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Train Ticket Guides How To Book Tickets on the OBB Website - Step By Step
How To Book Tickets on the OBB Website - Step By Step

How To Book Tickets on the OBB Website - Step By Step

OBB, the operator of Austrian national railways, has recently relaunched its website for booking train tickets, so discover how you can buy and save!

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Austria's national rail operator ÖBB, had clearly taken a long hard look at how other online train ticket booking services function, and decided to re-invent this particular wheel.
But its innovations have turned out to be a step too far, so it has recently re-launched it's booking service; and what we assume to be the primary aim of making it easier to use, has been accomplished.

However, the general steps to take on its booking path have been retained, as a result OBB is an example of a booking path, where the type of ticket, opting for 1st class, adding return tickets, passengers, reservations etc, is built into different steps along the path.
You don't enter all the key criteria on the home screen before you look for a journey, instead you look for a train departure; and then decide how you want to travel by it.

If you're not used to this method we particularly recommend, taking a look through this step-by-step to booking tickets on the desktop/PC version of the ÖBB booking service.

Key things to look out for:

The key things to be aware of are:

(1) Only one price, the cheapest possible Second class price, will be shown per departure.
(2) You need to click on that price to access other types of ticket, including upgrades to First Class (and Business Class when available) - and for the sleeping options on overnight trains.
(3) If you want to reserve a seat(s) you need to proactively add a reservation to your booking.
(4) You can add a return ticket to your booking, once you have completed the journey details for travelling one way.

Booking tickets for day trains

Accessing ticket booking from ÖBB's home page

If you search for 'OBB tickets' on Google, it will list this page shown above in its search results; its address is https://www.oebb.at/en/.

It is in effect the home page of the website for the Austrian national rail operator, ÖBB.
(However, you may first encounter the home page of the ticketing portal- and if you do so, you can skip these initial steps).

What SMTJ has drawn you attention to on the image is:

  1. Most of the headers and info on the home page is automatically translated into English, but if you use the English translation it does make the ticket search box easier to understand.
  2. If you click this 'Book Ticket' link you'll be whizzed off to the home page of the OBB ticket booking service
  3. If you fill out your starting point, destination, date, and time here, they'll already be pre-populated when you click on 'Book Ticket'

Looking up a journey:

As can be seen at top left, this is the home page of the OBB ticket booking service, so this may the initial page that you land on; or if you click on that 'book tickets' link on the OBB home page (shown above) you can use this screen to find your journey.
If you used that journey search box on the OBB the home page this info will be pre-populated when you access this screen.

As shown a clever feature of this search process is, as soon you click in the from and to boxes a list of the 10 most popular destinations in Austria will appear, so if you'll be travelling from or to these locations, you can simply select it (Wien is Vienna).
Or if it's not shown, as you begin to type the destinations on the drop down list will change; the system can handle the English names of major cities.

Though something to watch out for is the use of locations which begin with 'St' such as 'Saint Anton'.
St stations on OBB
As can be seen you need to take care and use the spelling of 'St.Anton' and 'St.Johann' etc with no spaces and Saint written as 'St.'

The other less obvious features of using this page are illustrated below.
How to Book on the OBB website

  1. You can use a calendar to access the date on which you'll be travelling, but the default time is right now, but it can make finding your train simpler if you also adjust the time (sounds obvious, but SMTJ keeps forgetting to take this step).
  2. Note the use of 'one way'; the opportunity to book return tickets is a couple of further steps along the booking path.
  3. This is the opportunity to add additional people to the travelling party, or to add dogs and bikes to the booking; the 'basket prices' you'll then see will cover these additions.
    Though something to look out for is...
    Bike etc.jpg
    ...if you do add an extra, such as bike ticket, to move on down the booking path, you also need to click the green 'Next' button at top right; you can't solely click on 'bicycle etc'.

Booking reservations for day trains because you already have a ticket:

Note where the number 4 has been placed two images above.
If you already have a ticket(s) but now want to add a reservation, you can use this button and then the prices you see will then solely be the price of a reservation.

