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Differences between trains in Poland?


BLS 65 | 188
17 Jul 2011  #1
I was returning to Krakow via rail yesterday and had to switch trains in Katowice. The IR train that was supposed to arrive at 18:55 never showed up, so I opted for the next train to Krakow. A TLK train arrived at 19:15, but I didn't have a ticket - when I bought one on the train, I was charged 18 zł plus an additional 10 zł for purchasing it on the train.

What makes this rather frustrating is this: I had the opportunity to buy a ticket on the platform (at an automated ticket machine), but the only ticket choices were Regio and InterRegio. Would either of those types of tickets have sufficed for the TLK train? And if not, why have an automated machine that sells tickets for only two types of trains? This must be absolutely perplexing for tourists - I wonder how many travelers have inadvertently purchased the wrong type of ticket and have been forced to buy a second ticket on the train.

And a more-general request - can someone in the know outline the differences between all the train choices in Poland? I've lived here for 3 years, yet I am pretty much in the dark. Thanks for any and all constructive input...
delphiandomine 83 | 17,531
17 Jul 2011  #2
Would either of those types of tickets have sufficed for the TLK train?

No - you need to have a TLK ticket.

And if not, why have an automated machine that sells tickets for only two types of trains?

Different companies. Unfortunately - Poland didn't introduce "impartial retailing" laws for the railways.

And a more-general request - can someone in the know outline the differences between all the train choices in Poland? I've lived here for 3 years, yet I am pretty much in the dark. Thanks for any and all constructive input...

Right now, you've got several different types - but I'll try and do my best.

EC - EuroCity - international trains operated by PKP InterCity.
EIC - Ekpress Intercity - the most expensive. Usually very nice trains, modern, fast, etc. The most expensive (belongs to PKP InterCity)
TLK - Twoje Linie Kolejowe - the "cheaper" PKP IC brand. The quality can be utterly variable - sometimes nice, sometimes not so.

--
InterRegio/RegioEkpress - the long distance brand of Przewozy Regionalne. Again - quality can be utterly variable. Usually about the same price or a bit cheaper than TLK.

Regio (also known as osobowy) - the local train brand of Przewozy Regionalne. Cheapest tickets.

They're the nationwide operators - there are some local ones, priced at the same level as Regio tickets.

The important thing is that you need to make sure that your ticket is valid for the train that you want to travel on. However - sometimes - if a train is actually cancelled, then you can hop on a different service operated by the same company.
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
17 Jul 2011  #3
Twoje Linie Kolejowe

TLK = Tanie Linie Kolejowe, if I remember correctly.
Harry
17 Jul 2011  #4
EIC - Ekpress Intercity - the most expensive. Usually very nice trains, modern, fast, etc. The most expensive (belongs to PKP InterCity)

And generally those trains will not run to 'Poland B'. For example, you want to go to Lublin, your choices are TLK (every hour or two) or IR (two or three times a day). Same story with Bialystok.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,531
17 Jul 2011  #5
TLK = Tanie Linie Kolejowe, if I remember correctly.

You do, but it changed at the end of last year ;)
OP BLS 65 | 188
17 Jul 2011  #6
I always searched for trains on the PKP website (rozklad-pkp.pl) - after reading the remarks posted here, it seems to me that I may be using an incomplete search engine. Is there a better website that will show all available routes?
JonnyM 11 | 2,621
17 Jul 2011  #7
That website also shows the TLK - when you click on a given journey it brings up details of trains, little icons. The key is at the bottom left of the screen.
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
17 Jul 2011  #8
rozklad-pkp.pl

This should show all routes. Mind that there are several stations in most cities. And all trains dont use all stations.

When I search Katowice to Krakow, I see TLK, Regio and InterRegio.

However, I am surprised that it takes 2 hours. (it is only about 80 km rail).
OP BLS 65 | 188
17 Jul 2011  #9
I am surprised that it takes 2 hours.

The train last night took 2:15 - there were many instances when it slowed and even stopped for no apparent reason. It was one of the most frustrating train rides I have ever experienced!

