"The pig and the "rabbit" - Train Ticket 101" GyuriFT's Profile

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.

Continuing: simple sample ticket - sometmes a deal

The upper part of itinerary is the departure city, iin our sample on the left it's Istanbul. The "Sinif cl, Kl 1" part beneath the departure city is CAREFULLY "eliminated" by a strike: the ticket is obviously a "second class" ticket and the destination (Thessaloniki) was written opposite the number "2", so it's indeed a second-class ticket. The ticket itself is a one-way ticket, so the entire area OPPOSITE the vertical "Sinif cl, Kl 1 2" area is invalidated by an other strike - otherwise that are would be filled out and the ticket would become either a round-trip or an "open-jaw" ticket. The journay route is carefully recorded (in our case stamped) underneath: <<0075>>Uzunköprü <<0073>>Pythion These are the stations with station codes (sometimes the station codes do not appear, if the journay is too long and too many stations are between). These just merely describe the path. Normally, the traveller is free to break the journay at any point for unlimited number of times - as long as the ticket is still valid.

On the end of the page we see the "price reduction" (how many percent - child ticlets usually have 50% price reduction. The ticket on the picture is just a regular full fare ticket) and the reason of the reduction. Finally, in the rightmost lower corner there is the price of that particular journay (46.50 New Turkish Lira).

It is important to know, there could be any number of such "sheets", one after other in the single white envelope. Each pink sheet would describe a certain journay with the price. The price on the white envelope is usually the TOTAL of all journays.

We are almost done, but there is somewhat more: a yellow piece of paper. This is not a ticket, but a special invoice for a seat or bed reservation. If the traveller occupies a fancy seat in a special train or a bed in the sleeping car, he has to pay for "Ticket Supplement". The supplement is sometimes in a separate white envelope like the ticket, sometimes it is attached to the white envelope with the ticket. It will have a sad fate: after the journey is finished, the sleeping car attendand will keep the ticket supplement and return the invoice part of it only. These invoices are clearly mared as "invoce", so they cannot be used again (no free lunch!).

In some cases a well-"designed" international TCV ticket can give us exceptional deals. We suspect, France is one of these. After some study of TCV tariff in France, we found a very interesting "cirlcle-route":

Kehl(GR) -> St.Amour/Dijon -> Nimes ->Toulouse Matabiau, TCV tariff code 07914, 1054 km
Toulouse Matabiau -> Cahors -> Paris -> Kehl(GR), TCV Tariff code 07922, 1225 km.

(also the other direction). This is a full circle without crossing and fully in the books! It does lead through most major attractions of France. The total distance is 2279 km. Since the French "cap" is 1700 km, it looks, like this ticket would cost only 128.60 Euro. The ticket starts and ends in Kehl, the French/German border point, very conveniently to be reached from Vienna, Munich (direct trains) and other parts of Germany. We also suspect, such tickets are a bit trouble to get in countries with fully computerised ticket issuance. However, ticket calculation in Hungary is still fully manual! Wasteels at Keleti Station does accept credit cards.

If for any reason the railway agency will refuse to issue such a "circular" ticket: no problem.
The traveller should break the ticket "as in the books" going from/to Toulouse Matabiau.
The price for the 1054 km section will be 89.60 Euro, for the 1225 km 100 Euro. But in this case a special return ticket discount of 25% will apply ("Découverte Séjour" discount), so the total will be 142.2 Euro - still a very low price. The only limitation is, the traveler cannot enter France between 3PM and 8 PM on weekend and between 5 AM and 10 AM on Monday and he has to stay in France at least one Saturday.

Not SO simple ticket - a good deal!

Obviously a "simple" ticket is often not the greatest deal. The Turkis ticket from Istanbul to Thessaloniki is actually not bad, but be warned: buying the same ticket in three pieces like Istanbul - Uzunköprü domestic Turkish ticket + Uzunköprü - Pythion "over-the-border-ticket" + Pythion - Thessaloniki domestic Greek ticket in theory could save about 5-10 Euro. The entire ticket was 46.50 Lira or roughly 25 Euro. It shows, these "CIV" white cover tickets are often overpriced. In some cases the "overpricing" is very strictly enforced: traveling on domestic tickets in Turkiye and Hungary in international trains is a "no-no". These are the two most tough countries for the oldest "simple-minded" ticket tricks ("go with domestic ticket internationally"). The traveler can, however, save a lot using very-very different strategy.

