European train booking platform

  • 17 April 2023
  • 17 replies
  • 144 views

Hey Community, does somebody know why Interrail isn’t providing a booking platform for train journey in europe? They already have their business partners, so why make it so complicated? I mean there is “thetrainline.com” but even there you actually don’t book your tickets together, when you travel internationally. You always buy seperate tickets together, which has plenty of disadvantages.


17 replies

Userlevel 7
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https://www.interrail.eu/en/book-reservations#/

It is very far from perfect though.

So, as I understand this, it is a booking platform for seat reservations right? So you still need an interrail pass to travel… for a holiday trip this might be fine, but if you want to visit you family in spain for example from time to time, thats not very convenient and quiet expensive too I would say.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Advance tickets can be quite cheap but at short notice a Interrail pass can be worth it, even for a return trip. The Interrail Pass is your ticket. You need to add seat reservations for high-speed trains in France, Spain and Italy though…

  • limited 10€, then 20€ TGV within France
  • 10€ Frecciarossa trains in Italy
  • less than 10€ AVE in Spain
  • more expensive for cross-border TGVs unfortunately
  • about 30€ Eurostar and Thalys trains

There are always slower and reservation-free routes (except for Eurostar).

As the TGV to Barcelona is extremely expensive, even with the 37€ seat reservation (Paris - Barcelona) or 27€ (south of France - Barcelona), a Interrail pass is often worth it. There are other routes to enter Spain of course :

  • via Portbou reservation-free
  • via La Tour de Carol reservation-free
  • via Hendaye and San Sebastian 2,70€ Euskotren

Let us know if you’d like advice :)

Thanks for your message and help, but my issue is something more general. I’m aware of these things and how these reservations work, but I still don’t get it, why interrail is not offering a platform to book normal train trips, like you can book them on all the national train company websites? I mean this is kind of a gap in the market and without a better train connection in europe we can forget about the climate neutrality in 2050! So I guess its very important to make train booking in europe as easy, cheap and reliable as possible 

Userlevel 7
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Of course I agree with you. To me it seems already incredible that the pass still exists 50 years later

Hopefully one day a European-wide booking website will open… we can dream I guess…

RENFE and SNCF cannot even agree to run trains together so we’re not exactly going in the right direction :/

 

So I guess maybe this market is to complex and there are too many institutions involved.. Maybe the only oportunity is to handle it by european laws and guidelines. Same as the EU did with free roaming. (btw one of the best initiatives of the EU)

Maybe we need to start a european citizens initiative to force the train companys to work together! This community would be a good base to start something like this :)

Userlevel 7
Badge +3

Of course I agree with you. To me it seems already incredible that the pass still exists 50 years later

Hopefully one day a European-wide booking website will open… we can dream I guess…

RENFE and SNCF cannot even agree to run trains together so we’re not exactly going in the right direction :/

 

An open validity pass is a very different thing to a continent-wide system of booking trips and personally  if it’s a choice of one or the other I’d rather the pass thank you very much.

The number of people overall that will ever want to make epic continental journeys spanning many countries will always be a relatively niche one and despite all the greenwashing and virtue signalling the idea that long distance rail for journeys longer than 4-5hours will replace air or car travel is little more than a fantasy.


No honour amongst protectionist thieves would cover your last point.

Thats a very pessimistic point of view. I am pretty sure a huge amount of people would prefer a 10 hour train journey over a 1,5 hours flight. But only if its comparebly cheap or cheaper and easy to book. 

Userlevel 7
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Of course a pass is so quickly worthwhile, it gives you so much flexibility that I would never want them to disappear. Seat reservations should be cheaper but then there’s demand so why would companies lower the prices (unfortunately) ?

We’d better create new night trains. There’s demand but with the lack of carriages available and overall little rentability, I don’t think we’ll see a boom of them unless they’re subsidized.

