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Europe Trains Guide Forum  |  General discussion  |  Travel plans, routes and timetables  |  Booking time for Ukrainian and Romania Trains.
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Author Topic: Booking time for Ukrainian and Romania Trains.  (Read 1427 times)
AlexWB
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« on: March 01, 2018, 06:22:42 pm »

Hi tUt, hope you are well :)

I will be doing the following loop this July: Bratislava to Khmelnitsky (via Kosice and Chop), back to Lviv, down to Odessa, bus to Chisinau, train to Iasi, night train to Timisoara, train back to Bratislava (via Budapest). I was wondering when I can book the Ukrainian trains? I can only book a month or so in advance, so will I have to wait until June? The same question applies for the Iasi to Timisoara sleeper - will I have to wait until the new timetable in June?

I assume I can buy Timisoara to Budapest from MAV website as well?

And does buying Bratislava to Chop (special cross border fare) save any money compared to Bratislava to Cierna nad Tisou + buy ticket at station to Chop?

Thanks in advance!
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Maxy
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2018, 07:21:01 pm »

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I was wondering when I can book the Ukrainian trains?
International trains from EU to Ukraine or back (including IC+ Przemysl - Kyiv) - in 60 days in advance

Most of long distance trains (except IC+, 8xx and 701/702 Lviv - Chernivtsi) - in 45 days in advance (domesic and international to exUSSR countries)

Domestic IC+ trains - in 30 days in advance.

8xx trains and train 701/702 Lviv - Chernivtsi - in 10 days in advance.
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And does buying Bratislava to Chop (special cross border fare) save any money compared to Bratislava to Cierna nad Tisou + buy ticket at station to Chop?
If you compare prices of ticket, purchased in Slovakia before departure in ticket counter - international ticket Bratislava - Chop will cost abit cheaper (23.1 EUR) than separately purchased Bratislava - Cierna (21.84 EUR) + Cierna - Chop (2 EUR) BUT:
1. Even if you hadn't managed to buy whatever in advance - you always may get 5% discount for domestic ticket by purchasing ticket via website instead of ticket counter, even before departure. And after applying this discount - separate tickets Bratislava - Cierna (from internet) and Cierna - Chop will cost cheaper than 23,1 EUR of direct Bratislava - Chop ticket. And no way to get similar discount for international ticket Bratislava - Chop or Cierna - Chop, they are not purchasable in internet.
2. Also if you manage to buy domestic ticket for main leg (Bratislava - Kosice) in Slovakia in advance - you can save more significant amount by utilizing special first-minute prices (i.e. for example first-minute prices of ticket+reservation for overnight train on Bratislava - Kosice section may cost 14,9/17/19 EUR for seat/6-bed couchette/4 bed-couchette or if you prefer travel during daytime - 15,9 EUR for ticket+seat reservation for daytime IC train)

P.S. Will leave a note for other readers who think about travel in reverse direction - it doesn't work in opposite direction. Prices are not symmetrical. In Ukraine - ticket Ukraine - Slovakia are issued by international tariff with 50% discount both on UZ and ZSSK part, while in Slovakia - tickets Slovakia - Ukraine are issued with Slovak part caluclated by domestic tariff, which is abit cheaper than intenrnational with 50% discount. So for those who travel from Chop to Slovakia - it's always more profitable to buy separately ticket Chop - Cierna (it costs 2,4 EUR, not 2 EUR as Cierna - Chop in Slovakia) in Chop and Cierna - destination from Slovak railways.
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Maxy
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2018, 07:28:36 pm »

I assume I can buy Timisoara to Budapest from MAV website as well?
be careful.
International tickets from MAV website - are with mandatory exchange to paper ticket in MAV ticket machine. No way to exchange this code from MAV website to paper ticket in Timisoara.
So you shouldn't buy ticket Timisoara - Budapest if you don't have physical possibility to collect your ticket in Hungary before you start your trip.
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tUt
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2018, 11:46:00 pm »

Just to add my two cents :)