As it was said, Hungary is a very tough place to save money by traveling with domestic tickets internationally. At best, the conductor WILL demand the difference to be paid. At worst he can escalate the issue. There were some rather unpleasant cases. The Hungarian railway (MAV) is struggling with money issues, the morale of the workers is low. Still, Hungary is one of the best places to buy international train tickets - many travelers can get great bargains!

The ticket on the right is a Hungarian CITY-STAR train ticket from Budapest to Kapikule in Turkiye. Note the price: it's barely over 200 Euro. This ticket is, in fact, for a group of three adults and two children! Also notice: unlike the previous ticket, it is a round-trip ticket. Every CITY-STAR is either a round-trip or an "open-jaw". Thus, the group above paid about 20 Euro pro person pro direction from Budapest to Kapikule going via Belgrade and Sofia. This is a VERY-VERY good deal indeed.

The key to the secret is the CITY-STAR. Many countries in Europe offer CITY-STAR tickets. The idea of CITY-STAR is to make travel affordable even for larger families. This is part of social politics. However, CITY-STAR tickets are offered for anyone, you are not required to live in Europe, nether to have a large family. The CITY-STAR has usual "fixed price", INDEPENDENT of the distance(!) for the first traveler. This is a good deal alone. But the second, third, fourth and fifth traveler pay the half of that already low price. the children usually pay the quarter. Thus, the longer the distance and the more people are traveling together - the better is the deal. In some cases - like with this ticket - it beats the lowest low-cost airline deals. If the goal is to see as much of each country as possible, the travelers can "design" a CITY-STAR ticket which would involve many cities of interest. These tickets are better deal than "Eurail" or "Interrail" passes because they are cheaper, have almost no restrictions, are valid up to 2 months and have no residency restrictions either.

Obviously, thre is an ethic question: should you use them? CITY-STAR actually IS a free lunch. I dare to say: yes, please, use it. A Slovakian CITY-STAR ticket from Bratislava to Vladivostok on Russian Far East is a mere 100 Euro round-trip - one of the best travel deals on Earth. So feel free to "abuse" the railways. But play fair: saving on the ticket so much, feel free to visit every major city of interest, spend MORE time there (and more Crowns, Hrivnia, Roubles) and give back to community what was taken form railwas.

In my opinion a traveler who bought that over-priced Eurail ticket and after realizing how lousy is the deal tries to save every Cent and spends most of his time riding the over-night trains between different cities is a lose-lose deal: he loses on the ticket, the travel industry loses a guest in restaurants, hotels, museums lose one visitor and so on. A family of five spending an entire month in Germany but paying as little as 300 Euro for all their train tickets is a win-win.

After morale considerations - what kind of CITY-STAR deals do exist? See the next chapter!

CITY-STAR deals: some equal, some more equal :-)

Not every CITY-STAR deal is terrific, but many are. The CITY-STAR deal are suspiciously tied to countries with certain demographic issues (quickly aging, shrinking population).

This is the list of countries I am aware, they have a CITY-STAR deal, going from East to West and from North to South. The list is likely not full and I will update it as new deals will be discovered.

Russia: great deals into Serbia, Bulgaria, Germany, Slovakia. The only country I am aware having a deal into Belgium. "CITY-STAR" is known under a different name: "Biliet - Ekonomnaja Tsena", but some travellers reported "CITY-STAR" is also written on the ticket. The Russian deals are of exceptional value due large distance (Transsibierian Railway) being covered under "fixed price" model. Of special notice: every Russian and Ukrainian round-trip ticket sold for Hungarian destination is automagically 50% off. Every Russian and Ukrainian one-way ticket sold into Serbia and Crna Gora ("Montenegro") is automagically 30% off, for round-trip (just in case the "Biliet - Ekonomnaja Tsena Serbia" is not for you) it yields about 45% saving. Every round-trip ticket sold for Korea (N), Mongolia, China, Viet Nam is 20% off.

