FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
From how to choose the best rail pass to when to expect delivery, browse below for answers to all your rail pass questions.
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A rail pass allows a passholder to travel by train without purchasing a ticket, though you may be required to purchase seat reservations on some trains. Rail passes are valid either for travel throughout a single country or in several countries, and have varying time frames in which they can be used.
Yes, purchasing travel insurance is recommended.
No, rail passes must be printed by an authorized company and shipped to you.
Overnight trains and hotel trains offer a range of accommodations, including sleepers, couchettes, and sleeperettes. All sleepers and couchettes convert from seats to berths for nighttime travel, and back to seats for daytime travel. Sleeper Compartments have washbasins, soap, towels, shaver plug, mineral water, and a lockable door. The berths come with pillow, sheets, and a duvet or blanket. Stewards are present in sleeper cars to assist passengers and take care of all border-crossing procedures. Most stewards speak the languages of the countries the train will pass through as well as English. Compartments are gender-specific unless booked by couples or families. Fares for sleepers require a First Class ticket or a rail pass plus the sleeper supplement. First Class/rail pass passengers can book a single, double, or triple sleeper. Single passengers can reserve a double sleeper, but they may have to share with another passenger based on availability.
Couchettes are compartments with berths for 4–6 people. Each berth has a pillow, sheets, and blankets. Washbasins are not available in the compartments; shared restrooms are located at the end of the car. Berths can be booked individually or in groups. Compartments are non-gender specific and passengers are expected to sleep in their day clothes. Stewards are available only on international routes. Fares for couchettes require a First or Second Class ticket or a rail pass plus the couchette supplement.
Sleeperettes are seats in open coach cars that recline to allow passengers to sleep more comfortably. Seats may have small head pillows attached but no blankets are provided. Fares for sleeperettes require a First or Second Class ticket, or a rail pass and a reservation. There is normally no additional cost for sleeperettes; however, some hotel trains may charge a higher reservation fee for seats. Hotel trains combine long distance night travel with the security, privacy and comfort of a hotel stay. All compartments have locking doors, and there is access to dining cars. There are three levels of accommodation: Tourist, First Class, and Luxury Class. There are reclining Second Class sleeperette seats on certain trains. Tourist Class accommodations include 4 beds to a compartment. Toilets are found outside the compartment at the end of the car. First class accommodations include compartments with 1 to 2 beds. Toilet and shower facilities are located outside the compartment at the end of the car. Luxury Class accommodations include 1 to 2 beds per compartment and a private toilet and shower within the compartment.
There are several types of night or hotel trains in Europe: CityNightLine covers international routes between Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Trains have Deluxe, Economy, Couchette and Sleeperette accommodations. Deluxe compartments have 1–2 fixed beds, moveable chairs and tables, and a full washroom with shower. Economy sleepers have 2–4 beds (for families) and a shared washroom in the car. Deluxe and Economy accommodations include breakfast. Couchette and sleeperette passengers may buy breakfast at the bar. DB Nachtzug covers domestic routes in Germany and international routes to Denmark. Accommodations include Comfort, Couchette, and Sleeperettes. Comfort cabins have doors with key-card locks and private shower and toilet cabin. On German domestic routes a restaurant and bistro car is available.
Talgo Trains service domestic routes in Spain and international routes between Spain and France, Portugal, Italy, and Switzerland. Classes of accommodation include Luxury, First Class, Tourist, and Sleeperette. Dinner and breakfast is included for all passengers in single or double accommodation. Thello trains cover international routes between France and Italy. Trenhotel covers international routes between Spain and other European countries including Italy. Hotel Train Lusitania covers travel between Portugal and Spain. Accommodations include Luxury, First class and regular seats. Breakfast is included. Overnight Express services international routes between the Netherlands and Italy. Accommodations include Sleeper, Couchette and Sleeperette. Depending on class, accommodations include free meals or snacks. Please note that Eurail Pass holders must have "Benelux" as an associated country to ride this train, and Eurail Select Passes are not valid on this train.
For more information on specific train lines, visit this page of Participating Railways.
No you cannot. All rail passes must be printed and mailed to passholder.
You will be forced to purchase a full fare ticket and additionally can be fined up to €200. Alternately, you may be asked to leave the train at the next stop.
There are shipping fees.
A rail pass can be purchased up to 11 months prior to departure.
Both passes have their benefits. A consecutive-day pass is great if you are roaming and don't know exactly where you are going or how long it will take you. However, it tends to be more expensive.
A flexipass only allows limited days of travel, so more planning needs to go into your itinerary. However, it costs less than a consecutive-day pass and is great for travelers on a budget and who plan to make only a few long train journeys scattered throughout their trip.
You must show I.D. and a rail pass that has been validated before boarding the train. For trains that require seat reservations, you must also show your reservation.
Flexible travel days give the pass-holder a two-month period from the validation date to utilize the number of days they have purchased for their pass. For example, if you buy a two-month flexipass with 10 days of travel, you can use each of those ten days at any point during the 60-day validity period.
Your rail pass is not valid until you validate it at the train station ticket office, and you also must fill out your travel date before boarding the first train on any day you intend to use it.
Announcements and other official business will typically be conducted in the language of the countries of departure and of arrival, though English is also sometimes added. In most of Europe, you will find English-speaking ticket agents and conductors—though learning to conduct the transaction in the local language is always appreciated.
A seat reservation can be used in conjunction with a rail pass and grants you access to an assigned seat. A train ticket includes both your fare and, if required, the assigned seat reservation.