First, make sure you are using the official Ukrainian Railways (UZ) website - https://booking.uz.gov.ua/en, since there is a number of agencies which try to mimic it and sell you the same thing with extra commission. It's a rather common scam for Eastern Europe & Russia. Second, from the experience of traveling in Ukraine, on relatively short leg journeys (like Lviv-Khmelnitsky or Khmelnitsky-Lviv) and especially when there is plenty of trains, it's not really a must to purchase your ticket in advance. Obviously nobody forbids you to do it, but most likely you won't have any trouble buying it already in UA. While the situation with Lviv-Odesa & back is contrary, since it will be a high season & train to/from the seaside, buying your ticket as soon as possible (see Maxy's post on how far in advance) is a must, because otherwise you can end up with bad seats or no ticket at all. Third, remember that buses from Odesa to Chisinau travel via different routes (some via Transnistria, others directly to Moldova via Palanca).

The same question applies for the Iasi to Timisoara sleeper - will I have to wait until the new timetable in June?
Again, your website is https://www1.cfrcalatori.ro/en, ticket sale starts 30 days in advance
I assume I can buy Timisoara to Budapest from MAV website as well?
Might be not a good idea, exactly because you won't be able to print your ticket anywhere else besides major stations in Hungary. Romanian Railways (CFR) basically sell the same type of tickets (discounted with limited number of ticket per departure) for 15 EUR, so-called TRIP ticket (unlimited number of tickets) for return journey for 27 EUR or regular one-way, which should cost you about 26,4 EUR. Or, as an alternative, you can save a bit by buying international one-way ticket Timisoara-Lőkösháza (first HU stations after the border) and then domestic Hungarian Lőkösháza-Budapest or even something like Lőkösháza-Esztergom/Komarno/Rajka to save on the international ticket HU-SK)

And does buying Bratislava to Chop (special cross border fare) save any money compared to Bratislava to Cierna nad Tisou + buy ticket at station to Chop?
Maxy already explained the numbers with Slovak Railways (ZSSK) here, but you can also go for a bit wild (however rather cheap) option like catching LeoExpress from Zilina with their connecting bus to Uzghorod/Mukachevo
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AlexWB
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2018, 07:43:51 pm »

Perfect information guys! Thank you :)
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AlexWB
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2018, 12:12:07 am »

As you guys seem particularly knowledgeable about this route, may I ask a couple of more questions?

Do you know how it works on the SK / Ukraine border (bearing in mind that I won't take the sleeper from Kosice, but will take the 'shuttle' train over the border)?

From what I've read, Slovak formalities will be done on the train. Then, once I am in Chop, I will go to some special border desk and get the entry stamp, which should take just a few minutes? Then, can I leave and collect my ticket / wander around the station / go outside? It seems like I should have plenty of time to connect trains - do you agree? (I will be catching the 3 o'clock-ish train from Kosice).

I am still not sure which train I will connect to: either the 20:35 or 20:56. Any preferences? We (2 of us) did want to take a 2-berth sleeper, but that seems only bookable on the 20:56 train.  https://booking.uz.gov.ua/en/?from=2218115&to=2200300&date=2018-05-12&time=00%3A00&url=train-list    I suppose it would be best to arrive in Khmelnitskiy at 8 am rather than 6:30 am...

And is it fine to collect my pre-bought Chop-Khmelnitskiy ticket at Chop station? I'm not gonna be penned in some customs waiting area am I?

Thanks in advance for any info you can provide :)

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tUt
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2018, 03:21:51 am »

As you guys seem particularly knowledgeable about this route, may I ask a couple of more questions?
Sure :)

