It's hard to hitchhike on trains. But there are ways to get free train rides.
Standing near the train track and be hitchhiking train ? It hardly. But we can succeed on the dance floor.
If you're in an organised hitchhiking competition...
...then it is very possible. Choose your train and wait at the platform. When the train arrives, work out who the conductor is and run up to him/her. Explain your situation (using an 'international language' such as English often works best, often better than speaking the conductor's native language), show them some documentation for your competition and don't be afraid to beg. Telling a story about a dangerous experience two hours ago on the roadside (true or not...), and how much you want some safe and secure travel after the traumatic experience, works well. By this time, the train is now running nearly a minute late and there is a good chance that the conductor will say Yes, because he needs to end the conversation and keep the train moving. So get in, sit back and relax :).
Tom and his two team-mates tried using this trick when travelling through the Netherlands and Germany on Sheffield University's 'Bummit' hitchhiking competition. 9 out of 13 conductors we asked said Yes, and let us travel as much as we needed on their trains. It didn't work when the train was either crossing an international border, or it was a high-speed train, or the conductor just didn't want to bend the rules...
Train hopping in Europe is generally easy as countries don't have a good system to track fines. This means that if you have for example a Spanish passport and got a fine in France, you won't get the fine ever, except if you move to France one day and get a job etc. There are different approcahes to train hopping but it's good to keep in mind that the ticket inspectors are aware of all tricks and games. You can try and stay in the toilet for the whole journey but in some countries and trains they can unlock the toilet if they suspect you don't have a ticket. You could leave the door unlocked to try and fool them but that means every passanger would open the door as well... You can run around the train as well, trying to avoid the ticket inspector which may or may not work. These techniques may get you into more trouble and are generally not pleasurable but are very important for people with no ID since if you get caught and the ticket inspector wants to write you a fine, they will ask for a passport and if you don't have one or refuse to give it it is very likely that they call the cops. So for people with ID, who are foreigners in the country, in most cases it is ok simply to find a quite place on the train, wait for the ticket inspector and kindly explain to them your situation (imaginary or not). In a lot of countires the law says they are obliged to write you a fine (which you will never have to pay as long as you give a fake address or say you don't have one) but they may kick you off. They may also threaten to call the police. It depends on each person how they prefer to deal with this - whether to argue or not, whether to plea or not but just keep calm as if you get aggressive it is a valid reason to get the cops on you. In case that a ticket inspector actually calls the police without a valid reason (no ID, being aggressive) don't panic, the most that can happen is they search you and/or escort you off the train station. Generally, when choosing which train to take, opt for express trains - those with fewest stops, as you are unlikely to get far with regional ones - and you may get stuck in a station where almost no trains stop. It's very useful to memorize (or write down) the timetable, so that you instantly know which is the best train to take after you get kicked out of the previous one.
In Belgium you can get fined for not having a ticket, or not using the one that you have correctly. Taking a train from Charleroi to Brussels, a conductor issued a fine of 72 euros for a 12 euro journey, all because the details of the trip (a 10 journey pass) where written in pencil and not in pen. Be careful.
Regional trains are very bad, sometimes they're checked quite heavily, and, since they have so many stops you are unlikely to make it anywhere. There are non-Thalys TGV trains going to France from Brussels, although it may not be that obvious at first.
- Much to their own annoyance, Belgian railway staff do not have any legal right to ask for your ID, so under no circumstances show it when they ask for it! Prino 09:58, 3 May 2011 (CEST)
There are many types of train in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This two countries are very similar about free riding in trains.
The local trains (OS) have many stops, distances between stops are usually 3-10 km. These trains have only few carriages and one conductor. But there are often small amount of people in this type of train. Faster local train is (SP - spesny vlak). This type is similar to local train (OS) but average distance between stops is about 10 mm. Local trains have many stops and relative short journey usually less than 100 km. The interval to next train is usually 1 to 2 hour.
The R-trains (and some ex trains) have stop usually once a 10-35 km, about 5-8 carriages and usually two conductors or only one conductor. The interval between trains s 1 or 2 hours but in the most frequent area (Prague-Olomouc) is the interval between trains 30-60 min.
The long-journey trains EC, IC, Ex (often international trains) have about 7-11 wagons, restaurant wagon and first class wagon .This type of train have large number of passengers and two conductors. The distance between stops is 40-70 km (25-50 km for EX trains) and especially in overcrowded trains conductor check tickets and the time interval to next control is long (30-60 min and more). But if you are captured, you will bee challenged to pay penalty or the conductor ask for your ID card. The time to next stop is long and conductor have enough time to write the penalty.
In Czech is the ticket price equal for all trains belongs CD (Ceske drahy). The speed train EX, EC, IC and R have the same price like OS. You have to buy seat reservation only in SC/Pendolino - PeterOB does not recommend it. But some EC/IC trains (Black Leo Express and yellow Regiojet, this trains belongs private company) have another special tickets and this trains are very difficult. In Slovakia R-trains are little bit more expensive than OS-trains and EC,IC trains are more expensive (difference is about Eur 2-4). Regiojet have yellow OS train in Slovakia and this type is OK.
