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Berlin - Prague: preferences of ČD vs MÁV rolling stock

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jamesontheroad

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An imminent vaccination and optimistic hopes for the Digital Green Certificate programme means I can start to daydream about a trip through central Europe later this summer.

I will travel between Berlin and Prague, probably stopping in Dresden for a few hours.

ČD operate about seven daily EuroCity departures on this route, with at least one extending to/from Budapest in each direction, which is operated with MÁV rolling stock instead of ČD.

Assuming both trains will have restaurant cars in operation then, which is your preference in both second and first class: the ČD or MÁV train?
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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I've sampled both, and my recollection is that the ČD one was the nicest (cheerful service at least).
But then I had the standard Czech special (pork, dumplings and sauerkraut), which I presume isn't the same on MAV!
I've seen some reports posted on here that the on-board food is cheaper when bought within CZ rather than DE (on the same train!).
 

30907

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I've sampled both, and my recollection is that the ČD one was the nicest (cheerful service at least).
But then I had the standard Czech special (pork, dumplings and sauerkraut), which I presume isn't the same on MAV!
I've seen some reports posted on here that the on-board food is cheaper when bought within CZ rather than DE (on the same train!).
I have only eaten in the MAV car on this particular route - food and drink was fine, but the card machine was broken and the staff couldn't supply a hand written receipt - this made me suspicious.
Having sampled CD cars several times, there's very little in it food wise - ditto the rolling stock.
The price differential applies on CD, not AFAIK on the MAV pair, but the menu cards are online so you can check (and which currency is better!).
Basically, go with what suits time wise.
 

306024

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Likewise done both a few times, the Czech trains have been fine, the Hungarian stock once had no air con on a very hot day, and on another occasion from Berlin to Prague no restaurant car in the formation at all, so breakfast was a Mars bar out of the machine in Dresden station.

These trains were, pre-Covid, very popular with the back-packer crowd, so would certainly recommend first class over standard if finance allows, or at least get a seat reservation, preferably on the left hand side in direction of travel from Berlin to Prague for the scenery.

One of my favourite journeys in Europe, hope it works out.
 
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jamesontheroad

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Thanks everyone! Definitely looking at first class, so thanks for the encouragement.
 

YorkshireBear

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I am doing this journey for the first time in December hopefully. Really looking forward to it actually. First class doesn't seem much more expensive so I will take the tip and upgrade I think.

Having never done a restaurant car in Europe was hoping to try one on this service. Never been on one in UK either! Any tips or hints on those. Man in seat 61 has some details, but wondering about things like reserving tables in restaurant car etc or is it just walk in?
 

30907

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I am doing this journey for the first time in December hopefully. Really looking forward to it actually. First class doesn't seem much more expensive so I will take the tip and upgrade I think.

Having never done a restaurant car in Europe was hoping to try one on this service. Never been on one in UK either! Any tips or hints on those. Man in seat 61 has some details, but wondering about things like reserving tables in restaurant car etc or is it just walk in?
RCs in mainland Europe (where they exist) are walk-up, and don't be afraid to sit at a partially occupied table. There are sometimes notices limiting the length of stay - 4 hours over a beer is a cheap way of getting a seat on a crowded train....
In the UK you can reserve in Gerald which is Business class (and on GW first class gets priority I hink).
 

43096

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I am doing this journey for the first time in December hopefully. Really looking forward to it actually. First class doesn't seem much more expensive so I will take the tip and upgrade I think.

Having never done a restaurant car in Europe was hoping to try one on this service. Never been on one in UK either! Any tips or hints on those. Man in seat 61 has some details, but wondering about things like reserving tables in restaurant car etc or is it just walk in?
If you're going first class it may not be necessary to go to the restaurant car for food, you may well get the staff come and offer to serve you at your seat. I've definitely had that on Slovakian services, can't remember with Czech restaurant cars. Whatever, I'd definitely recommend the restaurant car - last one I did was on a Linz to Prague service last summer which was very enjoyable, with good food, washed down with a decent beer. It's hard to beat eating a good meal on a train - so very civilised.
 
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On the Czech run trains, I prefer the 2nd class compartments to the first class as this only offers open saloon seating and these are the same seats as used in the 2nd class open saloon but in a 2+1 config and leather covers, often it is only one or two coaches as with many EuroCity trains. Only ones where First Class is worth the increase are the Railjet services. (Business Class especially)

As for the dining car only tried the Czech one but can confirm that it is cheaper once you cross the border. There are some insane deals, I believe beer is cheaper than ordering water! Card payment has accepted no problem and cooking methods are a mixture of pre-packed and freshly cooked. The schnitzel with fried potatoes is highly recommended as this is freshly battered in the kitchen, you can hear the cook hammering it!
 

Alfonso

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I'd save the difference in fares and try to do the whole journey in the restaurant. Nursing a beer or coffee for hours is not playing nicely though. I one did Vienna to Munich on a Hungarian restaurant car with a colleague...A coffee, then a plate of salami etc , a beer, another plate of something cold to share, another beer, another beer, a meal of goulash, etc. Probably spent 120 euro in total between us, well worth it as a treat.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I will travel between Berlin and Prague, probably stopping in Dresden for a few hours.
Look out for the paddle steamers on the Elbe between the border and Dresden.
The pedestrian area round the rebuilt Frauenkirche makes for great strolling and eating - you are also only 5 minutes from the river steamers' base.
An excellent Parkeisenbahn too.
Dresden-Berlin also has Stadler Kiss fast trains to supplement the ICs (they serve the new Berlin Brandenburg airport - ex Schönefeld).
 

Jamesrob637

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The MAV stock was clean, but getting a bit tired, when I used it in 2014. I believe they are now a bit smarter since the refurbishment of the late-10s.

Some ČD stock is compartmentalised and ex-ÖBB. This was what I had from Budapest to Prague on my final European train ride just before COVID in early-March 2020.

It's horses for courses (not those courses!) nowadays.
 

YorkshireBear

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I'd save the difference in fares and try to do the whole journey in the restaurant. Nursing a beer or coffee for hours is not playing nicely though. I one did Vienna to Munich on a Hungarian restaurant car with a colleague...A coffee, then a plate of salami etc , a beer, another plate of something cold to share, another beer, another beer, a meal of goulash, etc. Probably spent 120 euro in total between us, well worth it as a treat.
Hmm interesting well worth a try then. I can certainly drink beer for quite a long time as can my travelling companions so maybe that is worth a go. Worth catching the later train for the beer as well.

Really interesting reading though thanks everyone. I am so hopeful for December. I really caught the bug for European Rail travel in about 2019 so didn't quite get to do many of my plans before COVID struck. Sleepers and restaurant cars are top of the list.
 
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70014IronDuke

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Go for the Czech train EVERY time. No question. Far better service than Mav, and at very affordable prices, staff far more pleasant than the avearge Magyar, who seem to resent having to do anything.
 
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