What is a Rail Pass?
A rail pass is a special ticket which gives you unlimited train travel on the national rail network of one or more countries, so you can travel around freely
Rail passes for a specific country/region are only available to international visitors with foreign passports. You can’t buy a international rail pass for the country you live in.
A pass is generally worth it if you're going to make a number of long-distance train trips; in some countries it can be great value as separate train tickets can sometimes be expensive.
If you're prepared to avoid the rush hour peaks, and especially if you book cheap tickets in advance (subject to the rail company’s terms and conditions) then point-to-point tickets may be cheaper than a pass.
Unlimited means you can simply hop on any train you like, find an empty seat to sit in, and show your rail pass when asked. Seating reservations are generally required for popular high speed trains.
Train staff may check your residency so make sure that you bring the right documents.
Depending on age, validity and number of countries, prices can vary considerably, so read the SMALL PRINT.
Is a railpass cheaper than buying point-to-point tickets? It depends.
If you're only making a few short journeys, you're almost certainly better off buying ordinary point-to-point tickets on the day.
For a pre-planned fixed-itinerary trip, the cheapest option is usually to buy cheap advance-purchase point-to-point tickets online direct from the European train operators. There are great bargain train tickets available up to 3 months in advance. So don't buy a pass for pre-planned trips before checking what cheap ticket fares first.
For long-distance spontaneous trips, passes do give you the flexibility to change plans as you go. In Europe, seat reservations are sometimes compulsory and can cost between €3-10.
The only way to know for sure whether a rail pass or point-to-point tickets would be cheaper is to work out the point to point prices for most of the trips you're planning (use the direct train operator websites, not ticketing agencies which often ignore the cheap deals).
Don't be afraid to mix & match a rail pass with point to point tickets.
What trains does a rail pass cover?
Rail passes cover all the trains run by the main national train operator in each country
Local, suburban & regional trains usually don’t require seat reservations or surcharges.
What trains does a railpass not cover?
Rail passes do not cover metro (underground /subway) trains or trams.
Rail passes don't cover Eurostar (but Eurail/ Interrail Pass Holders can get a discounted fare if you buy your tickets at the station).
Many premium daytime trains require rail pass holders to pay a small surcharge and/or make a seat reservation.
You pay extra for sleeping accommodation (couchettes, beds, sleepers) or the use of cabins, berths and reclining seats on board.
Seat reservations are generally non-refundable and non-exchangeable.
In Australia, Canada and US seating reservation are generally compulsory for long distance trains, and can be done with no extra charge.
In Europe, some local, regional slow speed trains don’t require seating reservations.
However, they are required for international city-to-city routes, inter country city routes, night trains or popular high speed trains between a e.g. ICE or IC trains.
Seat Reservations not included in the cost of rail passes, costs between €2-8 and can be made for up to 90 days before travel.
This can be done mainly at the train stations.
Seating Reservations can be avoided by using slow speed domestic trains in say Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands
Check with selected country to see if there are any seating reservations to be paid.
The price you pay for a seating reservation can also be called a supplement.
It normally costs the same for booking 1st/2nd class seating.
You must make a reservation for a night train and for sleeping accommodation, you must pay a supplement.
You can reserve this in advance through a travel agent, at station or rail call centres
Sleeping supplements can cost anything between €20-100, depending of choice eg. couchette, bed or private sleeping room.
Main Routes: Operates IC and ICE trains between Vienna and Linz, Salzburg, Graz and the district of Carinthia and also on major international routes.
National railway provider for Austria.
Operates a rail connection in a tiny country called Liechtenstein between Switzerland and Austria.
OBB Classes: Economy Class, First Class & Premium Class
Luggage courier services on offer.
Wheelchair access/facilities are provided on most trains.
Some trains have a quiet zone for peace and relaxation.
Club Lounges in Austrian stations and personalised compartment service onboard for 1st class
Lockers are available at most major stations.
Provides hourly InterCity and Eurotrain services to major cities in Austria and neighbouring countries
Dining cars, cabin-to-cabin refreshment service, snacks and drinks available in 60 of OBB trains.
Bikes can be brought on most medium-long distance trains, if space is available. On Intercity and Eurocity trains, passengers have to buy a one day bike ticket.
Seat reservations are required for rail pass holders on Intercity and Eurocity trains and can be done so by contacting OBB or at the station.
Reservation fee for certain international rail journeys.
Seating reservations not needed for local domestic trains.
Types of Trains
OBB Railjet; From Vienna via Salzburg to Innsbruck, Bregenz and Zurich, from Munich via Vienna to Budapest and to Stuttgart, Mannheim and Frankfurt.
OBB Eurocity & Intercity offer 1st class and 2nd class accommodation and a range of compartments/couchettes.
EuroNight Trains operated in Austria, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland with double decker sleeper cars, sleepers, couchettes and reclining seats.
City Night Line Trains are overnight trains which connect with lines in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Czech Rebuplic.
Treski train travel to ski resorts in Austria, run on weekend nights. You can choose between a comfort and a couchette compartment. Local transport to your ski resort is provided.
Special Offers and Discounts
Kids under 15 travel free with parents
Under 26 - up to 50 % reduction
Women over 60 and men over 65 receive 50% off if they are VORTEILS card holders.
Free travel while on military service
Up to 50% reductions for people with limited mobility and blind people
Up to a 25% discount on direct connections between Austria and Italy for business customers
Special train/ski pass fares
Group ticket for two to five people Valid on suburban and regional service trains as well as on the Raaberbahn
Members of a group travelling together in one class to the same destination receive a reduction 30%-40%
Cheap car rental for OBB customers
Family pass Lower Austria and Salzburg offers reductions on the standard fare and children under 15 can travel for free with their parents
RAILPLUS cards available to purchase for youths and senior travellers on the OBB website offering 25 % reduction for cross-border international rail fares.
Special VORTEIL Scards are available for travelling families, under 26, the elderly, military service, business related travel, individuals who suffer from blindness and disabilities.
Wedelweiss-Ticket includes the outward and return journey by rail, the transfer to/from your accommodation and a ski pass for either 6 or 3 days.
25 % reduction on travel to different EVENTS, fairs, etc.
ÖBB's Snow & Fun Ticket - train journey + transfer + ski pass for the day
Einfach-Raus Ticket - Group ticket for two to five people. Valid on OBB’s suburban and regional trains and the Raaberbahn.
Members of a group travelling together can get a reduction on ÖBB of 30% - 40%
Travel groups starting from six people receive a 50 % reduction (off peak) on ALLEGRO tickets (2nd class) to Italy and back.
VORTEILScard holders gain advantageous prices for rail travel in Austria, but also 25 % reduction for cross-border international rail journeys.
Minimax ticket when travelling in small groups between 2-5 people.
BB BUSINESS card gives a reduction in travel to neighbouring countries and for travel within Germany.