No more DB for staff travel ?

158801

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An announcement on ATOC's website shows a new provider for Rail Staff Travel (FIP) bookings.

http://www.atoc.org/about-atoc/rail-staff-travel/news-offers/

New FIP travel provider for Rail Staff Travel Ltd
RSTL has appointed a new supplier to manage the sales of European FIP fares for active and retired rail staff travel facilities holders. International Rail Ltd take over this invaluable service from 1 April 2015.
International Rail Ltd are based in Hampshire and have over 20 years’ experience in rail bookings in global markets. Over that period they have developed close relationships with many European and international rail companies and pride themselves on giving their customers a premium service. They have a team of highly experienced Rail Travel experts and are at the cutting edge of rail technology. They have all the tools you need to plan and book your European rail travel as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
In particular, they have launched a bespoke website through which you can just make an enquiry, or buy tickets. Go to www.bookmyrst.co.uk .
There is also a dedicated phone line, 0871 559 1075*.
Please note that IRL booking fees are currently paid by RSTL on behalf of active and retired rail staff travel facilities holders (FIP card holders).
Introductory offer: 1 April 2015 to 30 April 2015
Since IRL can book so much more than just FIP travel, they are delighted to make two introductory offers to entitled rail staff on some other products, as follows:
1. Discounts
 Australia rail passes 5% discount
 Spain rail passes 5% discount
 USA rail passes 5% discount
2. Fees waived
 Any other non-FIP travel bought online will be exempt of booking fees
There will be other regular offers and discounts against non-FIP fares in future.
Process simplified
There will be no need to fill in an RSTL form to use IRL’s services – just phone or use the website, or email sales@bookmyrst.co.uk .

--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Auto response on DB's email

With effect from 1st April 2015 the Deutsche Bahn UK Booking Centre is no longer responsible for the provision of rail tickets to Rail Staff for travel to/in Europe. Your email has therefore been forwarded to sales@bookmyrst.co.uk<mailto:sales@bookmyrst.co.uk> who are now responsible for providing this service. You can also visit their website at www.bookmyrst.co.uk<http://www.bookmyrst.co.uk>
The email address railstaff@bahn.co.uk<mailto:railstaff@bahn.co.uk> will shortly be discontinued
.
 
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onemanonline

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Shame really. On the whole the DB staff were pretty knowledgeable.

The online offering from this new agent is no better than contacting them by email, I hope that the ability to buy online will come with time.
 

davetheguard

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Me too, and they provided a link to a document that provided a lot of information on what was available (and what wasn't) on "Globally-priced" trains. Overall, their knowledge was always very good.

The only downside was their inability to provide reservations or tickets on the Paris to Barcelona TGV's; the reason for this was never really satisfactorily explained. I wonder if the new company can do this?
 

158801

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Really not impressed with International Rail.

The main request / booking form only allows bookings for the next 3 months.

As I am travelling more than 3 months in advance I put a note on saying "this is when we are travelling".

The only problem is that you can't send the form without selecting a date within 3 months.

So I mentioned this and clicked send.

After 6 hours I have an email back saying no availability on the train I wanted. It's just that they have picked a train and a date that I DIDN'T WANT.

So I called them. 10p per minute. 9 minutes in a queue and 1 minute trying to explain then......I was cut off.

<(<(<(<(<(<(
 

flash

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Bear in mind that most international companies have a 90 day booking window..... Trying to book something more than that in advance is a waste of time!
 

306024

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Many of us that have used DB in the past have nothing but praise for the efficient and helpful service they provided. Time will tell if this is a change for the better, worse, or no different at all, but they have a hard act to follow in my experience.
 

158801

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I wonder if the withdrawal of DB is as a result of DB cutting costs - rather than ATOC behind it? I sent an email, praising their past efforts and asking if they would still do staff bookings - even with a surcharge

Thank you for your kind words which have duly been passed on to the relevant team.

