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Travel Info & Tips Alternative Cheaper Routes for Rail Pass Users

Alternative Cheaper Routes for Rail Pass Users

How to avoid paying the most expensive reservation fees when using Eurail or InterRail passes

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If you will be exploring Europe by train with an InterRail or Eurail pass you can just hop on the majority of the daytime train services, but on some of them rail pass users must reserve prior to boarding.

Most of these rail pass reservation fees, which can also be referred to as supplements as they're additional costs to using a pass, are priced from €4 - 10, but on a small number of train services, these fees are more than €10.
If you will be using a First Class Eurail or InterRail pass, you will need to pay the more expensive reservation fees and travel in First Class on these trains.

So if you will be looking to save money while following your rail pass adventures, it's best to avoid the train services and routes with the comparatively expensive reservation fees.
Particularly when there are alternative routes available on which rail pass users can avoid paying any fees at all; and which ShowMeTheJourney has looked up for you.

All timings verified, as of July 6th until December 11th

Five notes for all the alternative schedules:

Keep these factors in mind when considering following one of the alternative route suggestions.

(1) It may not look like it, but ShowMeTheJourney has singled out the simplest viable routings for avoiding the fees charged on DAYTIME trains.

(2) If a routing hasn't been included for some days of the week, then the alternative viable routing to taking the trains with fees, isn't available on those days.

For example, there are only local trains between Modane and Torino/Turin at weekends currently suspended, and these local trains are the only viable alternative to travelling on the direct TGV France-Italy trains, hence the lack of alternative journey options on Mondays to Fridays for journeys between Milano and both Lyon and Paris.

So if there isn't a journey option suggested on the day you want to travel, on the route you want to take, it's because the alternatives to taking the direct train are either particularly convoluted on that day of the week OR not available at all.
If that is the case, the likely better options can include; paying the fee on the direct trains, avoiding the route, or booking discounted advance tickets for the journey instead; and using your pass for other days of travel.

(3) The departure and arrival times are based on the USUAL train schedules, but timings may be altered on your specific date(s), particularly if you will be travelling at weekends.
So confirm the timings on the Eurail or InterRail apps. or look up these journeys on a ticket booking service - or check at a station info desk when you first arrive in a location.

These are GUIDES to the alternative schedules, the intention is to give a good idea of the steps that will need to be taken to avoid paying the fees, to illustrate the choice between paying the fee to take a direct train, OR taking the alternative trains, which won't incur any additional charges.

(4) Many of the connections on the suggested journey options won't be guaranteed, trains will depart on time regardless if a preceding train is running late, so what has been highlighted in bold type is when such connections are particularly tightly timed.
In these scenarios alternative options will be available for completing a journey by the end of a day, but it can be worth having this in mind.

(5) Departure times highlighted in red are indicating that making these non-guaranteed connections, will actually be essential to reaching a final destination before the end of the day.
So proceed with caution and have a back-up plan.

From Barcelona...

...to Lyon:

Save €19 in 2nd class and €26 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by RENFE-SNCF trains.

Monday to Saturday

Dep:

Barcelona Sants

09:16

RE

Dep:

OR Barcelona P.de Gracia

09:21

 

Arr:

Port Bou

11:51

 

Dep:

Port Bou

12:04

TER

Arr:

Narbonne

13:51

 

Dep:

Narbonne

15:04

TER

Arr:

Avignon-Centre

17:17

 

Dep:

Avignon-Centre

18:11

TER

Arr:

Lyon Part-Dieu

20:40

 












An option is to de-risk the tightly timed connection in Port Bou by departing Barcelona an hour earlier.

Saturday and Sunday

Dep:

Barcelona Sants

07:46

RE

Dep:

OR Barcelona P.de Gracia

07:51

 

Arr:

Port Bou

09:59

 

Dep:

Port Bou

11:04

TER

Arr:

Avignon-Centre

15:18

 

Dep:

Avignon-Centre

16:10

TER

Arr:

Lyon Part-Dieu

18:40

 










...to Marseille:

Save €19 in 2nd class and €26 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by RENFE-SNCF trains.

An option is to de-risk the tightly timed connection in Port Bou by departing Barcelona an hour earlier.

Monday to Friday

Dep:

Barcelona Sants

09:16

RE

Dep:

OR Barcelona P.de Gracia

09:21

 

Arr:

Port Bou

11:51

 

Dep:

Port Bou

12:04

TER

Arr:

Narbonne

13:51

 

Dep:

Narbonne

14:28

TER

Arr:

Marseille-St Charles

17:37

 










Note that a viable alternative schedule to taking the RENFE-SNCF direct train is not available at weekends.

