Some Interrail questions

ABB125

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(Should this be in the trip planning section? I'm not sure...)

Myself and @Nunners will be going Interrailing in the two weeks before Easter (starting Sunday 3rd April). There are two main questions we have:
  • When using sleeper trains, the Interrail website says that only the day of departure counts as a travel day. Clearly the intention of this is for the passenger to travel around X, then take a sleeper train to Y, and spend the second day in location Y (and not travel around (well, not using their Interrail ticket at least!)). Only the first day would count towards the total number of travel days. How does this work if the aim is to not use the Interrail pass on the first day, then board the sleeper train just after midnight, and use the second day as the travel day? For example, if we were to spend a day in Vienna, use a local ticket to get to Amstetten, then use the Interrail pass to take the (Zurich-bound?) sleeper to Feldkirch, then go back to Innsbruck then the Brenner pass then onwards to wherever. Our interpretation (and hope!) is that this scenario would only require one Interrail travel day (the second day). Is this correct?
  • Related to this, is there any advantage to booking sleeper reservations weeks in advance? Do prices go up closer to the date of travel? How likely are they to be sold out?
  • Secondly, and probably more importantly, we will be using mobile Interrail passes*. These have, I believe, a somewhat dubious reputation. What do we need to know/expect to go wrong?
Are there any general pointers that we should be aware of?

Thanks :)

*We would both prefer to have paper tickets. Unfortunately this isn't possible. However, we can't really complain as the Interrail tickets were free! :D
 
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The exile

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(Should this be in the trip planning section? I'm not sure...)

Myself and @Nunners will be going Interrailing in the two weeks before Easter (starting Sunday 3rd April). There are two main questions we have:
  • When using sleeper trains, the Interrail website says that only the day of departure counts as a travel day. Clearly the intention of this is for the passenger to travel around X, then take a sleeper train to Y, and spend the second day in location Y (and not travel around (well, not using their Interrail ticket at least!)). Only the first day would count towards the total number of travel days. How does this work if the aim is to not use the Interrail pass on the first day, then board the sleeper train just after midnight, and use the second day as the travel day? For example, if we were to spend a day in Vienna, use a local ticket to get to Amstetten, then use the Interrail pass to take the (Zurich-bound?) sleeper to Feldkirch, then go back to Innsbruck then the Brenner pass then onwards to wherever. Our interpretation (and hope!) is that this scenario would only require one Interrail travel day (the second day). Is this correct?
  • Related to this, is there any advantage to booking sleeper reservations weeks in advance? Do prices go up closer to the date of travel? How likely are they to be sold out?
  • Secondly, and probably more importantly, we will be using mobile Interrail passes*. These have, I believe, a somewhat dubious reputation. What do we need to know/expect to go wrong?
Are there any general pointers that we should be aware of?

Thanks :)

*We would both prefer to have paper tickets. Unfortunately this isn't possible. However, we can't really complain as the Interrail tickets were free! :D
In terms of the first point, this is basically a concession to avoid two travel days being used up for an overnight journey. As far as I am aware, if your overnight train leaves at 23.59 on the 21/03, then you enter 21/03 as your travel day - even if almost all of the journey is on the next day (note that this only applies to that bit of the journey on the train you boarded at 23.59 -no onward connections). If it is timetabled to leave 2 minutes later then your travel day is the 22/03. I’ve only ever done “consecutive day” inter rails so have never needed to find out!
 

