The Eurail Group G.I.E. (sometimes referred to as Eurorail) is a Netherlands-based company, registered in Luxembourg, that sells passes and tickets for European railroads. It is owned by a group of European rail carriers and shipping companies.
Its principal products are Eurail passes (formerly known as "Europass" and informally known as Eurorail Passes) and InterRail passes, with which a passenger has largely unlimited ability to travel on nearly all European railroads and some shipping lines at a fixed price per day of travel or travel within a certain number of days. Eurail sells a variety of passes, including those specific to two to five bordering countries, discounted passes for groups of up to five people traveling together, or for those under 26, passes which provide unlimited travel in a fixed period, and passes which provide a fixed number of days of travel in a longer period. InterRail passes are only available for European residents.
How it works
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A pass will generally grant a passenger free transportation on an ordinary train (for example, EuroCity trains and Regional). Trains that require reservations are referred to as premier trains, these trains include; TGV, Thalys, Eurostar, Eurostar Italia, AVE, Swiss Scenic Trains and night trains (with sleeping compartments) require a supplement. Both fares covered by the pass and reservation fees vary greatly from country to country. Sleeper reservations fees depend on accommodation selected and how far in advance they are pre-reserved.
A pass can cost more than walk-up fares in southern countries like Italy and Spain. In Italy, the per day cost of the pass plus the 10–15 euro reservation can exceed the normal cost of a train journey. Rail Passes become a great benefit for travelers planning to take many trains instead of just a few smaller train trips. In Spain, seat reservations are required for the high-speed AVE trains, however a person can just hop on any regional service without paying any seat reservation cost. A Eurail pass may be cost-effective in France since TGV reservations are only about 5 euros, though it is important to note that pass holder fares are subject to availability, therefore it is a good idea to pre-book seat reservations as far in advance as possible to secure the cheapest pass-holder fee. France also has many regional services which do not require a seat reservation.
- Global Pass: The Eurail Global Pass allows a passenger to visit "24 countries" (actually 25; Eurail counts Ireland and Northern Ireland as one country) throughout Europe, and see them in any order. Countries in the Eurail system that are not available on the Global Pass are Montenegro, Poland, and Serbia.
- Select Pass: The Eurail Select Pass provides the flexibility to plan a trip and also comes with the most options. When picking a Select Pass, passengers can choose from 3, 4, or 5 bordering countries for 5 to 15 travel days.
- Regional Pass: The Eurail Regional Passes combine two bordering countries. The passes offer the ability to concentrate a European adventure within a specific region.
- One Country Pass: The Eurail One Country Pass is for exploring a single country or area. The passes are valid for one month, but the exact number of travel days available varies per country.
The traditional Eurail pass covers 28 countries, as of 2013: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey. Other passes, such as the Eurail Selectpass, allows one to select a series of bordering countries. For fare calculation purposes, some regions count as one country: Benelux, Slovenia-Croatia, and Serbia-Montenegro-Bulgaria.
Eurail passes can only be purchased by non-European residents. Other countries whose nationals are not eligible to buy a Eurail Pass include the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. It is possible for non-Europeans to obtain passes in Europe, although they are cheaper and easier to procure outside of Europe. For European residents InterRail is available, which has similar benefits, except that it is not valid in the buyer's country of residence.
- InterRail – for European residents
- Indrail Pass – a similar railway ticket for travel on Indian Railways
- Japan Rail Pass - a similar railway ticket valid for travel on all major forms of transportation provided by the JR Group
- Korea Rail Pass - a similar railway ticket valid for travel on all major forms of transportation provided by Korail
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|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for European rail passes.|