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I’m Confused

Why do I need to purchase reservations when I already have a Eurail Global Pass?

I recently purchased a Eurail Global Pass for my wife and I. Our itinerary is as follows:

2 Days in Paris
3 Days in Rome
2 Days in Zurch
2 Days in Amsterdam

When I go to purchase the tickets for Paris to Rome, it is telling me I need to purchase a seat. Any combination I try (overnight, day) from Paris to any location in Italy is asking me to purchase a reservation. I can book my entire itinerary separately from a Global Pass for less then the price of the Global Pass

I thought the whole point of a global pass was that I could go where I want (within those countries) and not have to pay to reserve a seat.

Am I missing something? Seeing as when we are in the those cities we plan to stay there and not travel within the countries. If I am spending $700 for a Global Pass, I do not want to have to purchase extra tickets. For those prices, I could practically fly everywhere

Please advise
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  • Hello Dan, In a nutshell, a reservation is a guaranteed seat on a specific train, assigned to you personally.

    Whether you need a reservation or not depends on three things: the train you’re on, what type of rail pass you have and the country.

    Let’s start with the train you’re on. There are essentially three types that run in Europe, each with different requirements.

    The first type of train is “Reservations Required.” This generally applies to high speed and overnight trains. If you are traveling with a rail pass, you must purchase a seat reservation separately, at an additional cost. If you try to board these trains with your rail pass only, you will most likely get fined.

    The second type of train is “Reservations Recommended.” These trains offer you the possibility of a reserved seat, but a reservation isn’t mandatory. You can opt out of purchasing it, but we feel it’s a small price to pay for the convenience and peace of mind of knowing a reserved seat is waiting.

    Finally, “Non-Reservable” trains are trains where a reservation is NOT needed or possible.Simply get on board and sit in any open seat in the class of service of your pass.

    So 2 out of 3 type of trains in Europe do not require a reservation with your Eurail Pass. If you only choose to board these trains you won't pay an extra dime!

    If you have to take trains from the first category, the standard reservation price is $12 USD per person, per train. For overnight trains, sleeping accommodations start at $36 USD per person for a couchette. Certain international high-speed trains like the Eurostar or Thalys, as well as international overnight trains, have their reservations priced much higher. Make sure to do your research in advance to determine whether a pass is most cost effective for your itinerary.

    You also need to keep in mind that rail carriers usually have a limited number of seats for travelers with a rail pass, so be sure to book as soon as possible. If reservations are sold out, you can usually buy a regular city-to-city ticket. While it does cost more than a reservation, it won’t cost you a day on your rail pass. Reservations can generally be booked 60-90 days before your train trip, so don’t delay!

    Ready to find out if your train route requires a reservation? Just click over to our website’s “Book a Reservation for your Pass” section (on the home page under the main booking box). Type in the name of the rail pass you’ll be traveling with so we can retrieve reservations compatible with your pass. If you’re traveling with a Eurail Select Pass, you’ll also have to indicate which countries are included in your pass. Then enter your city of origin and destination, your preferred train departure time, the number of travelers and the class of service for your pass.

    The next screen will list all the trains available for your travel preferences, clearly indicating whether reservations are required, recommended or not offered for each option.

    Have a great trip
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) March 19, 2012 21:42
    A rail pass covers the ticket costs on trains (day trains and night trains) operating within and between any country listed on the respective pass. When applicable, reservations are a supplementary cost to a railpass, 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 significant distances. In your case, reservations would be required for each of the requested trips.

    If traveling with a rail pass, you would check reservation costs for each trip by clicking on 'Book a Reservation for Your Pass' on the homepage of our website, as Frederick mentioned above.

    For the requested itinerary, you need only purchase a 4 country Eurail Select Pass and not the Eurail Global Pass. You would include France, Italy, Switzerland, and the Benelux as the 4 countries on your Eurail Select Pass. The Netherlands is included as a part of the 'Benelux'. The Benelux covers Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg and counts them as one country for the purpose of rail passes. Therefore, you would include the Benelux as one of the 'countries' on your Eurail Select Pass.

    If you happen to take a connection from Zurich to Amsterdam that would have you going through Germany en route, then you would purchase a 5 country Eurail Select Pass and include Germany on it as well. Daytime connections from Zurich to Amsterdam would have you changing trains once in either Paris, Frankfurt or Basel en route, and the trains from Basel to Amsterdam do run through Germany.

    You can check costs and information for the Eurail Select Pass by clicking here:

    When considering this option, however, keep in mind that the night train from Paris to Milan (as part of a rail connection from Paris to Rome) no longer accepts rail passes to cover their ticket costs, as of a few months ago. For this particular train, you would have to purchase a regular point-to-point ticket, which you would do under 'Check Fares and Schedules' on the homepage of our site.

    Otherwise, you could take a daytime connection from Paris to Rome, in which case the ticket costs for the trains that comprise of the connection would be covered with the rail pass, and you would just need to purchase reservations. Such a connection would have you changing trains once in Turin along the way. To purchase reservations for this connection, you would divide up the trip under 'Book a Reservation for Your Pass' by doing a separate search for each segment, so you would do one search for trains from Paris to Turin and then antoher search for connecting trains from Turin to Rome.

    A connection from Rome to Zurich would involve changing trains once in Milan along the way. You can purchase reservations for this trip just by entering the full connection from Rome to Zurich under 'Book a Reservation for Your Pass'.

    For the connection from Zurich to Amsterdam, you would divide up the trip by doing a separate search for each portion of the connection. This way you can ensure that you are choosing a connection that does not go through Germany if need be. Therefore, you would do one search for trains from Zurich to Paris and then another search for connecting trains from Paris to to Amsterdam.

    Otherwise, if you find it to be more economical for what you intend to do, you can just purchase point-to-point tickets for each trip instead of the rail pass, which you would do by entering each set of cities under 'Check Fares and Schedules' on the homepage.
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