Pages in category: Practical Info

European Rail News
published on 5 July 2023
We unravel here the mysteries surrounding travel classes on trains and explain which class you can choose with your Interrail or Eurail pass. While most European trains offer only one or two classes of service, there are a number of important exceptions.
published on 19 June 2022
Germany’s 9-euro ticket available for travel in June, July and August 2022 is truly an invitation to wander – and not just within Germany’s borders. With a 9-euro ticket to hand, it’s perfectly possible to travel by train or bus into all nine countries that border onto Germany without having to pay a cent extra. Here’s our sample list of cross-border excursions which are there for the taking.
published on 24 August 2021
We spell out some of the special ferry and shipping concessions available for Interrail and Eurail pass holders. These benefits can be a real perk on your journey, but holders of a flexi pass need to be aware of a few rules.
published on 18 May 2021
Milan, Budapest and Berlin are spots where hapless travellers are prone to make for the wrong station, but of course it can happen in any city with multiple stations, and particularly where visitors are perhaps not familiar with the local geography and the various station names. And a last-minute change of departure station can and does happen.
published on 13 March 2021
In this post for European Rail News and Notes we take a look at the Eurail / Interrail Rail Planner app which has long been an asset for pass holders looking to plan trips, but which now is an essential tool for anyone keen on using the new Interrail and Eurail mobile passes.
published on 2 March 2021
The very first double-deck IC2 trains to appear in Germany were loco-hauled electric trains manufactured by Bombardier. Since then, a second IC2 model has emerged in the shape of the Standler Kiss unit. In this post, we take a look at both types of IC2 train.
published on 22 January 2021
The COVID pandemic has made some ferry companies rethink the whole issue of conveying foot passengers (ie. those travelling without cars). Since 1 January 2021 it is simply no longer possible to travel without a vehicle by ferry on the busy short-sea route from Calais to Dover.
published on 1 December 2020
We take a look at Mike Ball’s European Railway Atlas (ERA) series. The newly published Enthusiast Edition is perfect for planning rail journeys accross Europe.
published on 29 June 2020
Although some summer-season trains will not be running this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are still plenty of services which will operate. Here we give an overniew of some of the summer specials which this year are running to Catalonia, the Alps, the North Sea and Baltic coasts and to Italian resorts.
published on 20 March 2020
We take a look at Europe's fragmenting network of international rail links as passengers stay at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. Rail operators in western Europe have responded a little more slowly to the growing threat than those further east.
published on 19 March 2020
In recent months, we have twice travelled from St Gallen to Lucerne on a Swiss PE train. The latter is the abbreviation for ‘Panorama Express’. It is only since December last year that this route gained PE status. But what’s behind that designation?
published on 13 September 2019
A country-by-country guide to rail pass supplements and seat reservation fees for daytime domestic rail jourrneys within European countries prepared by the authors of Europe by Rail, Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries, in September 2019.
published on 22 November 2017
It is easy to explore the Czech Republic by train. The country is well served by a dense network of rural railway lines, and there are some excellent ticket deals that should not go unnoticed.
published on 6 November 2017
We take a look at some changes on the Moscow to Paris and Nice services run by Russian Railways that come into effect in mid-December 2017.
published on 4 November 2017
Next month sees new railway timetables starting in many European countries. We review what Berliners can expect when those new 2018 schedules come into effect on Sunday 10 December 2017. The highlight is a new fast link from Berlin to Munich, knocking two hours off the current journey time.
published on 19 August 2017
The main line south from Karlsruhe up the Rhine Valley towards Switzerland is closed due to track damage. Here we explain which train services are affected and suggest alternative routings.
published on 3 June 2017
Did you know that Interrail or Eurail one-country passes can sometimes be used to travel across the border into neighbouring countries? So a Swedish pass can be used for travel to Oslo, Copenhagen, Berlin and even on a bus route into Finland.
published on 1 June 2017
There is just one railway which cuts through Liechtenstein. It is used by the fast trains from Zürich to Vienna. Due to engineering work that line through Liechtenstein is closed for the entire month of June 2017.
published on 24 April 2017
It is always a nice surprise to discover convenient connections which are not at all promoted. Last summer it was possible to travel without the hassle of changing trains from Hamburg to Podgorica or from Berlin to Bar. So how is this possible, given that no train to Montenegro ever features on the departure boards at Hamburg?
published on 25 January 2017
The old signal box at the Gare de Lyon is no longer fit for purpose and a new signalling centre at Vigneux-sur-Seine is now ready to take over its duties. To this end, the main part of the Gare de Lyon will be closed to both arriving and departing trains on Saturday 18 March and Sunday 19 March.
published on 17 January 2017
Austria’s Einfach-Raus-Ticket is a great deal for couples or small groups keen to explore Austria by train for a day. We check out the details of this flexible rover ticket.
