Introducing www.cd.cz/eshop...

If you want to buy cheap online tickets for trains within the Czech Republic and from Prague to neighbouring cities such as Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Salzburg - the Czech Railways (CD) website www.cd.cz/eshop is the place.  No overseas ticketing agency has yet connected to CD's ticketing system, so these cheap fares are only available direct from CD.  They are not available from any other website nor from any of the usual ticketing agencies including the various Rail Europes.  www.cd.cz/eshop has a few quirks, so here's a brief run-down to stop you getting stuck...

= Key points.  If you'd rather just jump in and start booking, at least read these key points first.

They revamped their site in March 2017...

As I write this, if you switch the newly-revamped site to English it reverts to the older style, they have not yet activated the new site's English version.  You can still access the old one as below in English at https://old.cd.cz/eshop and I currently recommend doing that.

1.  Go to www.cd.cz/eshop...

  • Click 'en' top right for English.

 

2.  Fill in the journey planner....

  • Be realistic!  Don't expect it to book multi-leg journeys from Prague to Venice or Paris or Istanbul - I explain how to book longer-haul train journeys from Prague here.  It's just a simple system selling special cheap fares for a limited number of routes from Prague to neighbouring countries, for example Prague to Vienna, Budapest, Salzburg, Krakow, Warsaw, Munich, Berlin, Dresden.  And Czech domestic trains, of course.

  • Booking opens 60 days ahead. The most common reason people fail is they try to book too far ahead.

  • The 60 days can shrink for dates after the timetable changes on the 2nd Sundays in June & December.  I've known dates from 11 December onwards not open for booking until 3 December, so just be patient!

  • Without transfers?  It's a good idea to tick the Without transfers box if you know there are direct trains to your destination.  Then the results won't be cluttered with inconvenient multi-train options

  • Leave the discount card box as (none)

 

3.  Ticket or just reservation?

  • The journey planner offers two useful options...

Option 1, ticket with possible reservation (default)...

  • If you want to buy a cheap ticket, leave ticket with possible reservation selected. 

  • If reservations are optional on that route, you can choose to add one for a small fee during the booking process.  If reservations are compulsory, a reservation will be included automatically.

 

Option 2, supplementary services, reservation...

  • If you just want a seat, couchette or sleeper reservation without buying a travel ticket as well, change ticket with possible reservation to supplementary services, reservation

  • Use this option if you have a Eurail or InterRail pass, to make a reservation.

  • If you tried to book a sleeper ticket from Prague to Krakow using ticket with possible reservation  and no cheapies were available, a useful workaround is to make a sleeper reservation on the train you want using supplementary services, reservation. then buy a full-price travel ticket at the station when you get there, to go with it.

  • When you're done, hit Search

 

4.  A list of trains appears...

  • Assuming you chose the default ticket with possible reservation, a list of trains appears. 

  • Pick a suitable train and click Purchase

  • Prices are shown in Czech Koruna.  At time of writing, 19 = approx 500 Kr

  • Ignore the small +10 note next to the price, this is just about CD loyalty points, which probably won't concern you.

  • Obviously, direct trains (= without transfers) are generally a better bet than ones with changes (= 1,2,3 transfers).

  • For international journeys, the cheap fares shown here are usually First Minute fares.  They are valid only on the specific booked train, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.  The system is incapable of selling regular full-price full-flex fares on international routes (other than to Slovakia, Germany or Austria), it only sells these cheap advance-purchase fares. 

 

5.  Add a seat reservation?

  • If you want an optional seat reservation, select yes as shown here.  It's easy to miss!

 

  • On some routes including Prague to Vienna or Budapest, you can click Choose a seat on the carriage map and select an exact seat from a seating plan.  Easy to miss, but highly recommended!  

 

6.  Booking a sleeper or couchette...

  • Change Seat reservation to sleeper or couchette... 

  • To book two people in a 2-bed sleeper, select double and men and leave the column marked Seat alone.  Even if you are a man and woman, don't argue, just select men if you want a whole compartment together.   

  • The system will immediately check availability.  If a price appears, you're in luck, there's a cheap advance-purchase sleeper-inclusive fare available. 

  • Don't expect sleeper berth numbers to be consecutive, before panicking that you're not in the same compartment, see sleeper numbering plan here.

  • If a red warning appears "Your request could not be granted. The requested service is sold out on this train"  don't despair, it does not mean the train is full.   

  • The warning just means that the cheap advance-purchase fares have sold out or (as in July & August on the popular Prague-Krakow route) not offered in the first place as they can sell this train at the regular rate in peak season, which this system can't sell.

  • The workaround is simple.  Re-run the enquiry but with supplementary services, reservation selected instead of ticket with possible reservation.  This allows you to make a regular sleeper reservation, paying the sleeper supplement.  You are now safely reserved on the train.  All you need to do now is go to Prague station and pay for a full-price regular travel ticket to go with it.  These cannot sell out, you ask for one, they sell you one, at the fixed full-fare price.   

  • No double sleepers, only 3-berth?  On one or two routes including Prague to Budapest, the system for some reason won't sell tickets for a 2-berth double sleeper, but will sell tickets in a 3-berth sleeper, even though a 2-berth is just a 3-berth with one bed folded away.  The workaround is simply to book 3 passengers in a 3-berth sleeper to get a compartment to yourself.  To add a third passenger, simply re-use one of your names.   

 

7.  Enter passenger details...

  • Leave ID card selected and enter your full name as it's written on your passport.

    A passport number is no longer necessary.

  • Only one lead passenger name is necessary, even if the ticket is for several people.   

  • If you want to give each passenger their own separate ticket, simply tick the 'Separate ticket for each passenger' box on the main journey planner page.

  • The key warning reads...

    "It is necessary to have an international ticket stamped by a ČD conductor or at a ČD ticket counter prior to crossing the international border. This condition does not apply to journeys to Germany, Austria and Slovakia. It may be necessary to actively search for the conductor on the train."

  • This means you can only book one-way or round trip journeys starting in Prague or elsewhere in the Czech Republic, unless it is to or from Slovakia, Germany or Austria in which case you can book journeys in either direction. 

  • Let me spell it out.  One-way or round trip tickets from Prague to Vienna, Berlin, Budapest or Krakow, fine.  One-way or round trip from Vienna or Berlin to Prague, also fine.  But one-way or round trip from Budapest or Krakow to Prague, not fine, awooga, awooga, do not do! 

  • The reason is that only Czech, Slovakian, German & Austrian conductors can access the Czech Railways reservation system and verify your print-at-home ticket is genuine.  Once stamped by a Czech conductor or ticket office, Hungarian and Polish conductors will accept it.

 

8.  Pay and print...

  • Now pay and print out your own ticket.  It's all pretty self-explanatory, and you can buy without registering.

  • Ignore 'I have a discount card or voucher'.

  • Pay with MasterCard or Visa.

  • You print your own ticket.

  • It should be printed on A4 paper, but if you're from the USA 'Letter' size is fine.  They just mean don't print it half size!

  • If you can't get to a printer, tickets within the Czech Republic or between Prague and Germany, Austria or Slovakia can be shown to the conductor on your smartphone, iPad or laptop screen.  But tickets to other countries including Poland and Hungary must be printed out so the conductor has something to stamp.

 


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