We are also very sorry about the situation and unfortunately we no longer offer the rail staff booking service. Our office is now due to close at the end of June. Thereafter, Deutsche Bahn will continue to sell tickets (excluding Rail Staff tickets) out of our Berlin office, and tickets will continue to be available online via our website www.bahn.com. The telesales line is 08718 80 80 66.

Yours sincerely

Customer Services
Deutsche Bahn UK Booking Centre

--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I'm going to sound like a stuck record on this but....

I called International Rail yesterday and it took 9 minutes of hold music before the phone started ringing.

Today I called with the same result. Once the hold music stopped (after exactly the same length of time as yesterday) and the phone started ringing it took a further 3 minutes to speak to a person. So may be it's done on purpose to extract at least 90p per booking from telephone calls?

ATOC are supposed to pay any booking fees - however International Rail then asked for a £2 postage fee for tickets worth £6. I hung up.

I am now booking through Ffestiniog travel who charge an 8% surcharge so...

The the official outlet - International Rail
£1.50 in telephone calls, £6 in tickets, £2 in postage = £9.50

Ffestiniog Travel
£0 in phone calls, £6 in tickets, 48p surcharge = £6.48

Guess who I will be using in future?
 

davetheguard

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Thanks, 158801 for the tip about using Ffestiniog Travel - I hadn't realised they could sell FIP tickets.

I think I'll give the new lot a go first, and make a judgement after that. But that 3 month booking window restriction could be a killer.

In particular, Eurostar tickets are available to book a lot earlier than 3 months; anyone know if it's still possible to book Eurostar-only FIP tickets direct with them by phone ?

Definitely a great shame about DB UK, though.
 

Mag_seven

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The hyperlink to "bookmyrst" on the ATOC website still takes you to the DB site. And the link to the useful PDF "Travel Tips for Europe" has gone (it implies there is a 1st April update pending though)
 

ChiefPlanner

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I have to say Surbiton were always excellent - and they seemed to cheer up no end when you asked for some local detail like S-Bahn connections in Dresden .....a loss all round.
 

158801

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I would assume so.

They actually sold me some tickets for a French domestic journey yesterday that DB were unable to do !

I sent them an email detailing who was travelling, where, when etc and let them sort it out leisurely.

They emailed back 90 mins later (I wanted three different journeys) with a price.

So I called them, quoted a card number and the tickets posted out. They do make a small charge for credit cards so I paid with a debit card.
 

camelopard

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Just seen this.

I too was very happy with the DB staff, especially with their after-sales service. On the one occasion when they mangled a booking, they moved heaven and earth to get it fixed. Very satisfactory.
 

158801

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I emailed the great people at www.loco2.com

One of the co-founders emailed me straight back and said that they would be happy to offer a staff booking facility on their website !

He asked that I found a contact for him to pursue this.

An email from me to ATOC two weeks ago has been ignored.

An email from me to Eurostar has been replied go and they have referred me to......ATOC

Apparently all they need at www.loco2.com is access to the staff booking quota for Eurostar - seems simple !
 

Committee man

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Sorry to hear that DB will no longer be dealing with staff bookings. I always found them very helpful unlike some of the staff at ATOC who often gave the impression that the were too busy/not really interested.
DB were great sorting out my ticket applications including some (very) last minuet changes we made.
Ffestiniog Travel sounds interesting so I might be giving them a go next time if I see too many negative comments about International Rail.
 

varkman

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I have used Rail Canterbury and found them very good. The same service as DB was.
Booked eurostar tickets via email last week at 16:00 on a monday afternoon, tickets arrived in the post before lunchtime the next day. A very happy customer.
 

