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Europe Trains Guide Forum  |  General discussion  |  Travel plans, routes and timetables  |  Looking for a safe place to ask travel questions
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3underthecorktree
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« on: March 04, 2018, 09:57:34 pm »

Hello,
I'm new to this forum but have been following TA and LP for many years. I am choosing to not use either of those forums for questions about train travel because it's exhausting to deal with some of the members that are judgemental and criticize travel choices and style vs. address the question.
I've done extensive research but find myself unable to "get it" when it comes to train travel in Europe.  I have specific questions but checking to see if this is the correct area to post and if members here are a bit more patient?  I'm not interested in being judged for my travel choices - I am aware I am odd and misguided at times.  Simply stated, I want a place of collaboration with members that trust I'm not trying to take advantage of them, I am a thinking person, and I am grateful for all help.

Also, I was not able to register for the forum....until I changed the verification date to 2017.  Might want to look at that.

thank you.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2018, 07:44:20 am by 3underthecorktree » Logged
tUt
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2018, 01:09:07 am »

I've done extensive research but find myself unable to "get it" when it comes to train travel in Europe.
That's why we are here to share our knowledge and experience ;)
I have specific questions but checking to see if this is the correct area to post and if members here are a bit more patient?
Yep, just post your questions and if we are able to answer, then we'll try to help

Also, I was not able to register for the forum....until I changed the verification date to 2017.  Might want to look at that.
Oops...forgot to change it, but I guess it served as anti-spam filter, since bots couldn't figure it out )))
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3underthecorktree
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2018, 12:38:02 am »

"Oops...forgot to change it, but I guess it served as anti-spam filter, since bots couldn't figure it out )))"
Well, that could mean new members are especially determined. Or smart?

I am traveling with my two kids, ages 12 and 18, and my niece, 18.  I will be the only eligible driver in most cases. 

I understand in many cases the Eurail pass is not a better value than buying point to point tickets.  I'm trying to determine if point to point tickets would be better for us too.  I'm unable to add up the costs of the individual train trips because I'm not able to get pricing because, apparently, I am an idiot that cannot figure out rail system booking.  I have recently broke the 20 hour mark reading seat61.com  I'm starting to think about seat62 sequel.  I think I need to see maps and routes to fully grasp it.  I am also looking for those, too.  One of problems is that when I follow his links or directions, I get different prices.  I make adjustments to cities, times, stations, etc.  but not able to find the rate he suggests.

I'd like to tell you where I will be or be going.  In most cases, dates and locations are flexible give or take a few days/miles.  A few are inflexible.  We do NOT have to take the train however, I'd like to figure out the best way to travel.  And for me,  "best" is defined as comfortable, economical, educational, and adventurous.  And while we are in Europe, we are more likely to enjoy a spontaneous, wandering, and adventurous style of travel.  I'd like to have most amount of the least that needs to be done ahead of time (wow) so that while we travel we can rest easy knowing the important planning is done.

This trip serves at least 4 purposes so we are covering much ground, literally and figuratively.  On May 11, 9am we arrive in Paris, France.  On May 16, we need to be in Florence, Italy by 1pm.  Below is a rough itinerary for created for this moment.

May 9 Arrival NYC
May 10 Arrival Paris 9am
GoGoGo to deal with jetlag
May 11 Paris, restful day, hop on/off maybe


May 16 pick up Just Go motorhome from factory for relocation in UK
Route UNDECIDED, volunteer photography at assigned locations
June 10 Madrid, pick up my niece
June 15  Arrival in Toddington, UK drop motorhome

June 15- June 30 Undecided, possibly UK

July 1 - July 8  La Baule, France (Rest)

July 9-27 Undecided
July 27 return USA

I'm aware first time visitors tend to overbook so I'm considering that as I plan.  However, I'd prefer to see a little of more rather than more of a little.  In most cases.  Occasionally, I discover something that fascinates me beyond others but typically I prefer to cover more ground...I readily admit that I am a different sort of traveler.  Also, not as interested in seeing where the queen lives or where so and so is buried but would love to see a fjord or visit cathedrals.  I cannot wait to visit the sites, memorials, and camps of WWII.  After formally studying the Holocaust for 3 years (academically) I've continued a career in studying behavior.  Anyway. I suppose I'm trying to point out that I don't mind missing certain popular attractions if it means I get to see more of the small town life through the window of a train where some might say they don't want to be in a train all day, rather, at each sight, knee deep in touring.  (I'll do that for a few places)

Knowing that, you can understand that my preference for travel will always be car or train.  As I will be the only insurance covered driver, I will be ready for a break and appreciate the train after the motorhome trip (30 days).

