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Guide to European Train Tickets

23 Nov 2018

Why You Should Travel Europe By Rail

GREAT SAVINGS

Compared to expensive flight tickets, the prices of European train tickets are more economical and affordable. You could get a cheap train ticket for around 20 to 30 EUR, especially when it comes to short-distance train tickets like Paris to Lille or Rome to Florence. To get the best savings, you should plan ahead and book in advance!

EASY ACCESS TO CITY CENTRES

Many train stations in Europe are located in the highly accessible city centres. For example, the Cologne main train station is situated next to the famous Cologne Cathedral while the Prague main train station is only a 10-min walk from the historical old town. Not only is it convenient, it also helps travelers get rid of the anxious of driving car between cities and avoid the frustration of traffic congestion during the commute to and from the airport.

ONBOARD FACILITIES

Non-smoking cars, toilets onboard, luggage compartments, and spacious seats with generous legroom – the facilities offered on trains are no different than those on flights. Even more so, there are individual power plugs to charge your electronic devices and complimentary or paid Wi-Fi service on many of high-speed trains. Besides that, food service is available onboard as well in the restaurant car and snacks sold on mobile trolleys.

AMPLE LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE

Many of the European trains have quite the generous baggage allowance which allows every traveler to bring two to three pieces of luggage (depending on train operators) at no extra cost. Your suitcases can be stored in luggage storage area at the end of each carriage or stowed in the overhead compartments.

AMAZING EXPERIENCE

As said by Hemingway, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Once onboard, you will have opportunities to meet and talk with locals, exchange travel tips with other travelers, or simply enjoy the view outside windows quietly. Every train journey is like an unknown adventure waiting to be discovered.

Fares And Types Of European Train Tickets

Here are some basic concepts you should know before booking any European train tickets:

Fare Composition

Quite similar to flight tickets, European train ticket prices comprise of two main components:

(1) Distance Fee: The farther you go, the higher the ticket price will be.

(2) Seat Reservation Fee: Generally speaking, prices of most of point-to-point tickets already include train seat reservation. Upon successful confirmation, passengers are issued train tickets with the train seat number and coach number clearly stated on the ticket. The only thing to take note of is that designated seats are only available for international or domestic high speed rail. Meanwhile, free seating is available for regional trains and passengers are free to occupy any empty seats when boarding the train.

Fare Fluctuation

(1) Domestic and International High Speed Trains: The ticket price will get higher closer to the departure date. Hence, if you plan well in advance, you can easily get early bird discounts and get your ticket at a very good price. For example, Berlin-to-Munich one-way early bird ticket may cost as low as 19.90 EUR.

(2) Regional Trains: The ticket prices are closely regulated and are quite fixed so there are no significant price differences whenever you book.

Ticketing Methods

Ticketing options vary depending on rail operators, train types and train routes, but in general, there are three main ticketing methods:

(1) Physical Ticket: Physical ticket means the paper ticket. You are required to bring the ticket with you when boarding the train. If you choose to receive physical ticket, you will typically be charged with added delivery fee. However, with KLOOK, you can enjoy free delivery (applicable to selected regions and countries)!

(2) Print-at-Home (E-ticket): The e-ticket will be sent to you via e-mail as a PDF attachment. If purchased on KLOOK, you may also access the file in your KLOOK account. Important: Remember to print the tickets on A4 size paper prior to your departure!

(3) Pick-up at Station: You will have to retrieve your ticket at local stations by entering 6-8 digits code at any self-service ticket machine. For train station opening hours, you are recommended to contact the national rail operators or train station staff locally for more details.

European Domestic Trains

Germany

With an extensive rail network of more than 40,000 km, Deutsche Bahn (DB) is the official rail operator in Germany and offers a wide range of train services, ranging from domestic high speed trains to intercity trains and regional trains connecting small towns and suburbs. As everyone expected, Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg are the busiest train stations in the country. German train tickets can be booked 180 days in advance.