Jim Grozier

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I too have been having problems with International Rail. Six weeks ago I sent in my itinerary for a European trip; since then I have had only the immediate automatic response, and a fairly formulaic-looking personalised reply to an email I sent them four weeks later, asking why I had not heard from them. It contains the usual stuff about "high volume of calls and enquiries" etc and actually goes on to say "If you are still waiting to book tickets, then please do come back to us with a contact telephone number that we can call you on and a convenient time to which you'll be available - we will then call you back to discuss your enquiry further and confirm your booking" which sort of suggests they are unilaterally washing their hands of me unless I can endure a half hour wait in a telephone queue ... I took the advice of someone on here and rang Ffestiniog Travel, and duly sent in my itinerary; but that was 10 days ago, and all I have had from them is the standard reply about "high volume of enquiries" etc and time is running out ...

The trouble is that if International Rail are not delivering the goods, all those little companies like Ffestiniog will also be under pressure to cope with the extra business they get as a result. So yesterday I went to St Pancras and bought my FIP Eurostar tickets after queueing for only 5 minutes, then went to SNCF in Piccadilly where the refurbished office, containing about a dozen desks, was empty except for one other customer and three members of staff (remember having to queue there for hours in the old days?) So I got one more ticket from them, but now need to get German and Danish tickets, which SNCF don't do (I am "retired" so still get free coupons for Belgium and the Netherlands). Have checked and DB UK don't do FIP tickets even for German trains (shame). Can I feel a trip to Canterbury coming on?
 

158801

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As mentioned, www.loco2.com were willing to allow staff Eurostar tickets to be sold on their website but needed to have access to the quotas.

Eurostar referred me ( as I was trying to sort things out and I had made the request to loco2.com) to ATOC.

ATOC eventually replied blaming DB for pulling out (DB blamed ATOC).

They claim that DB left International a Rail with a mountain of unanswered complaints and unfulfilled bookings. They claim that DB told International Rail that they hardly got any enquiries so International Rail staffed up accordingly and then were swamped with phone calls and booking requests that they hadn't prepared for !

I was also told that it was non-contractual for ATOC to provide any " staff travel outlet" and that they had gone to great lengths to secure the contract with International Rail and that I should be grateful that they were paying the booking fees !

As for the purpose of my email - providing access to loco2 to issue tickets. Well that was ignored.

I was in France a couple of weeks ago and had to queue up and visit a ticket office and request a reservation for a forthcoming trip in my schoolboy English.
 

Jim Grozier

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Your English looks OK to me ... :)

Oh, but DB were extremely quick in my experience - I somehow can't believe they left any queries outstanding ... but since I had not used them for a while maybe they have gone downhill. I always found them extremely efficient. Trouble is one got used to their efficiency, and if I'd known what it was going to be like I'd have got my application in earlier.

Is there also something rotten in the state of RSTL, though? Just after 1 April, their answering machine message was still saying DB even though their website pointed you to IR. And when I spoke to them back then they seemed a bit woolly about the whole thing - and they it was who told me DB could still do the tickets with a booking fee (which they can't).

I mention this because I have had an ongoing "correspondence" (mainly one way) with RSTL since December, after my wife lost her travelcard, I applied for a replacement and enclosed the requisite £15 cheque, but the travelcard was returned to me the next day - by RSTL - presumably someone found it and sent it to them. I emailed again (same day) asking them to destroy the cheque and confirm that they had done so. No response, but a month later the cheque was paid in (and a replacement card arrived). I wrote again. No response until, much more recently, they left a voicemail message apologising and saying they would send a refund. But that was weeks ago now, and the cheque never arrived ...... I just hope they send me my free coupons in time ...
 

158801

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I wonder whats involved in setting up a European Rail ticketing service?

The costs and infrastructure?

I could buy a license (?) and some software and do it on my days off !

It sounds jovial but I would seriously consider it
 
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Very sorry to hear of the demise of the DB Surbiton office. They were very knowledgeable and efficient in my experience. In effect, FIP is just another fare category so any retailer that is connected to the European fares systems can offer FIP fares (eg. Ffestiniog, Canterbury). However, all charge booking fees. The agreement with DB in the past indeed was a special arrangement in that ATOC paid the booking fee and referred staff to them via its website. But ATOC was never obliged to do this, so far as I know.:roll:
 

Jim Grozier

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I got the rest of my tickets at Rail Canterbury yesterday. Very pleasant, no queue. Yes, they charged a fee but I would still rather have the tickets in hand and pay a fee, than still be waiting for an email.

