mean by journey from destination A to B? For example: Bologna to Perugia. With transfer stop on Florence. If I take a later earlier from Florence to Perugia. Do I also have to delete my train from Bologna to Florence? 

And the next day, to another destination, do I also have to add those train journeys again? Or do you mean by journey, you first station to your last station? And not your WHOLE trip for like a month?

 

I’ve already used your tips, for like difficult journeys, to just split the journey in different parts to add to my pass. 

Userlevel 1

Sometimes the train trip is shortened and the destination filled in the interrail app is not reached. When the trip is continued from a between station, the app checks if parts of the journey are travelled twice. It was not sufficient to deactivate a part of the trip. The only way I could correct this was to deactivate the whole trip and start again including the already travelled parts of the journey. You are not obliged to reconstruct the whole trip, as you only need to have a valid QR code for the train you are travelling in. However the travel information is used to distribute the eurail/interrail revenues to the rail companies. So it is moraly better to match the actual travel trips.

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