But if you have a Eurail or InterRail pass and want to book a reservation on day train don't click this 'seat only' button, follow the steps outlined below instead.

Selecting the train you want to travel by:

This is the stage of the booking at which you choose the departure you wish to travel by, so it's a particularly crucial step if you want to purchase a cheap 'Sparscheine' ticket.
What has been pointed out on the above image is:

  1. If you didn't remember to enter your time of departure on the journey search screen, you can enter it now, or if you have a couple of departure times in mind, entering them here can be quicker than scrolling through the search results.
  2. This is another opportunity to amend the details of the travel party, or add a bicycle to the booking (bike tickets are required in Austria and spaces also have to be reserved on the express Railjet and IC trains).
  3. You can sort the results by multiple criteria, one of which is 'Fare' and this sorts the results so that the cheapest prices available that day are listed first.
  4. You can factor in other options to the search results, as shown below they include the options to
  • only see direct trains
  • extend the connecting time between trains, particularly useful on routes with no direct trains
  • check to see which trains allow bikes on board; some trains in rural areas don't allow them
  • how journey options which don't include buses; OBB will sell end-to-tickets for many destinations which can only be accessed by train + bus
    Journey options on OBB
    ...continuing the notes from two images above...
  1. Direct trains are illustrated by a solid bar.
    Indirect journeys
    An indirect journey requiring a change of train is shown with a split bar (1), but a direct journey has a solid bar (2).
    ...continuing the notes from three images above...
  2. You'll only see this reservation warning on what will be busy trains; and in effect what it's telling you is that you should make the optional reservation if you want to have a seat and travel by this particular departure.
  3. The only price you'll see on this screen is the price of the cheapest Standard/2nd class ticket; the option to travel in other classes is available at the next step.

Selecting a type of ticket and any extras:

On journeys on which multiple types of ticket are available, which includes all journeys by Railjet (RJ and RJX), the trains used for 99% of the long-distance express journeys in Austria, the default will be to show the cheapest price, which means that discounted 'Sparschiene' tickets will be pre-selected.
However, these tickets cannot be exchanged or refunded, so two other types of ticket are offered which are less restrictive; so take note of their terms and if you want to travel with them, you need to be proactive and select them.

Further down this 'Fare Categories and Products page' is the opportunity to make upgrades to your booking, regardless of the type of ticket you want to travel by.
Adding reservations to a booking with OBB
As can be seen above, this is the opportunity to upgrade to the other travel classes and add reservations; note if you want to to travel 1st class in a reserved seat, you will need to add First Class AND a reservation.
Though the use of 'simply more room' under sells the First Class offering, as others extras are available including an at seat service of food and drink.

The 'more services' circled in green, doesn't give you much more...
Booking with OBB
...as can be seen above, clicking on it gives a more convoluted path to adding a seat reservation to a previous ticket booking.

Though as you'll see when making a booking, before you get to see the ticketing options, you will need to enter the details of the travellers...
name and id requirement.jpg
...and the click the green 'Next' button.
Note that in affect you are accepting that you will need to have photo I.D. with you when using the ticket, so don't forget to take your passport or I.D. card with you.

Prior to making a payment:

Another unusual aspect of booking tickets with OBB is that at this stage on most other booking services, you simply have the opportunity to check over the ticket(s) you have selected and placed in the basket.
But on OBB this stage is the opportunity to:

