Rail Travel: passes, tickets, vacations, breaks and holidays
Rail journeys and vacations worldwide:
One of the best travel bargains going - the Amtrak USA Rail Pass.
I used the 30 day pass to journey coast to coast across America and back, as well as a trip to Canada. (New York - Niagara Falls (Canada*) - Chicago - Glenwood Springs - San Francisco - Los Angeles - Flagstaff - Grand Canyon - Flagstaff - Chicago - Boston - Washington - New York) *Canada is no longer included on pass
The cross-country routes have wide comfortable reclining seats - and I took advantage of these to sleep overnight and save on accommodation.
Current (July 2012) pass prices are: 15 day $429 , 30 day $649, 45 day $829 and children aged 2 to 15 are half price. You can buy online from Amtrak whilst in the UK (I bought mine in NY after I started my holiday and I believe you can still do the same). You can also buy in pounds from STA Travel (USA Rail Pass) but at the time of writing this article there was a mark-up in price over buying direct in dollars.
I shall be writing a separate article on travelling with Amtrak, in the meantime you can use the following links (which are liable to change, so you may have to start from Amtrak's homepage) to
find out more:
Full Amtrak Timetable and map (on the page, to download click the link for System Timetable, it is above the box of links for regional timetables).
Amtrak - information on US Rail Pass.
CanRail System pass; 7 Economy class single trips on the Via Rail Canada network during a 21-day period - different prices for low and high season.
CanRail Corridor Pass; 7 trips anywhere within the Quebec-Windsor corridor in Economy class during a 10-day period.
Note - Via Rail has placed new restrictions on the use of these passes see links below:
Via Rail Homepage - main Canadian Passenger Rail company
ViaRail Canrail Pass (System) new conditions
ViaRail Corridor Pass new conditions
rockymountaineer.com four spectacular rail routes through the scenic landscapes of British Columbia and Alberta.
Booking in the UK; prices vary, among others try:
STA Travel (CanRail Pass/Via Rail Tickets)
internationalrail.com (CanRail Pass/Via Rail Tickets)
1stclassholidays.com Rocky Mountaineer and Via Rail Tickets (no online booking, has contact details but recommends you book with them via your local ABTA member travel agent).
The two major rail pass schemes are:
- InterRail: for people whose residence is a European country(see T & Cs)
You cannot use the pass in your own country of residence.
Maximum of 30 countries from Ireland in the west to Turkey in the east
- Eurail if you are a resident of a non-European country.
Maximum of 25 countries from Ireland in the west to Romania/Bulgaria in the east
You are considered to be a resident of a country if you have been living in this country for longer than 6 months on the first day of validity of your Pass.
- Both passes have a variety of options on number of countries and days of travel for your pass.
- If you are 25 and under the pass may be cheaper.
- Rules are liable to change - for more information and latest T & Cs - check on the relevant booking sites in the links below.
Note: neither pass includes rail travel in the UK.
European Rail ticketing companies:
Eurostar official site
Eurostar Ski Trains
Eurotunnel official site
Raileurope tickets to/for 10 European countries including internal journeys; InterRail passes
thetrainline.com (UK and Eurostar rail tickets, and rail and hotel packages in the UK)
Raileasy (UK and Eurostar train tickets, also has booking facilities for ferries, buses, metros, London underground)
Interrailnet.com the joint InteRail webshop of 30 European Railways; InterRail pass for Europe (n.b. for European residents, not valid for use in your "home" country)
Eurail.com Eurail pass (for people resident outside Europe - see comments above)
Pensioner Tourists :- free rail travel in the Republic of Ireland:
At the time of writing tourists over 66 years of age can obtain free rail travel, see this
Irish Times Article. edit: Suspended as at June 2011.
Other rail regions will be covered at a later date.
japanrailpass.net Information on the Japan Rail Pass