Rail pass maths - sums and need suggestions
Point to point
Using http://www.ricksteves.com/rail/timecostmap.htm I've worked out the following point to point costs:
Travel includes (per person):
Berlin to Prague: 85.5
Prague to Cesky Krumlov: 53 (via shuttle bus)
Cesky Krumlov to Vienna: 53 (via shuttle bus)
Vienna to Salzberg: 62.5
Salzberg to Frankfurt: 160
Frankfurt to Amsterdam: 170
Amsterdam to Belgium: 55
Belgium to Frankfurt: 150
Frankfurt to Paris: 160
Paris to London: 95
Buying point to point would cost us $683 x 2 = $1366.
If we go with a select pass, we would use it for 4 neighbouring countries - Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and Benelux (The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg). Cutting out the travel to and from Cesky Krumlov, that makes travel days 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 days on a pass - that's 6 days, 4 countries - and because there is two of us, we can get the 1st class saver (we're both over 26, hence first class necessity). That's $942 for us both ($471 each). Plus, trips 6,7 and 8 won't be planned prior to leaving Australia, so decisions around exactly where we arrive (brussels, belgium, amsterdam) etc will be made while we're there. But we do know we'll go there, stopping in 2 locations. So for this part of the trip, we definitely won't want to pre-book.
But we'll still have to pay for the CZ to and from at a cost of $212, Frankfurt to Paris for $320 and Paris to London for $190. That's $1664 in total.
That said, we could go to and from CZ on the train (less convenient than the shuttle), by adding 2 days onto our limit - thats $548 each, so $1096. But we would still be paying for Frankfurt to Paris (160x2=$320), and Paris to London (95X2=$190), making our travel cost $1606.
Of our 10 travel days, we would be able to do 7 of those on a global pass, possibly 9 if we catch the train to and from Cesky Krumlov. The pass which closest covers us would be the 10 days within 2 months option, and is $717 each. So that's (potentially) all of our travel except for Paris to London, for $1434. Plus Paris to London takes the total to $1624. If we took the shuttle to and from CZ onto of this, the total would be $1836.
So, recapping (in order of cost) -
[*]Point to point - $1366
[*]Select pass (8D, 4C) + Frankfurt to Paris + Paris to London = $1606
[*]Global pass (10D) + Paris to London = $1624
[*]Select pass (6D, 4C) + to and from CZ + Frankfurt to Paris + Paris to London = $1664
[*]Global pass (10D) + to and from CZ + Paris to London = $1836
- I'm using US and AU dollars interchangeably in these sums, as they're pretty much at parity at the moment.
- We're travelling from 1 December, into January, which means i'm being super organised, winter, and can't search actual point to point tickets on our dates yet.
So, Questions to you, the experts:
- What do you recommend?
- How much are the extra costs associated with those train trips, even if we have a pass?
- Does catching the train to and from CK make it not worthwhile for a one night stay?
- Does the pass offer convenience at the stations, which buying point to point does not? (for example, not having to book tickets at the station, potentially miss out, and also battle through language barriers)
- Are there special prices on point to point tickets, that being someone that has time and is very organised can take advantage of?
Ok, that's it. Thanks in advance! (also, I hope my maths helps people in the future with their trips!)
The more you travel in more expensive countries,., the more worthwhile a pass gets, except..
There are weekend and state travel passes in Germany where two people can go anywhere within that State for only 25 euros, or there was one a few years ago.
Italy has fairly cheap 2nd and third class rail.
France always seems to cost a lot, especially since a lot of the ways around France seem to depend on the expensive high speed Thalis line. Cool, but expensive.
Everything in Frane seems to go through Paris, also adding to potential expenses.
In Eastern Europe, like the Czech republic, Poland, Etc, train travel is so inexpensive that a pass makes no sense at all. for a trip of any length, you want a couchette, and you STILL have to line up to reserve a couchette with a rail pass.
In Spain, train travel is not so expensive, but it can cost. Bottom line, if you want to move quickly throughg europe within a certain timeline, it MAY pay for the pass. Otherwise, it often does not, as your analysis shows.
One really cool exception to expensive trains is the train from Istanbul to Greece, second class. Its just fine, a lot rough, and cheap. Hint. Pony up for the extra 25 euros for the train to Athens at the border crossing, or take an intermediate train to Alexandria to wait for your train to Athens, because it is DEAD in that border town waiting for the 11:00 train, and probably a little dangerous, even with the cops barbecuing a few blocks away. I made friends with the wild dogs there, and they drove away the bums for me. (VBG)
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