rvdborgt

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  • When using sleeper trains, the Interrail website says that only the day of departure counts as a travel day. Clearly the intention of this is for the passenger to travel around X, then take a sleeper train to Y, and spend the second day in location Y (and not travel around (well, not using their Interrail ticket at least!)). Only the first day would count towards the total number of travel days. How does this work if the aim is to not use the Interrail pass on the first day, then board the sleeper train just after midnight, and use the second day as the travel day? For example, if we were to spend a day in Vienna, use a local ticket to get to Amstetten, then use the Interrail pass to take the (Zurich-bound?) sleeper to Feldkirch, then go back to Innsbruck then the Brenner pass then onwards to wherever. Our interpretation (and hope!) is that this scenario would only require one Interrail travel day (the second day). Is this correct?
Yes, that is correct. A travel day runs from 0:00 until 23:59 so you would only need 1 travel day.
  • Related to this, is there any advantage to booking sleeper reservations weeks in advance? Do prices go up closer to the date of travel? How likely are they to be sold out?
That entirely depends on the exact night train, the season, the day of the week etc. Some ÖBB Nightjets will sell out weeks in advance for some days.
  • Secondly, and probably more importantly, we will be using mobile Interrail passes*. These have, I believe, a somewhat dubious reputation. What do we need to know/expect to go wrong?
I've used 4 mobile passes since they rolled them out in the Autumn of 2020 and my impression is that they've now left the beta testing stage. It's been a while since I've seen real technical problems on the Interrail/Eurail community. What may still happen is that the barcode generated by the app cannot be read by some ticket inspectors. Until now, for the occurrences I've seen reported, this was always due to some problem on the operator's side. However, all information the ticket inspector needs is also available in readable format underneath the barcode. Should any staff insist you have to buy a ticket because they cannot read your barcode, you will get that reimbursed from Eurail. At the same time, Eurail would like then to hear about this (with details about when and where it happened) so they can get back to the operator.
Are there any general pointers that we should be aware of?
You'll want to check the mobile pass FAQ.
Do not use the rail planner app to plan. It's offline and doesn't get enough updates to be reliable (only once every few weeks). National planners and apps are more up to date and for international planning, the Deutsche bahn planner is a good choice. It will still be incomplete for some countries, most notably for Italy and very incomplete for Spain, because some operators just don't send all their timetables to the European Timetable Centre (MERITS). If you don't find your train in the Rail planner app to add to My Trip, then you can add it manually. You're certainly not limited to use only the trains that appear in the app.
RDG send some incorrect data to MERITS, most notably "reservations compulsory" for LNER and Avanti West Coast trains, which can be seen in the DB planner or the Rail planner app. You can ignore that.
Avoid booking reservations via the Interrail website if you can. They charge a 2€ booking fee per person and train and a 9€ postage fee per order for paper reservations. For optional reservations, DB (4€ per person per journey) or ÖBB (3€ per person per train) or do a good job on the continent. Interrail want 8 € per person and train for these...
 

skifans

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I won't repeat what rvdborgt has said other then to completely agree with everything they have said - but will add something to this point:
  • Secondly, and probably more importantly, we will be using mobile Interrail passes*. These have, I believe, a somewhat dubious reputation. What do we need to know/expect to go wrong?

There is a bit of an oddity with the travel days on mobile passes which might catch you out if you are aiming for full usage around midnight. On the mobile passes only midnight is always defined by Central European Time - not local time (https://www.interrail.eu/en/support/interested-in-interrailing/what-is-a-travel-day). Worth checking around daylight savings, looks like Austria starts on the last Sunday in March and from then is on Central European Time + 1. Would be good for someone to double check my maths but I think that makes your travel day 2300-2300 if I've not got this the wrong way round!
 

ABB125

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Thanks all for your replies.
There is a bit of an oddity with the travel days on mobile passes which might catch you out if you are aiming for full usage around midnight. On the mobile passes only midnight is always defined by Central European Time - not local time (https://www.interrail.eu/en/support/interested-in-interrailing/what-is-a-travel-day). Worth checking around daylight savings, looks like Austria starts on the last Sunday in March and from then is on Central European Time + 1. Would be good for someone to double check my maths but I think that makes your travel day 2300-2300 if I've not got this the wrong way round!
Interesting - I'll have to look into this tomorrow
 

rvdborgt

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There is a bit of an oddity with the travel days on mobile passes which might catch you out if you are aiming for full usage around midnight. On the mobile passes only midnight is always defined by Central European Time - not local time (https://www.interrail.eu/en/support/interested-in-interrailing/what-is-a-travel-day). Worth checking around daylight savings, looks like Austria starts on the last Sunday in March and from then is on Central European Time + 1. Would be good for someone to double check my maths but I think that makes your travel day 2300-2300 if I've not got this the wrong way round!
I suspect that also with daylight savings time, the time in the CET zone is used (so CEST effectively). I haven't done any journeys for which I could check this. I've asked a question in the Eurail community; Eurail staff will probably reply later this week.
 

