In Central Europe, train travel is well organized, fast, relatively comfortable, and fortunately affordable.
There are several ways to travel by train – from one major city to another within the country or between countries, or local trains that stop in small towns and fastest being express, or Eurostar from Paris to London, Intercity in Germany, or TGV (Trains de Grand Vitesse) from Switzerland (Lausanne) to Paris and other important French cities.
Spain, Portugal, and Finland have their own versions of express trains. The Portuguese is called pandolino, as it was designed and built by an Italian company (It runs only between Oporto and Lisbon).
For these trains you have to obtain tickets that also guarantee a numbered seat.
Regular trains have two classes (First and Second). The First class offers more comfortable and spacious seats.
In Switzerland trains run every hour between major cities and are on time most of the time, if not all the time.
In Italy trains are never on time, ad mostly overcrowded.
When travelling by train you must store your luggage securely since there are many thieves who run through trains and grab whatever they judge to contain valuables,.
In Germany, trains depart on time, but these days they never arrive on time.
In France TGV enjoys an excellent reputation for speed, comfort, and safety.
In Eastern Europe train travel may be comfortable in some countries, but very uncomfortable and fraught with all types of dangers in others.
European train stations are busy with all kinds of trains departing and arriving. Their information boards change every minute.
In some main cities like Paris, there are several train station serving different regions.
Most trains also contain dining car where often the menu is appealing and freshly prepared, and you can even order alcoholic beverages from an extensive list.
Fares are calculated by distance.
You can buy a pass for different periods of time 9one, two or four weeks) pending your travel needs. Eurail Pass includes several countries others are for one issuing country.
In Switzerland, special cog-trains and postal buses are included in the Railpass. The only major difficulty with train travel is connecting trains in major cities to smaller towns.
The tracks may be far apart and convoluted to access and times between arrivals and departure may be to restrictive.
You can also book sleeping compartments that sleep four, or book a whole unit fort eh family.
Trains remain the quintessential European way to travel, mostly due to short distances between major cities, countries, and evolution of the system.
Several countries offer senior discounts upon presenting your passport for proof. In Portugal the discount is 50 per cent, in other countries it may be less.