Here are my potential ideas, please know I'm NOT trying to do each one, but proposing each to determine the most suitable.

1.  From Paris to Florence, I'd like to travel in a hop on/hop off sort of style and I know that doesn't exist.  Other than buying tickets from small town to small town, is there another way to do this?  Do people "make their way" to places or is that considered odd? (it won't change my mind, just wondering)
2.  When trying to create a "hop on, hop off" style of travel, and buying tickets for each leg is the only way, are these tickets that should be purchased ahead of time or will they be the same price on the day of departure?
3.  Once we begin our journey in the motorhome,  we plan to use the heck out it.  Sleeping, eating, and driving in it.  We hope to say at free camping places.  Knowing we have a motorhome for 30 days, have to be in Madrid by the 10th of June, what are 2 or so routes that be most conducive to motorhome travel?  Criteria:  Western Europe.  It doesn't matter what we are interested in, our preferences will follow our route.  Then, on the last part of the trip, we will train or drive to whatever we missed.  I want to spend 10 or so days in Italy but understand that it's not a good place to take a motorhome.  We could drive through Southern France.  We could ferry to Croatia and drive North then to Madrid.  We could go Austria/Germany/Poland.  I want to know what works best with a motorhome. Once I have the route, I will make appointments to offer volunteer on site, print on demand photography to shelters, churches, etc.  We will do this for 30 days.  This is a service program I created and my kids help me. 
4.  Once we drop the motorhome in Toddington, UK, we will need to find transportation to our next location.  Again, if this is a short route, do I need to purchase these tickets ahead?  We want to go to Scotland and Ireland.  We are hoping to find a deal with a campervan that needs to be relocated- much, much less money.  Otherwise, we will rent a car or use train. 
5.  My kids want to ride the Caledonian Sleeper.  In all, I think it will be over 400 Euros.  They agreed to pay for their own ticket. 
6.  The rest of the trip, regardless if we stay in Scotland or continue to Ireland, will be by train.  We'd like to stop at Cornwall at the end of our time in the UK.  Volunteering job for 2 days. 
7. Then, we need transportation to La Baule, France where we will enjoy a week's complimentary stay from a friend.
8.  For the remaining time of our trip, we will either complete other volunteer work, location TBD, or choose a location to visit.  I'd like to get on a train and go, and go, and go.  And take photos, and play cards, and stop, and get back on, and so on.  But, we are waiting to hear if we are needed in a few locations.
9.  Going back to our arrival.  Our default is to stay in Paris until we leave for Florence.  However, there is an opportunity in Bordeaux that I should experience.  Again, another train ride and more time.
10.  Going back to time in the motorhome.  I think it's likely we could use the train during those 30 days as well. 

I'm sure this too much but I didn't know how to describe it with less words.  Because we are volunteering, working, researching, and vacationing, we are covering more ground.  This is ok with me.  However, I want to do what I can so that we have the best advantage once we are there.

With numerous opportunities to use the train or drive, can you help me determine, with your knowledge and experience with rail transportation, how one or the other is recommended?  And if it is train travel, does it appear that I will be traveling enough to justify a pass? (I know if we get a pass we are going on all of the Swiss scenic routes and probably up to Scandinavia, even if it means we are on the train for 2 days....I'm going to see that land)

Thank you, sincerely.