duesselmartin

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I did have a discussion with a Hungarian conductor on my Krakow to Budapest trip a few years back. In the end I entered both dates as it really didnt matter to me. It showed that staff themselves are not always well informed.
 

rvdborgt

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I did have a discussion with a Hungarian conductor on my Krakow to Budapest trip a few years back. In the end I entered both dates as it really didnt matter to me. It showed that staff themselves are not always well informed.
That is completely true. Some think that the old 19:00 rule is still in place.
 

30907

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For your specific example:
you can get a Sparschiene in one of the seats coaches and change to your sleeper at Amstetten.
You could ask the sleeper staff at Vienna whether you could occupy your sleeper early - they might say yes....
The train is going to Bregenz BTW.
 

ABB125

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For your specific example:
you can get a Sparschiene in one of the seats coaches and change to your sleeper at Amstetten.
You could ask the sleeper staff at Vienna whether you could occupy your sleeper early - they might say yes....
The train is going to Bregenz BTW.
Would the staff be slightly fussy if we engage in split ticketing, or is it accepted practice on the continent? Especially as we're doing it to avoid using an interrail day.
(I've not done any of the detailed(ish) planning for this trip, so wasn't sure where the train in this example was going. Thanks!)
 

rvdborgt

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Would the staff be slightly fussy if we engage in split ticketing, or is it accepted practice on the continent? Especially as we're doing it to avoid using an interrail day.
If you can book it (this train has mandatory reservations), then it's allowed.
 

dutchflyer

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Re paper pass (Íve just ordered one myself, but not in UK): IN the UK its likely easier and cheaper to order from a well-established local seller, f.e. Ffestiniog travel-there will be more, other will know. Buy this month for 10% discount (50 years jubilee of the pass!).
Eu/INterrail has since a few monthes also a lively community where most of these questions are also repeated again and again.
 

Nunners

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If you can book it (this train has mandatory reservations), then it's allowed.
Is this a perfectly normal practice in Austria? I had planned to get the previous (still NightJet I believe) to Amstetten to avoid this potential issue.

Re paper pass (Íve just ordered one myself, but not in UK): IN the UK its likely easier and cheaper to order from a well-established local seller, f.e. Ffestiniog travel-there will be more, other will know. Buy this month for 10% discount (50 years jubilee of the pass!).
Eu/INterrail has since a few monthes also a lively community where most of these questions are also repeated again and again.
Normally we would have bought a paper pass from a local seller. However, we won this pass so didn't have much choice!
 

StephenHunter

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Sleeper accommodation is often just one or two coaches; it can sell out. I had aimed to get a Deluxe Nightjet compartment for my Amsterdam to Munich journey, but those had gone three weeks before I went. So I got standard.
 

ABB125

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Sleeper accommodation is often just one or two coaches; it can sell out. I had aimed to get a Deluxe Nightjet compartment for my Amsterdam to Munich journey, but those had gone three weeks before I went. So I got standard.
I think couchette is about as luxurious as we'll be getting (:D), so hopefully that'll be less of a problem?
 

30907

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Is this a perfectly normal practice in Austria? I had planned to get the previous (still NightJet I believe) to Amstetten to avoid this potential issue.
Perfectly OK In seats - just that you might not be allowed to use the couchettes ex Vienna with a seat ticket.
 