Do you know how it works on the SK / Ukraine border (bearing in mind that I won't take the sleeper from Kosice, but will take the 'shuttle' train over the border)?
Keep in mind that you'll need to change trains in Cierna nad Tisou (Slovak border station), since there are no direct seating cars from Kosice (only passengers from sleeper cars don't need to switch cars in Cierna), otherwise everything is easy and smooth, that border crossing is not very popular, so on Cierna-Chop leg you might end up like the only passengers or only with a few fellow travelers.
From what I've read, Slovak formalities will be done on the train.
Yep, but it's not done at the Cierna station, the train departs as usual, but then in the middle of the field closer to the border there is a sort of improvised border checkpoint stop where Slovak officials would enter and check your passports (might take it for a check to their cabin outside) and maybe luggage by the customs official.
Then, once I am in Chop, I will go to some special border desk and get the entry stamp, which should take just a few minutes? 
Here your train will just stop at the platform next the station building, you get out and go inside (usually there are couple border guards showing you the way and making sure you enter the right door). Inside there is a huge room with a few border guards cubicles for passport check, you go there first and after there will be the customs officers next to the big tables, but they might not even stop you. You will walk from the door beneath the white timetable. The ticket desk (first international & next domestic) will be on your right, you can see it on the photo as well (beneath the Soviet mosaic or whatever that is)
Then, can I leave and collect my ticket
Hmm, I think for both trains (107 & 13) you can actually print your ticket yourself at home. The pdf after the purchase will say if you need to print it at the ticket desk only (usually it's for some irregular/seasonal trains and not a year round/regular ones).
wander around the station / go outside? It seems like I should have plenty of time to connect trains - do you agree? (I will be catching the 3 o'clock-ish train from Kosice).
The train station isn't very interesting (unless you are a fan of the late Soviet architecture), so you can take a walk (next door there is local trains station, it kind of even looks like it's bigger than the long-distance trains one) or just go to the store to buy some food (there was kind of a small supermarket on the left from the station square or some cafes/shops on the square next to the local trains station, which is on the right from the long-distance trains station square). Anyhow, you have plenty of time till 20:35/20:56, nothing to worry about.
I am still not sure which train I will connect to: either the 20:35 or 20:56. Any preferences? We (2 of us) did want to take a 2-berth sleeper, but that seems only bookable on the 20:56 train.  https://booking.uz.gov.ua/en/?from=2218115&to=2200300&date=2018-05-12&time=00%3A00&url=train-list    I suppose it would be best to arrive in Khmelnitskiy at 8 am rather than 6:30 am...
Maybe Maxy, as a local, can confirm it, but it seems like 13 indeed will be a better option in your case
And is it fine to collect my pre-bought Chop-Khmelnitskiy ticket at Chop station? I'm not gonna be penned in some customs waiting area am I?
No, no, UA officials usually are rather friendly (obviously unless you are Russian national), so would be surprised if you spend more than 10 minutes on all the checks on UA side. Regarding the ticket printing, as was already said earlier, you might not need to go to the ticket desk at all
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Maxy
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2018, 01:49:36 pm »

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(beneath the Soviet mosaic or whatever that is)
it's not possible to see those mosaics anymore. According to laws introduced in 2015 - those mosaics on Chop station was classified as contained outlawed communist symbols, so they were hidden. All what you can see instead of them - simply walls painted in yellow.

Chop is just the junction station in the middle of nowhere. If you'd like to walk abit - you may choose not to wait in Chop, but reach Uzhhorod. 
There is local train Chop 19:01 - Uzhhorod 19:33, you can take it and wait your train in Uzhhorod.

Please note, 20:35 and 20:56 train take different way from Chop to Uzhhorod.
20:35 - start in Uzhhord, then via Chop and Mukachevo - goes to Lviv the southern way (crosses Carpathian Mountains via Volovets pass).
20:56 - start in Solotvyno, then via Chop and Uzhhorod - goes to Lviv the northern way (crosses Carpathian Mountains via Uzhok pass)
i.e. 20:35 train leave Uzhhorod before Chop, while 20:56 - have stop in Uzhorod after Chop.
If you choose 2nd train - it depart from Uzhhorod at 21:39, so you'll have more than hour in Uzhhorod. Unfortunately city center in Uzhhorod is far from train station.

I am still not sure which train I will connect to: either the 20:35 or 20:56. Any preferences?
Car with 2-bed compartment is newer in train at 20:56
Train at 20:35 also have one car with 2-bed compartments btw, but it's quicker sold-out, so if you take seat availability to random date - it's higher chance you cannot see them.
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AlexWB
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2018, 09:24:55 pm »

Excellent! Thanks for the advice guys.

I think I will try to get a ticket for train 107 as it seems like I have plenty of time to transfer. Any idea why a two-berth sleeper is 392 UAH compared to 592 for the later train? Is it just a question of distance?

It's a shame I won't be able to see those murals, as I am a fan of that sort of thing. While I understand the thinking behind the 2015 law, I think it's a shame. Do you know if they painted OVER the murals Maxy? Or did they cover them and they are preserved underneath?