Sweden: There is a deal into Hungary. To be updated. The deals are usually good, but not exceptional.

Germany: many international deals, also known under "Sparschiene" or "Sparpreis". To be updated, does not seem to be of exceptional value. There is, however a very interesing ticket. Germany is a Federal State and each Federal State has own 1-day universal ticket which is good on every non-express train within that state and up to 5 people can travel together for the same price. These tickets cost between 17 and 25 Euro - and with some kowledge of geography quite a large distance can be made inexpensively. It's a great addition to "CITY-STAR Germany" bought in Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Bosnia, Russia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria.

Austria: Has on-line only "Sparschiene" point-to-point tickets. These are very good value to Germany, France, Italy - less to Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic.
CITY-STAR does exist to Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Crna Gora, Romania - but it is not as good value as the "other way" because the base price is higher (25% off the round-trip) and the discount levels for additional persons are 20% instead of 50% off. Since Austria has artificially high prices (+30%) into neighboring countries except Italy, Switzerland and Germany - this is not a terrific deal. An other restriction, these tickets need to be purchased in 3 day advance or earler.

Hungary: The second country on the list with "price-hammer" deals. At first (see the warning) it looks like a lousy place to buy international tickets. In the reality - it's the home of killer deals.
At first: EVERY, yes, EVERY round-trip ticket you buy from Hungary into Serbia and Montenegro is 60% off. At second: same with Croatia, Macedonia. Bulgaria and Romania is "only" 50% off. Third: there are super-saver deals every day, without Internet or advance purchase to: Bratislava (15 or 17 Euro r/t), Beograd (15 Euro ow, 28 Euro r/t on any train), Zagreb (like Beograd), Ljubljana (39 Euro r/t).
Finally regarding these point-to-point tickets:every r/t ticket in Hungary sold for a desitnation in CIS is automagically 50% off the entire price - even if you go as far as Vladivistok!

Than there are these terrific CITY-STAR deals. Target countries from Hungary of exceptional ticket value are: Nehterlands, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria (via Serbia or Romania). I would not buy for Greece (Bulgaria has good point-to-point into Greece), the value of Hungarian CITY-STAR ticket into Czech Republic is of question because usually it is cheaper to buy a Budapest - Bratislava point-to-point ticket (15-17 EUR r/t) and in Bratislava a special Slovakia-Czech cross-traffic ticket. The Hungarian CITY-STAR Bulgaria deal is one of the best because it allows to reach either Greece or Turkey for Pennies on Dollar.

Twinkle, twinkle little great CITY-STAR!!!

Slovakia: it is doubtless THE ÜBER-KING, the KAISER of CITY-STAR-s.

Russia! All-you-can-eat-Russia from Bratislava up to Vladivostok or Chinese border either via Poland and Belarus (150 EUR for 1st traveller round-trip, 70 for more, 35 for kids) or via Ukraina (100 EUR for first traveller, 50 for more, 25 for kids).

And we should not forget: every, even one-way point-to-point ticket into Ukraina and Russia is 50% off. Also: every international ticket to/from Czech Republic is very discounted, almost as cheap as domestic.

Czech Republic: very-very impressive CITY-STAR offerings, mostly to "West" (Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Danemark). The offerings into "south" are OK, but soemtimes it's better to travel into Slovakia or Hungary and buy there.

Poland: Seem to have CITY-STAR to: SWEDEN, DENMARK, HOLLAND, AUSTRIA, CROATIA, ROMANIA. Not much known, except they have 20% to 40% discounts on regular r/t tickets. Deals into Sweden, Denmark could be interesting. Web page worth to visit: http://www.intercity.pl/en

Slovenia: Special and very important point-to-point deal to Venice (15 Euro). Good discounts and on point-to-point tickets, also CITY-STAR-s to all countries which were part of former Jugoslavija. CITY-STAR to Greece (via former Jugo countries, not Buglaria), Germany and Czechoslovakia (what it used to be).

