This guide will help you save money, time and confusion.
This guide to Polish train tickets, and how to buy them online, covers the basics of what you can expect to encounter when making bookings.
It aims to provide context for the tickets and journey options you should encounter, in usual circumstance, when making a booking either online or at the station for Polish train journeys.
SMTJ has striven to ensure that the advice presented is as accurate as possible, but a guide such as this cannot cover every combination of journey options.
Multiple operators provide the rail services in Poland and this impacts on how tickets are sold online.
Long-distance express trains are operated by PKP and it manages an online booking services dedicated to tickets for journeys within Poland by these trains.
The majority of Polish regional and local trains are managed by Polregio and it also offers an online booking service for these trains, but some local and regional trains are provided by private companies.
So this disparity creates complications, hence the launch of Koleo which operates as a one-stop shop for Polish rail tickets; particularly ideal for comparing the prices of PKP's express trains, with alternative (slower) journey options.
State owned company PKP Intercity is the operator of the express train services in Poland:
It operates four types of train service and ranked in order from most expensive to cheapest they are:
PKP InterCity categorises international EC train services as EIC services, when booking tickets for journeys within Poland on these trains.
Tickets for journeys by only these four types of services can be booked online on the PKP InterCity website; so if PKP InterCity services don't serve a destination or station, it won't sell the end-to-end journey online.
Though all of the major towns and cities in Poland are served by PKP InterCity's train services.
Note that you don’t have to be traveling by an EIP service in order to book tickets online.
Thirteen things worth knowing about booking tickets on the PKP InterCity website:
(1) For journeys within Poland tickets become available 30 days ahead of the travel datel the international tickets which can be booked on PKP InterCity are generally available up to two months in advance.
(2) The PKP InterCity website also sell tickets for direct international journeys by day and night trains on these routes
(3) All prices are shown in Polish zloty; (zl) 100zl = approx €23.
(4) Foreign nationals can book on PKP InterCity.
(5) When you look up a journey within Poland, you will only see* two prices per departure, a 1st class price and a 2nd class price.
There is no choice of different types of tickets, you will automatically be offered only the cheapest price available on each departure that you choose.
Though you don't need to be concerned about whether there are other tickets, with different terms and conditions re: refunds and exchange etc.
*The PKP InterCity booking system can be quirky, the ticket prices tend to be automatically shown for some departures and not others; though you can see the prices of those other departures if you click on them.
(6) Prices are cheaper the further ahead you can book, which is why it’s persevering with making an online booking.
The discounted tickets are Promo tickets, but you don't have to specifically select them, you will automatically be offered the cheapest possible price for your journey.
However, a sliding scale of prices is applied to these Promo tickets, so you'll make bigger savings the further ahead you can book.
You’re more likely to make significant savings of around 50% if you book ahead for 1st class tickets for the EIP and EIC services.
For example, if you want to take an EIP train from Warsaw/Warszawa to Krakow and travel in 1st class, you can save more than 120 zl (approximately €26) by booking around three weeks ahead.
Having looked up more than 100 journeys it seems as though 2nd class tickets can typically be around one third cheaper if you book in advance; no matter which of the type of train service you want to travel by
Though there is no absolute rule for this, PKP InterCity doesn’t seemingly apply specific terms and conditions governing how much you will save.
Tickets are also seemingly less likely to be discounted if you want to travel 1st class on IC and TLK services.
(7) PKP InterCity also offers specific discounts on the ticket prices, but these are dependent on who is making the journey; and as far as we glean you don’t have to be a Polish national to qualify for these discounts, which include:
If tickets for a family group are booked on PKP, look out for the option to book 'Family Tickets'; there is a symbol/icon that needs to be ticked named 'Family Ticket' (ignore the button marked 'Big Family'.)
The offer is valid provided that 2 to 5 persons, including at least one child under 16/aged 15 and under, will be travelling together.
Clicking the Family Icon reduced the total cost for the entire party by 30%.
Students in full time education aged 18 and under can also qualify for a 37% discount if they are studying Polish history, geography, culture and language as part of their education.
The document proving entitlement to this discount is a certificate issued by a Polish consul along with an identity document.
(8) Seat reservations are complimentary when booking tickets for any of the four services sold by PKP InterCity; your seat(s) will be assigned when booking.
You can also opt choose window or aisle seats, and whether to sit in an open-plan coach/carriage and whether you want to sit at a table, or seats in a compartment (if available).
