European train booking

February 13, 2016
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  • How can I ensure that my traveling party is seated together?

In general, when you request fares and schedules for multiple travelers at once, we’ll always attempt to request that they be seated together. The best way to ensure this is to correctly indicate the number of travelers when you request your fares and schedules for your itinerary.

When you add a train ticket to your itinerary our system will confirm the reservation, and the itinerary summary page will show the seats assigned to your traveling party- but only for trains that accept reservations.

Occasionally, it might not be possible to seat everyone together based on availability at the time of booking, in which case the travelers will be seated in the closest available seats.

If the train you’ll be taking is non-reservable, all you have to do is board the train and sit in any available seat with the rest of your party. If you do find that your party is not seated together when you board, don’t worry. It’s quite common and acceptable to politely ask those around you to switch seats. Just be sure to inform the conductor of any such changes when he’s checking your documents.

  • If I bought my rail pass from another company, can I still book my seat reservations through Rail Europe?

Yes. You can buy your reservation from our website regardless of where you bought your rail pass. However, at this time only customers that bought their rail pass from Rail Europe are able to buy reservations through our iPhone app or mobile site.

  • Is the price for a reservation the same whether I purchase it from you or locally at the station?

It depends. The first factor to consider is that if you purchase your reservation from Rail Europe, you will be charged in USD/CAD, whereas if you buy your reservation locally, you will be charged in local currency. Thus, by buying with us, you’re avoiding bank or credit card fees for foreign currency transactions.

You may find a less expensive reservation offered by the local rail carrier, but those are limited in availability. While you might expect to save by purchasing your reservation at a lower local price, you may end up paying much more should those reservations sell out by the time you attempt to purchase them.

Lastly, keep in mind that by purchasing your reservation from us in advance, you’re saving time, avoiding waiting in line at a foreign ticket counter and dealing with a local railway agent for a reservation right before boarding your train. Planning ahead also ensures you enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having all your travel documents ready so that you can relax on your vacation.

  • How far in advance can I purchase my seat reservation? Reservations can be purchased 60 to 180 days in advance. This booking horizon depends on the route and each rail carrier has their own policy for when their schedules are available for sale.

In order to assure the best price and availability, you should book as far in advance as possible. For the best deals, purchase your reservation three months in advance whenever possible. It’s particularly important to book early during peak travel seasons, when high speed trains requiring a reservation can sell out in certain classes of service.

Booking horizon by country (in advance of the date of travel):

  • Austria (Domestic & Int’l) - 90 days
  • Balkans - 60 days
  • Benelux (International) - 90 days
  • Croatia/Slovenia (International) - 90 days
  • Czech Republic (International) - 60 days
  • Denmark - 60 days
  • Finland - 60 days
  • France (Domestic & International ) - 90 days
  • Germany (Domestic & International ) - 90 days
  • Great Britain - 75 days
  • Hungary International l) - 90 days
  • Italy (Domestic & International ) - 120 days
  • Montenegro/Serbia - 90 days
  • Norway - 90 days
  • Spain - 60 days
  • Sweden - 180 days
  • Switzerland - 90 days
  • Poland (Domestic) - 30 days
  • Poland ( International) - 60 days
  • Romania (Domestic) - 30 days
  • Romania ( International) - 90 days
  • Russia - 45 days

Booking horizons for the major train lines or carriers (in advance of the date of travel):

  • Allegro - 60 days
  • ATOC Britain - 90 days
  • Berlin-Warsaw Express - 60 days
  • CNL - 122 days
  • DB - 90 days
  • Eurostar - 120 days
  • France-Freiburg (Breisgau)TGV - 90 days
  • France-Germany High Speed - 90 days
  • France-Italy TGV - 90 days
  • France-Spain High Speed - 90 days
  • Germany-Italy Day - 120 days
  • Hungarian Trains - 90 days
  • ICE - 90 days
  • Lusitania - 60 days
  • Lyria - 90 days
  • NTV Italo - 120 days
  • RENFE - 60 days
  • Romanian Night Trains - 90 days
  • Russia+France - 45 days
  • Thalys - 90 days
  • Thello Night - 120 days
  • Tolstoy - 60 days
  • Trenitalia (Domestic) - 60 days
  • Trenitalia (International) - 90 days
  • It looks like my train ticket does not include a reservation. How can I add one?

Whenever possible, train tickets sold by Rail Europe include a reservation. If you received an open ticket only- without a reservation- it means that the train you’ll be traveling on doesn’t require a reservation, and in most cases is non-reservable.

In some rare cases, it may be possible to purchase a reservation for your train but these reservations cannot be sold by Rail Europe. Rest assured that even if this case, your Rail Europe train ticket would still allow you to board your train and you would be able to sit at any seat not occupied.

  • Can I choose a specific seat on a train when making my reservation?

At this time, it’s not possible to choose a specific seat or specify seating preferences on our website when booking a reservation.

  • Can I request preferences for assigning my seat, such as a forward-facing seat, a window, or an aisle?

Requests for seat preferences are not possible at this time. Also, many trains pull into a station in one direction and leave the station in another, causing the direction in which seats face to change. If at any time you would like to change your seat, speak with the conductor. They can often help you find a new seat.

  • I’ve noticed a big difference in the cost of seat reservations for different trains. Why?

It’s true that the price of a stand-alone reservation may vary greatly from one train to another. Unfortunately, we have no control over those prices as they’re set by each individual railroad.

Trains that have higher priced reservations are typically high speed international trains such as the Thalys or the Eurostar, as well as night trains.

Various factors are considered by rail carriers when pricing reservations for rail pass holders. These factors can include: the technology used by the train (high speed or regular speed), the types of tracks the train travels on and their associated maintenance cost, the range of services and amenities offered on board, possible tolls incurred by the carriers depending on the train routing (such as tunnel crossing tolls) and partnerships between rail carriers for the operation of cross border trains.

In addition, there are also specific costs associated with traveling on a night train that may include food for dinner and breakfast, as well as cabin maintenance costs (sheets, etc…). Since these costs are not associated with travel on day trains, day train reservations generally cost less.

  • I checked your website and saw some trains are labeled “reservation required.” What does this mean? This means that the rail carrier’s policy is that all travelers boarding this train must have a seat reservation. Generally, this applies to high speed and overnight trains and scenic trains in Switzerland.
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