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Tips for rail travel

7,218 bytes added, 18:11, 11 October 2012
Accommodation on board: Warning to stowaways in freight trains.
*Many countries offer passes, allowing several journeys to be made within a region. [[Inter Rail]] (for Europeans) and [[Eurail]] (for others) are good value for those who qualify and wish to travel extensively through Europe. Otherwise, typically, the value gained from such a ticket is in inverse proportion to the area covered (unless you spend the whole period of the pass on trains).
*Unless you are joining the train at a minor halt with no hint of ticket office or machine (or at somewhat more major stations, like [[Preston]] or even [[Manchester]] Oxford Road, at night, although even then one must check that the ticket machine is not in use), please buy your ticket before joining the train or else you may have to pay a higher fare or a fine or even face imprisonment. Although prisons may offer free accommodation and catering, a stay in this form of government hospitality may not form an enjoyable part of your holiday.
 
Before or as you commit to a particular trip, do some '''research''' about the designs of trains and stations you will use. Look for sources that describe differences in height of the train or its distance from the boarding platform to ensure you can manage your luggage. Look for where you can store your larger luggage...preferably on the same car as your seat, but it may be in a separate car. Try to keep smaller pieces and valuables/irreplaceables with you. Consider ways you can secure large luggage contents and each piece that may be stored out-of-sight, e.g., with color-coded nylon straps connecting zipper-pulls, a cable-lock connecting handles of two or more pieces.
==When to travel==
*Many trains (especially faster ones) call for very brief intervals at smaller stations, sometimes as short as 30 seconds. Have all your luggage at hand and be prepared to board quickly. Tuck away loose pieces of luggage like drinks, maps, guidebooks and coats ''before'' the train arrives to ensure a smooth boarding procedure.
*Please don't run if you can avoid it.
*Do not walk on the tracks except at an authorized, controlled crossing or under the direction of staff. Look both ways before crossing, even if warning devices are not operating. Do not cross against warning devices.
*Stay behind any yellow lines on platforms except when you are actually boarding.
*Stand well back from the platform edge when express or through trains pass the station. They can generate a lot of suction as they pass.
===Boarding===
Consider the advance research you did as you first see your train (noted under "Ticketing" above).
*Before boarding a train, ''wait'' until all passengers getting off at your station have unboarded. Trains will ''not'' depart if there are still people queueing to get on, even if it means they're a minute late. (This doesn't apply to some frequent services at rush hour, where waiting a few extra seconds can cause the line to lock up, but on such a service it is no great loss to wait the few extra minutes for the next train.)
*When boarding, stand on either side of the door(s) when other passengers are unboarding. Making sure there is a clear and empty path in the direction of the platform exit for unboarding passengers will ensure a quicker (un)boarding.
*Tuck away your luggage as much as you can. Don't let it block the way or the seats for other passengers.
*Some trains are fairly safe as far as petty criminal activity is concerned. Others are not. When in doubt, ensure that your luggage is kept in your sight at all times. If you have your own compartment, lock the door from the inside when sleeping, preferably with your own lock.
*In parts of the World where railways are primarily used for transport (as opposed to being focused on tourism), such as in Europe, it is common that long train compositions stop at a certain forking station to split the train, disengaging in few minutes the rear half of the composition and coupling those cars to another locomotive, thus forming two shorter trains that will continue to different destinations. The final destination for each car is always indicated by signs that usually hang outside the car. This means that some cars may be full of passengers, while others have few passengers. A common error made by travellers without much railway experience is to accommodate themselves in the wrong car, thus ending in a destination other than the originally intended. Although it may be legal to travel in that car (with a ticket of equal or superior class), the traveller should pay attention to move to the correct car before reaching (or on arrival at) the forking station. The railway company will not assume responsibility for a passenger who, by ignorance or negligence, might have ended in the wrong final destination.
*There are short water crossings where the whole train will embark into a ferry boat (for instance in the Baltic Sea, between Helsingor in Denmark and Helsingborg in Sweden). Passengers are normally allowed to leave the train and walk inside the ferry boat, but they should be back in the train before reaching port, which in the example mentioned is a sea crossing of only fifteen minutes.
===Accommodation on board===
*Many trains have first class accommodation. This can be affordable in some cases, or very expensive in others. You are paying (typically) for a wider seat and a much emptier compartment. The "perks" offered to first class ticket holders are usually fairly minimal (for example, free tea and coffee). Do not, under any circumstances, travel in first class unless you have a ticket or other permission to do so. In some countries (such as Belgium), pregnant women have first class access at no extra cost.
*For overnight journeys, consider investing in a ''couchette'' or sleeper compartment, which are often cost-competitive with lodgings for the night. A couchette cabin has around 6 beds for sleeping and no other facilities, while a full-fledged sleeper will have two to four beds and possibly bathing facilities like a sink or shower.
*Some trains in India and other countries tolerate the practice of persons travelling on the roof, between cars, or hanging at the sides. Although no ticket is needed, this may be a dangerous form of travel due to the possibility of falling, or to the lack of clearance from tunnels, cables, posts, or other overhead or lateral structures. If travelling like this, it is necessary to imitate what the locals do (for instance, lying low because of the approach of a tunnel or an overhead cable). A tourist should normally refrain from such risky adventures, and pay the ticket for travelling inside the train. In most lines the practice is forbidden altogether, and may result in being fined or arrested.
*Travelling in freight trains (or in freight waggons of mixed freight-passenger compositions) is tolerated sometimes, but often forbidden. Although it may seem an intrepid part of hobo culture, it is not without risk. The train may even stop and order the stowaways out, who may be taken under police custody or may be not very kindly treated by a "reception committee" armed with heavy sticks. This form of travel is not normally an option for the tourist, even on a low budget.
==Speed of travel==
*Trains travel at widely varying speeds. Fast trains in countries with efficient rail networks often travel at up to 300 km/h, making rail the fastest travel mode for fairly long distances.
*Others, like the [[United Kingdom]], have semi-major lines running as slow as 60 km/h (for example, [[Blackpool]] to [[Leeds]], a distance of 135.4 km, takes 2.25 hours; this works out as 60.2 km/h). Other lines such as the East Coast Main Line run at 200 km/h; the 600 km journey between London and Edinburgh can take as little as 4 hours 20 mins.
*Trains are typically, though not necessarily, faster than buses.(In Eastern and Southeastern Europe buses are faster)
==By region and country=====Africa===
Further information is available about rail travel in specific countries.
 
