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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

EURrail tickets explained



Rail travel explained

Which rail ticket to ride?


With more than 300,000 Australians travelling on trains in Europe this year, most will have asked, or will have to ask, which is the best option -- rail passes or point-to-point tickets.

Rail Plus, the largest supplier of rail passes and tickets in Australia, says it depends on travel duration, how many cities/countries to be visited and flexible or structured itinerary.

And there are a multitude of rail passes … single country, adjoining countries and multiple countries (up to 23 countries) which come with a choice of the number of days travel on trains expected during the trip, and that can range from say three days rail travel within seven days, up to 15 days rail travel within two months.

And then there are Consecutive passes, which must be used over a continuous period of consecutive days from commencement of validity. The Swiss Rail Pass, for example, is Consecutive only, with a choice ranging from four days to one month. (There is also a Swiss Flexi Pass.)

This is the Rail Plus guide.    

How long do you plan to travel for?

Point to point tickets are valid for two months from the date printed on the ticket and you can stop off along the way as long as you continue along the same route. Journeys must be completed by midnight of the same day travel began.

Most passes are valid for a maximum of two months from date of first use. If you are travelling for longer you could consider more than one pass or combine your pass with point to point tickets before and after to extend your travel time.

Is your itinerary flexible or structured?

Point to point tickets are open dated, however you cannot change the route or departure/arrival points. If you know where you want to go then these tickets are the way to go. Passes are the ultimate in flexibility so you can go anywhere at anytime within the areas covered by your pass.

How many destinations are you visiting?

Point to point tickets are perfect if you are concentrating on only a few destinations. There are exceptions and if you have a few long trips a pass can be better value. You can check out the cost of point to point tickets at www.railplus.com.au and then compare with a pass. It doesn't matter if you don't use all the pass days but it can be handy to have a couple of days up your sleeve for changes in plans or to add an extra couple of day trips.

Do you want to make seat reservations?

Seat reservations are not included on rail passes as well as some point to point tickets.

Reservations are recommended during busy periods and when you need to ensure you are on a particular service.

High speed trains must be reserved. Discounts are available for passholders and are subject to availability. All reservations are an additional charge and can be made between 60-120 days prior to departure of the train either before you leave or on arrival in Europe. It is not possible to purchase an open dated point to point for these trains, the reservation fee is included in the cost of the point to point ticket for a specified date and time.

In summary

Rail Passes

• Open dated, simply validate your pass prior to your first journey.

• Provide unlimited rail trips for the number of days indicated.

• Flexible and convenient – you decide where and when you travel.

• Remember to purchase before you leave as most passes cannot be purchased locally.

• Many passes offer bonuses to help stretch your travel dollar further.

Point to Point Tickets

• Perfect for a single journey.

• Cost effective way of travelling for smaller journeys.

• Nominate your validity date and then travel on any date within 2 months.

Rail Protection Plan

If your pass or ticket is lost or stolen, the railway companies will not refund you. Rail Plus has a Rail Protection Plan which covers you in Europe or Japan. The Rail Protection Plan must be purchased at the time you buy your pass or ticket.

Contact: Rail Plus 1300 555 003, see www.railplus.com.au

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