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Old 13.02.2013, 08:17
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why is train travel so expensive?

Hey all,

I have a rookie question. I've heard several people talk about traveling around Europe by train, and I think that it would be kind of fun to try. However, every time I look at tickets for a specific trip, it seems like it's a LOT more expensive than just flying.

Example;

2 adults 2 young teens, Geneva to Rome, round trip, last week in March.

Train 940 chf - one connection, 7 hours
Easy jet- 380 chf direct- 1.5 hour

What am I missing here?
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Old 13.02.2013, 08:24
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

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Hey all,

I have a rookie question. I've heard several people talk about traveling around Europe by train, and I think that it would be kind of fun to try. However, every time I look at tickets for a specific trip, it seems like it's a LOT more expensive than just flying.

Example;

2 adults 2 young teens, Geneva to Rome, round trip, last week in March.

Train 940 chf - one connection, 7 hours
Easy jet- 380 chf direct- 1.5 hour

What am I missing here?
You will be missing quite a bit of legroom, 75% of the clothing you wanted to bring to Rome, and room in your bag for souvenirs if you take the Easyjet flight.
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Old 13.02.2013, 08:25
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

You are travelling the wrong direction and you need to do 4 hour journeys then the formula changes
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Old 13.02.2013, 08:29
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

A lot.

Easyjet is having a sale in March.

I put the same data in for the second week of May. For four adults, the cheapest price is 560 euros and one still has to pay a taxi from the airport to the hotel.

For best prices abroad by train, it's often best to go direct to an SBB travel agency, where they can come up with better prices.

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Old 13.02.2013, 08:32
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

Look for the special offers on the SBB. For example, from time to time, there are 25chf to Milan specials, which would lower the price to Rome considerably.

At the moment, there is a special of 69chf as a dayticket for two people within Switzerland. That would therefore cost you 280chf return for your family to get as far as Lugano and back, with whatever extra it costs to and from Rome. ( presuming that two of you have halbtax cards.)

Buying tickets well in advance can also bring the cost down - I am very aware of this when buying train tickets between Basel and London or even just to Paris.

The train to Vienna is a trip I recommend - some fantastic alpine scenery going through the Austrian alps.

I also like the overnight to Prague - it means I arrive early in the day and by having had the night on the train instead of paying for a hotel, that sort of brings the cost down.

I also like the trains because they take me to the centre of a city, generally. I only have to be at the SBB a few minutes before departure, no hanging about for security or waiting for take'off, and no extra time needed waiting for luggage and no travel needed at the other end. To that, add more leg room and the freedom to move around, often a restaurant car as well, makes me much prefer to take a train whenever possible.
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Old 13.02.2013, 08:44
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

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Hey all,

I have a rookie question. I've heard several people talk about traveling around Europe by train, and I think that it would be kind of fun to try. However, every time I look at tickets for a specific trip, it seems like it's a [U]L
What am I missing here?
It used to be cheap, but now it's, as you said, insane prices.
I could do Basel Poland in a sleeper train for 70 euros (it used to be called Euronights) like 4 years ago.
Then they decide to stop that service for ever.

Then they reopened it 2 years later, and now it costs more than 800 euros for the same trip...



I guess they realize they can profit a max for shitty trains, hence the prices.
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Old 13.02.2013, 08:49
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

Did you just ask for a ticket like you would drop by to the airport and tell them that you wanna fly to Rome? You would just get a top whack ticket
It't the same thing for rail, if you book in advance you get the better price, try http://www.eurail.com/ that may be a starting point.
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Old 13.02.2013, 08:56
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

One of the reason is that people do not realize that flights got much cheaper than they used to be in olden days, whereas always popular train get more expensive. Companies like EasyJet can cut you a ridiculously cheap deal compared to some train prices. You have choice to find much better prices by Skyscanner than many other holiday agents include in their package. Laziness to find the good prices doesn't pay off. You better off looking for the prices yourself instead of being screwed by agents adding markups to their services.
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Old 13.02.2013, 09:11
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

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It used to be cheap, but now it's, as you said, insane prices.
I could do Basel Poland in a sleeper train for 70 euros (it used to be called Euronights) like 4 years ago.
Then they decide to stop that service for ever.

Then they reopened it 2 years later, and now it costs more than 800 euros for the same trip...



I guess they realize they can profit a max for shitty trains, hence the prices.
I think Poland train proices were in the same position as other countries that later joined the EU. Until joining, the train prices in those countries were comparatively cheap. For example, I used to travel between Vienna and Bratislava once or twice a week. I knew to always buy the tickets in Bratislava as they wer much, much cheaper than buying in Vienna.

After joining the EU, those countries ( well, at least Slovakia, so presumably the others) had their prices protected for some time. I know that period has ended, so that could be why you would be aware of the big increase in prices.

However, are you comparing like-for-like? I do recall that my Zurich to Bratislava overnight tickets in a 6 berth sleeper of up to 6 years ago, were certainly more than 70 euro even though they were bought in Slovakia.
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Old 13.02.2013, 09:12
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

Calling Jrspet our train travel expert!

For your children, you can buy a 12 month travel card for SFr 30 each, and then they travel free in Switzerland when traveling with an adult, ask for la carte Junior

http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and...dchildren.html

If you go to Geneva main railway station and ask for an offer at Rail Tour they can give you a good round trip price including a hotel in Rome.

http://valtech.ipapercms.dk/Kuoni/Ku...rostdte201314/ (their online English website is useless)

Traveling on Wednesday 1. May and returning Sunday 5. May, including hotel for 2 adults, (Children travel cheaply in Italy) CHF 468 per adult inclusive train & 4 nights in a simple one star hotel, no meals.