 
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tUt
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2018, 09:30:34 pm »

I'm unable to add up the costs of the individual train trips because I'm not able to get pricing because, apparently, I am an idiot that cannot figure out rail system booking.
Don't worry, sometimes it can be not so easy even for an experienced traveller, especially when certain websites actually force you to purchase tickets via agencies (=means extra commission) and not directly from the state railway companies. 
I think I need to see maps and routes to fully grasp it.  I am also looking for those, too.
We have links to the relevant rail networks maps on the top of the page of our country pages (i.e. France or Italy)   

Ok, so lets take a look:
1.  From Paris to Florence, I'd like to travel in a hop on/hop off sort of style and I know that doesn't exist.  Other than buying tickets from small town to small town, is there another way to do this?  Do people "make their way" to places or is that considered odd? (it won't change my mind, just wondering)
Hop on/hop off it's mostly a territory of rail passes or daily (group) passes. The former tend to be rather expensive (especially for non-Europeans) and basically your pass' daily value would most likely be higher than mid range point-to-point bought on the day of travel. The later aren't available in all the countries, so e.g. in Germany or in Austria you can enjoy super cheap (considering 4 passengers) group passes, but France or Italy aren't as "friendly" here. So, e.g. you can plan your Paris to Florence train journey via Germany & Austria and don't really bother with in advance ticket purchase at all
2.  When trying to create a "hop on, hop off" style of travel, and buying tickets for each leg is the only way, are these tickets that should be purchased ahead of time or will they be the same price on the day of departure?
Well, you can do it both ways, however rail companies (just like airlines) tend to lure passengers' money as early as possible by offering limited number of promo price tickets. These promo offers can be very cheap (like couple times cheaper than the standard tariff for the same ticket if you purchase it on the day of travel), however it is usually accompanied by certain limitation (e.g. you cannot return/exchange your ticket, make stopovers, etc.). So you, as potential passenger, have an option to buy your ticket early & pay less (while keeping in mind that change of travel plans would mean buying a new ticket) or buy before departure & pay, so to say, full price. 
  3.  Once we begin our journey in the motorhome,  we plan to use the heck out it.  Sleeping, eating, and driving in it.  We hope to say at free camping places.  Knowing we have a motorhome for 30 days, have to be in Madrid by the 10th of June, what are 2 or so routes that be most conducive to motorhome travel?  Criteria:  Western Europe.  It doesn't matter what we are interested in, our preferences will follow our route.  Then, on the last part of the trip, we will train or drive to whatever we missed.  I want to spend 10 or so days in Italy but understand that it's not a good place to take a motorhome.  We could drive through Southern France.  We could ferry to Croatia and drive North then to Madrid.  We could go Austria/Germany/Poland.  I want to know what works best with a motorhome. Once I have the route, I will make appointments to offer volunteer on site, print on demand photography to shelters, churches, etc.  We will do this for 30 days.  This is a service program I created and my kids help me.
It's a huge field for you :) For about 10 days in Italy I would probably consider driving from Florence to the seaside via Pisa. The best part about Ligurian coast is that it's full of little Italian towns (during the summer some are more crowded, some are less, but with a motorhome you have a good flexibility in terms where to spend the night or for how long to stay here or there. You can just drive by the seaside and if you like the town, then stop there for some time. In a couple of days (with must stops in La Spezia & Genova) you can actually change the scenery and go north to the mountains around Turin (very interesting city itself) & Cuneo. From there it's either go to the western Switzerland & Lyon (with the idea to get down south after Lyon) or directly by the coast via "French Riviera". Then it's obviously Languedoc-Roussillon and the good thing about it that you can rest from the coastal journey & focus on sightseeing with plenty of smaller and bigger cities/towns to see. Next you can do a detour to Andorra and then obviously Barcelona & coastal drive to Valencia.
4.  Once we drop the motorhome in Toddington, UK, we will need to find transportation to our next location.  Again, if this is a short route, do I need to purchase these tickets ahead?  We want to go to Scotland and Ireland.
Well, to give you a hint about prices & purchase in advance. E.g. London to Edinburgh ticket bought about one month in advance would cost you app. 30-40 british pound (adult), while ticket for the same route for tomorrow is 150. You can check this yourself using more or less good National Rail website - http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/
5.  My kids want to ride the Caledonian Sleeper.  In all, I think it will be over 400 Euros.  They agreed to pay for their own ticket.
Again, same logic here - early purchase gets you better price + with tourist oriented trains during the high season it can actually make sense to buy ticket early, since trains might get sold out
6.  The rest of the trip, regardless if we stay in Scotland or continue to Ireland, will be by train.  We'd like to stop at Cornwall at the end of our time in the UK.  Volunteering job for 2 days.
Would probably recommend to take a ferry to Ireland, it can be quite an experience. While in Ireland for days when you plan to travel you can just go with the Family Ticket - http://www.irishrail.ie/fares-and-tickets/family-travel . Ireland to UK is either a ferry & then a train or you can save time & money and simply fly. Ireland is like a heaven for low-cost airlines.
7. Then, we need transportation to La Baule, France where we will enjoy a week's complimentary stay from a friend.
If you would be in Cornwall, then the obvious choice is again a ferry, maybe even through Guernsey/Jersey, to Bretagne and a short train ride to La Baule via Rennes
8.  For the remaining time of our trip, we will either complete other volunteer work, location TBD, or choose a location to visit.  I'd like to get on a train and go, and go, and go.  And take photos, and play cards, and stop, and get back on, and so on.  But, we are waiting to hear if we are needed in a few locations.
You have a choice of plenty of destinations nearby (Nantes, La Rochelle and all the way to Bordeaux). With relatively short train rides you won't really need to buy tickets in advance, since it won't win you much money.
10.  Going back to time in the motorhome.  I think it's likely we could use the train during those 30 days as well.
Why not? Maybe on some scenic rail lines (e.g. in Switzerland or Liguria)

