Splitting trains in Europe

By Irina Stroup
This item appears on page 12 of the November 2018 issue.

I expected that the transfer from Cˇeský Krumlov, Czechia, to Innsbruck, Austria, on July 31, 2018, would be a challenge for my sister and me. A search online provided several options, including buses and trains. Our choice was to take a RegioJet bus from Cˇeský Krumlov to Cˇeské Budeˇjovice, a FlixBus to Linz, Austria (the FlixBus tickets purchased online from home), and then a train to Innsbruck.

I worried about buses arriving on time, being out of order, etc., but they didn't provide any problems for us that day. I had always considered trains to be the most reliable transportation mode, but this time my sister and I had to deal with something new.

Our second bus arrived in Linz 15 minutes early, and it took us about two minutes to walk from the bus stop to the railway station to buy tickets. At the ticket office, a nice lady who spoke English told us that the next train to Innsbruck would arrive at platform number 6 in six minutes. Instead of taking the train at 12:46, we could start our next journey one hour sooner!

We barely had time to get on the platform and check the panel with the correct time of departure before the train arrived. The train was unusually long, and we boarded its tail portion. As the train began speeding up, I began to ask passengers if they were going to Innsbruck. A couple of them replied, "No," saying they were going to Munich!

A waiter showed up from the restaurant car, and he, too, said we were headed to Munich. Finally, one young girl (God bless English-speaking students!) said it was likely that this train was going to be divided in two in Salzburg, but she wasn't sure. At that moment, my sister recalled seeing a second locomotive in the center of the train.

Worried about ending up in the wrong country, I walked three cars back to find a conductor. He was sitting at the desk, was extremely nice and spoke perfect English. Yes, this train was to be split in Salzburg. The front part would go to Innsbruck, and the tail would go to Munich. He recommended we start moving forward 10 minutes before our arrival in Salzburg, then get off during the stop and board the front portion of the train.

I have to admit, they divided the trains quickly. As soon as we boarded the third car from the rear of the front train, it started moving.

By the way, tickets on this train were the most expensive I'd ever had to purchase in Europe. For barely three hours of traveling, we paid 115 (about $135) for two second-class tickets. (Compare that to, a week earlier, the Brno-Prague tickets we bought at the station two days in advance for 18 for two for that 3-hour ride.)

Redding, CA