Good to know that one website shows all trains - if only the ticket-selection process was this simple!
delphiandomine 83 | 17,531
17 Jul 2011  #10
The train last night took 2:15 - there were many instances when it slowed and even stopped for no apparent reason. It was one of the most frustrating train rides I have ever experienced!

Alas, the track is in a dreadful state in most of Poland - years of under-investment has led to this situation.

Krakow-Wroclaw should really be no more than 3 hours, but...
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
17 Jul 2011  #11
if only the ticket-selection process was this simple!

If you by from a "PKP-woman" inside the station hall, you can buy TLK and InterRegio (IR) in the same place. But you need to know what kind of train you are planning to go with. But it is easy to find out. The whole train-thing is not so difficult when you get some experience.
OP BLS 65 | 188
8 Dec 2011  #12
I have noticed that the rates advertised on PKP's website are rarely what I pay at the counter - they are almost always higher. For instance, the online rate last week for a TLK train from Krakow to Opole was 41 zł - when I purchased the ticket that same day at Krakow Glowny, I paid 34 zł.

I'm not complaining, mind you, simply curious - why the discrepancy? When I returned, the cashier at Opole Głowny charged exactly the rate that was listed on PKP. Tickets purchased at Warsaw Centralna have also been consistent with online rates. Any ideas?
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,445
8 Dec 2011  #13
Tickets purchased at Warsaw Centralna have also been consistent with online rates. Any ideas?

PKP is is a lot of trouble at the moment , so this is prob the least of their worries, although it would be nice to have the web updated.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,531
9 Dec 2011  #14
For instance, the online rate last week for a TLK train from Krakow to Opole was 41 zł - when I purchased the ticket that same day at Krakow Glowny, I paid 34 zł.

Could have been a special promotion - there are some TLK fares for certain routes that are cheaper than the usual kilometer-based fares - but they won't show up in the normal planner. Actually - as I remember - there is definitely special fares between big cities on the Przemysl-Wroclaw line.
el_mexicano
6 May 2012  #15
Some tricks by my own experience with polish trains:

Well, mainly they are 3 types of Selling points, 1)the ones with the blue and green line which says "Arriva" and "Przewozy Regionalne" and the ticket machines are to buy ONLY tickets for the "ranchero trains" -the osobowy and the REs- which go from point A to point B stopping in every single possible place and sometimes also in the middle of nowhere (when the railroad between two places has only a single pair of tracks the ranchero trains are forced to wait for a better class train to pass, and in some points can take till half an hour). They are cheap tickets which are super to buy when one has not a hurry to be in his destination. And now with the football championship for 2012 in Poland and Ukraine they repaired, repainted, releathered and re-do all the possible things to the old trains for looking nice (and they did it well in my opinnion). And even before that they were much more comfortable than german ones (in polish trains one has place for the legs and sometimes even to lay). Are also ideal to travel with bulky bags (polish people has the use of traveling carriying with them -plus the normal baggage- an extra bag of sandwiches, bacon, sausagges, "tuppers" with salat and their beloved pickles, so if you want to really get polish this is just your kind of train, specially if your'e a student). 2)In the "Przewozy Regionalne" windows you CAN buy tickets for TLK trains too but YOU CANNOT BUY FOR THE ICCs. 3)For all the ICC trains tickets one needs to go to the other "kasa billetowa" which has orange letters ICC on it. There the ticket will be cheaper than buying it from the ticket checker inside the train. In some stations there can be long lines for buying tickets so drink a cup of patience (polish grannies many times don't catch that the tickets simply are as they are and cost what they cost and not what they wish, so the woman behind the glass usually is in bad mood during the rush hour and makes the line to go slower). If your trip is long and your'e wishing to spend some more money better take a real ICC if possible instead of going for the TLKs, as this TLK ones have the kind of wagons with a side corridor and many little rooms for 8 people, so if your'e traveling in crowded and long lines like to Poznan, Crakow, Warszawa, Gdynia and so on it will be really difficult to find a seat place, and is not nice to pay a bigger price to finish traveling like 3 hours standing in a narrow place like a horse in a trailer (if the horses had suitcases). Or spend more money and go to the reataurant wagon and drink a cofee, eat a "prince polo" and stay sitting at a table for the rest of the trip haha. ICC lines although some expensive are really comfortable, again more spacious than german ones and for sure better smelling. They don't see obviously like top technology but they look good, they smell good and are reaching their destination mostly without delays.