Change trains at Milan, make sure you have bought seat reservations on all 4 trains, this is a busy time. Book soon!
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Old 13.02.2013, 09:18
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

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A lot.

Easyjet is having a sale in March.

I put the same data in for the second week of May. For four adults, the cheapest price is 560 euros and one still has to pay a taxi from the airport to the hotel.

For best prices abroad by train, it's often best to go direct to an SBB travel agency, where they can come up with better prices.

That's still basically half the cost of train tickets! Can someone recommend an "SBB travel agency?" I'd really like to give this a try, but I cant really justify twice the cost just for some scenery.

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Did you just ask for a ticket like you would drop by to the airport and tell them that you wanna fly to Rome? You would just get a top whack ticket
It't the same thing for rail, if you book in advance you get the better price, try http://www.eurail.com/ that may be a starting point.
I went to the eurorail website this morning, looking at booking a month out. That's where the price I mentioned came from.
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Old 13.02.2013, 09:20
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

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Calling Jrspet our train travel expert!

For your children, you can buy a 12 month travel card for SFr 30 each, and then they travel free in Switzerland when traveling with an adult, ask for la carte Junior
!
Is there an age limit on this? (as in, did I hopelessly overpay when showing a young relative around Switzerland?)
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Old 13.02.2013, 09:21
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

You can always find cheap rates 90 / 92 days in advance, that is how I do it most of the time using good class of train products ( IC, EC, EN, CNL, ICE and so on ). This works well for those who know that they can travel and plan ahead in time.

Getting a DB Bahncard 25 is also a good idea cf. SBB HalbTax., the former having the Railplus feature included ( Railplus discounts valid for crossing borders ).

I get eg Konstanz / Schaffhausen to Stockholm for EUR30 one way 90 days ahead DB ( Not SJ, SBB etc. )

Like low cost airlines, the train industry is pretty much the same .. book earlier for best deals, and worse ones are closer to the date of departure.
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Old 13.02.2013, 09:23
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

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Is there an age limit on this? (as in, did I hopelessly overpay when showing a young relative around Switzerland?)
I gave you the link, here it is again, http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and...dchildren.html
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Old 13.02.2013, 09:36
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

After skimming through, I didn't see anything regarding the time comparison. Aside from cost comparison, consider the following:

Train: Be at the local station 5 minutes before the train arrives.

Plane: Be at the airport minimum of 2 hours before the plane is scheduled to take off... both directions. Delayed flights not included. Don't forget the travel time from home to the airport.

Plus: No security hassles, no waiting at the gate, no false anticipation when the speakers start to crackle announcing the flight is delayed

Case: Two way flight from Altenrhein (less wait time) to Vienna in October 2012, cost 900 Franks. Overnight sleeper train (both directions) from St. Gallen to Vienna via Buchs, CHF 570.-. Saved two nights of hotel costs on top of that! Arrived fresh and ready for the day of business meetings with my customer. Perfect!
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Old 13.02.2013, 09:45
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

With the train you can also stop overnight at other cities along the way, such as Milan and Florence, which are well worth visiting.
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Old 13.02.2013, 09:58
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

The train is also preferred is you are carrying baggage ( sleeping bags, 2 x luggage pieces and so on ), spacious enough to work ( most have power sockets ) and walk a bit instead of being cramped ( the bus is also better at these cf planes ).

Indeed, I like the stopover feature very much and that is how I discovered many smaller German cities and hamlets. Visiting the towns, do a bit of shopping and getting enough juice and food for the next leg.

Flexibility: Getting a single is often half the cost of a return, making it easier to plan trips including circle trips, often cheaper than rail passes.

I stay away from Raileurope.com as their prices are inflated and neither do I use rail passes. Cheap offers and buying well ahead easily defeat the prices offered by both the latter and former.
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Last edited by jrspet; 13.02.2013 at 10:11.
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Old 13.02.2013, 10:01
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

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Plane: Be at the airport minimum of 2 hours before the plane is scheduled to take off...
Err, sorry what

Check in online, print or send boarding pass to phone, turn up 40 mins before flight, dump hold bag if needed, walk onto plane, take off.

I did my apartment in Zurich Altstetten to my friends house in South London with Swiss via Ldn City in 4:05 hrs a couple of weeks ago. and it cost 220 chf return.

I like to do TGV/Eurostar more often, but have only once in about 7 years, been able to come anywhere close to Airline prices (and yes that was booking in advance too)

Oh, and I know some folks love to bitch about easyjet, but in 7 years of very regular ZH/LDN flights with them, I've only ever been delayed 3 or 4 times & it was never that severe - what's Eurostar's record?
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Old 13.02.2013, 10:03
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

@ Jsrpet, yes, some of your circular single tours in Germany were amazing!
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Old 13.02.2013, 10:12
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Re: why is train travel so expensive?

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Err, sorry what

Check in online, print or send boarding pass to phone, turn up 40 mins before flight, dump hold bag if needed, walk onto plane, take off.

I did my apartment in Zurich Altstetten to my friends house in South London with Swiss via Ldn City in 4:05 hrs a couple of weeks ago. and it cost 220 chf return.

I like to do TGV/Eurostar more often, but have only once in about 7 years, been able to come anywhere close to Airline prices (and yes that was booking in advance too)

Oh, and I know some folks love to bitch about easyjet, but in 7 years of very regular ZH/LDN flights with them, I've only ever been delayed 3 or 4 times & it was never that severe - what's Eurostar's record?
Don't know, haven't had the pleasure to travel Eurostar yet.

Given, regular or very regular flyers have their timing down - know where the hold ups may occur and can work around them. The not-so-routine passenger may have kids, not familiar with the airport and follows airport suggestions to arrive with plenty of time to spare. Obviously this allows for more revenue at the airport shops too
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