Croatia, Bosnia: The point-to-point ticket discount into what used to be "Jugoslavija" before the violence is very significant, but if going on a round-trip it is a better deal to buy as much in Hungary rather Croatia or Bosnia because it will be a bigger discount and the price will be closely the same as domestic. The CITY-STAR is like in Slovenia. In my opinion a better deal is to travel to the closest Hungarian destination and buy a CITY-STAR Germany in Hungary. Still, of course, much better than Eurail.

Serbia: average "good" CITY-STAR into "north" and very-very promising in Ukraina and Russia. It could be the very-very best deal to Russia - we just do not know yet. The main issue with the super-CITY-STAR in Slovakia is, the traveller need to have a Belorussian visa to go fast (and the ticket costs more), or change the trains Kiev. The connection from Serbia all the way to Chinese border is ideal.

We need a Serbian "volunteer" who has little time and can ask Wasteels office at Beograd railway station some specific questions!!! The web site of Zeleznice Srbije is not accurate

Bulgaria: They have everything, even a good CITY-STAR deal to Russia. More expensive - but the route is longer, too. For travleers from Middle East and south-east Europe Bulgaria should be THE destination to buy CITY-STAR tickets to Germany, Russia, Ukraina. And as usual, the "local" (i.e. international tickets between countries of Blakan peninsula) point-to-point tikcets are a good value. There is a special fare not to be missed: Sofia - Thessaloniki is a mere 15 Euro round-trip. Bulgarian sleeping cars are second-hand ex-DDR cars, some refurbished, some more tired than the others - but alwas very cheap.

Greece: CITY-STAR to Bulgaria, Slovenia, into what was known as "Czechoslovakia".

The Secrets and Mysteries of Orient

Imortant notce: until now we delt with international tickets within Europe which had THREE MAGIC CHARACTERS: CIV. Please remember "CIV". It is the umbrella for different rail tariff agreements and (for a simplification) the tickets are issued based on so-called TCV tariff. The rule of the thumb is: TCV is expensive, unless you trick it with CITY-STAR. Some countries are not offering TCV international tickets anymore (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Belgium; Sweden is very limited) - instead they seem to "feed" the computers of the railways of certain countries they want to deal with "all-inclusive" prices and some special deals involving limited seats. We think, this is not necessarily a good thing and may strongly backfire. A train is not an airplane, it stops in cities in-between.

Besides CIV and TCV there are other agreements and rail tariffs on the old continent. For instance, let's see Turkiye again. Turkiye is in CIV, right? We did see a nice CIV ticket. You also did hear my complain, the Turkish TCV (international tariff belonging to CIV) is way to expensive compared with the domestic. But Turkiye is also in CMO. CMO is similar to CIV, but it is an agreement between Middle East countries. Now it becomes really intersting! The same international ticket issued under CMO will be CHEAPER than under CIV. The logic: let Syrians or Iranians pay less, but the "rich" Germans more. Of course, the "rich" German can buy his entire ticket through Turkiye in Syria or Iran - and pay less.

Hopefully the reader has some basic skills to read the Iranian ticket on the left side. At first: we see "CMO" instead of "CIV". The rest is nearly identical to the common European CIV tickets. The ticket is in three languages: Iranian, Turkish, French. Sorry again - no English. The countries of CMO agreement set the price in Swiss Francs - we can see it. Looking at the ticket price (which is a FIRST CLASS ticket!!!) it is obvious, how cheap it is: a mere 48.4 Swiss Francs for a distance between Tabriz and Istanbul. This obviously shows, taveling by train in "CMO" countries is while slower than by bus, but even internationally is very-very inexpensive. The domestic tickets are even less, but we should not be too greedy. Also of note, the validity of CMO tickets is 6 month instead of 2.

The usual things and warnings apply. The railway is an extremely efficient "thing" on the old continet. It is made the way, that given political will a new route between former advisories can be opened within days. Also, a country, given the political will can send it's cars into an other country - to help out with unusually strong passenger traffic issues, as sign of a friendship or maybe for pure revenue. Unlike USA, passengers can experience unusual "guests" - and in theory it could happen, they will realize that they got on the territory of an "enemy" withot warning. Traveling in eastern part of Turkey? The Syrian and Iranian sleepers are lurking out there. In Russia traveling Transsiberian? Next to you is a friendly North Korean car - it's there, every two weeks coming out from hiding (and the border town of Tumangan) just to scare you. You are traveling from Poland to Hungary? Don't worry, your Russian sleeper has plenty of hot water.

