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8 replies
Night trains from 1) Prague->Krakow, and 2) Krakow-> Budapest in July
mtyf
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Hi there,

I have read through a couple of helpful forum threads on night trains but had a few more questions that I couldn’t find the answers for (and would like some more up to date advice).

1) Two of us would like to take the night train from Prague to Krakow on July 11, arriving in Krakow on July 12. I have looked at the IDOS website and understand that we want to take the R401 Silesia which departs from Prague at 21:32 and arrives in Krakow at 6:24.

a) We would like to take a 2-berth compartment so we are guaranteed to be the only passengers inside. Does this mean we must go 1st-class?

b) The only online pricing I have been able to find is through RailEurope.com, which I understand is an agency and thus has higher cost. The quote for two passengers is $344 USD, which is about 277EUR, or about 138EUR each. Is this reasonable? [I tried looking at the eshop.cd.cz site but for some reason it does not show the Prague-Krakow route.]

c) I am sure it would be cheaper to purchase tickets in Prague at the train station, but I am worried about tickets selling out – we are traveling in mid-July, and on a Sunday night. Again, since we want a 2-berth compartment, am I correct to worry about this? Or should it be no problem to purchase tickets when we arrive in Prague (a few days before we want to take the train)?

d) a relevant question – my guidebook (Frommers) says that left-luggage lockers at all Prague train stations are unsecure and should not be used, is this accurate?

2) Similar questions for a second trip that we would like to take from Krakow to Budapest, on July 14th. Again, from IDOS I see that we will want to take the D400 Silesia which departs Krakow at 22:11 and arrives in Budapest at 8:32 on July 15th.

a) similar question about pricing – RailEurope says about 138EUR each for a 1st-class 2-berth compartment. Does this seem reasonable?

b) If we wait to purchase in Europe, is it possible to purchase this ticket in Prague? Or do we have to wait until we get to Krakow?

c) should we worry about tickets selling out? I feel like it is less a concern here because we would be traveling mid-week (a Wednesday night). But as you might be able to tell, I can sometimes be concerned about having things set ahead of time!

That’s it for now. Thank you so much for any advice.

Michelle

oldlady
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Quote:
a) We would like to take a 2-berth compartment so we are guaranteed to be the only passengers inside. Does this mean we must go 1st-class?
Some trains have economy 2 berth cabins in 2nd class. It appears from information at Rick Steves that this train does. http://www.euraide.d…
Quote:
b) The only online pricing I have been able to find is through RailEurope.com, which I understand is an agency and thus has higher cost. The quote for two passengers is $344 USD, which is about 277EUR, or about 138EUR each. Is this reasonable? [I tried looking at the eshop.cd.cz site but for some reason it does not show the Prague-Krakow route.]
Prices in the Rick Steves Euraid link are with a railpass — you can probably find the cost for a day train at either the Czech or Polish rail website and add the cost of your sleeper. Or use 35% less than the rail Europe figure for an estimate.
Quote:
c) I am sure it would be cheaper to purchase tickets in Prague at the train station, but I am worried about tickets selling out – we are traveling in mid-July, and on a Sunday night. Again, since we want a 2-berth compartment, am I correct to worry about this? Or should it be no problem to purchase tickets when we arrive in Prague (a few days before we want to take the train)?
Generally I would say that a 2 berth cabin is LESS likely to sell out than cheaper accommodations, but they are so cheap on this route that probably doesn’t hold. I would try to buy this a week in advance. When do you arrive in Prague? Where will you be before you arrive in Prague? You can buy this ticket at a major train station elsewhere in Europe.
Quote:
d) a relevant question – my guidebook (Frommers) says that left-luggage lockers at all Prague train stations are unsecure and should not be used, is this accurate?
I have never heard this. One generality that I have found to be absolutely true is that all guidebooks (and especially high end ones like Frommers) drastically overstate safety and security concerns in Eastern Europe. My guess is that there were reports of theft in 1989 and the guide books still include the warning even though the problem has long since been corrected.