Popular Routes

Berlin – Munich: 2h15m

Frankfurt – Munich: 2h5m

Berlin – Frankfurt: 3h41m

Major Domestic Train Types

High Speed Rail - ICE |Intercity Train - IC | Regional Train - RE, RB, S-Bahn

France

SNCF, being the official operator in France, possesses an extensive rail network of over 30,000 km connecting hundreds of cities and towns of different sizes, from metropolitan capital city to sun-kissed Côte d'Azur, and from the world-class Bordeaux wine region to the remarkable Mont Saint-Michel. French train tickets can be booked 90 days in advance.

Popular Routes

Paris – Strasbourg: 2h15m

Paris – Aix-en-Provence: 2h5m

Marseille – Nice: 3h41m

Major Domestic Train Types

High Speed Rail - inOui(or TGV) |Intercity Train - Intercités | Regional Train - TER

UK

Surprising fact: there are more than twenty railway operators in UK which are all private companies operating different lines in UK, namely Virgins Trains, Cross Country and East Midlands, to name a few. National Rail, an umbrella term bringing these private railway operators together, is a complicated yet efficient system striving to give travelers the best rail travel choices across the network. UK train tickets can be booked 75 days in advance.

Popular Routes

London – Oxford: 2h15m

London – Liverpool: 2h5m

London – Edinburgh: 3h41m

Switzerland

Having one of the densest and longest rail networks, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB/CFF/FFS) offers travelers seamless train connection and stable, punctual train services. With Swiss intercity and regional trains, you will be able to visit every corner of Switzerland in no more than 3 hours on average. Don’t forget to hop on any one of the scenic trains to experience the Swiss natural wonders through the windows - definitely a must-try in Switzerland!

Popular Routes

Zurich – Geneva: 2h42m

Zurich – Luzern: 45m

Luzern – Interlaken: 1h48m

Major Domestic Train Types

Intercity Train - IC | Regional Train - IR, R, RE, S-Bahn

Scenic Trains

Glacier Express |GoldenPass Line |Bernina Express| Gotthard Panoramic Express

Italy

Trenitalia, the primary rail operator within Italy, offers travelers the most convenient rail travel experience with their “Frecce” series of High-Speed Train. Compared to other European countries, Italian train ticket prices are more wallet-friendly and quite affordable even for 1st Class. It is also worth mentioning that the Italo high speed rail operated by the privately-owned rail operator, NTV, is getting more popular in the market, offering travelers another great alternative rail travel option. Italian train tickets can be booked 120 days in advance.

Popular Routes

Milan – Venice: 2h15m

Venice – Florence: 2h5m

Florence – Rome: 3h41m

Major Domestic Train Types

State-owned High Speed Rail – Frecciarossa, Frecciargento

Privately-owned High-Speed Rail – NTV Italo

Intercity Train - IC |Regional Train - R, IR, D, E

Popular European Train Routes (Travel Time Reference)

London – Paris – Brussels - Amsterdam

International Train

Eurostar

Train Travel Time

London – Paris: 2h15m

London – Brussels: 2h5m

London – Amsterdam: 3h41m

Paris – Brussels – Amsterdam / Cologne

International Train

Thalys

Train Travel Time

Paris – Brussels: 1h22m

Paris – Amsterdam: 2h37m

Paris – Cologne: 3h14m

Paris – Geneva

International Train

France - Switzerland TGV Lyria High Speed Line

Train Travel Time

Paris – Geneva: 2h58m

Paris - Barcelona

International Train

France – Spain High Speed Line

Train Travel Time

Paris – Barcelona: 6h19m

Paris – Frankfurt – Munich

International Train

Germany – France High Speed Line

Train Travel Time

Paris – Frankfurt: 3h38m

Paris – Munich: 6h6m

Berlin / Munich / Vienna – Prague

International Train

EuroCity High Speed Line

Train Travel Time

Berline – Prague: 4h5m

Munich – Prague: 5h

Vienna – Prague: 3h57m

Prague / Vienna – Budapest

International Train

EuroCity High Speed Line

Train Travel Time

Prague – Budapest: 6h26m

Vienna – Budapest: 2h37m