Four hours after I bought the tickets a quote came through from Ffestiniog ...

I think the most sensible course of action for RSTL would be to list ALL the agents who can do FIP on their website, so people can choose. Canterbury lady said she thought there were four in all.

Incidentally, Ffestiniog price was broadly comparable with Canterbury's. That's allowing for the fact that it was higher due to a full price Eurostar - all FIP Eurostar tickets having gone for my return journey, so I obviously got mine in the nick of time, and it vindicates my concern about delays.
 

davetheguard

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Very sorry to hear of the demise of the DB Surbiton office. They were very knowledgeable and efficient in my experience. In effect, FIP is just another fare category so any retailer that is connected to the European fares systems can offer FIP fares (eg. Ffestiniog, Canterbury). However, all charge booking fees. The agreement with DB in the past indeed was a special arrangement in that ATOC paid the booking fee and referred staff to them via its website. But ATOC was never obliged to do this, so far as I know.:roll:
As an aside to the issue of DB UK losing the contract, there is also the matter of who do you contact if you need to change or get refunds for FIP bookings issued by them?

We are due to tour round Germany by train for two weeks in early June, but if tomorrow's (Wed) talks fail, and another rail strike is called (this time not by train drivers but by various other grades including signallers) then our long-planned holiday will be dead in the water.

I've spent some time on the phone this morning to rstl and they've told me that refund applications for any DB UK-issued tickets or reservations should be sent to International Rail Ltd.; even though they didn't issue them in the first place.

I though I'd mention this here, in case anyone else is in the same situation.......

P.S. However, further to the above advice given verbally by rstl this morning about sending DB-UK tickets to International Rail for a refund, I've now finally received a reply to my e-mail of 3 weeks ago which asked them the same question. Yes, you've guessed it: the e-mail advises returning the tickets to DB-UK (not International Rail)! So which is correct? I suppose it may depend on when DB-UK's office actually closes.......

Anyway, here's hoping that a strike is not called tomorrow, and that all this becomes irrelevant.
 
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158801

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I had a Eurostar journey booked for July through DB that I needed to change. The journey was booked a few days before the contract changed hands.

I called the DB number shown on their website.

They gave me another number which I duly called and spoke to one of the people with whom I have regularly dealt with.

5 minutes later the old Eurostar tickets were cancelled and a PDF for new ones was in my inbox !

I think the old DB offices will be around for another few weeks to allow for such things.
 

G136GREYHOUND

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I have never used any of the other sources quoted for FIP travel, but am disappointed at the demise of DB, I found them swift, helpful, friendly and efficient. A loss, just as I am about to enquire about this years FIP travel
 

33056

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A work colleague of mine has just booked a whole load of stuff involving free passes, FIP fares and "normal" fares in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and France with Rail Canterbury and was very happy with them. As this was the first time he has done such a trip he went to see them in person though I realise this will not be possible for many people.
 

Jim Grozier

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A work colleague of mine has just booked a whole load of stuff involving free passes, FIP fares and "normal" fares
Can Rail Canterbury do the free passes too then? I wish I'd known. I applied for my Belgian and Dutch free tickets (or "coupons" as I believe they're known) 7 weeks ago for a journey that starts in just under 3 weeks. I'm aware that they say quite clearly that "coupons are sent out around 7 - 10 days before your outward journey date" - so don't expect them yet - but I do wish they wouldn't do that. As someone who gets quite stressed in the run-up to a major journey if I don't have everything fully sorted, I am baffled as to why they can't just send them as soon as possible but certainly *by* the 10 day point. If, 6 days before, they haven't arrived, will there be time to put things right? Should I take pre-emptive action with another visit to Canterbury?
 
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