  1. book the return ticket for journey if you need one.
    If you click on this link, you'll be taken to the equivalent of this screen, but take care to look out for...
    Booking a return journey on OBB
    ...the start and end points will have been smartly flipped, so that you'll be booking for the opposite direction, but the defaults on the calendar are (1) you'll want to travel back on the same day, hence (2) the time will be the next train back after your outward journey will have arrived; so if need be, change them.
  2. You can also now buy tickets for other journeys, add them to the basket and pay in one transaction
  3. This insurance form is particularly worth having a look at if you will be travelling long-distance with 'Sparschiene' tickets, because these tickets can't be refunded in ay circumstances including being ill at the time of your trip.
    However, as can be seen on the summary of the travel insurance policy...
    Insurance details.jpg
    ...it will offer protection on your purchase, in the event of illness preventing you from travelling.
    Though note what the insurance doesn't provide for is the ability to have your purchase refunded if you simply change your mind.
  4. Note that you'll have 15 mins to go ahead with the booking, so this an opportunity to check with friends/family etc that they're happy with the price and departure time.

Booking Eurail / InterRail reservations for day trains

OBB's online booking system allows Eurail and InterRail pass users to book seat reservations on these day trains:

  • within Austria
  • within Italy
  • on trains between Austria and Italy
  • on other international day trains from Austria.

Booking reservations for the night trains within and to/from Austria is also available, though the steps to take differ slightly when booking rail pass reservations for these, hence the separate guide below.

OBB doesn't charge booking fees, which is a plus over using Eurail and InterRail service, which charges a €2 fee per person, per reservation.
Though the steps to take on OBB aren't particularly obvious and the information supplied by OBB isn't particularly clear, hence the step-by step guide.

Services on which seat reservations are optional:

  • IC and RJ and RJX services within Austria
  • RJ services to/from Czechia, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland
  • ICE services to/from Germany
  • EC and IC services to Hungary, Germany and Switzerland

Services on which seat reservations for InterRail/Eurail pass users are mandatory:

  • EC and RJ services to/from Italy
  • EC services to/from Croatia, Slovenia and Poland
  • the Frecce high speed trains within Italy (FA, FB and FR)
  • the IC services within Italy between the beginning of May and the end of September; and on and around national holidays.

Step-By-Step

1: the home page
When you access the home page of the OBB ticket booking service enter the details of your journey; start and end point, date and time, as you would if you were booking tickets.
But instead of clicking on 'Find Services' click the text marked 'change'.
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for day trains on OBB

2: Applying a Discount
As far as the OBB booking system is concerned, you're not booking a reservation, instead you are buying a ticket at discounted rate, so you need to apply the discount.
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for day trains on OBB

3: The first stage of selecting the Eurail / InterRail discount
OBB offers many types of discounted tickets, so many that the Eurail/Interrail 'discount' can only be found if you click on 'Show More'
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for day trains on OBB

4: The second stage of selecting the Eurail / InterRail discount
Once you have clicked on 'Show More' you need to scroll down to find the Eurail/Interrail 'discount'; it's towards the bottom of the list, which isn't in alphabetical order.
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for day trains on OBB

5: Confirming you have chosen the correct discount
Before proceeding to the trains you initially selected back on the home page, by clicking the 'Next' button, it's a good idea to check that you selected the correct discount on the list.
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for day trains on OBB

6: Looking for a departure
Once you click that 'Next' button you'll be back at the home screen, and it won't look any different than it did at Step One, your journey details will still be pre-populated, but as you'll see, there's no indication that you've applied the the Eurail/Interrail 'discount'.
You now need to move on select a departure to travel by; and it might seem logical to click 'seat only' because you won't need a ticket and just want to reserve a seat, but in fact you need to select 'one way tickets and day tickets'.
If you don't you won't see the correct prices of the reservations.
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for day trains on OBB

7a: The first stage of booking the reservation on a service on which reservations are optional
One of the oddest aspects of using OBB to book rail reservations is that if you will be travelling on a service which doesn't have mandatory rail pass reservations, the price you will see is €0.
Presumably the logic is that as the reservations are optional, you don't have to go ahead with a booking.
You need to click the €0 price.
(Also note that one single line = a direct train service, you'll want to hone in on these when booking a rail pass reservation).
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for day trains on OBB