* [[Benin#By train_2|Rail travel in Benin]]
* [[Cameroon#By train_2|Rail travel in Cameroon]]
* [[Egypt#By train|Rail travel in Egypt]]
* [[Ethiopia#By train_2|Rail travel in Ethiopia]]
* [[Gabon#By train|Rail travel in Gabon]]
* [[Ghana#By train_2|Rail travel in Ghana]]
* [[Kenya#By train_2|Rail travel in Kenya]]
* [[Madagascar#By train|Rail travel in Madagascar]]
* [[Mauritania#By train_2|Rail travel in Mauritania]]
* [[Morocco#By train|Rail travel in Morocco]]
* [[Namibia#By train_2|Rail travel in Namibia]]
* [[South Africa#By train|Rail travel in South Africa]]
* [[Sudan#By train_2|Rail travel in Sudan]]
* [[Tunisia#By train|Rail travel in Tunisia]]
* [[Zambia#By train_2|Rail travel in Zambia]]
 ===Asia===
* [[Southeast Asia#By train_2|Rail travel in Southeast Asia]]
Further information is available about rail travel in specific countries.
* [[Bangladesh#By train_2|Rail travel in Bangladesh]]
* [[China#By train_2|Rail travel in China]]
** [[High-speed rail in China]]
* [[Rail travel in India]]
* [[Indonesia#By train|Rail travel in Indonesia]]
* [[Iran#By train_2|Rail travel in Iran]]
* [[Israel#By train|Rail travel in Israel]]
* [[Japan#By rail|Rail travel in Japan]]
* [[Kazakhstan#By train_2|Rail travel in Kazakhstan]]
* [[Kyrgyzstan#By train_2|Rail travel in Kyrgyzstan]]
* [[Malaysia#By train_2|Rail travel in Malaysia]]
* [[Mongolia#Get around|Rail travel in Mongolia]]
* [[Myanmar#By train|Rail travel in Myanmar]]
* [[Pakistan#By train_2|Rail travel in Pakistan]]
* [[Phillipines#By train|Rail travel in Phillipines]]
* [[Russia#By train_2|Rail travel in Russia]]
* [[Saudi Arabia#By train_2|Rail travel in Saudi Arabia]]
* [[South Korea#By train_2|Rail travel in South Korea]]
* [[Sri Lanka#By train|Rail travel in Sri Lanka]]
* [[Syria#By train_2|Rail travel in Syria]]
* [[Taiwan#By train|Rail travel in Taiwan]]
* [[Tajikistan#By train_2|Rail travel in Tajikistan]]
* [[Thailand#By train_2|Rail travel in Thailand]]
* [[Turkmenistan#By train_2|Rail travel in Turkmenistan]]
* [[Uzbekistan#By train_2|Rail travel in Uzbekistan]]
* [[Vietnam#By train_2|Rail travel in Vietnam]]
* [[Transylvania triangle train tour]]
Further information is available about several specific routes:
* [[Trans-Siberian Railway]]
* [[Jungle Railway]] in [[Malaysia]]* [[Palace on Wheels]] in [[India]]* [[Baikal-Amur Mainline]]* [[Moscow to Urumqi]]
===Europe===
Especially in Western and Central Europe, trains are fast, efficient and cost-competitive with air travel. High-speed trains like the French TGV, the German ICE, the Spanish AVE and the cross-border Eurostar and Thalys services speed along at up to 320 km/h (200 mph) and, when taking into account travel time to the airport and back, are often faster than taking the plane. The flip side is that tickets bought on the spot can be expensive, although there are good discounts available if you book in advance or take advantage of various deals. In particular, the [[Rail travel in Europe#Inter Rail|Inter Rail]] (for Europeans) and [[Rail travel in Europe#Eurail|Eurail]] (for others) passes offer good value if you plan on traveling extensively around Europe (or even a single region) and want more flexibility than cheap plane tickets can offer.
For further details of European rail travel, see:
 