Poke around the Euraide link for information on your other train.

mtyf
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Hi oldlady,

Thank you for your prompt response. I was trying to look around at the Euraide link but they appear to be doing some site maintenance so I couldn’t get much specific information.

Quote:
When do you arrive in Prague? Where will you be before you arrive in Prague? You can buy this ticket at a major train station elsewhere in Europe.

I will be arriving in Prague directly from the USA, so no opportunity to purchase rail tickets in Europe more than 4 days prior to when we want to take the train. Actually, however, my travel companion will be in Europe before me – do you know if we can purchase either of these tickets (or both, hopefully?) in Barcelona or a major city in Italy (not sure which city he will be in just yet)?

Quote:
Prices in the Rick Steves Euraid link are with a railpass — you can probably find the cost for a day train at either the Czech or Polish rail website and add the cost of your sleeper. Or use 35% less than the rail Europe figure for an estimate.

I know you were just estimating, but is 35% about how much RailEurope marks up the cost of a ticket? If that’s the case, then I might just pay the extra cost to give us the peace of mind of having tickets ahead of time. Normally I wouldn’t mind being more flexible but I realize this is the summer (high) season. I was thinking if it was a greater than 50% markup then I would think about waiting to keep costs down.

Thanks again.

oldlady
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Actually, however, my travel companion will be in Europe before me – do you know if we can purchase either of these tickets (or both, hopefully?) in Barcelona or a major city in Italy (not sure which city he will be in just yet)?
Usually, yes. If he has a problem, 4 days in advance in Prague will still work. 1st class probably won’t sell out so you can get a 1st class ticket and roomette when you get to Prague and it won’t cost you much, if any, more than buying 2nd class from raileurope or some other travel agency site. Unless there’s a major concert in Prague that weekend and everyone will be going back home on Sunday, there will be some sort of seat, berth or compartment available on this train. Will the world come to an end if you end up spending the night in a T4 with a couple of bunk mates?
Quote:
I know you were just estimating, but is 35% about how much RailEurope marks up the cost of a ticket?
On the tickets I’ve compared it’s worked out to 35%, plus they also mark up the cost of the reservation and you usually have to pay shipping and handling, so the total is roughly 50% higher — about the same mark-up as the difference between 2nd and 1st class.

papyr
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mtyf wrote:

1) Two of us would like to take the night train from Prague to Krakow on July 11, arriving in Krakow on July 12. I have looked at the IDOS website and understand that we want to take the R401 Silesia which departs from Prague at 21:32 and arrives in Krakow at 6:24.

a) We would like to take a 2-berth compartment so we are guaranteed to be the only passengers inside. Does this mean we must go 1st-class?


If you want to have 100% certainty that they won’t put anyone else in your compartment, then yes, you have to buy a first class ticket and a bed reservation of “Double” category.

Quote:
b) The only online pricing I have been able to find is through RailEurope.com, which I understand is an agency and thus has higher cost. The quote for two passengers is $344 USD, which is about 277EUR, or about 138EUR each. Is this reasonable? [I tried looking at the eshop.cd.cz site but for some reason it does not show the Prague-Krakow route.]

I looked at jizdenka.cz, which is a system directly connected to Czech railway’s sales and reservation system. It states 968 crowns (EUR 36.80) for a one-way ticket for one adult in the second class, no discounts, price for bed reservation not included. That’s the price you pay at the cash desk in Czech republic. The first class is 1455 crowns or EUR 55.30.
Quote:

c) I am sure it would be cheaper to purchase tickets in Prague at the train station, but I am worried about tickets selling out – we are traveling in mid-July, and on a Sunday night. Again, since we want a 2-berth compartment, am I correct to worry about this? Or should it be no problem to purchase tickets when we arrive in Prague (a few days before we want to take the train)?