SBB and OBB want to launch night trains to Rome and Barcelona for a few years but nothing is moving as the Swiss CO2 law was rejected (there were subsidies for night trains planned), SNCF doesn’t want to cooperate and the train could only take the high-speed route from Perpignan which complicates things further. That’s what a SBB spokesperson told me recently… :/ We can dream for 2025 I guess

Edit : 10-hour train journey vs 1h30 flight ? No never comparable. Paris - Nice is the maximum length regular people would travel by train I’d say. It would be even better with high-speed railways all the way. We’ll see how travel habits change once the Lyon - Turin high-speed railway and tunnel open. Eurostar is incredible but the bottleneck is a big issue, I hope it’ll be way better in a few years. Direct connections to Germany one day maybe...

Flights are always too cheap and train tickets are sometimes too expensive. I could still manage a 70€ 1st class ticket Geneva - Barcelona (when the RENFE train from Lyon still ran) and a 170€ Switzerland - London 2nd class return. The former was bought a month in advance and the latter 3 months in advance.

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

So I guess maybe this market is to complex and there are too many institutions involved.. Maybe the only oportunity is to handle it by european laws and guidelines.

There are already a few EU regulations and on that topic, most notably the one about the TAP TSI, but implementation takes a long time. The EC has announced to launch more legislation by the end of the year IIRC because they find the railway companies are not making enough progress. The real issue, by the way, is not of technical nature, but of commercial nature:

  1. Who can sell whose tickets under which conditions.
  2. Who can get access to whose data under which conditions (e.g. realtime data).

But you shouldn't expect Interrail to offer a platform to book train tickets. They have enough on their hands as it is with their pass reservation platform and removing the bugs from their app.

Of course a pass is so quickly worthwhile, it gives you so much flexibility that I would never want them to disappear. Seat reservations should be cheaper but then there’s demand so why would companies lower the prices (unfortunately) ?

We’d better create new night trains. There’s demand but with the lack of carriages available and overall little rentability, I don’t think we’ll see a boom of them unless they’re subsidized.

SBB and OBB want to launch night trains to Rome and Barcelona for a few years but nothing is moving as the Swiss CO2 law was rejected (there were subsidies for night trains planned), SNCF doesn’t want to cooperate and the train could only take the high-speed route from Perpignan which complicates things further. That’s what a SBB spokesperson told me recently… :/ We can dream of 2025 I guess

Very profund knowledge! So maybe a european citizens initiative could change something… I mean at least SNCF could be forced to participate with OBB and so on..

So I guess maybe this market is to complex and there are too many institutions involved.. Maybe the only oportunity is to handle it by european laws and guidelines.

There are already a few EU regulations and on that topic, most notably the one about the TAP TSI, but implementation takes a long time. The EC has announced to launch more legislation by the end of the year IIRC because they find the railway companies are not making enough progress. The real issue, by the way, is not of technical nature, but of commercial nature:

  1. Who can sell whose tickets under which conditions.
  2. Who can get access to whose data under which conditions (e.g. realtime data).

But you shouldn't expect Interrail to offer a platform to book train tickets. They have enough on their hands as it is with their pass reservation platform and removing the bugs from their app.

Interesting! Ok so maybe there is something going on already.. Hopefully

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

The European Union could do and is doing something already at least.

Thanks very much @rvdborgt for the precious info :)

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

The European Union could do and is doing something already at least.

Yes… but you need to be patient… TAP TSI is a consequence of Regulation 1371/2007 and preparations already started in 2006...

Userlevel 7
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Indeed patience is always key. Be it for new high-speed railways, Swiss politics or anything...

Userlevel 7
Badge +3

The European Union could do and is doing something already at least.

Yes… but you need to be patient… TAP TSI is a consequence of Regulation 1371/2007 and preparations already started in 2006...


Certain EU member states are well versed in ignoring EU regulations that don’t suit them and it isn’t the small peripheral countries that are the worst offenders.

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

A fascinating thread, but far more complex than we mere mortals could even begin to grasp.

Just at the visible level you have the combination of union (EU), national, regional and local politics, technology interfaces, infrastructure, national operators, private operators, environmental stresses and not least passengers with a huge range of individual needs.

Technology alone has been a major problem - electricity currents, rail gauges, staff training on different signal systems, safety interlock systems juts to list a few.

Politics could take up a whole lifetime of debate.

Let us just be happy that the Internet allows us to research our options, make our own minds up on buy v pass and help each other with the complexities of travelling Europe, through this community for those who want a pass solution and many other forums for those who want to buy tickets.

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