published on 28 September 2016
Is there a nautical equivalent of the track basher? Are there ferry enthusiasts who book to travel on unusual ferry routes? September has been a good month for collectors of unusual ferry routes in the Hebrides – though unseasonal stormy weather has also made it a trying month for both CalMac and their passengers.
published on 4 November 2015
Many travellers today are keen to book trips a long time in advance. And, if train travel is to compete with planes, then long booking horizons are essential. We look at international TGV services which allow customers to book their tickets four months in advance.
published on 20 July 2015
The roam-at-will rail tickets available in each of Germany’s 16 states are called Ländertickets. Find out where they are valid and how they can be used.
published on 18 July 2015
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Badly behaved Brits on the winter-season direct overnight ski trains between London and the French Alps have prompted Eurostar to rethink its policy on the consumption of alcohol.
published on 7 June 2015
Travel for just €29 from London to Salzburg! Yes, it really is possible to buy a ticket from Deutsche Bahn which will take you from London to Austria for €29. The itinerary takes in six countries: England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria.
published on 1 June 2015
Want to find out about what’s new in Europe’s summer rail schedules? Then just head for the June issue of the European Rail Timetable which is published this week. And for those who want some additional material, the summer 2015 seasonal edition is published this week too.
published on 22 May 2015
Eurostar’s new direct year-round train from London to the Mediterranean has an en-route stop at Lyon. This coming winter that Lyon stop may prove to be a favourite connecting point for travellers bound for the French Alps - and make even offer an advantage over the regular Eurostar ski trains to the Tarentaise Valley.
published on 25 April 2015
Deutsche Bahn (DB) has a very attractive rover offer for this summer. At some time over the weeks ahead, DB will announce details of its 2015 Deutschland-Pass. This is a rail pass which allows unlimited rail travel for one month across Germany.
published on 24 April 2015
Summer timetables come into effect this weekend on the narrow-gauge railways of the Harz Mountains in northern Germany. This is one of Europe’s most appealing narrow-gauge networks, and the regular use of stream traction is a big pull for rail enthusiasts.
published on 16 April 2015
Sometimes a temporary alteration in timetables can have repercussions on travel itineraries across a wide area. And that’s just what will happen this summer when engineering work between Aachen and Cologne will mean extended travel times on journeys crossing the Belgian-German border at Aachen.
published on 7 April 2015
Another European night train has slipped from the schedules this week with the withdrawal of the Madrid to Barcelona overnight service. This was the sole remaining overnight service in the train category known as Estrella.
published on 25 March 2015
We look at the revised timings of Russian Railways' Paris-Berlin-Moscow service which will from mid-June 2015 depart Paris Gare d'Est station at 20.05, creating a new overnight option between Paris and Berlin.
published on 26 January 2015
With an Expo theme that foregrounds environmental choices (Feed the planet, energy for life’) the organisers of Expo 2015 are keen that visitors to the World Fair leave their cars at home and travel by train to Milan for the event. So much so, that Expo 2015 looks set to break all records when its comes to the sheer number of visitors arriving directly at the exhibition site by long-distance train.
published on 2 August 2014
There is a new promotional fare of 13 euros valid on selected regional rail routes radiating out from the eastern German city of Halle. The €13 ticket is a piolot project that runs at first until the end of October.
published on 1 August 2014
We are often asked 'how long in advance can I book my rail ticket'? In many parts of western Europe, rail companies release tickets for sale about three months in advance of the date of travel. But there are exceptions. So here we take a closer look.
published on 11 March 2014
The taxis in Warsaw have been doing a roaring trade this week, transferring frazzled passengers from Centralna station up to Gdanska station in the north of the city. A festival of engineering work on the main east-west rail route through the heart of Warsaw means big changes for a few weeks in rail services to, from and through the Polish capital.
published on 5 August 2013
When British Railways introduced the Inter-City brand in 1966, no-one could possibly have anticipated how the idea would be emulated and adapted by railway administrations across Europe. Today, the term Inter-City (or IC) is used for a variety of train services – we take a closer look at the Inter-City brand across Europe.
published on 21 July 2013
European Rail News reported last month on the revised train timetables in operation following the Elbe flooding in early June. Europe’s main east-west rail route was severed by those floods, necessitating the diversion of all trains running west from Berlin towards Hanover and beyond. The current interim timetable will be extended until next Sunday, then from Monday 29 July a new schedule will be introduced, the gist of which we present here.
published on 21 June 2013
Flooding in and around the Elbe Valley earlier this month led to wholesale cancellations of train services to the west and south-west of Berlin. The main railway line running west from Berlin was cut by flooding on 9 June and will take many weeks to restore. Here are some key points to note in the interim timetable introduced by the Deutsche Bahn.
published on 26 January 2013
Cast back to last year, and Brits wanting to travel by train to the Netherlands just opted for the cheapest and most obvious route. Eurostar (and plenty of agents besides) sold an Any Dutch Station (ADS) ticket. It cost little more than a regular Eurostar ticket to Brussels, and allowed customers to connect in the Belgian capital with onward trains to the Netherlands. Unfortunately, that ADS ticket is no longer for sale.