With numerous opportunities to use the train or drive, can you help me determine, with your knowledge and experience with rail transportation, how one or the other is recommended?  And if it is train travel, does it appear that I will be traveling enough to justify a pass?
To be honest, for now it doesn't seem like you will need a pass, at least not the expensive ones offered to non-EU citizens. Maybe on couple occasions it will make sense to buy your train ticket in advance, but rest of the time you can simply buy before departure or use some local/regional pass or family travel offer.

Anyhow, I think that's all for round one of discussion. So take a look, maybe you have some additional questions or want to make some changes, etc. Also you can always check our "Country" specific page - http://europetrainsguide.com , it will give a rough picture on what kind of rail travel offers you can rely in each country.
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3underthecorktree
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2018, 12:47:46 am »

Wow, what a wonderful favor you have done for me.  You have been more helpful than anyone I’ve worked with in 6 months of research.  I’ll reread and follow directions.

Thank you. Thank you.
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3underthecorktree
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2018, 07:43:48 am »

In most cases, in most of Western Europe, is it accurate that short distance or slower trains do not require early purchase but long distance trains do?

Knowing that we have 3 weeks in July, do you have any thoughts on long distance train travel?  How naive is it to think we could see a lot if we continued to enjoy the train rides (stopping randomly)?  I don’t dislike night trains but they may defeat the purpose of what we would be doing.  Our goal would not be the destination, rather the journey. At night we would miss everything. I’d take a night train through Nebraska, USA!

A possibility is to fly as far east as desired then “mosey” back on the train? Or train 2 different routes there and back.
Thank you.
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tUt
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2018, 08:27:59 pm »

In most cases, in most of Western Europe, is it accurate that short distance or slower trains do not require early purchase but long distance trains do?
It is always better to make such assumptions on the particular examples, however as a rule a) slower regional trains are cheaper when it comes even to the full tariff for the same distance when compared to high-speed trains; b) such trains don't travel for long distances, so you can't ride too much km to make your ticket price super expensive (unless you ride the whole day without stops, which doesn't seem to be your plan); c) often for regional short & medium distance trains there is either some sort of group pass or at least some offer/trick to make it not very expensive (and you don't necessarily need to purchase tickets far ahead).
Knowing that we have 3 weeks in July, do you have any thoughts on long distance train travel?
Well, in Western Europe in the middle of high season (i.e. July) using long distance train might not be the best idea financially, unless you are prepared to purchase discounted (mostly nonreturnable) tickets like couple months in advance or use long distance trains so often that Eurail pass will actually make sense (roughly you divide the price of your pass for number of days it's valid for and you get your "daily value", which is suppose to be less than your average daily point-to-point ticket price in the alternative scenario).
How naive is it to think we could see a lot if we continued to enjoy the train rides (stopping randomly)?
There is actually a legal trick on how you can achieve the flexibility of a rail pass, but pay much less. It works if you at least roughly know your route. You can read about it more here (last point). Basically you buy (e.g. in Germany or Switzerland) international SCIC-NRT ticket for French domestic route and later use it as a sort of rail pass for the predefined route of your choice by riding regional trains.
I don’t dislike night trains but they may defeat the purpose of what we would be doing.
Well, these days a) overnight trains in Western Europe aren't available that often; b) if they are available, then usually it's very expensive, since they are designed for making money from tourists and other types of passengers who doesn't really care about the price. So even using the overnight train as a hotel on wheels might not cover the difference between high price of the overnight train journey and discounted ticket for the day time trip on the same route. Sometimes you can purchase discounted tickets for the overnight trains as well, but it's usually more difficult to catch those comparing to the discounted for daytime trains. 