Basel & Bern to Verona & Venice:

Save €11 in 2nd class and €13 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by EC Switzerland > Italy trains and if you will be travelling on to Verona and Venice, you will also avoid the €10 reservation fees charged for rail pass users on the Frecce trains.

You will also be taking a more scenic route between Arth-Goldau and Bellinzona than that taken by the EC trains.

Daily

Dep:

Basel SBB

10:03

IR

Arr:

Cadenazzo

14:12

 

Dep:

Cadenazzo

14:39

IR

Arr:

Milano Centrale

16:17

 

Dep:

Milano Centrale

16:25

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

18:17

 

Dep:

Verona Porta Nuova

18:22

REG

Arr:

Venezia S. Lucia

19:50

 











To arrive in Venezia S. Lucia at 19:50, the preceding trains will need to be in both Milano and Verona on time for tightly timed connections, but if you don't make them, you will still be in Venice by the end of the day thanks to alternative later departures.

Berlin (& Frankfurt) to Paris:

Save €13 in 2nd class and €30 in 1st class by avoiding the direct high speed trains from Germany to France.

Monday to Friday and Sunday

Dep:

Berlin Hbf

08:30

ICE

Dep:

OR Frankfurt (Main) Hbf

12:50

 

Arr:

Offenburg

14:29

 

Dep:

Offenburg

15:05

 

Arr:

Strasbourg

15:36

 

Dep:

Strasbourg

16:19

TER

Arr:

Paris Est

21:23

 










Despite this being a guide to how to avoid having to make reservations when using Eurail or InterRail passes, ShowMeTheJourney recommends doing so for the long journey from Berlin to Offenburg.
There are no direct daytime trains from Berlin to Paris, so this suggested routing can be compared with these journey options.

Bologna to Innsbruck & Munich:

Save €14.50 in 2nd class and €20.90 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by EC Italy > Germany trains

Daily

Dep:

Bologna Centrale

12:05/12:10

REG

Arr:

Brennero

16:56

 

Dep:

Brennero

17:33

SBahn

Arr:

Innsbruck Hbf

18:13

 

Dep:

Innsbruck Hbf

18:40

EC

Arr:

Munchen Hbf

20:25

 








on Saturday and Sunday

Dep:

Bologna Centrale

10:10

REG

Arr:

Brennero

14:56

 

Dep:

Brennero

15:33

SBahn

Arr:

Innsbruck Hbf

16:13

 

Dep:

Innsbruck Hbf

16:40

EC

Arr:

Munchen Hbf

18:27

 








In Innsbruck you will be boarding the EC train which usually departs Bologna at 11:52.

Copenhagen to Stockholm:

Save the equivalent iof €7 in 2nd class and €17 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by Snabbtag trains.

Daily

Dep:

Kobenhavn H

09:27

OS

Arr:

  Göteborg C

13:20

 

Dep:

Göteborg C

13:59

R

Arr:

Stockholm C

18:44

 






Geneva (& Lausanne) To Milan & Verona & Venice:

Save €11 in 2nd class and €13 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by EC Switzerland > Italy trains and if you will be travelling on to Verona and Venice, you will also avoid the €10 reservation fees charged for rail pass users on the Frecce trains.

Daily: option 1

Dep:

Geneve

08:29

IR

Dep:

OR Lausanne

09:21

 

Arr:

Brig

11:02

 

Dep:

Brig

11:22

IR

Arr:

Domodossola

11:54

 

Dep:

Domodossola

12:56

REG

Arr:

Milano Centrale

14:35

 

Dep:

Milano Centrale

15:25

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

17:17

 

Dep:

Verona Porta Nuova

17:22

REG

Arr:

Venezia S. Lucia

18:25

 













To arrive in Venezia S. Lucia at 18:25 the preceding train will need to make a tightly timed connection in Verona, but if you don't make it there are later departures available.

Daily - option 2

Dep:

Geneve

10:29

IR

Dep:

Lausanne

11:21

 

Arr:

Brig

13:02

 

Dep:

Brig

13:22

IR

Arr:

Domodossola

13:54

 

Dep:

Domodossola

14:56

IR

Arr:

Milano Centrale

16:35

 

Dep:

Milano Centrale

17:25

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

19:15

 

Dep:

Verona Porta Nuova

19:22

REG

Arr:

Venezia S. Lucia

20:50

 













Miss that connection in Verona due to a late running train from Milan and the choices will then be:

  • paying a €10 reservation fee to take the Frecce train, or
  • a three hour wait in Verona.