Probably you don’t have to worry that much. Locals don’t travel to Poland that much. If that place sells out, the lucky buyer will most probably be another foreigner Smile
Quote:

d) a relevant question – my guidebook (Frommers) says that left-luggage lockers at all Prague train stations are unsecure and should not be used, is this accurate?

The lockers at train stations in Prague are the VERY SAME lockers you can encounter in Germany. Unfortunately, the left luggage office is closed now, I regret it, since they wanted just 15 crowns a day and now these lockers want 60 crowns a day.
Quote:

2) Similar questions for a second trip that we would like to take from Krakow to Budapest, on July 14th. Again, from IDOS I see that we will want to take the D400 Silesia which departs Krakow at 22:11 and arrives in Budapest at 8:32 on July 15th.

a) similar question about pricing – RailEurope says about 138EUR each for a 1st-class 2-berth compartment. Does this seem reasonable?

b) If we wait to purchase in Europe, is it possible to purchase this ticket in Prague? Or do we have to wait until we get to Krakow?


you can buy it in Prague, EUR 91.20 for one-way first class ticket, EUR 60.80 for a second-class ticket. The bed is extra again and I’m not sure about its price, so 138 EUR seems rather reasonable. But on the other hand, the price in Krakow may be even cheaper. Try to contact Polish railways at infoeuropa@intercity.pl .
Quote:

c) should we worry about tickets selling out? I feel like it is less a concern here because we would be traveling mid-week (a Wednesday night). But as you might be able to tell, I can sometimes be concerned about having things set ahead of time!

Probably not. In summer season, there are 2 night trains between Krakow and Budapest, one routed through Ostrava, another through Kosice. There should be a vacant place in at least one of them. But if you buy a ticket in advance in Prague, it will be issued for only one route of these two possible, and you can’t rethink your choice, since unused tickets can be re-bought only by the cash desk that issued it (e.g. here the office in Prague).

If you have any questions about Prague or Czech and Slovak republics, ask me.
If you only want to search train or bus connection within Czech&Slovakia and/or to neighboring countries, use www.cp.sk or www.idos.cz search engines. For domestic transport, they also show prices.

mtyf
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Thank you both oldlady and papyr for all of the information. Your replies to my questions (and those of others) are incredibly helpful.

I have been in contact with Polrail Service, (recommended on another travel forum). They have quoted me a price for tickets and shipping that seems to be not much more than the estimates that you have provided, and quite a bit less than RailEurope. I think you are probably right that the risk of these tickets selling out is probably not that high, but I think buying them ahead of time will give us some peace of mind, especially since the cost seems quite fair.

Again, thank you very much. I appreciate your time and advice.

Michelle

papyr
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You may also think of traveling during daytime. It takes about 8 hrs from Prague to Krakow, no need to buy a bed, or a seat reservation, simply 36.80 or 55.30 EUR for second or first class per person, bought just before departure in Prague Main station, payable by card. The saved money can be spent in the dining car. And you will at least see the landscape of the place you are visiting

If you have any questions about Prague or Czech and Slovak republics, ask me.
If you only want to search train or bus connection within Czech&Slovakia and/or to neighboring countries, use www.cp.sk or www.idos.cz search engines. For domestic transport, they also show prices.

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Hi mtyf,

I found your forum topic as I’m planning a trip from Krakow to Prague in late October. How was your experience with Polrail? Would you recommend using them for pre-booking tickets? Thanks Smile
-Holly

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Hi Holly,

Yes, I would recommend them. I filled out their online form and they got back to me right away with a quote that was about 2/3 of what RailEurope was charging. I didn’t know exactly what the prices would have been if I had bought them directly at a train station, but when I received the tickets (which had prices on them), it didn’t seem like Polrail had taken much of a service charge. They can send the tickets to you wherever you are, but of course it will be more expensive the further you send them. (I had them send the tickets ahead of time to my hotel in Prague.)

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Michelle