* [[Rail travel in Europe]]
* [[Scandinavia#By train_2|Rail travel in Scandinavia]]
* [[Albania#By train_2|Rail travel in Albania]]* [[Armenia#By train_2|Rail travel in Armenia]]
* [[Austria#By train and bus|Rail travel in Austria]]
* [[Belarus#Get around|Rail travel in Belarus]]
* [[Belgium#By train_2|Rail travel in Belgium]]
* [[Bulgaria#By train_2|Rail travel in Bulgaria]]
* [[Croatia#By train_2|Rail travel in Croatia]]
* [[Czech Republic#By train_2|Rail travel in the Czech Republic]]
* [[Denmark#By train_2|Rail travel in Denmark]]
* [[Estonia#By train_2|Rail travel in Estonia]]
* [[Finland#By train_2|Rail travel in Finland]]
* [[France#By train_2|Rail travel in France]]
* [[Germany#By train_2|Rail travel in Germany]]
* [[Greece#By bus and train|Rail travel in Greece]]
* [[Hungary#By train_2|Rail travel in Hungary]]
* [[Rail travel in Ireland]]
* [[Italy#By train_2|Rail travel in Italy]]
* [[Kosovo#By train_2|Rail travel in Kosovo]]
* [[Latvia#By train_2|Rail travel in Latvia]]
* [[Lithuania#By train_2|Rail travel in Lithuania]]
* [[Luxembourg#By train_2|Rail travel in Luxembourg]]
* [[Republic of Macedonia#By train_2|Rail travel in Macedonia]]
* [[Montenegro#By train_2|Rail travel in Montenegro]]
* [[Netherlands#By train_2|Rail travel in The Netherlands]]
* [[Norway#By train_2|Rail travel in Norway]]
* [[Russia#By train_2|Rail travel in Russia]]
* [[Scotland#By train_2|Rail travel in Scotland]]
* [[Slovakia#By train_2|Rail travel in Slovakia]]
* [[Slovenia#By train_2|Rail travel in Slovenia]]
* [[Spain#By train_2|Rail travel in Spain]]
* [[Sweden#By train_2|Rail travel in Sweden]]
* [[Switzerland#Information for railway fans|Rail travel in Switzerland]]
* [[Turkey#By train_2|Rail travel in Turkey]]
* [[Ukraine#By train_2|Rail travel in Ukraine]]
* [[Rail travel in the United Kingdom]]
* [[Wales#By train_2|Rail travel in Wales]]
==North America==Information about specific routes: * [[West Highland Railway]] in [[Scotland]]
===North America=== Although it once held much of the continent together, and remains useful for local travel in many metro areas, intercity train travel in the U.S. and Canada now ranges from relatively convenient in the Northeast Corridor, to manageable in California and parts of southeastern Canada, to sparse in other parts of the continent. If you prefer to travel by rail, it's still possible (depending on where you go), but it offers neither speed nor convenience. Passes allowing several journeys to be made within the same country are available, but cross-border passes have been phased out. Many train stations do not have ticketing agents, or have agents for brief periods at the time the train is scheduled to arrive. At smaller unmanned stations, you may be able to use a ticketing machine, or may be required to purchase your ticket onboard. You may also purchase tickets online or by telephone.
* [[Rail travel in North America]]
* [[Rail travel in Canada]]
**[[Across Canada by train]]
**[[Rocky Mountaineer]]
* [[Mexico#By train_2|Rail travel in Mexico]]
* [[Rail travel in the United States]]
**[[California Zephyr]]
**[[Empire Builder]]
 Trains still serve an important role in some parts of the Caribbean and Central America. In addition, tourist and scenic trains can be found on [[Saint Kitts and Nevis#By train|St. Kitts]] and [[Jamaica#By train|Jamaica]].  * [[Cuba#By train|Rail travel in Cuba]]* [[El Salvador#By train|Rail travel in El Salvador]]* [[Honduras#By train|Rail travel in Honduras]]* [[Puerto Rico#By train|Rail travel in Puerto Rico]] Information about specific routes: ===South America===
* [[Argentina#By train_2|Rail travel in Argentina]]
* [[Bolivia#By train_2|Rail travel in Bolivia]]
* [[Brazil#By train_2|Rail travel in Brazil]]
* [[Paraguay#By train_2|Rail travel in Paraguay]]
* [[Peru#By train|Rail travel in Peru]]
===Oceania===
* [[Australia#By train|Rail travel in Australia]]
* [[Train travel in New Zealand|Rail travel in New Zealand]]
 
Information about specific routes:
*[[Across Australia by train]]
 
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