8a: The second stage of booking the reservation on a service on which reservations are optional
Initially the price top left is €0, but what you need to do is proactively tick the 'Reservation' box; in this example below, the price shown is €3, because the journey is by a Railjet.
If you will be travelling with a First Class rail pass, you need to also proactively select the '1st class' box, so that you will be assigned a seat in First Class.
Note that there's nothing to stop you ticking the 1st class box if you will be using a 2nd class pass(es), but when the conductor inspects the ticket(s) you will be told to give up your seat; you can only opt for a 1st class reservation if you have a First Class pass.
Also note that if you have a First Class pass, you can opt to pay a €15 fee to have a seat assigned in Business Class; otherwise the reservation cost is the same as that charged to Second class pass users.
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for day trains on OBB

7b: The first stage of booking the reservation on an Austria to Italy EC or RJ train
Similar to booking an optional reservation, on these trains on which the reservations are mandatory for Eurail and InterRail pass users, you need to click on the price shown, which will be €10.
Look out for any broken lines and text saying 'section only', you'll want to target the direct trains with a solid line.
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for day trains on OBB

8b: The second stage of booking the reservation on Austria to Italy EC or RJ train
There are a couple of crucial, but less than obvious aspects, to the booking process:

  • If you will be travelling with a 1st class pass, you must tick the 1st class box, your reservation/pass won't be valid in Italy if you try to sit in a 2nd class seat with a 1st class pass.
  • Whether you will be travelling with a 1st or 2nd class pass, you must tick the reservation box, because reservations are mandatory for the Italian section of the routes taken by these EC or RJ trains.
    The price for the 2nd class reservation will then be €13 and the 1st class reservation will be €18.
    (£2 less than the price(s) shown on the InterRail/Eurail booking service; because you won't have to pay the booking fee).
    Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for day trains on OBB

7c: The first stage of booking the reservation on an Italian train
You need to click on the price shown, which for any journey by a Frecce train (FA, FB, FR) will be €10.
Look out for the solid lines, which indicate direct trains.
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for Italian day trains on OBB

8c: The second stage of booking the reservation on an Italian train
If you will be travelling with a 1st class, tick this box so that you will be assigned a seat in Business Class - very swish; and the price won't change, because the fee will still be €10.
Note that you don't have to select the reservation, on the Italian routes OBB automatically does this.
Booking Eurail and InterRail pass reservations for Italian day trains on OBB

Booking an overnight train journey:

Selecting the train you want to travel by

The journey look-up process on the OBB booking services doesn't give the opportunity to specify that you want to travel by a night train and it isn't an option, or a filter to add when you're looking at the search results.
So if you want to take the night train you may need to select it, so the type of train (yellow circle) that you'll be looking out for is NJ for Nightjet, or EN for EuroNight; which is used for any train that isn't a Nightjet.
The green circle is indicating that this is a direct journey by the Nightjet (in this example), though its often possible to depart later, or arrive earlier, by making connections in and out of the night trains; hence the alternative options with connections.

Choosing your ticket and type of accommodation

Having clicked on the NJ or EN departure you'll be taken to the night train booking screen.

OBB has done a great job of making this process relatively uncomplicated, but what's particularly worth looking out for is:

  1. Seats will be available on the night train and this basket price is the price of travelling in a seat, so if you want to travel in a seat and are happy to travel on a Sparschiene ticket, click this red button.
    Though what's worth paying attention to is that this seat price is also the base price to which the reservation fees for the couchettes and sleeping cabins will be added to.

  2. As per day trains, Sparschiene tickets which can't be refunded or exchanged will be the default but 'Comfort Tickets', that offer more flexibility, will also be available.

  3. This is the price of swapping a Komfort ticket for a Sparschiene ticket, it will then become the new base price to which the reservation fees for the couchettes and sleeping cabins will be added.
    It will be (a lot) more expensive, but keep in mind that the total cost of travelling in a sleeper cabin can be more than €150; a lot of money to wave goodbye if you mixed up a date, or a work commitment crops up etc.

