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Rail Europe

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Rail Europe

Is Rail Europe the most cost effective method of travelling throughout Europe, or should we contact the local stations directly? We are interested in tickets from Lisbon to Madrid. Thanks in advance for your help!

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
Level Contributor
88,223 posts
14 reviews
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1. Re: Rail Europe

You should book directly with the train companies. RailEurope is an agency that adds its own fees to the ticket costs and often does not list all the trains.

See the excellent advice at www.seat61.com but note that the RailEurope mentioned there is the UK company,

Albufeira, Portugal
Destination Expert
for Algarve, Faro
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50,238 posts
32 reviews
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2. Re: Rail Europe

The Lisbon to Madrid train is operated by Spanish railways. You can only book on line at their website www.renfe.com

There is only one train which runs overnight and is extremely slow.

For long distance train travel within Portugal, buy tickets from the national railway website www.cp.pt

You can get train times and fares in detail at the Portuguese Railways website www.cp.pt and you can get the site in English (if required) by clicking on the little flag icon at the top of the page, next to where it says 'Acesso Rapido'.

The site includes downloadable and printable timetables for all lines, as well as a search on point to point timings for specific journeys.

Seat reservation is compulsory on all Alfa Pendular and InterCity long distance trains. On line reservations open 30 days before travel. You print your own ticket, so must have access to a printer. If you have a Portuguese mobile phone you can also have your ticket sent by SMS. (At the time of writing I don't know if this works for non-Portuguese phones.)

Also, if purchasing tickets on line, you are asked for ID which for most visitors will be a passport number. Have these ready.

Tickets can be bought at the station up to the last minute, but if the train is full you will have to wait for the next one, which might be tomorrow. Long distance trains are particularly busy on Friday evenings, Sunday evenings and around major holidays. The Lisbon - Porto line is busy at all times.

Seats on Inter-regional and regional trains cannot be reserved or purchased in advance.

Urbanos (suburban) trains operate around Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra. These have special tariffs connected with local metro, tram and bus services. Tickets bought for these trains cannot be used on other services.

Sydneynick's advice for other countries is good. RailEurope does not run any trains, they are a ticket agency. They add a cost for issuing tickets and such tickets purchased from them may not include the seat reservations which are compulsory for long distance trains in Portugal, Spain, Italy and most of France, plus seats / beds must be reserved for almost all international trains. These reservations you must arrange for yourself, which with many railways cannot be done on-line.

Newport, United...
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5 posts
69 reviews
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3. Re: Rail Europe

I have just made a huge mistake in going with Rail Europe to Spain. Eurostar to Paris...Paris to Madrid and Madrid to Seville.

They are an agency who just book and are slap happy...dont care about the passengers. They did not process my booking properly and I got stranded in Paris. I can assure you this was expensive. I am now trying to get compensation but they never answer the phone. I would not touch them with a bargepole!!

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4. Re: Rail Europe

Thank you so very much! If I were to call one of these rail companies, say Alfa Pendular, are there representatives who speak English? Thank you once again for your help. I really appreciate it.

Lisbon, Portugal
Destination Expert
for Azores, Lisbon, Portugal
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20,537 posts
54 reviews
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5. Re: Rail Europe

The portuguese company it's called CP (Comboios de Portugal - www.cp.pt), AlfaPendular it's a train. Their website it's also in english with lots of info, but they have a call center, if you want to speak with someone, they will speak in english:

"The Call Center is a telephone service for customers who want information about CP services and products, including timetables and fares. It is a quick and easy way for customers to resolve any doubts.


From Portugal

808 208 208 (local call prices)

From abroad

+351 707 201 280 (international call prices)"

6. Re: Rail Europe

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