A possibility is to fly as far east as desired then “mosey” back on the train? Or train 2 different routes there and back.
Totally possible, e.g. fly to northern Finland and make your way down southwest via Baltic states-Poland-Czech Republic or Sweden-Norway-Germany. Or fly to Narvik/Bodo and then train your way via entire Norway, Western Sweden, Denmark and so on. In both case you can accomplish such trips predominantly by train
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Maxy
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2018, 10:52:28 pm »

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In most cases, in most of Western Europe, is it accurate
that short distance or slower trains do not require early
purchase but long distance trains do?
yes. It's good formulation of empyrical rule.
Most typical scenario that first-minute deals usually exist only for long-distance trains (and in most cases imply passenger get lower price in exchange to flexibility - i.e. low price ticket purchased as first-minute deal will be valid only for one particular train instead of possibility to use any train). Similar exchange don't work with local trains, mostly because railways are not interested in such a sacrifice from a passenger in case of local trains. In case of long-distance trains - binding passenger to particular train helps to predict congestion of different trains more accurately and sometimes allowe either equalize unevenness or cut number of cars in less loaded services, in both cases - it help railway to use rolling stock more efficiently. In case of local trains it's anyway wouldn't work for railway, so first minute deals on such conditions for local trains are normally not proposed. There can be other deals for local trains - local passes and so on, but all them can be purchased on day of departure.
 
In fact I know only 5 types of minor exclusions from this pattern - it's 5 cases when early purchase may help to cut expenses of travel solely on local trains:

1. in Languedoc-Rousillon region in France - there is exotic proposal - first-minute deal for local trains (price in first minute deal is only 1 EUR). Works for passenger exactly same as first minute deal for long-distance train, same limitation - non-refundable ticket valid only for choosen train. Purchasable not on French Railways website, but on https://www.train1euro.fr/ because it's not deal of SNCF, but the initiative of regional authorities.
You can cover huge distance for example from Avignon to Spain border (Cerbere) or to Carcassone in only in few EUR. Tickets are commenced for sale in 1 month departure. In other parts of France there is no first minute deals for TERs.

2. in Switzerland and Austria - train type doesn't matter at all (all tickets for trains are always equally valid for trains of all types, from local to high-speed and price difference for trains of different types never exist).
Instead of it - important thing is if passenger travel within single transport union, or travel doesn't fit in single transport union. But the pattern you formulated works here too, but in abit other way. If you travel within one transport union - no matter by local train, IC or even by high-speed train  - it works like "by local train" in other countries - the lower tariff apply (it's not tariff of OeBB or SBB, it's tarif of transport union) but no first minute deals (so no possibility to get lower price if you buy in advance). While higher full price - it's railway tariff  - but with available significantly lower first-minute deals - exist only if you travel doesn't fit into boundaries of single transport unions (i.e. it works like travel by long-distance train in outher countries). Transport unions are very common in Germany too but unlike Austria and Switzerland - in Germany - transport union tickets are valid only for local trains.

3. The railway passes usually are not a subject of first mintue deals. But Swiss Railways introduced recently the exclusion - the Spartageskarte (i.e. day pass for whole Switzerland, which are available in limited quantity as first-minute deal). This proposal may be useful for person who plan to use solely local trains too.

4. in Belgium and Netherlands - division between "more pricey trains with first minute deals" and "equally cheaper moderately priced trains without first minute deals" located in other place, comparing to other countries. It's not between local vs long-distance like in many other countries but between high-speed vs non-highspeed (local and long-distance, including IC). Travel by all non-high-speed trains (from local to IC) in Belgium and Netherland have the same price and work like local trains in other countries (moderate prices, but no first minute deals) while higher prices but with available first mintued deals - exist only for high-speed trains.