Generally traveling in Polish trains is actually a very ilustrative and "pintoresque" experience no matter if you have to do ir for one or, like me, for 7 hours one learns at least the most basic polish as most of the ladies in the selling points are from the comunistic era and don't speak english. More even: When they notice that Polish is not your native language they ussually are really friendly and talk slowler for you to catch what they say, make signs with the hands and/or show you the display of the cashier machine. Also is a good tiime (during the changes) to experience the whole color if the polish train station kitchen ^_^ And i'm not talking about McDoof of KFC, they have for example Piekarnias (polish bakeries) which offers many kinds of sweet breads, cakes, buns with some cheese, salat and sausagge, mini-pizzas and rogale (Kind of a polish croissant). Also cheap restaurants with both pizzas and hamburguers as well as polish things like flaczki (a soup made of all the inside things of pig -i mean it, it really tastes super- ), chicken soup (in poland they make it some different), Zapiekanka (kind of baguette with cheese and polish mushrums from the forest, also very good), kabab (ok, kebab is turkish/german, but also the poles have "polished" with their own traditional salads instead of the normal ones) and so on. In most of the big stations there is also (sometimes inside sometimes ouside) a supermarket called Biedronka (ladybug) where one can buy all the needed things to chew and chomp during the way, plus socs, tools, makeup, and toys; or at least there is SAM or Monopolowy (beer, cigarets, cookies and chips). Now: There may be times in which you simply have no time to go to the cashiers and make the whole pilgrimage to the information point and/or you just don't speak good polish enough for catching a whole byblical explanation about how should you go to your destination. For that moments one has to look/ask for the "tablica" which is the time table, and is made of two big posters behind a glass frame. It has a yellow poster which is the list of departures and a white poster which is the list of incommings. Then in the yellow you will see in the first column the hour of departure and class (IC, TLK, RE) , then the next column is the way it goes trough and in this column the final destination is written in capitol letters with the expected time of arrival. The third column is called "peron" and indicates the platform and side of it in which you should wait for the train. the TLK and ICC trains are written in RED letters while the ranchero (osobowy) are written in black letters. Once you know which train is your one is good to look at the screen if the number of plattform matches with the one on the time table (sometimes the capacity of the stations and the delays of some trains causes that some trains have to come to a diferent plattform than the one previously announced). A good rule to recognize trains is the color and look. The regio trains usually are red or red and black, they are bulky and look like "made in rusia", locomotive and 1st wagon are one piece and the wagon self is higher than the platform so one sees that the doors are higher than the floor outside. Osobowy trains are yellow with blue or blue with grey, are low first floor wagons with two floors so the entrance doors are at the level of the floor outside and they are not at the very end of the wagon, locomotive of those trains is also bulky but is not part of the 1st wagon so one recognizes it very well. TLK trains are green or yellow with green and high floored, so one sees also high doors and from ourside notices the side corridor and the 8 people rooms. Locomotive is also not part of the wagon and in some cases they mix one or two wagons of IC trains which are kind of dirty white. And the ICC trains are also high floored but one recognizes them by their white color, dark blue signs (wagon mumber and class) and the orange letters IC or ICC on the sides, also they look some thinner and more stilyzed. The doors are opened automaticly so one sees mostly no handle. Well, at least for me was the first and still a good way to recognize the trains fast. Hope somehow this will help somehow to you or to someone else triying to travel there with trains, as is for escence not a really easy thing to catch when one is new there.


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