CIV and CMO is not everything. There is the SMPS. SMPS came in life in late 50-s as an agreement between the countries "behind the Iron Curtain". It used to cover a big area from HaNoi to Berlin. After roughly 15 years of chaos it is again in OK shape, just changed a bit. SMPS tickets look - surprise - pretty similar to how CIV or CMO tickets look. The cover is a little bit broader, but shorter and "warm: Colors are dominant. And exactly as it is the case with CIV or CMO tickets, the English language is... missing. The three "base" languages are Russian, Chinese and German, one of them is usually substituted with the national language.

Smooth as Silk(road)? MPT+CITY STAR rules in China

The magic word "SMPS" actually covers MULTIPLE things and the traveler has to be aware of it. First, the good old "socialist brotherhood" fare tarif. This was called "EMPT": "Edinyj Mezhdunarodnyj Passazhirskii Tarif", whereas "Edinyj" is a keyword: "Universal", the rest: "International Passenger Tariff". In the happy(?) years as everyone between Marienborn and HaNoi was working on the same thing :-/ the passenger tariff also was the same: nearly regardless of the route and the country the passenger did face exactly the same fare structure. Nowadays the "E" went the way of dinosaurs, so it's only "MPT". There are some mysterious "multiplicators" and the tariff is only ROUGHLY the same - but it is still pretty close, even in pricing(!) to what it was at the time of the birth: in April of 1964. There is a minor diffrence: in 1964 up until ca. 1991(?) the base price was the Soviet Rouble. After Soviet Union was no more, the base price was set up - like in the case of Middle Eastern countries - in Swiss Frank.

There is an other thing, called "East-West Tariff". THIS "East West" was set up in Soviet Union as "Intourist Tariff" for the "Westerners" who traveled within Soviet Union and it was up to twice as expensive than the domestic tariff. Thus, an Englishman paid "Intourist Price" while traveling between, say, Moscow and Irkutsk and a Soviet citizen paid the domestic price. However, if the Soviet citizen got a permit to travel to UK (it certainly wasn't a crowd!), they DID pay the "East-West Tariff" until the Soviet border. On the other side, if the Englishman decided to travel to Ulan-Bator via Irkutsk, he paid the EMPT price, which was much cheaper than "East-West". It became a paradox, traveling a much longer distance on the same train was cheaper than a shorter. Such paradox is still valid today - with some modifications.

Today in Russia the domestic price for very long distance is much higher than the "East-West", while the shorter is somewhat less. And "East-West" is about 1.5 times higher than MPT. Thus, obviously, our goal would be at first sight - to get as much covered by MPT as possible. Yes ans no. The "Wunderkind" CITY-STAR is a CIV ticket. As everything "CIV" it falls under "East-West" in Russia. The Russian version of CITY-STAR is called "Ekonomnaia Cena". So LEGALLY it is CIV outside of Russia and East-West inside. But due it's nature it is lower than even MPT. Why does CITY-STAR rule in China? Because MPT is very inexpensive tariff, a ticket bought in Russia opposite the Chinese or Mongolian border into China, Mongolia, Viet Nam, N. Korea is ALWAYS MPT - and you already know, that border can be reached from many parts of Europe with CITY-STAR. The opposite is also true: all a Chinese does need to travel to Europe is an inexpensive MPT ticket bought in China - until the Russian border. Once in Russia, the traveler would buy the Russian version of the CITY-STAR (called "Ekonomnaia Tsena") into Germany, Belgium, Slovakia or Serbia - and continue with the same train.

Here is the list of countries currently in MPT agreement - in Russian alfabetic order:

Albania (big mystery!)
Korea (N)

Albania unformally suspended cooperation with socialist countries back in 1962. As EMPT came into life in 1964, the tariff was made the way an international rail ticket could be issued for Albania, but the other way is unclear. We are looking for "volunteers" living in Albania, China, Viet Nam, Korea(N), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania who could help us regarding international MPT tariff pricing and ticket availability within these countries. As a result of their research the helpers will be well-informed, how and where buy long-distance international tickets for less and also the complete pricing!