5. sometimes it's possible to utilize first minute deals "for long-distance trains" for travel solely on local trains. Most usable are first minute deals fo German Railways, but sometimes works with first minute deals of other countries (Austrian, sometimes the best choice is first minute deal of Czech Railways even when you don't travel to/from Czech Republic, Czech first minute deals sometimes is profitable if you travel only in Germany or between Germany and Bruxelles for example). It works with first minute deals of those countries, where conditions imply that "travel by long distance trains" may include also supplying sections by local trains. Despite it's implied that "main leg" in such case shold be by long-distance trains and local trains provide only shortish suppying section of journes, but there is no official defitintion what is "main leg" and which is "shortish" enough, so at present - the combination of long-distance trains and local trains with any ratio of traveled distance by different train types is valid. As result -  the first minute ticket for train combination where passenger for example cover 30 km by long distance trains and then 300 km by local trains - still covered by first minute deals "for long-distance trains", such tickets are purchasable and valid and restrictions of lower price (validity on only particular train) apply only on those dummy 30 km section, while 300 km section passenger may take any local train,i.e. you enjoy from flexibility on this section. But refund conditions are same like in first minute deals though.
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3underthecorktree
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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2018, 12:13:19 am »

Thank you, both.  I have to look up transport unions and get an understanding of first minute deals.  I know "last minute deals".  I will look these up and come back. 
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Maxy
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2018, 12:46:18 pm »

I afraid there is not much information about transport unions in English. The good article to begin is this wikipedia article
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verkehrsverbund
but it's only in German (because transport unions are most common in Germany, Austria, Switzerland).

First minute tickets it's simply limited quantity of tickets with price significantly lower than normal price (price before departure).
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3underthecorktree
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2018, 04:31:23 am »

I need help with 1, 2, and 5.

I followed the link to find the routes for 1 Euro.  Because we are traveling in May, I'm unable to pull up that date.  I'm curious, what is this website/business, company?  Why do they offer this rate for a few routes?

2 and 5- I'm lost.  I am reading about rail travel everyday and it's starting to sink in.  Anything else you could say to explain what you were expressing in 2 and 5?

amy
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Maxy
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« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2018, 01:43:58 pm »

Quote
I followed the link to find the routes for 1 Euro.  Because we are traveling in May, I'm unable to pull up that date.
1. But you can simply play - choose the travel date which is the lattest date to which tickets are commenced for sale on day when you are playing (for example today - 1 EUR tickets are awailable to dates till 4th April) and ensure you see this avaialability, then play a little (try to put ticket to basket, ensure you can follow all needed steps till entering data of your credit card and so on) Simply do this excersice for ensuring you'll be able to buy it from first attempt when they'll be commenced for sale for actual day of your travel.
Quote
I'm curious, what is this website/business, company?
This 1 EUR tickets are proposed for all TERs (TER is regional train of French Railways)
Quote
Why do they offer this rate for a few routes?
it's proposed for all routes within former Languedoc-Rousillon region.
In fact I think it was invention of former Languedoc-Rousillon regional authorities. They find "unfair" the situation when travellers on long-distance train may get benefits from early booking, while travellers on local trains don't have similar proposal. They cannot force French Railways to introduce such proposal for local trains, but they decided to emulate is by dumb subsidizing. That the way how they understand kinda"restored the justice" but only within their region. AFAIK - the difference between French Railways price and this 1 EUR you pay - is paid by regional authorities of Languedoc-Rousillon to railway.
The must comical thing - Languedoc-Rousillon region during last reform of administrative divisiton in France was abolished (merged with the nerby regions to new bigger Occitane region). Authourities of new Occitane region - retaken and continue to support this fancy 1 EUR ticket invention. But they do it only those parts of Occitane, which is former Languedoc-Rousillon. They do not spread out this 1 EUR invention to those part of Occitane which didn't belonged to Languedoc-Rousillon.

2. For easier understanding - start learning about transport unions from Austria, because Austrian transport uniouns are the easiest for understanding, because their boundaries correspond the boundaries of States (Länder) of Austria, and the borders of Austrian Länder are often very geographical and natural.

Boundaries of transport Union cover all corresponding state(s) and often few kilometers outside, i.e. covering neighbour piece of neighbour states (or even other countries).
So. If you travel between cities in different States - the transport union tariff is applied instead of railway tariff.

