Are there discounts available for rail passes?
Yes, many rail passes offer discounted options. The most common discounts are:
- Child discount: children between 4 -11 years of age usually travel for half the price of the regular adult rate.
- Youth Discount: If you or anyone in your party is a traveler between 12 – 25 years of age on the first date of travel, discounted rates are available for certain rail passes. These Youth Passes are generally offered in second class only, and dependent on availability within the specific country of travel.
- Senior Discount: Seniors over the age of 60 are eligible for a discounted rate on certain rail passes. These senior rates are generally on first class travel only.
- Saver Discount: Small groups of 2 to 5 people traveling together are eligible for savings of about 15% on certain rail passes offering the Saver option. In case of a group of six travelers, two Saver Passes may be issued for three travelers each. To sweeten the deal further, children receive an even greater discount on their portion of the Saver pass. The only rule is that the same travel days are applicable to all travelers in the party. In other words, if someone in your traveling party doesn’t travel on a day when the rest of the party is traveling, he or she cannot recuperate this travel day- it is considered used for all travelers on the rail pass.
- Group Discount: If you travel in a party of 10 or more, see our special group offers for a more customized travel solution. Rail Europe always ensures that you get the most cost effective pass to suit your needs. To do so, we ask you to enter the details of your traveling party at the time of requesting a quote. You may also have to enter the age of certain travelers, so we can determine whether they’re eligible for certain age-related discounts.
Do I need to book a rail pass for everyone in my traveling party, including children and infants?
You will need to book a rail pass for each adult and child. In the case of a saver pass, it’s one rail pass with each name listed on the pass. A child under 4 years of age and sharing a seat with an adult does not need to book a rail pass. If the child will occupy his/her own seat, a rail pass must be purchased for them, as well as a reservation when needed.
Can a rail pass be issued as an e-ticket?
No. At this time, all rail passes are printed as a paper document and must be shipped to you prior to your departure to Europe.
Do I need to buy a reservation if I already have a rail pass? How do I book one?
Reservations are important to understand, especially when traveling with a rail pass. We have a whole article on the subject that you can read here.
When traveling with a rail pass, a reservation is a separate document that guarantees you an assigned accommodation on a specific train. In other words, if you miss that train, you cannot transfer the reservation to another.
Why would you need a reservation when you already have a pass? Because there are three types of trains running in Europe, and they each have their own rules. There are trains that require all travelers, including rail pass holders, to have a reservation (labeled “reservation required” in our reservation booking engine), trains that do not require rail pass holders to have a reservation but do offer reserved seating (labeled “reservation recommended”), and trains that do not require a reservation and, in fact, cannot be reserved (labeled “non reservable”). All night trains require reservations.
Whether you need a reservation or not depends on three things: the country you’re in, the type of train you’re taking, and the policy of the rail carrier operating your train. In fact, you may find that on the same route, you have a choice between trains that require pass holders to purchase a seat reservation and trains that are non-reservable. So, know your choices. Find out whether the train you’ll be taking is “Reservation Required”, “Reservation Recommended” or “Non-Reservable”. You’ll find this information is provided for every train listed when you search for trains in our reservation booking tool.
Of course, you can always “wing it” and book the reservations “as you go” at train stations in Europe. But know that some trains are fully booked far in advance, especially during peak travel periods. And some train companies make only some seats available for pass holders. If your itinerary is firm, it’s always better to have a sure thing and book your reservation in advance.
Here’s a list of trains that require travelers with a rail pass to buy a seat reservation as well:
- In Belgium/France/Germany/the Netherlands: Thalys
- In France: TGV and some Intercités day and night trains
- In Germany: ICE Sprinter
- In Britain/France/Belgium: Eurostar
- In Greece: InterCity Express
- In Italy: Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca, IC, EC and Italo
- In Portugal: AP and IC
- In Switzerland: Glacier Express, GoldenPass, Bernina Express, Chocolate Train, William Tell Express
- In Spain: AVE, Euromed, Alvia, Altaria, Alvia, Arco, Avant, Diurno, Estrella, Talgo and Trenhotel
- In Sweden: all X2000 and night trains, and through journeys to Copenhagen
- In Finland: Allegro and Tolstoy
Make sure to read more about seat reservations and browse the reservation section of our FAQ’s to learn more.
How far in advance can I buy my rail pass?
A rail pass can be purchased up to 6 months before your first travel day. The only requirement is that a pass be activated (stamped by a railroad official) within 6 months of the original date of issue. Then your rail pass will be good for its full validity period (usually two months).
“Activate my rail pass?” What does that mean and how do I do it?
To activate your rail pass is to officially start the clock on its travel period. This is done by having a railway official stamp and date your rail pass. To do so, just go to the ticket window at the rail station before boarding your first train. A railroad official will enter the first and last day your rail pass is valid and stamp it. You will have to show your passport. Rail passes must be activated within 6 months of being purchased. If you board a train without activating your rail pass you risk being fined by the conductor.
In addition to activating your rail pass, don’t forget that with a flexi rail pass you’ll also need to write the date of travel in the travel calendar. Not doing so is the same as traveling without a ticket, which means you’ll have to pay for a full fare ticket and risk a fine.
What do I do if my train goes through a country not listed on my rail pass?
If your train travels through a country not listed on your rail pass, even though the country of origin and country of arrival are covered by your rail pass, you need to purchase a ticket for the uncovered portion of the journey. We suggest doing this at a ticket counter in advance, since tickets on the train will be more expensive.
For example, you have a 3-country Eurail Select Pass covering Italy, Switzerland, and Germany and you want to take the train from Munich, Germany to Venice, Italy. The most direct train route for this trip will travel through Austria. In this instance, you will need to purchase a ticket from the Germany/Austria border city to the Austria/Italy border city as travel through Austria is not covered. You don’t need to buy a ticket for the entire journey, just the section not covered by the purchased rail pass.