With rail not being a common mode of travel for South Africans locally, some may feel a bit daunted by the different options when it comes to classes and ticket bookings.
- There is very little difference between first and second class. The upholstery in first class will be a fraction softer, with free additions like a copy of the daily newspaper (in the language of the country you are in) and internet connectivity, both of which the average tourist does not really need.
- Holding a ticket does not guarantee that you will have a seat, unless you have a separate seat reservation. It may happen, especially in high season, that when you board a train all the seats will already be occupied and you may have to stand or sit on your suitcase in the passage.
- Most of the time there are always seats available, but school holidays, public holidays and long weekends may be problematic.
- The advantage of holding a ticket without a seat reservation is that you can board any train on that particular route on that day, and often also on any train within the next three days. This gives you the flexibility to decide on the spur of the moment if you want to depart in the morning or perhaps in the afternoon.
- Be aware that, in Europe, some trains may split halfway, with one section going to one destination, and the other section going somewhere else. This is usually signposted, but if in doubt, ask the conductor.
Source: Inge Dobihal. Image: Pixabay