Hamburg to Paris:

Save €13 in 2nd class and €30 in 1st class by avoiding the direct high speed trains from Germany to France

Monday to Friday and Sunday

Dep:

Hamburg Hbf

08:02

ICE

Arr:

Kalrsruhe Hbf

13:09

 

Dep:

Kalrsruhe Hbf

14:00

ICE

Arr:

Offenburg

14:29

 

Dep:

Offenburg

15:05

 

Arr:

Strasbourg

15:36

 

Dep:

Strasbourg

16:19

Arr:

Paris Est

21:32

 










Despite this being a guide to how to avoid having to make reservations when using Eurail or InterRail passes, ShowMeTheJourney recommends doing so for the long journey from Hamburg to Karlsruhe.

From Milan...

Not only will these alternative schedules for travelling from Italy to Switzerland be money savers for Eurail and Interrail users, they can also be more scenic too!

On all of these Italy to Switzerland journeys you will save €11 in 2nd class and €13 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by EC Italy > Switzerland trains.

...to Basel (& Frankfurt):

Daily (option 1)

Dep:

Milano Centrale

09:25

REG

Arr:

Domodossola

11:04

 

Dep:

Domodossola

11:58

IR

Arr:

Brig

12:33

 

Dep:

Brig

13:18

EC

Arr:

Bern

14:24

 

Arr:

Basel SBB

15:32

 

Arr:

Freiburg

16:20

 

Arr:

Mannheim

18:10

 

Arr:

Frankfurt (Main) Hbf

18:59

 












The EC train from Brig will have commenced its journey in Milano - it is direct from Brig to Frankfurt (Main) making the station calls listed above (and more).

Daily - Option 2; after Aug 28th

Dep:

Milano Centrale

09:43

R

Arr:

Cadenazzo

11:20

 

Dep:

Cadenazzo

11:46

IR

Arr:

Basel SBB

15:56

 

 









This option involves taking a more scenic route than that taken by the EC trains which travel via Brig and Bern.

...to Lausanne & Geneva:

Daily

Dep:

Milano Centrale

09:25

REG

Arr:

Domodossola

11:04

 

Dep:

Domodossola

11:58

IR

Arr:

Brig

12:33

 

Dep:

Brig

12:57

IR

Arr:

Lausanne

14:39

 

Arr:

and Geneve

15:31

 









...to Interlaken:

Daily Option 1 -slower but more scenic

Dep:

Milano Centrale

09:43

REG

Arr:

Cadenazzo

11:20

 

Dep:

Cadenazzo

11:46

IR

Arr:

Luzern

14:41

 

Dep:

Luzern

15:06

ZB

Arr:

Interlaken Ost

16:55

 








Daily (Option 2)

Dep:

Milano Centrale

09:20

TER

Arr:

Domodossola

10:59

 

Dep:

Domodossola

11:58

IR

Arr:

Spiez

13:44

 

Dep:

Spiez

14:05

IR

Arr:

Interlaken West

14:23

 









...to Munich (& Zurich):

There are no direct daytime trains from Milan to Munich/Munchen but these options will save €24.90 in 2nd class and €30.50 in 1st class, by avoiding the combination of Frecce trains from Milano to Verona and the EC Italy to Germany trains from Verona on to Munich.

Daily - option 1
Available from Aug 28th

Dep:

Milano Centrale

10:43

REG

Arr:

Cadenazzo

12:20

 

Dep:

Cadenazzo

12:46

IR

Arr:

Zurich Hb

15:55

 

Dep:

Zurich HB

17:33

EC

Arr:

Munchen Hbf

21:04

 










Daily (Option 2)

Dep:

Milano Centrale

08:25

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

10:17

 

Dep:

Verona Porta Nuova

11:50

REG

Arr:

Brennero

14:56

 

Dep:

Brennero

15:33

S-Bahn

Arr:

Innsbruck Hbf

16:13

 

Dep:

Innsbruck Hbf

16:40

EC

Arr:

Munchen Hbf

18:27

 











...to Zurich (& Basel):

Daily (option 1)
From Aug 28th

Dep:

Milano Centrale

10:43

REG

Arr:

Cadenazzo

12:20

 

Dep:

Cadenazzo

12:46

IR

Arr:

Zurich HB

15:55

 






Similarly timed journey options are available if you opt to depart from Milano at 08:43; 12:43 and 14:43.

Option 2 - more connections but more spectacular too!

That route above which travels from Bellinzona to Lugano via Goschenen is stunningly beautiful but take this routing via Tirano and you'll get to experience the absolute best of the Swiss railways.

