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Euro rail system

melbourne
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Euro rail system

In July next year we are traveling to Europe from Australia and finding the information confusing in regard to rail passes we need. We will be flying into Paris and staying there for about 4 days then we want to travel to Switzerland by train staying for around 6 days visiting places like Zermatt, St.Moritz, Lugano and Zuric and other places along the way possibly using the Glazier Express and Bernina Express then we need to travel to Barcelona by train to catch a cruise. Researching the train travel and passes needed I am having trouble understanding if a euro rail pass will include our travel to and around Switzerland or do we need a Swiss pass for that and also train travel to Barcelona. Or is it simply cheaper to book individual train trips. Like most we are trying to fit in as much as possible for as little cost and all the travel agents want to do is sell you guided tours which can be very expensive but also lock you into schedules. There’s a lot to my question but hopefully I can get some ideas to continue my planning.

London
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for London
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1. Re: Euro rail system

Firstly, read 'The man in seat 61'

www.seat61.com

Secondly, think very carefully before investing in expensive passes, as you will still need to buy (yes, buy) reservations for journeys such as Paris - Switzerland and Switzerland - Barcelona. For these you may as well buy point-to-point tickets which will include these reservations, and if you book in advance (90 days before date of travel) you could get very good fares indeed. Swiss pass on its own might be good value though.

Australian Travel Agents tend to have little or no knowledge of European rail systems and are happy to flog expensive rail passes for a fat commission.

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Euro rail system

@craig e Do not buy Eurail passes, see the following thread

tripadvisor.com/…36910692

If you intend to stay and travel for some time in Switzerland, then do research on what type of Swiss pass would be most suitable for you (considering that you may want to take the Glacier express and the Bernina express)

Have a look at this forum

http://www.myswissalps.com/index.asp

but do not buy Eurail pass from Australian agents such as Railplus

Germany
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for Train Travel
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3. Re: Euro rail system

Paris - Switzerland: buy a p2p ticket in advance

Switzerland: check the offers (passes) of the Swiss Travel System

http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/home.html

Switzerland - Barcelona:

you may also consider a flight for this trip. Otherwise there is the Elipsos night train. Again buy discounted tickets in advance.

http://www.elipsos.com

melbourne
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4. Re: Euro rail system

Thanks all for your infomation i have a clearer idea after one day than trying to understand the rail web sites. Despite travel agents telling me that air travel is expensive i have done some checking of my own and there is very little difference in cost of train and flying, Paris>Switzerland and Switzerland to Barcelona which would also give us more time in Switzerland.

Has anybody done the paris to Switzerland trip by train and is it worth it or would it be better to fly and spend longer in Switzerland?

thanks again and in advance

Mannheim, Germany
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for Zurich, Mannheim
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5. Re: Euro rail system

Paris-Switzerland takes less time by train than by plane unless you already start your trip at the airport. I wonder where you look for travel times???

Switzerland to Barcelona takes a lot longer by train but it is a night train so less of your "active" time. It is pretty expensive though.

Guildford, United...
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6. Re: Euro rail system

Central Paris to Switzerland by train is almost as fast as flying when you allow for the time to get to an airport, clear security etc......

If you are looking at the budget airlines for prices check very carefully what baggage you are allowed and what all the extra charges for baggage, check in etc. are before deciding.

Brno, Czech Republic
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for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Train Travel
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7. Re: Euro rail system

By train Paris to Geneva takes about 4 hours, for example, and the train travels at about 300 km/h along the way.

From centre to centre the train wins hands down, and you can get a ticket for about €29 if you do your homework.

Forget what travel agents tell you - they haven't a clue.

For times see www.idos.cz (English bottom right) - there are other timetable sites, e.g. http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en but I find this one the most user-friendly.

Buy tickets from the relevant national rail sites. They are usually (if not always) in English and are relatively easy to use.

Lots of information in here: http://europetrainsguide.com/

Australia
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8. Re: Euro rail system

Great advice from all contributors re not purchasing rail passes but opting for point to point tickets. We have travelled the opposite direction to you craig e having gone from Switzerland to France. We booked all trains online 90 days out and found it heaps cheaper.

It is interesting when looking at train sites to play with the options and when asked if you have a train pass, the options are greatly increased if you say no as opposed to when you put in yes. We have used Rail plus to buy tickets, but only when I had difficulties with certain sites. They have a pamphlet online which you can download which gives a good idea of the main European rail systems plus travel times. I think your 6 days time-frame may restrict your options though.

Another thing I was advised to do was take the credit / debit card I paid with as it was checked, along with our ticket, by the conductor.

The advantage of using trains as opposed to flying is that is quite a spectacular part of the world you would be missing out on seeing if you simply flew over the top. Also, those European trains are great - nothing like ours in Aus.

Brno, Czech Republic
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for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Train Travel
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9. Re: Euro rail system

"We have used Rail plus to buy tickets, but only when I had difficulties with certain sites."

Next time anybody is thinking of resorting to such drastic action please ask here and somebody will walk you through it, and save you a huge amount of money in doing so! Which sites have you had difficulties with?

Australia
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10. Re: Euro rail system

Renf and rail Europe would not accept my debit card and we do not have a credit card for booking the Elipsos from Paris to Madrid. I have not had any problems at all with German, Swiss or Eurostar sites. Polish sites were my other problem and we ended up buying our tickets at the railway stations when we got there.

I found it easier to just go with Rail plus for the Elipsos to ensure I got the Gran clas which did not seem to be on offer with rail Europe.

Thank you for your interest in my train booking issues.