never planned any railroad trip before. How to?

I'm planning to go to Europe by train using London as my base since my relatives are there. How do I even begin to plan?


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  • Hi Eric,

    First, you would determine where you want to go. If you plan on doing extensive traveling by train, you would probably want to consider a rail pass.

    A rail pass covers the ticket costs on trains between different cities in the country or countries included on the pass. When applicable, reservations are a supplementary cost to a rail pass, just as they would be factored into the cost of individual point-to-point tickets (therefore, a rail pass still often works out to be the most economical option for travelers taking multiple trains while in Europe that cover more substantial distances).

    Reservations are required on all high-speed trains, night trains, and many international routes. Generally, high-speed trains connect most of the larger cities and more popular destinations in western Europe (in Great Britain, however, you would only purchase reservations for train rides over 2 hours in duration).

    The pass you choose to purchase will depend specifically on where you intend to visit while you're in Europe. When selecting a rail pass on our website, you would just want to be sure that all of the countries being traveled through are accounted for on the pass you choose. To view our rail passes, you would go to the homepage of our website, click on 'Find & Book Rail Passes' and then select any of the countries you intend to travel in from the drop-down menus that appear under where it says 'Find a Rail Pass'.

    It is important to note that there is no rail pass that will combine Great Britain with any other countries on the mainland continent of Europe. Great Britain is only covered by its own individual country pass. There are also London Travel Cards for travelers only staying in London. The London Travel Card covers travel on the Tube subway system and London's buses.

    Therefore, for your requested travel, you might end up purchasing one of our BritRail Passes, in combination with another pass that would cover the countries you will be traveling to on the mainland continent of Europe. Otherwise, you could just purchase regular point-to-point tickets for any travels you do in Great Britain (instead of a rail pass), and then purchase a rail pass for your travel on the European mainland.

    Additionally, the Eurostar train (which connects London with either Paris or Brussels) is not entirely covered by any pass. However, by purchasing a rail pass, you would be eligible to receive the 'Passholder' fare on this train. You would check the Passholder costs for the Eurostar by clicking on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations', just as you would to make reservations on other trains.

    While most trains in Europe can only be reserved within 60 or 90 days of an intended date of departure, the Eurostar is an exception and can generally be reserved up to 9 months in advance. Due to high demand, the Passholder rates on the Eurostar (and on other trains for that matter) can sell out quickly, so it is recommended that you purchase your reservations as soon as you know your travel dates.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 26, 2017 18:27

      As of this year, BritRail Passes no longer enable passengers to receive any kind of Passholder rate on the Eurostar.

      While that is true with regard to BritRail Passes, any Eurail Pass that includes France is now valid to cover Eurostar trains running between Paris and the UK, while any Eurail Pass that includes the Benelux is valid to cover Eurostar trains running between Brussels and the UK. As a supplement to the Eurail Pass, reservations on the Eurostar would still be necessary.

      If a BritRail Pass is the only rail pass with which you’ll be traveling, then it would be necessary to purchase regular tickets in order to ride on the Eurostar. Please note, this applies to any BritRail Pass, including the BritRail England Pass, the BritRail London Plus Pass, the BritRail South West Pass, and the regular BritRail Pass.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 18, 2018 14:58

      As of this month (April 2018):

      The following rail passes no longer qualify passengers to receive ‘passholder’ rates for reservations on the Eurostar:

      Any single country Eurail Pass, including:

      • Eurail France Pass
      • Eurail Benelux Pass

      Any 2 country option of Eurail Select Pass, including:

      • Eurail France-Italy Pass
      • Eurail France-Switzerland Pass
      • Eurail France-Germany Pass
      • Eurail Benelux-France Pass
      • Eurail France-Spain Pass
      • Eurail Benelux-Germany Pass

      BritRail Passes and the France-Italy combination of the 2 country Eurail Select Pass continue to not be valid on the Eurostar.

      Passengers traveling with any of these rail passes would need to purchase regular tickets to take the Eurostar.

      Passholder rates will continue to be offered (depending on availability) to any passenger traveling with a Eurail Global Pass, a 3 country Eurail Select Pass (that includes the country of arrival or departure, be it France or the Benelux), or a 4 country Eurail Select Pass (that includes the country of arrival or departure, be it France or the Benelux).
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