Here is example

There is such very picturesque small place, often visited by tourst, named Hallstatt in Austria. It's located in Upper Austria Region. Distance from Hallstadt to closest 2 bigger cities - Salzburg and Linz - is nearly the same - 138 km from Hallstatt to Salzburg or 132 km from Linz to Hallstatt.
But Linz - Hallstadt is travel within same State (Upper Austria), so tariff of transport union applies. Ticket cost 18.80 EUR no difference, you buy in advance of before deparute. Valid for any train. Ticket is intermodal (it's not only from train, it covers urban transport in city of departure and city of arrival too, for example it's valid in Salzburg from bus or trolley-bus from train station to city center or wherever).
While Hallstadt - Salzburg - is travel between different States, so tariffs of tranport unions is not applicable, but the railway tarriff applies - normal price (price before departure) is 28.7 EUR (valid for any trains), but if you buy in advance - there is first-minute deals - non-refundable tickets with price from 9 EUR (but only for specific train, you choose which train in moment of purchase and no way to use it in train with other hour of departure), subject of limited availability. It's ticket only for trains, don't cover urban transport.

Is there some tricks to get possibility to unlock first minute deals of railway tariff is you travel within single transport union? (for example if you agree to get non refundable ticket binded to special train but prefer to pay less).
Answer is - yes. For this - you must artificially "extend" the needed route in your ticket to go beyond single transport union. For example instead of Linz - Hallstatt - try to search Amstetten NÖ - Hallstadt (Amstetten NÖ - it's closest station before Linz which is already in other State) - and you'll see 9 EUR first minute deals unlocked.

Is there way utilize transport union tariff if you hadn't managed to buy your ticket in advance and buying before departure, but traveling between cities in different States? Well, sometime it is, if you travel not very far, between neighbouring transport unions. But it's not easy and work not so well. For example from Hallstatt to Salzburg. For this - find the place where transport unions overlap. For example - here is the transport union of Upper Austria State
https://www.ooevv.at/?seite=zonenplan&sprache=DE
here is transport union of Salzburg State
https://salzburg-verkehr.at/pa_file/bahnnetz-land-salzburg/?download=bf00ba823c044a87bfed962f9fb43d94
you need to juxtapose those maps and deduce the area where they overlap and what is name of station on railway line from Hallstatt to Salzburg within this area of overlapping. I undestand it's hard to do from 1st attempt, so let me do this time it for you. This place is Straßwalchen.

After this - go to Austrian railways website and check prices Hallstatt - Straßwalchen (17.1 EUR) and Straßwalchen - Salzburg (6.8 EUR). So you see - you may pay 17.1+6.8 EUR instead of 28.7 if you buy in advance if you know magic word Straßwalchen, which I've explained how to deduce. But minor inconvenience - exiting from train and boarding again at Straßwalchen is not mandatory, but you shouldn't use the train which goest via Straßwalchen without stop.


5. For example you need to travel from Stuttgart to Munich, you know you definitely you will travel in some particular day, but due to some circumstances you know you cannot commit to particular time. So normal first-minute ticket (Sparpries) will not suite you, because it will be valid only for departure hour choosen during purchase.
So from 1st look all is quite sad - Normal Price (price before deparute) is quite high - 55-59 EUR. For those who travel solely by regional train - there is special proposals (pass for 1 day for regional trains) available before departure - 44 EUR in working days and 42 EUR in Weekend. But is there way to pay less, if you buy in advance without being commited to paricular train?
Yes, it is.
You buy ticket in advance for train combination - only regional trains from Stuttgart and Munich and EC or RJ train from Munich to Rosenheim (in fact - any next stop of long distance train after Munich could work instead of Rosenheim). Better choose on of lattest train of the day as mandatory train between Munich and Rosenheim. If you buy in advance - price 19,99 EUR will be avialable. And bingo - you got ticket which is vaild for travel of any regional trains during this day from Stuttgart to Munich and bind to specific train for Munich to Rosenheim. But for you it works like full flexibility because you don't need to go to Rosenheim at all.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 01:46:14 pm by Maxy » Logged
3underthecorktree
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2018, 07:18:27 pm »

Once again, the generous time and effort from you is making a difference for me. I’m taking it all in.  I am going to do more reading today and will follow your advice. Thank you.
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