Europe Warnings Or Dangers Tips by GyuriFT

Europe Warnings and Dangers: 138 reviews and 180 photos

RailEurope woes, bugs, overpricing, overlooking

I just found a serious bug in the Raileurope web site. In most cases their prices are way off (to expensive). But in some cases their managers seem to overlook - and the price is totally bogus (way to cheap). This is a rare case, but here it is.

Let's go on a very popular Munich-Budapest route. The cheapest usual "restricted" fare is between 29 and 39 Euro and the regular price is 103 Euro. No one pays that 103 Euro because there are so many discounts, but let's take that price.

Here is what I have on a virtual booking on April 21, 2010 from RailEurope:

The unrestricted 1-month ticket is usually $169. Of course this is a "rigged" price: the regular prices are calculated based on sophisticated spreadsheets called "TCV-books". We have access to these - but it is faster to use the Czech "IDOS" engine which powers the "jizdenka" web site. There is no such thing as "99.99" price, in particular in Dollars. The original prices were/are set in UIC Francs, than converted to Euro and published. No "marketing manager" prices!

What we see at first sight: what is originally 103 Euro is being sold for $169. Obviously, it is a mark-up.

But not so fast.

Look at the train 357/477 combination. The price is the same ($169) - but the train is going via Praha and there is one change. There is no way the "regular" international price Munich-Praha-Budapest would be $169 without tricks. I can do it (much) cheaper - but NOT on the 1-month straight tickets.

Indeed, if I price the Munich-Furth i. Wald-Praha-Kuty-Budapest this is what I get:

The total would be 34.40 + 106.60 = 141 Euro or about $190.

Here we have an obvious mistake of Raileurope.

However, don't rush to buy that ticket: in the reality with little tariff tricks the Munich-Praha-Budapest can be done for under $50/person. But without tricks we have an obvious mistake.

How it can happen? Either the engine of RailEurope is plain wrong or the pricing is just ad-hoc.

Looking again at the RailEurope screenshot we will find much more bugs which would harm the traveler:

1) the pricing of the night train at $217 (unrestricted ticket) is plain wrong. The price of full ticket is the same 103 Euro regardless of the train.
2) the $169 pricing on the same train for restricted ticket is again plain wrong. It is... 29 Euro instead of $169 !!! and the fare is even available.

Now let's see the REAL THING - how a regular tourist wold see the same relation but with pricing from the German Rail.

What we see:

- the restricted fare IS AVAILABLE on the same date for all trains. Hence, RailEurope is totally misleading. On some trains it is 39 Euro, on some trains it's 49 Euro.
- the unrestricted fare is 109 Euro (reservation included). This is fair since the regular unreserved ticket is 103 Euro and they charge 6 Euro for the reservation.
- there are TWO kind of trains:

a) the "RJ" ("RailJet"), Austrian private company running the service during the day
b) the EN ("Euronight"), Hungarian State company running the service during the night.

As one expects... the Hungarian service is even CHEAPER (not more expensive as RailEurope would make us believe) and the restricted fare starts at 29 Euro, not at $169!!!

Quick check does prove us, even the 29 Euro price is still available:

And even in 3-bed sleeper the lowest available price is 69 Euro - still almost 50% less than what RailEurope would charge us in the couch as "restricted" fare.


All in one: this is a disaster, completely lacks competence, not serious and overpriced. In some rare cases ridiculous marketing bugs will price the tickets much less but even than it's often not the best choice.

I provided the proof, you are the judge.

- RailEurope has now "free shipping" limited offer, but otherwise it's $18 within USA or more if expedited/other countries.
- There is one interesting product called "Anywhere Anytime France". I did not explore it yet, but maybe there is a possibility to "abuse" that system legally, I need to check it out.

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  • Written Mar 21, 2010
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