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European Trip: Train Travel & Eurail Pass Review

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European Trip: How Train Travel Works

As you would know, I recently went on a European Trip with Rail Europe to road test the high speed rail network in France, Amsterdam, and Germany.

This allowed me to experience all sorts of cool things like the chaotic traffic at the Arc De Triomphe, tasting the very unhealthy Febo in Amsterdam, and what’s left of the Berlin Wall in Germany.

Now I’ve been on some horror rail journeys in my time. For example, what was supposed to be a short-ish 5 hour train ride in northern Mororcco, ended up being a 16 hour nightmare as I had foolishly forgot to bring some food with me to keep me focused throughout the trip. The train kept slowing down, then slightly speeding up, and no one knew where the hell we were or how long it was going to get there. I was so hungry at my destination (Marrakech), that I think I inhaled the first lot of food that neared my nostrils.

And while there were lots of people around, it was nothing like the World’s Busiest Train Station in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.

Anyway, that didn’t happen with the four individual train trips I took with Rail Europe, so here is how train travel in Europe can work for you.

What To Do With A Eurail Pass

I had been especially impressed with the Shinkansen or Bullet Train in Japan. I was amazed at how fast, and on time they were (the Japanese define ‘late’ as being more than one minute!). So the high speed European network had a lot to live up to, but this could have been made more complex by dealing with multiple companies and countries – there are over 40 partners in the Rail Europe network, and over 200,000 kilometres of rail network between them – which sounds like a recipe for disaster!

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However, the Rail Europe website is a central point that has all of the rail companies in one place, with all of the schedules and times so you can book your tickets and passes as you please, instead of going to each individual company’s website.  You can book single journeys, but a cheaper and better way, especially if you are going to be travelling more than once, is buy one of the passes which allow a certain number of trips within a defined travelling period. This is great if you know where you want to go in advance. For me, I had a 15 day pass which suited me fine. This is usually cheaper than flying!

Basically, you turn up to the station, show your ticket, and hop on board. If you have a pass, you do have to fill out the date of the journey and have it checked. But that’s about it! Some trains have seat reservations, some don’t, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

The comfort levels in the trains I went on were very good. Unlike in a plane, you can wander between carriages to stretch your legs. This is an example of the cabins in the German ICE services.

European Trip Train Travel &Amp; Eurail Pass Review

Other advantages of travelling by train include that all services usually take you directly from one city centre to another, where there is usually other connecting services like a metro to take you to where you need to go, which can save on costly transfers from the airport.

The high speed services are exactly that. This is an example of a train going really slow!

High Speed Trains Europe

Sometimes, the different conditions on the different carriers can be a little confusing, but in reality, if you just show your Eurail pass, the conductors look at it and there’s usually no problems.

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There is always someone on the train who speaks English, so there was no problem with a language barrier.

European Train Travel Video

I put together a quick video to give you an idea what train travel in Europe is like – note, I reached 300 kilometres per hour (186 miles per hour) a lot of the time! And didn’t feel a thing!

All of the services I took were on time except for one, and even after that, the service were offering a 50% refund for compensation! That’s never happened to me before when a train was slightly late!

Look, the system isn’t perfect, but because of the comfort levels, convenience, and pricing, it’s often worth travelling around Europe by train when compared to the airline option, as the infrastructure, schedule, and destinations usually match up with what you want to experience.

More European Trip Stuff

I don’t think Rail Europe is silly enough to appear in the very crazy Eurotrip movie. But I did enjoy my first experience of high speed rail travel in Europe and would do it again.

Disclaimer: Rail Europe provided this trip for me, but opinions are my own.


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