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Rail pass or not?

Melbourne, Australia
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46 posts
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Rail pass or not?

Hi travellers.

I've read various things on this site and internet and am confused. Are rail passes worth the money or are single fair (point to point) tickets the way to go?

Me and fiancée are planning first overseas trip, to Europe for 10weeks or so later this year, taking in England, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France. All travel will be by rail, generally every 2, 3 or 4 days. I've worked out train times from town to town already so that syncs our trip.

But whether to get a rail pass is confusing my big time!

Any feedback would be highly appreciated... :-)

Gary...

Kent, England
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1,882 posts
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1. Re: Rail pass or not?

Gary the only way to find out is to work out the cost of all your travel in Switzerland by using the Swiss Rail Website, which by the way has a default that gives you half fare. Then add in any journeys you think you might make, and then make a decision. Many people find the monthly Half Fare Card the best option.

Basel, Switzerland
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
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3,552 posts
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2. Re: Rail pass or not?

exactly what swisslover said above.It is all maths.

I would add in the calculation also the non-hassle freedom, ie with passes (and you are talking here multicountry passes, eurail or something) you just jump on most trains (unless they need seat reservations).

I know it is confusing, but believe you me, so is it with all of us.

I think you should look first at multicountry passes.

Open an excel and start filling in prices. You will see immediately if it will make a huge difference in price or not.

Zuerich
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for Zurich
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3. Re: Rail pass or not?

The "hassle free" issue is not to be overlooked!

Although you cannot put a cost on it, the fact that your pass will also cover almost any city transport at your destination points is a very (VERY!) valuable thing. In Switzerland this means that when you get off the intercity train in a new city or country, you already know that you do not need to figure out the local ticket machines, money changing, and so on...

One big difference in public transportation that took my by surprise when I first arrived in Switzerland is that most public transportation is done on the "honor system" - meaning you buy your ticket in advance, carry it with you, and you DO NOT need to get on by the front door - you just hop on and hop off. There are however ticket inspectors who often board the tram, bus, boat,... and check that everyone has a valid ticket. If you do not have a valid ticket it is a hefty - on the spot - fine... no discussion, no leniency(!!). A (valid) train pass eliminates any fears about this, and means that you can hop on, and hop off as much as you want without worry or complication.

Outside of Switzerland travelers need to double check that local public transport is included, but here in CH every major city and about 75% of all rural transport is included on the different available passes.

Although this is difficult to put a price on... for my travel experiences it has been very convenient. I hope this helps many people who are confused and undecided about the "value" of passes.

Pune, India
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
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1,870 posts
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4. Re: Rail pass or not?

Hi Gary J,

For train travel in most of the countries you mentioned, early bird discounts ( which are substantial ) are offered if tickets are booked no sooner than reservations open ( around 90 days in advance ). However,most often ( not always ) such tickets are non-refundable / non-changeable - so you should be sure of your journey date and train as cancellation proves costly. You may like to consider this factor whilst calculating p-to-p ticket fares.

Have fun.

arvind

Melbourne, Australia
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46 posts
79 reviews
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5. Re: Rail pass or not?

Thank you all for your feedback. Some good tips in there. Looks like its time to start my train travel homework as our flights to Europe are now booked... My first overseas holiday - cant wait...

6. Re: Rail pass or not?

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