Dep:

Milano Centrale

10:20

TER

Arr:

Tirano

12:52

 

Dep:

Tirano

13:00

RhB

Arr:

Pontresina

14:53

 

Dep:

Pontresina

15:02

RhB

Arr:

Samedan

15:08

 

Dep:

Samedan

15:15

 

Arr:

Chur

17:04

 

Dep:

Chur

17:09

IC

Arr:

Zurich HB

18:25

 

Arr:

and Basel SBB

19:28

 













Munich & Innsbruck to Bologna & Verona:

Save €14.50 in 2nd class and €20.90 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by EC Germany > Italy trains.

Daily

Dep:

Munchen Hbf

09:34

EC

Arr:

Innsbruck Hbf

11:18

 

Dep:

Innsbruck Hbf

11:40

S-Bahn

Arr:

Brennero

12:28

 

Dep:

Brennero

13:00

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

16:14

 

Arr:

and Bologna Centrale

17:58

 










In Innsbruck you will be leaving a direct train to Italy that is schedule to arrive in Verona at 14:58 and Bologna at 16:19.

Munich & Innsbruck to Venice:

Save €14.50 in 2nd class and €20.90 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by EC Germany > Italy trains

Daily

Dep:

Munchen Hbf

09:34

EC

Arr:

Innsbruck Hbf

11:18

 

Dep:

Innsbruck Hbf

11:40

S-Bahn

Arr:

Brennero

12:28

 

Dep:

Brennero

13:00

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

16:15

 

Dep:

Verona Porta Nuova

16:22

REG

Arr:

Venezia S. Lucia

17:50

 












If you miss that tightly timed connection in Verona you should have to wait only around an hour in Verona for the next REG (RV) train on to Venice.

Munich to Milan:

There are no direct daytime trains from Munich/Munchen to Milan, but these options will save €24.90 in 2nd class and €30.50 in 1st class, by avoiding the combination of the the EC Germany to Italy trains from Munich to Verona - and the Frecce trains from Verona on to Milano.

Daily (Option 1)

Dep:

Munchen Hbf

09:34

EC

Arr:

Innsbruck Hbf

11:18

 

Dep:

Innsbruck Hbf

11:40

S-Bahn

Arr:

Brennero

12:28

 

Dep:

Brennero

13:00

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

16:15

 

Dep:

Verona Porta Nuova

16:43

REG

Arr:

Milano Centrale

18:35

 












Daily (Option 2)
From August 28th

Dep:

Munchen Hbf

08:55

EC

Arr:

Zurich HB

12:57

 

Dep:

Zurich HB

14:05

IR

Arr:

Cadenazzo

17:12

 

Dep:

Cadenazzo

17:39

IR

Arr:

Milano Centrale

19:17

 








Not only does this routing have fewer connections, the part of the journey between Zug and Lugano is even more spectacular than the route through Brennero

Stockholm to Copenhagen:

Save the equivalent iof €7 in 2nd class and €17 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by Snabbtag trains.

Daily

Dep:

Stockholm C

09:14

R

Arr:

  Göteborg C

14:00

 

Dep:

Göteborg C

14:40

OS

Arr:

Kobenhavn H

18:29

 





Stockholm to Oslo:

Save the equivalent iof €7 in 2nd class and €17 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by Snabbtag trains.

Daily (Option 1)

Dep:

Stockholm C

09:14

R

Arr:

  Göteborg C

14:00

 

Dep:

Göteborg C

14:15

REG

Arr:

Oslo S

18:29

 





De-risk that tightly connection at Goteborg C station by departing Stockholm at 07:14.

Daily (Option 2)

Dep:

Stockholm C

13:14

R

Arr:

Herrljunga

17:12

 

Dep:

Herrljunga

17:31

IR

Arr:

Öxnered

18:26

 

Dep:

Öxnered

18:50

REG

Arr:

Olso S

21:51

 








On Sat/Sun arrive Oxnered at 18:33.

Making the connections in both Herrljunga and Oxnered is essential to being able to arrive in Oslo by the end of the day.

Venice to Geneva:

Save €11 in 2nd class and €13 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by EC Italy > Switzerland train.

Daily

Dep:

Venezia S. Lucia

08:10

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

09:38

 

Dep:

Verona Porta Nuova

09:45

REG

Arr:

Milano Centrale

11:35

 

Dep:

Milano Centrale

13:25

REG

Arr:

Domodossola

15:04

 

Dep:

Domodossola

15:58

IR

Arr:

Brig

16:33

 

Dep:

Brig

16:57

IR

Arr:

Lausanne

18:39

 

Arr:

and Geneve

19:29

 














De-risk making the connection in Verona by departing Venice at 07:10.