published on 17 January 2013
Cast back fifty years and St Pancras station in London had plenty of trains to stir the imagination. The Palatine still ran from St Pancras to Miller’s Dale and The Waverley to Hawick. But during the 1980s and 1990s, St Pancras was a dull place for devotees of interesting trains. It’s hard to get excited about the slow train to Luton or the semi-fast to Leicester. This most august of London termini fell into deep decline.
published on 29 November 2012
The 1519th issue of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable is published this week. Few titles run to so many editions, but few document something as fluid as rail and ferry schedules. Every month a new edition of the book plots the routes of new trains through Europe, revealing new departures and lost connections.
published on 26 September 2012
Across much of western and central Europe, new train timetables kick in on Sunday 9 December 2012. This is a once-a-year event when public transport schedules are revised. Coordinating international rail schedules is a tricky business and until such time as all the various operators have loaded the relevant schedules into their databases the trains cannot be booked. Read on to get an idea about when tickets might be bookable for the Christmas and New Year period - and beyond.
published on 14 July 2012
Mid-morning today, a train arrived at Thessaloniki station from Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia. Nothing of great note, you might suggest. But actually this is the first scheduled international passenger train to arrive in Greece since early last year. In 2011, the Greek government — as part of its financial austerity programme — cut all train services across the country's international borders.
published on 20 June 2012
Cast back half a century and there would have been nothing unusual about a direct train from Edinburgh to the port of Oban on Scotland's west coast. Indeed, our 1961 Bradshaw shows three direct trains each weekday from the Scottish capital to Oban — all running along the now sadly defunct Callander route, and serving along the way stations like Kingshouse Platform (on request), Killin Junction and Luib. All names that have long disappeared from the timetables.
published on 13 June 2012
Holders of InterRail and Eurail passes have often commented to us on the high supplements payable by pass holders for travel on the premium AVE services in Spain. There has long been a slow train option from Barcelona to Madrid, but it has until now involved a change of train in Zaragoza. That changes on Sunday when Spanish operator RENFE introduce a new direct Regional Express service between Spain's two largest cities.
published on 12 June 2012
A new train service starts today across the border between Serbia and Romania. For travellers following Route 50 in Europe by Rail, this new service provides a very useful cross-border link. Twice-daily local trains will link Vrsac in Serbia with Timisoara in neighbouring Romania.
published on 9 June 2012
Here's an interesting thought. Already this year we have had a number of readers of our Europe by Rail book comment on the hefty supplements that some railway operators charge to holders of Eurail and InterRail passes. But even on itineraries through countries where fast trains require advance seat reservations, it is often possible to devise a creative journey plan that sidesteps the trains on which you might have to pay a pass holder's supplement.
published on 28 May 2012
We are sorry to note the demise of the rural Albanian rail route that until recently served the western shores of Lake Ohrid. This was truly one of Europe's great rural rides, a journey so peculiarly full of character that we had already been wondering about including a fuller mention of it in a future edition of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers.
published on 10 February 2012
Keeping up to date with changes in European ferry services could be a full-time job these days. We used P&O Ferries for a crossing from Calais to Dover last week, and very fine it was too. A lovely crossing on a crisp, clear winter day as foot passengers on the Pride of Burgundy.
published on 17 January 2012
2012 is shaping up to be as difficult as last year for rail travellers heading south through the Balkans to Greece. In 2011, Greece put a hold on all passenger trains crossing its land borders, thus severing the popular rail route from Bulgaria to Greece that crosses the border at Kulata, which is part of Route 41 in both the 2011 and 2012 editions of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers. It now looks at though this lack of trains across Greece's borders is going to continue for some months yet.
published on 16 January 2012
We have already commented on the difficult situation for rail travellers bound for Greece in an earlier post. The withdrawal of all international trains across Greece's borders affects travellers following Route 43 in Europe by Rail. A pity as this is a great route from Belgrade via Skopje to Thessaloniki. But worry not! You can still follow Route 43, pretty much as described in the book.
published on 13 January 2012
We ensure that each annual edition of Europe by Rail is bang up-to-date and correct at the moment it is sent off to the printers. But train schedules change and sometimes we are caught out. And that is what has just happened with Route 9 in the book. This route is a fabulous transect across the Iberian peninsula from Barcelona to Lisbon. At the border between Portugal and Spain you will now need to cross by bus.
published on 7 December 2011
Many readers of the guidebook Europe by Rail have commented on the fabulously complicated arrangements that surround Berlin's railway stations. To us, it all seems crystal clear, but then we know the city well. We offer here some guidelines that help travellers find their proper place of departure or arrival.
published on 13 November 2011
In 2011, the Greek government — as part of its financial austerity programme — cut all train services across the country's international borders. Rail services to neighbouring Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey were all suspended. And just in case you wonder, there are no rail services anyway across the frontier between Greece and Albania.