What is Eurail?

Eurail is the European rail pass offered to people who reside out of Europe. Eurail is not a rail company, and they do not have Eurail trains. For European residents, there are the InterRail passes. These are very similar to Eurail passes. japanese eta
Eurail passes DO NOT cover the Eurostar, the high-speed train between London & Paris & Brussels through the Channel Tunnel (Chunnel). Eurostar does offer discounts to Eurail Pass holders, but if you know what date and time you intent to travel in advance, the best and cheapest option is usually to forget your pass and buy a regular cheap Eurostar ticket available up to 4 months in advance at Eurostar. These start from just 39 euros one way, no refunds. Eurail passes are also not valid on some privately run rail operators. Always ask if your not sure.
Eurail passes are also not valid in England, Scotland or Wales, for travel in England try the Britrail Pass. More info on this available on the England info page.

Make sure you activate your rail pass before you start your journey. Rail passes need to be activated within 6 months of purchase.

Reservations and other fees.

Rail tickets in Europe consist of 2 parts, the ticket itself (which will entitle you to travel on the train), and the reservation (which entitles you to a seat). Essentially, Eurail rail passes are a pre-paid train ticket, valid on nearly every train within the 28 participating countries. The only extra cost with these passes are reservation fees, also know as supplements. These fees will apply to most overnight trains, high speed trains both domestic and international and some regional trains in Spain, France and Italy. Trains that generally do not require a reservation are local, suburban and regional trains.

How to avoid reservation fees.

In some Countries like France, Italy and Spain virtually all domestic & international trains to, from, between and within these countries require a compulsory  reservation (€3-20). These are marked with an ‘R’ symbol.
In Eastern Europe some premier trains require a seat reservation (€3-5 fee), these will be shown on timetables with an ‘R’  symbol.
Amsterdam to Berlin does not require a reservation traveling on the IC (Inner City), but Amsterdam to Brugge, traveling on the Thayls, will.
Reservations can be made several ways, unfortunately, living in Australia means we are limited in choice. International Rail book train reservations and also sell rail passes, they charge a fee for this, $30 admin and $12 courier fee. But looking at other sites and the fees they charge, this is standard. I can highly recommend this company, they are very prompt and professional. Simply email the company with as much information as possible including dates, destinations and preferred time of travel, they will be able to pull together some recommended train times and reservation costs. Be sure to reserve as many trains at one time to reduce fees.
There is still the option to reserve your seats once you arrive in Europe. This can be done at any train station, but I advise you reserve A.S.A.P in Summer and other peak seasons like Easter, Christmas and New Years, as trains book out quickly.

Rail Europe is another site for booking reservations, by selecting ‘I have a rail pass’ on the point-to-point search, you can also buy rail passes thru this site.

Outside of Australia, reservations can be made thru;

Rail Europe.com and then selecting your country of residence.
www.bahn.de to reserve a seat or a berth on a City Night Line train, use the journey planner as if you were buying a normal ticket (Do not select ‘Reserve a seat only’). In the  search results, locate the train you want and click ‘check availability’. Now look for the little black link on the bottom right ‘book only extra charge’. If it doesn’t show up, you’ll have to reserve by phone or at the station.
These are the 2 most reliable sites I have found for worldwide use. I have found them to be nearly completely useless for us here in Australia tho.

Overnight Trains.

Depending on your budget, this can be the most luxurious and convenient way to travel Europe. Ranging from sleeper seats to the deluxe single sleeping berth, overnight train travel combines accommodation and travel together, saving you time and money. The most popular being the CNL (City Night Line). Imagine boarding your train at 9pm, after a shower your in your pajamas and in bed, 8 hours later you wake up, breakfast is served and you disembark at your destination. Your in the center of town, refreshed after a good night’s sleep and ready to explore the city. No need to catch buses, taxis or trains to the city, your already there!

Direct overnight trains leaving after 19:00 count as starting on the following day, so this only uses up one day of your pass. So for example, the overnight train from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, leaving Amsterdam at 19:01 arriving Copenhagen at 10:07 the next morning, this would only use up one day of travel on your pass.

The man in seat 61 is a great source for European rail travel.

Sleeper Seats (2nd class).

The cheapest form of overnight travel. If your desperate and need to be somewhere for cheap, this is your option. The seats recline like aircraft seats. I paid €10 reservation for one of these between Munich and Berlin. I woke up with swollen feet and ankles and I was in pain all day. The seats are some what comfortable, I wouldn’t use this as my main form of overnight travel. You are sitting in an open car, almost like a regular train, so there is minimal security for your belongings.

6 Berth Couchette (2nd class).

It’s like a dorm on wheels. These single sex cabins (unless entire cabin is booked out by a group) is a far more comfortable way to get to your next destination. They are cramped so leave your personal space at the door. A bed in one of these will set you back about €25. There is minimal storage for bags, just enough for a bag each person. So if your going to travel with 2 or 3 large bags, get a single berth sleeper for everyone’s sanity.

4 Berth Couchette (2nd class).

Getting a bit classier, these 4 berth couchettes are great for those with a bit more money and prefer a lil more space. This will see you back about €40.

Single and Double Berth Economy and Deluxe Sleeper Cabins (1st class only)

Go on! Splurge! If you have the money, I can highly recommend these! Deluxe Sleepers come with private WC and shower. Economy come with WC and shower in each car to share. Both include breakfast (bread, butter, jam, muffin, juice, croissant). Single sex unless booked out as a group. These reservations will cost around €70-100.

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