Eurail

Most people have heard about the Eurail train system of Europe. This train service is comprised of a railnetwork consisting of no less than 240,000 kilometers and runs throughout most of mainland Europe through 17 countries. This system doesn't exist in Great Britain or many of the Eastern European countries (although there is a train service offered in Britain called, what else... BritRail)..

On some trains, you can simply hop on and then wait for the conductor to come around and sell you a ticket for where ever it is you are going. There is no need to worry about most border crossings, although on occasion a train will stop at a border and a border rep will randomly check passports, etc.

A Eurail pass offers an excellent way to travel throughout Europe with convenience and simplicity. There are six types of rail passes available to ride the trains in Europe:

Eurailpass

  • 1st-class pass
  • valid in 17 countries including some major shipping lines
  • available for consecutive periods of 15 days, 21 days, 1 month, 2 months or 3 months

Eurailpass Saver

  • for 2 or more people traveling together
  • no less than 15% reduction per person on regular Eurailpass
  • valid for 1st-class travels in 17 countries including some major shipping lines
  • available for consecutive periods of 15 days, 21 days,1 month, 2 months or 3 months

Eurailpass Youth

  • for those who are still under 26 years of age on the first day of validity
  • valid for 2nd-class travels in 17 countries including some major shipping lines
  • available for consecutive periods of 15 days, 21 days, 1 month, 2 months or 3 months

Eurailpass Flexi

  • valid for 1st-class travels in 17 countries including some major shipping lines
  • available for 10 or 15 travel days within a 2-month period

Eurailpass Saver Flexi

  • a special price for 2 or more people traveling together
  • no less than a 15% reduction per person on the price of a regular Eurailpass Flexi
  • 1st-class validity in 17 countries including some major shipping lines
  • available for 10 or 15 travel days within a period of 2 months

Eurailpass Youth Flexi

  • for those who are still under 26 years of age on the first day of validity
  • valid for 2nd-class travels in 17 countries including some major shipping lines
  • available for 10 or 15 travel days within a 2-month period

Using Your Eurail Pass
Before you use your pass for the first time, you must validate it. Take it to a ticket window in the station along with your passport and get your rail pass stamped and dated. Once validated, you have only so many days to use your pass, so don't validate it too early if you don't have to. Remember that you need to buy your Eurail pass before leaving your home country. People from some countries can buy a rail pass in London as well. Fail to validate your pass and you may get stuck with a $50 US fine if caught on the train.

When boarding the train, observe which car you are supposed to be seated in. Trains in Europe often split in half at some point in their journey. For example, the back four cars of a train may go to one city while the front four may go in a completely different direction. For this reason, make sure that you are getting on the correct section of the train. Each car should be marked or labeled with its final destination city or station.

When you board the train, write down the current date on the Europass ticket in ink. When the inspector comes, he will note the date and stamp on top of it. If you get off the train and, if in the same day, you want to take another train you are free to do so. You do not have to write the date on the ticket again... if a new inspector checks your ticket he will be satisfied with the date and the stamp.

If your train departs after 1900 hours (7 PM for you North Americans) and you travel throughout the night, it only counts as one day. You must write the date of the next day of your train ride and the ticket will be valid for 29 hours. If you are taking a night train, stay safe and read our train tips.

Be careful when filling out your pass. If you make a mistake (ie. writing down the wrong date, filling in the wrong box, writing illegibly), you will have to use a new box and thus, you lose one day. And don't use erasable ink... tampering with the pass will cost you a fine of $100 US, plus the full, fare and your pass will be taken from you.

Once you get your pass, you must keep it safe. If it is stolen or lost it cannot be replaced and you cannot buy it in Europe. The best you can do to protect yourself is to spend $15 US on pass insurance.

Notice that Eurail passes are sold by the number of days you will need to travel and not by distance. When deciding on what kind of pass you need, and how many days you will need on your pass, your best bet is to map out the countries you will be going to and see how many days this will consume. It is best to get fewer days than you will need, as you can always purchase extra day passes. Also, use your Eurail pass for the longer distances and just purchase the short-distance tickets.

Eurail Links

  • Railpass - The famous inter-Europe train service. Find information and train-travel tips and book tickets online.
  • European Rail Information - List of rail services all over Europe.
  • Rail Europe - "Your one-stop source for European Travel"