How to Read Train Schedules

If you're planning to travel by train through Europe, you'll want to learn how to read European train schedules. Eurail train schedules confuse Americans because they do not function the same way American flight, bus or train schedules do. However confusing the schedules may appear at first, they are not really that difficult to decipher. You simply need to understand how the system works.

When you book a flight in the United States, you state where you want to go and you book a flight going from destination A to destination B, simple as that. You never find out extraneous information such as where the plane was before it got to your originating city or where it will fly after you reach your desired destination. If there is a layover in a city in between destination A and destination B, you will be made aware of the layover, but that's about it.

Now let's say you are in Berlin and you want to catch a train to Frankfurt. You will tell the cashier at the ticket counter that you want to buy a ticket to Frankfurt, but when he or she hands you a ticket, it may say a train number and another city-such as Luxembourg!  This is because the train is going all the way to Luxembourg, and your stop-Frankfurt-is one of the stops the train will make on its way to its final destination, which is Luxembourg.  You will have to find the train route that matches your train number, look at the map showing the routes, and figure out which route is yours. Match your train number with the appropriate route, take note of how far along in the route your stop is, and then go to the track number that corresponds with your appropriate route.

The other difference that confuses Americans is the fact that train departure and arrival times are listed on a 24 hour clock. This means you'll have to convert the times in your head.

Basically it just takes a little more work to figure out where to find your stop on the various train routes. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be confident hopping the train all over Europe!

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