  4. The price includes a seat reservation (which is a key difference as to how tickets are sold for the day trains).

  5. This is the additional cost, in addition to the basket price at top right, for travelling in a 6 berth couchette; on most departures more expensive bunks in a 4 berth couchette compartment are also available.
    6 This is the additional cost, in addition to the basket price at top right, of travelling in the cheapest (of many) bed in sleeping cabin options.

  6. To see those other sleeper options; and the 4-berth couchette options, you need to click on those couchette and sleeper green buttons; and scroll down the page.

Selecting a specific sleeper option:

The default will be the that you'll want to travel in the cheapest sleeper option available, so in this example a bed in a 3-bed cabin has been pre-selected.
The key thing to look out for is that this pre-selected bed has been added to the basket price.
But as can be seen other options are available and the price of upgrading to them is shown, but look out for the fact that these upgrade costs will be added to that new basket price.
So, in this example, the total price of travelling in a compartment with only two beds will comprise the initial (seat) basket price + the cost of a bed in a 3-bed cabin + the cost of this upgrade to a 2-bed cabin.

Booking an overnight journey with a rail pass:

Looking up the journey

It's rather fabulous that OBB allows users of Eurail and InterRail passes to book reservations for night trains online, but it is a quirky process from the start, because on OBB an InterRail or Eurail user qualifies for a discount on the night train ticket price.

  1. To access this discount you need to click 'Change'
    Then having done so, on this screen...
    Booking rail pass reservations for night trains with OBB
    ...take these steps.
  • Click 'Add Discount'
  • The Discount options will then appear, and on it, click 'More'.
    Keep scrolling slowly, the options aren't alphabetical, until you see the rail pass user option...
    Accessing the Night train discount on OBB
    ...click 'Confirm'...

Click 'Next' and you'll be taken back to the home page

  1. Once you're back on the home page you might assume that 'seat only no ticket' will be the path to follow, because rail pass users don't need tickets, but that's not how it works.
    You need to ignore this option and click on 'one way tickets and day tickets' instead.
    You will then see the list of available departures.

Choose a departure

The type of train (yellow circle) that you'll be looking out for is NJ for Nightjet, or EN for EuroNight (used for any train that isn't a Nightjet).
The green circle is that this is a direct journey by the Nightjet (in this example), its often possible to depart later, or arrive earlier, by making connections in and out of the night trains.

Selecting your accommodation

This is the stage at which you can opt to travel in a seat, a couchette or a sleeping cabin.

  1. This is the price of the reservation to travel in a seat, it is also the base price, to which the cost of travelling in a couchette or sleeping cabin will be added.
    If you just want to travel in a seat (see the notes below), click this red button to make a payment.
  2. Note that rail pass users are automatically offered 'Komfort' tickets, which have some flexibility regarding refunds; though check the terms carefully if you want to travel in a couchette or sleeping cabin.
  3. This price is the Sparschiene seat price, which is irrelevant if you'll be travelling with a rail pass, but what it does show is that in this example, which will be typical, the InterRail/Eurail saving is €15.90; so add this to the cost of the day rates of using your pass.
  4. If you want to travel in a couchette or sleeping cabins, you need to click here and then scroll down to access all the options.
    The reservation costs of each will be added to the basket (seat) price, they are not the full reservation fees which will be charged; that will be in the basket (red area).
    The price of the cheapest couchette or sleeping cabin will be pre-selected and added to the basket; and you can also see the additional costs of adding the other options (fewer people per cabin) to this basket price.

Booking seats on some overnight routes

On some routes; particularly those between Austria, Germany and Switzerland, the trains are operated as though two separate services are joined together, with the seated accommodation in an InterCity (IC) train and the couchettes and sleeping cabins in the Nightjet train.
When that is the situation, the booking path for rail pass reservations in the seats is the same as it is when booking daytime journeys by these IC trains (see above).
You won't find the seats on this reservations for night trains booking path.

Author

Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.

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