Venice to Innsbruck & Munich:

Save €14.50 in 2nd class and €20.90 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by EC Italy > Germany trains.

Daily

Dep:

Venezia S. Lucia

09:10

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

10:38

 

Dep:

Verona Porta Nuova

11:50

REG

Arr:

Brennero

14:52

 

Dep:

Brennero

15:33

S-Bahn

Arr:

Innsbruck Hbf

16:13

 

Dep:

Innsbruck Hbf

16:40

EC

Arr:

Munchen Hbf

18:27

 











Venice to Vienna:

Save €10 in 2nd class and €15 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by Railjet trains.

Monday to Friday (Option 1)

Dep:

Venezia S. Lucia

05:01

REG

Arr:

Udine

06:51

 

Dep:

Udine

07:14

REX

Arr:

Villach Hbf

08:54

 

Dep:

Villach Hbf

09:14

RJ

Arr:

Wien Hbf

13:35

 








Monday to Friday (Option 2)

Dep:

Venezia S. Lucia

14:13

REG

Arr:

Udine

16:28

 

Dep:

Udine

17:22

REX

Arr:

Villach Hbf

19:07

 

Dep:

Villach Hbf

19:14

RJ

Arr:

Wien Hbf

23:35

 








This option 2 is more risky, as the tightly timed connection in Villach is into the final train of the day from Villach to Wien Hbf.

Saturday and Sunday

Dep:

Venezia S. Lucia

13:13

REG

Arr:

Udine

15:28

 

Dep:

Udine

17:22

REX

Arr:

Villach Hbf

19:07

 

Dep:

Villach Hbf

19:14

RJ

Arr:

Wien Hbf

23:35

 








Taking this routing at a weekend is is a risk, as the tightly timed connection in Villach is into the final train of the day from Villach to Wien Hbf.

Vienna to Venice:

Save €10 in 2nd class and €15 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by Railjet trains.

Daily

Dep:

Wien Hbf

14:25

RJ

Arr:

Villach Hbf

18:46

 

Dep:

Villach Hbf

19:29

REX

Arr:

Udine

21:13

 

Dep:

Udine

22:09

REG

Arr:

Venezia S. Lucia

23:59

 








Venice to Zurich:

Save €11 in 2nd class and €13 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by EC Italy > Switzerland train.

Daily
from Aug 28th

Dep:

Venezia S. Lucia

08:10

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

09:38

 

Dep:

Verona Porta Nuova

09:45

REG

Arr:

Milano Centrale

11:35

 

Dep:

Milano Centrale

13:43

REG

Arr:

Lugano

14:58

 

Dep:

Lugano

15:02

IR

Arr:

Arth-Goldau

18:07

 

Dep:

Arth-Goldau

18:15

IR

Arr:

Zurich HB

18:55

 













De-risk making the connection in Verona by departing Venice at 07:10.

Zurich to Milan & Verona & Venice:

Save €11 in 2nd class and €13 in 1st class by avoiding the direct journey by EC Switzerland > Italy trains and if you will be travelling on to Verona and Venice, you will also avoid the €10 reservation fees charged for rail pass users on the Frecce trains.

Daily (Option 1)
from Aug 28th

Dep:

Zurich HB

10:05

IR

Arr:

Cadenazzo

13:12

 

Dep:

Cadenazzo

13:39

IR

Arr:

Milano Centrale

15:17

 

Dep:

Milano Centrale

15:25

REG

Arr:

Verona Porta Nuova

17:15

 

Dep:

Verona Porta Nuova

17:22

REG

Arr:

Venezia S. Lucia

18:50

 










The connections in Milan and Verona are both tightly timed and can't be guaranteed, but if trains delays cause them to be missed, there will be later REG/RV trains heading on to Venezia/Venice.

Daily (Option 2)

That route above via Cadenazzo is stunningly beautiful but take this routing via Tirano and you'll get to experience the absolute best of the Swiss railways.

Dep:

Zurich HB

10:07

ICE

Arr:

Chur

11:22

 

Dep:

Chur

11:58

RhB

Arr:

Samedan

13:45

 

Dep:

Samedan

13:48

RhB

Arr:

Pontresina

13:57

 

Dep:

Pontresina

14:08

RhB

Arr:

Tirano

16:23

 

Dep:

Tirano

17:08

REG

Arr:

Milano Centrale

19:40

 












Author

Simon Harper

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

ShowMeTheJourney

This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.