A simple Europan ticket (s. USA page for Amtrak)
The following pages will be about how a (not yet) ticketed passenger can make a decent deal with the railroads. I will try to cover the largest possible area - but my focus so far is Europe, Asia and USA, esp. international tickets bought WITHOUT THE HELP OF INTERNET using everyday's, not "seats limited" deals.
I will use few abbreviations:
- UIC = International Union of Railways, http://www.uic.asso.fr
- CIV = International convention concerning the carriage of passengers and luggage by rail
- TCV = Tarif Commun international pour le transport des Voyageurs et des Bagages (Standard International Passenger and Baggage Tariff). Not to be confused with French TGV trains!
- SCIC-NRT = Since Dec. 2009 the TCV tarif is called "SCIC-NRT".
- "Global Price" = the way French Railway, SNCF but also Spanish RENFE and Italian FS essentially sabotage both "West" (TCV) and the "East" (SMPS) and make everyone upset.
- SCIC-IRT = Since Dec. 2009 the "Global Price" tarif is called SCIC-IRT.
- CMO = same as CIV but in Middle East
- OSJD = Organisation for the Collaboration between Railways (OSZhD)
(Organizaciya Sotrudnichestva Zheleznyh Dorog)
- SMPS = Convention concerning the international Carriage of Passengers by Rail
- East-West = similar to TCV, but "bridging" countries in "SMPS" with countries in "CIV"
- MPT, sometimes also EMPT = similar to TCV but for some OSJD countries
- MGPT = similar to MPT but exclusively between countries of former Soviet Union
Before going further: RAILPASS-WARNING!!!
There are numerous "deals" passed by one generation of travelers to other: USA Railpass, Eurail Pass (for overseas visitors of Europe) and Interrail Pass (for European residents). These were never a bargain but 20 years ago were very useful. In 2007 USA Raiplass, Eurail and Interrail is a tourist trap. A pass with only few days of validity will be "consumed" up too quickly. For France, Italy, Spain visit www.sncf.fr, www.trenitalia.it, www.renfe.com and buy train tickets on-line.
On the left there is a sample "European" CIV international ticket issued in Turkiye from Istanbul to Thessaloniki, Greece using TCV tariff.
The ticket has three parts, often none of it is in English - unless you are one of the unlucky who bought overpriced ticket outside of continental Europe.
The "European" ticket is a LONG white envelope with train logo in upper right. It is issues in 3 languages: the "native" language of the country, often French and one more.
In the middle is the issuing railroad and on the left the "CIV" logo. Important: just underneath of the train logo there is the total price and underneath of it is the validity time. Most CIV tickets are valid 2 month. International tickets issued in Turkey and Middle East are valid 6 months. International tickets issued in CIS and in some Asian countries are valid either 4 month (round-trip or "open jaw") or 2 month (one way). Finally, we see in the lower right corner the stamp of issuing agency and the serial number of the ticket. Only the authorised agent has the permission to stamp the ticket. If the issuing agency and the seller is not the same: investigate.
Inside of the white envelope you will see several but at least one pink sheet. This sheet describes the itinerary. In the upper right corner we see the stamp of the office, in the middle "special circumstances" - it can be, the ticket is for a small group traveling together or anything else - rarely used, but worth to examine. The upper left corner has the payment information. Normally it's nothing there (=ticket was payed by cash). Many trains have two classes: first and second. Unless there are special circumstances, the prefered class is ALWAYS second. If you need FIRST class - in most cases you have to ask for it explicitly.