And one final thing. Are there any timetable changes in Ukraine, or will these trains run unchanged in July?

Have a nice evening :)
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tUt
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2018, 01:54:30 am »

Any idea why a two-berth sleeper is 392 UAH compared to 592 for the later train? Is it just a question of distance?
It's not about distance in this case, since it's almost the same (with 107 it is 526 km, while with 13 it's 553 km), and not about train category (both seems to be "Night Fast"), but probably about UZ "brandedness" divide of trains or even separate cars, meaning that ticket for a newer (or just in better shape) car would be sold with a higher coefficient to the base price. Sometimes it's very funny when within one and the same train you might take one and the same car category, but actually pay a different price, because one of those cars will have higher coefficient

Are there any timetable changes in Ukraine, or will these trains run unchanged in July?
Some time ago UZ switched to the European trend of changing train timetable during the second weekend of December, so with the regular trains there shouldn't be any changes. However, on some routes UZ tends to add seasonal trains during summer or holidays, so there might be some extra trains available actually
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Maxy
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« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2018, 02:27:37 pm »

Any idea why a two-berth sleeper is 392 UAH compared to 592 for the later train? Is it just a question of distance?
It's not about distance in this case, since it's almost the same (with 107 it is 526 km, while with 13 it's 553 km), and not about train category (both seems to be "Night Fast"),
exactly
Quote
but probably about UZ "brandedness" divide of trains or even separate cars,
separate cars.
Quote
meaning that ticket for a newer (or just in better shape) car would be sold with a higher coefficient to the base price. Sometimes it's very funny when within one and the same train you might take one and the same car category, but actually pay a different price, because one of those cars will have higher coefficient
worth to add - shabbiness or oppositely better shape (or newness) of car is only create possibility for price multiplier, but not the obligation. I.e. when car is brand new - railway administration MAY set higher price, but also may ignore this possibility (i.e. they may "forget" this car is new and sell it at basic price) or use this possiblity partially - set multiplier which is higher than 1 but lower than maximal allowed value for car of such newness.

Railway administration never explain why they use maximal allowed multiplier in one case and don't use it in other, but it's very easy to guess when you observe it during long time  - they obviously rank passengers by relative possibility to pay more.
Kyiv-bound passengers are obviously threaten more solvent, than Odessa-bound, so even in case of hypothetical equal quality of cars - Odessa bound train obviously could cost less than Kyiv-bound. But in this case Odessa-bound train is really also have worse and older cars.
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AlexWB
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2018, 09:23:37 pm »

One more quick question. When booking via the official site, which are the bottom bunks in 3rd class? I think it is probably 1 and 3 etc. (with the line under the number). Am I right?
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tUt
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« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2018, 10:41:52 pm »

When booking via the official site, which are the bottom bunks in 3rd class? I think it is probably 1 and 3 etc. (with the line under the number). Am I right?
Yep, odd numbers designate bottom beds in both 2nd class (kupe) and 3rd class (platskarnyj) carriages, in 1st class (SV/Lux) it's only bottom ones, no upper beds at all
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AlexWB
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2018, 09:05:41 pm »

Thanks!

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AlexWB
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« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2018, 05:30:40 pm »

Hello again :)

I hope you don't mind me making this into a super-thread for my trip? But I have some questions about the Moldova and Romania leg, if I may?

I would like to travel by train from Chisinau to Iasi, on a Thursday. How accurate is the Moldovan Railways site? It states that a train runs every day (105, the Chisinau to Bucharest train), from 16:56 - 22:21. Do you have any feeling if this info is right, or more or less right at least? :D

I assume that I will be able to buy some sort of ticket a day or two before? And do you know if the train has the classic Eastern Europe set-up (every carriage a sleeper)? I think this train goes to Iasi station proper, and the weekend train only goes to Iasi Socola - am I right?

Thank you in advance!

And two pieces of info for you guys:

1. the link for Moldovan Rail schedule on the main page is broken (no problem to click through from the main site though) just FYI and maintenance.

2. I know you said that the Lviv to Odesa route sold out quickly in summer, but ALL the decent (i.e. not aisle) 3rd class berths sold out by 9 am on the day of sale. Crazy!
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