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Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

posts: 374
reviews: 4
Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

Hi starting to do my research for train travel in Europe, my question is, is it better to buy the train tickets with the countrys own train service or can we but all our tickets through another website such as voyages snfc.com, in advance before we leave, this will be our first European trip.

Thanks for any advice/information

12 replies to this topic
posts: 2,151
1. Re: Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

snfc.com is the French rail company, and is generally the site to use if buying to/from/within France. For other countries, use the relevant rail company. You can ask more specific questions about routes, but for general information, these sites may help familiarize yourself with rail travel in Europe.



Sydney, Australia
posts: 4,966
reviews: 24
2. Re: Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

In general, buy each ticket from the respective country's train administration. Voyages-sncf.com cannot sell you tickets for trains in other countries (with some qualifications).

Those are the general guide, there will be exceptions for some cross border trains, for example, Thalys tickets can be purchased both from the Dutch or the Belgian train administation site.

If you talk about RailEurope, of course, you can buy all train tickets with a heavy mark-up, so it is best to be avoided.

posts: 374
reviews: 4
3. Re: Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

Hi thanks for your quick replies, but i was just wondering, when i put in my destinations in the voyages snf.com websites all my destinations come up with direct connections, prices, times, etc and option to print ticket @ home, these are from Paris to Zurich-Milan-Florence-Rome-Venice.

So this is why i was wondering if you could book all these destinations-connections, on this one website, too booking individually with the countries own train system.

Thanks again

Sydney, Australia
posts: 4,966
reviews: 24
4. Re: Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

You can certainly do Paris to Zurich, since it is a TGV operated by SNCF. You can also do Zurich to Milan, or Basel to Milan, both are jointly operated by Trenitalia/SBB, whilst Milan Florence Rome, SNCF are acting as agents for ItaloTreno. (Paris to Milan/Turin direct is also operated by SNCF).

I would generally compare fares between an agent (say SNCF) with the actual operator (say Trenitalia), and make my decision that way.

Check Zurich to Milan with www.sbb.ch, and compare it with voyages-sncf.com

posts: 374
reviews: 4
5. Re: Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

Thankyou again for your reply, so basically compare prices with voyages snf.com and the actual operators of the country you are wanting to visit and go with the best one ?


Sydney, Australia
posts: 4,966
reviews: 24
6. Re: Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

Yes. that's the general idea. You may find that there is not much variation on those routes. As far as Italy is concerned, buy direct from Trenitalia or ItaloTreno (and compare prices between them).

posts: 374
reviews: 4
7. Re: Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

Thanks, you have been a great help in my first stages of research on train travel/tickets, i will probably have a lot more questions to come, with more research, as i get my intinary sorted and best routes to take.

posts: 4,990
reviews: 2
8. Re: Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

A concrete example may explain...

If you go to www.voyages-sncf.com or www.raileurope.co.uk (assuming you're in the original Perth, in Scotland). Both these sites are effectively FRENCH Railways, and they naturally use the French rail ticketing system.

You try and book an ITALIAN train, Milan-Rome using the FRENCH system.

All seats on all dates are £77 / €86. Wow, megabucks.

But when you go to ITALIAN Railways' own site www.trenitalia.com, prices start at just €29 (Super-economy rate) rising to €86 (full-price).


Because the only Trenitalia fare which French Railways is allowed to sell is the full-price 'TCV' tariff advised by the Italians to the French. Rail Europe UK CANNOT sell all Trenitalia's cheap fares. Just that full-price TCV tariff.

On the other hand, if you're in Perth Australia, then you're talking about Rail Europe 4A (eg www.raileurope.com.au or www.raileurope-world.com), not Rail Europe Limited (raileurope.co.uk), they are both subsidiaries of French railways but they're separate companies, and RE 4A HAVE in fact implemented a connection to Trenitalia's ticketing system, so on RE 4A sites you may well see some of Trenitalia's cheaper fares.

So the best and safest practice is always to go directly to the relevant train operator's site, to avoid being caught out like this.

And if you use Trenitalia's site to book Trenitalia's own trains, you can choose an exact seat from a numberd seat plan - that functionality won't appear if you go through a third party. So there's another reason.

Use www.sbb.ch for Zurich-Milan.

Edited: 12:53 pm, July 24, 2013
Laughlin, Nevada
posts: 9
reviews: 3
9. Re: Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

I will be traveling from Budapest to Amsterdam on the train. From what I read, the best prices can be obtained buying the ticket in Budapest. Is this correct? Also, can I buy a ticket all the way to Amsterdam or Do I need to buy another ticket from a mid way point in Germany?

Is it better to buy a ticket from Budapest to Munich or somewhere in Germany and then buy a separate ticket when in Germany to Amsterdam or can I buy the ticket in Budapest all the way to Amsterdam.

Thanks for any help.

Brno, Czech Republic
Destination Expert
for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Train Travel
posts: 23,344
reviews: 8
10. Re: Buying Train tickets for travel in Europe

You should really post a new query, but buying in Budapest would be an expensive way of doing it.

The cheapest way would be to buy a ticket to Frankfurt from Budapest using Hungarian Railways whjich costs from €39 europetrainsguide.com/Advice/How-to-Buy-Trai…

Then onwards from Frankfurt to Amsterdam buy a separate ticket from www.bahn.com

It is a VERY long journey - the direct train from Budapest arrives in Frankfurt at 00:42 and the next connection is at 05:10 so it isn't ideal.

Another option would be get a day train to Prague from €19 (see above link) then use the overnight train to Amsterdam which costs from €29 in the seats, or from €49 in a couchette, more for a sleeper, buy from www.bahn.com

Edited: 12:45 pm, April 09, 2014
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