ABB125

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Just to check - you can't "start short" using a reservation due to the 15-minute rule (in Austria)? (Primarily this concerns NightJet, but is probably applicable to other trains too.) For example, I can't buy a reservation form Vienna to Padova on the Milan or Livorno sleeper (which should be running when we get there!), but board the train at Bruck and der Mur, since the reservation will by now be invalid.
 

rvdborgt

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Just to check - you can't "start short" using a reservation due to the 15-minute rule (in Austria)? (Primarily this concerns NightJet, but is probably applicable to other trains too.) For example, I can't buy a reservation form Vienna to Padova on the Milan or Livorno sleeper (which should be running when we get there!), but board the train at Bruck and der Mur, since the reservation will by now be invalid.
Well, you run the risk that it has been taken by somebody else. If it is still available, then I wouldn't expect a problem.
 

30907

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Ok, thanks
But far safer to book from the later point.
I had an issue in Slovakia when I started short after a change of plan: the attendant had assumed I was a no-show and got annoyed. In Slovak, fortunately, which I don't understand :)
As I was his only customer that night, he hadn't re-sold the berth....
 

ABB125

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A related question: how early do you need to arrive before taking a Eurostar train? Their website says 2 hours at St Pancras and 60-75 minutes in Brussels. Is this really necessary (especially in London)?
 

Watershed

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A related question: how early do you need to arrive before taking a Eurostar train? Their website says 2 hours at St Pancras and 60-75 minutes in Brussels. Is this really necessary (especially in London)?
If you wanted to cover all bases (e.g. to allow you to claim on travel insurance if you miss the connection), then probably yes. In practice though, that seems an excessive amount of time to allow. Even at busy times it has never taken me more than about 20 or 30 minutes to get through security and the 2 border controls.

I note that in the data, London International (CIV) has a 35 minute minimum connection time, together with a 1 minute fixed walking link to Kings Cross and St Pancras stations (which in turn have 15 minute MCTs) and the same Tube links to other London stations as St Pancras. Obviously that is not strictly relevant as you aren't buying a ticket to or from there, but it's a useful indication nevertheless.
 

rvdborgt

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If you wanted to cover all bases (e.g. to allow you to claim on travel insurance if you miss the connection), then probably yes. In practice though, that seems an excessive amount of time to allow. Even at busy times it has never taken me more than about 20 or 30 minutes to get through security and the 2 border controls.

I note that in the data, London International (CIV) has a 35 minute minimum connection time, together with a 1 minute fixed walking link to Kings Cross and St Pancras stations (which in turn have 15 minute MCTs) and the same Tube links to other London stations as St Pancras. Obviously that is not strictly relevant as you aren't buying a ticket to or from there, but it's a useful indication nevertheless.
Eurostar say on their website that the gates in London close 30 minutes before departure so that's probably what it says on the ticket as well. Turning up 31 minutes before departure seems a bit short but if it says 30 minutes on the ticket, then that should theoretically still be OK, even for getting assistance for a missed connection.
For connections from other trains to Eurostar, RDG/Eurostar seem to have sent the following to MERITS, judging by what the DB planner indicates:
Euston: 45 minutes
King's Cross: 40 minutes
St Pancras: 35 minutes

Good idea to check on that forum - can't say I have tried either but just remember that standing out and not questioning it.
Eurail staff have now confirmed that during daylight savings, a travel day runs from 0:00 until 23:59 CEST.
 
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Nunners

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Eurostar say on their website that the gates in London close 30 minutes before departure so that's probably what it says on the ticket as well. Turning up 31 minutes before departure seems a bit short but if it says 30 minutes on the ticket, then that should theoretically still be OK, even for getting assistance for a missed connection.
For connections from other trains to Eurostar, RDG/Eurostar seem to have sent the following to MERITS, judging by what the DB planner indicates:
Euston: 45 minutes
King's Cross: 40 minutes
St Pancras: 35 minutes


Eurail staff have now confirmed that during daylight savings, a travel day runs from 0:00 until 23:59 CEST.
Many thanks - the daylight savings problem was a really good point to bring up
 

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