The ticket on this side is a Chinse ticket - for a Mongolian one see the next side. It looks slightly different than a CIV or CMO ticket, but it's logic is essentially the same.

The land of Ghenghis Khan, the Land of MPT

The ticket on this side is Mongolian. There is a cover written in Chinese, Russian and German on the Chinese ticket and a similar cover written in Mongolian, Russian and German on the Mongolian ticket. The key "sign" on both tickets is "MC" in the upper left. These tickets are issued under SMPS agreement. They could be based on somewhat else, but since every country involved (China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia) may issue MPT tickets, these are MPT tickets. MPT tickets can be issued by 13 and half (!) countries - the list of the MPT- countries is at the end.

What we see on the cover (from right to left):
- serial number of the ticket (Chinese one, Mongolian has an older style of cover, so S/N may be missing)
- as security measure second stamp of the issuing agency with train departure data and the name of passenger (Mongolian, Chinese has the S/N instead)
- name of the ticket issuing railroad in 3 languages (not the same as the ticket is for: for instance, Kazakh railroad can issue tickets for a train between China and N. Korea)
- "MC" letters with logo of the railroad (Mongolian), "MC" letters with hieroglyphs of the railroad (Chinese)
- ticket validity info (2 month for both tickets, "4" is carefully crossed out)
- Total price of the ticket in local currency. On Mongolian ticket we also see the amount of comission ( 4600 Tögrög, a very typical nominal fee under $4 - any comission over $10 is an alert!!!)
- primarily stamp of the issuing agency.

Inside of the ticket "booklet" we see pink/orange and green sheets. There could be several, but in our case we have one pink/orange and one green. The pink/orange is the "through" ticket itself. It will "qualify" the owner to board the train in good will without being regarded as "ticketless passenger". The ticket sheet is very similar to the CIV or CMO sheet:
- Stamp of the issuing agency on the top right
- "Ticket scheet" written in 3 languages
- Railway logo or hieroglyphs + "MC"

Next line:

- for how many passengers? (this is diffrent from CIV or CMO where the number of passengers is given only if it is more than one as "special circumstance"). On Mongolian ticket we have one passenger, on Chinese 4 passengers.
- Starting station (on Chinese ticket it's Urumqi, on Mongolian Ulaanbaatar)
- The 1st Class is empty, the 2nd Class line has the destination station: Alma Ata on Chinese ticket, Beijing on Mongolian ticket.

Mongolian railway agency did fill out the route because it could be several possibilities, one via Russia, the other direct. The Chinese agency did omit it.

Finally, the pricing information in Swiss Franks. Like in the case of CMO, all MPT tariff data is in Swiss Franks and each contry will convert it to it's own currency. Both tickets have no discount, so it was left empty. The "base" price on Chinese ticket is 49.89 SFr, the price on Mongolian ticket is 57.41 SFr. There is no other data (Control coupons - normally there aren't any). The Chinese ticket is for 4 people, so the total is 199.49 SFr, on Mongolian it is 57.41 Sfr. The total in local currency is indicated at last, it is 42000 Tögrög (Mongolian) and 1440 Yuan (RMB) on Chinese ticket.

The green sheet is the bed or chair reservation. Both trains are sleeping-car-only trains, so the passengers had to buy the reservation.

The green reservation sheet looks almost identical to the pink ticket sheet. On Mongolian we see a red line across the sheet which means, like in the case of CIV tickets the papr is just merely an invoice, the real reservation was already taken by railroad personal.

The critical information is not just the routing of the sleeping car, but also the exact date of departure, what railroad owns the car(!), the class being traveled (in both cases it is "2/4": 2nd class, 4 -bed compartent, Chinse just wrote a "Z" character), the exact location(s) of the bed(s).

Very interesting is the Mongolian sheet - it has the old "Soviet Rouble" base pre-printed rather than Sfr, neverless the price is given in SFr. The price of the reservation is 26.78 SFr on Mongolian and 18.09 on Chinese.

  • Intro Updated Jul 31, 2010
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