There is also the opportunity to select wheelchair spaces
You can’t choose a forward-facing seat(s), but you can choose a specific seat on the train; though this is likely to be of use to only regular travellers.
(9) Because your seat(s) will be assigned when purchasing, your tickets will be specific to the departure you selected when booking.
You can exchange your tickets to a different departure; in effect your original purchase will be automatically be refunded and you will be charged for your newly selected ticket(s).
Meaning that if the price of your newly selected departure is higher than the ticket you originally booked, you’ll in effect be paying the difference in price between the two tickets.
Keeping in mind that prices are likely to have risen after you made your initial booking.
(10) You don’t have to register to purchase, you can make a ‘guest booking’, but if you register you'll have access to your personal account, which you can use to manage your booking.
For example, you'll need access to your account if you want to exchange or refund your tickets online.
(11) If you have booked tickets for a journey within Poland, you can apply for a full refund either online or at the station up to 15mins before departure.
(12) Tickets will be sent via email, they will be attached as a PDF.
If you will be making a journey within Poland, you can either save this PDF document to your phone/mobile device; making sure you will be able to show the PDF to the conductor on the train
Or you can print if off and take it with you.
Although, if you have booked an international journey on PKP InterCity you MUST print off the ticket and take it with you, it won’t be valid if you only save it to your mobile device.
(13) Bikes can be taken on any PKP InterCity train including the EIC, EIP and TLK trains, but a bike ticket is required for any train journey and are sold at a flat rate of PLN 9.10.
More info is available here on our guide to taking bikes on to European trains.
Using Rail Passes on Polish express trains:
Travelling in Poland with an InterRail, Eurail or European East pass has recently become a lot simpler.
Rail pass users can hop on the Polregio services, but because ticket purchasers are automatically assigned seats on the four long-distance PKP train services – EIP, EIC, IC and TLK, rail pass users need to reserve seats prior to boarding these trains.
However, these seat reservations can now be booked on the PKP website; it has also published a how to reserve guide for Eurail and InterRail users.
Using rail passes on the EIC, IC and TLK services:
If you want to travel by an EIC, IC or TLK train service, you can also obtain these reservations at a station ticket desk, the fee will be 1zl; around €0.25.
So, as you no longer have to pay a premium to travel by the superior EIC trains, it’s worth checking to see if those services are available on the route you wish to take; and if they are, target those trains, if the departure/arrival times suit.
It’s a good idea to book these reservations when you first arrive at a Polish station, if you book them at the last minute, you’ll risk having to book against the clock; you’ll need to have made the reservation 15 mins before departure, and there’s a small risk of the seats being sold out on your first choice of train.
You can also purchase the reservations for the EIC trains before you arrive in Poland, either online with the Eurail or InterRail reservation service, though there will be a booking fee of €2 per person per reservation; or at a Reisezentrum travel desk at a major station in Germany.
Though if you do so, you will be then also be charged the equivalent of €3.50 by the conductor when you board the train.
Using rail passes on the EIP trains:
Booking reservations for the premium EIP train services is different, whether you have a 1st or 2nd class rail pass, you will be charged a reservation fee of the equivalent of €10 per person to travel by these trains.
If you have a 1st class pass, your reservation will include the complimentary drinks and light meals, which are served to 1st class ticket holders on the EIP trains.
The fee can now be paid online on the PKP website; it has also published a how to reserve guide for Eurail and InterRail users.
Or you can purchase these EIP reservations at a ticket desk at a Polish station, at least 15 mins before your train is due to depart.
Although there is a small risk, that by the time you arrive in Poland, seats will be sold out on your first choice of departure.
You can also purchase the reservations for the EIP trains before you arrive in Poland, either online with the Eurail or InterRail reservation service, though there will be a booking fee of €2 per person per reservation; or at a Reisezentrum travel desk at a major station in Germany.
However, if you opt for either of these booking methods, to ensure you can travel on a specific EIP train, before you arrive in Poland, there is a catch.
Because when you board the train and take up the seats you have reserved at a German station, or with Eurail/InterRail, the conductor on the train will re-charge you for the reservation.
Rail pass users must pay reservation fees before boarding both the daytime express trains to and from Poland, the EC trains*; and on the international overnight trains.
*According to the Eurail and InterRail websites, the reservation fees still apply to international journeys by the EC trains, despite fees no longer being charged to travel by these trains for domestic journeys within Poland; and in the neighboring countries that they travel through.
These rail pass reservations for the day and night trains cannot be booked on the PKP website, but they can be booked at:
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