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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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OBB has launched a new website, so this guide is being updated, at the moment

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. 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 need to click the green 'Next' button at top right; you can't solely click on 'bicycle etc'.
  3. Note the use of 'one way', the opportunity to book return tickets is a couple of further steps along the booking path.
  4. If you already have a ticket(s) but want to add a reservation, or if you'll be using a rail pass and want to take up the option of adding a seat reservation on a day train, you can use this button and then the prices you see will solely be the price of a reservation.

But if you have a Eurail or InterRail pass and want to book a reservation on a night train, don't click this button, you'll be following a different path which we've explained below.

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 images 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 fact in other options to the search results, as shown below they include the option to (1) only see direct trains; (2) extend the connecting time between trains, particularly useful on routes with no direct trains; (3) check to see which trains allow bikes on board (some trains in rural areas don't allow them) and (4) show 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
  5. 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).
  6. You'll only see this reservation warning on what will be busy trains; and in effect what it's telling you is that you need to make the optional reservation if you want to have a seat and travel by this particular departure.
  7. 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 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 (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.

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.
    (1) Click 'Add Discount'
    (2) 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'...
    (3) Click 'Next' and you'll be taken to the stage at which you can select the night train.

2.You might assume that '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 'Change' instead.

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, 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 that 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 the additional costs of adding the other options to this basket price.
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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