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Author Topic: On reservations, fees and supplements - Interrail  (Read 961 times)
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« on: April 20, 2024, 10:27:02 »

Opinion - Interrail should not require top up / extra charges to use a train

I love being able to plan a day or two ahead or even less - just "jump on a train" with a ticket with no fuss, a planned town or city for the end of the day with a budget hotel planned for the evening.  "Reservation Required" is the bane of my life ... and I resent "reservation fees" which are really supplementary fares when I have already purchased an InterRail ticket.  If operators such as Eurostar (even on services within the Schengen area) want to charge up to 10 euros for a reservation to help them ensure all their trains are not overloaded, fair enough but 34 euros is really a surcharge. What they should really do is re-negotiate their agreement with InterRail to get a fair slice of the pie.   I WILL give them the right / ability to make a charge for immigration and customs fees they incur on international journeys on which such fees are levied on them. 

Having used a first class pass recently, and paid more for it than I would for a standard class pass, I do feel that customers should get the supplier's first class service and not "standard premier", first class service including things like access to first class lounges. It may be an unpalatable comment here, but the extra cost of the first class pass is not great, and perhaps it could bear a moderate increase as it is not as price sensitive as the standard class ticket. (And why does a reservation on an already-purchased ticket sometimes cost more in first class than standard class?)

In Utopia, where reservations are required on any train covered by the pass, a single site would provide them. Oh dear - some we can buy online but the sites vary and others are only available at stations.  I'm quite happy to sit at home or in a hotel and plan) - but I really don't want to be in a town / city queueing for over an hour to see if I can use the only train the following day.

The "No reservations required" option on the planning app is wonderful. My recent trip around the Baltic was done with minimal reservations; Newhaven to Dieppe, Paris to Luxembourg, three legs in Poland, Vilnius to Riga, Tallinn to Helsinki, Sundsvall to Stockholm, Stockholm to Malmo and Dieppe to Newhaven. Three of those were ferries "outside of" the pass, and I note that a "reservation" does not even guarantee the service will run; service into Newhaven cancelled, and following plans screwed up as the result was an arrival there late evening rather than mid morning, long after the final train home had left.

Which leads on to another "no reservation" benefit - something goes a bit wrong, and you can slip back to the next train in a series, or reroute without having following plans explode.  I don't care to travel too much after dark, and that allows me to "defensively schedule" myself - "Oh never mind that I missed a connection - there's a later train".   And where there's a line with a few through trains and others not doing the total route, I won't wait for the through service but always get as far as I can.

Sometimes there's a benefit in a connection missing - "every cloud has a silver lining". An unexpected hour in Hamburg gave me the opportunity to sit down and at an excellent lunch from a wide variety of choices.  Connections that aren't can be made - witness the announcement on the Newhaven to Brighton train - "the train to Southampton is going to be leaving a few minutes late from platform 2"; huge thanks to the train manager who let us know and, yes, a number of people made a connection that wasn't.

At the end of last week, I was in Sweden and apart from a ferry reservation made it all the way back on turn-up-and-join services

** 12th April 2024
Malmo - Oersted @
Oersted - Odense @
** 13th April 2024
Odense - Kolding @
Kolding - Flensburg @
Flensberg - Neumunster @
Neumunster - Hamburg @
Hamburg - Osnabroek @
Osnabroek - Rheine @
Rheine - Salzbergen @
Salzbergen - Hengelo @
Hengelo - Zutphen @
Zutphen - Breda @
Breda - Antwerp @
** 14th April 2024
Antwerp - Courtrai @
Courtrai - Lille @
Lille - Amiens @
Amines - Rouen @
Rouen - Dieppe @
** 15th April 2024
Ferry (over 12 hour delay)
** 16th April 2024
Newhaven - Brighton %
Brighton - Southampton %
Southampton - Salisbury %
Salisbury - Warminster %
Warminster - Westbury %
Westbury - Trowbridge %
Trowbridge - Melksham %

Comment on the final services - I had used up my two days "home country" already and the quote fare was over £80. Using my senior rail card and buying a Newhaven to Southampton and a Southampton to Melksham reduced it to just over £30.

I have been - and remain - a campaigner for improved services in the UK (United Kingdom), and a supporter / partner with train operators.  I will admin that my trips are being made because I enjoy them and want to make them while I still can, but there's also a significant learning element in seeing how things are done elsewhere.  Much of what I have learned is about good things that I wish we did in the UK; one thing I have learned that we should not be doing is going "reservation required" with a few exceptions like excursions and sleeping compartments on overnight trains.

Illustrations - all taken from an unexpected hour in Hamburg - thank goodness I did not have a service of failed reservations for the rest of the day!


Coffee Shop Admin, Acting Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, Option 24/7 Melksham Rep
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2024, 23:39:56 »

The photo of the painted water carrier "Hans Hummel" character brought back a few memories.  I remember first seeing a number of differently painted ones dotted around the city centre back on 2005/6.  He's a well known Hamburg historic figure, who incidentally actually lived not far from where Hauptbahnhof is now. Hans Hummel wasn't his real name, which was Johann Heinrich Bentz, it originated from the various versions of the story children are told about him.  The catchphrase associated with him is still apparently used by the crowd when Hamburg SV score a goal!

Edit to change "crown" to "crowd" which rather changes the impression given of events.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2024, 10:24:01 by johnneyw » Logged
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