Important: Do not use the speed long-journey train SC (Pendolino). It is expensive a you have to buy seat reservation. There are small number of passengers and big probability for get penalty. Be careful on the journey between Prague and Ostrava. The most of trains in Czech and Slovakia belongs to state company and trains that belongs CD are OK. But some IC trains (yellow Regiojet and black Leo Express) belongs private companies. Problems is that you have to seat reservation and the conductor have all reserved seats in computer and conductor do not ask for tickets. But if you are on the seat and the conductor's computer signalize free seat, but you are on the seat - this is problem. This is reason that you can use short-journey ticket trick or similar tricks. And black IC "Leo Express" is worst - you have to show ticket before boarding. Regiojet have some local trains in Slovakia. In yellow local trains is all OK. You can use the short distance ticket trick (see bellow). Unfortunately many stops and small amount of passengers is reason that travel complete free is very difficult.
Important: Conducter is in the train always except some local trains, but the inspector (reviser) randomly enter in trains, check the tickets (like in public transport), but he check too conductor's work and if the inspector find some person without ticket, he can give a penalty for conductor. The inspector check all - passengers, toilets, conductor's work. Some Person travelled from Prague to Ostrava and had ticked only for short distance (to Pardubice). But the ticket inspector came and gave them penalty for every stop (6 stops without ticket = 6 fines), the passenger showed the short distance ticket which end far away. Fortunately, the inspector in train is quite rare, once a 10 000 km. PeterOB has travelled more than 70 000 km and meet inspector 5 times and paid only one penalty. The inspectors do not wear a uniform, conductors usually wear a uniform (blue suit, pink in region and black in Leo express). You can detect conductor relative easily.
Generally -there are few trick how to travel in train without ticket. I travel in Czech Republic in trains during years 2009-2014 more than 70 000 km and this contains 50 000 km without ticket. Because his appearance is not average, PeterOB does not travel without ticket complete, but usually uses short journey ticket trick. He paid penalty CZK 400 (USD 20) only once a time (the inspector came) but he had to leave the train about 10-15 times and had to buy ticket about 15 times (more expensive ticket, difference is CZK 40 CZK about USD 2, in Slovakia about Eur 2). He has met a train inspector 5 times.
The very successful method in not complete free but very cheap travel. PeterOB used it for more than 70 000 km in last 5 years. For extreme case - he traveled 346 km and paid only CZK 26 / EUR 1. New record for one ticket is 447 km from Prague main station to Zilina (390 km without ticket). PeterOB have ticket only from Prague-Liben to Kolin - one station behind Prague (57 km / about Eur 2.2), he showed this ticket (before Kolin) and continued behind Kolin (Sleep, read a book, look out of window). In Horni Lidec (Czech-Slovakian border) conductors crew changed but Slovakian conductor went only one time to Zilina and PeterOB walked around the conductor. Important is that the conductor check only new passengers in the next control, usually ask who is new (Pristoupili?) You buy ticket only to short journey, conductor check you and you do not leave train in stop, where your ticket end, and continue the journey. Conductor do not remember terminal stations on passenger's tickets and look for new passengers. You can look out of window, "sleep" or read a book. If the conductor remember your terminal station, you tell that you do not know where is or tell that you asleep. Important is that the conducter must come before terminal station, which is written on the ticket. PeterOB usually looks where the conductor is and the direction of inspection and goes near him. The optional distance is 10-20 km or 3-5 stops in local train OS (SP is similar), 1-2 stops or 20-40 km in R train and 1-2 stops or 50-80 km in speed long-journey train with restaurant (EX, EI, IC). The long-distance trains with restaurants have many carriages and two conductors. Because there are many passengers and you do not know the direction of ticket control, the situation is sometimes difficult. If you travel long journey, especially though big city - you can be surprised with conductors change. New conductor check ticket in all passengers (NOT only new passengers). You must have second ticket from the city where conductors changed to near stop.
The next tactic is for travel complete without ticket. PeterOB has told that conductor check only new passengers and he ask, who is new (Pristoupili?) and you are new but do not respond. If the train have a lot of passengers, the conductor do not remember who is new (but if your appearance is not usual, there is big chance that conductor ask you for ticket). But many of local trains and sometimes too R-trains have small amount of passengers, especially in the night. In the long-journey trains with restaurant (EX,IC, EC) is this method very successful because there are a lot of carriages and passengers and too long time intervals between ticket inspection. Problem is starting the journey in first stop or conductor change. All passengers have to show ticket during first control (or new conductor). You can try go around conductor during ticket inspection and stay in area, where tickets have been already checked. You can go into this already checked area in a stop (get of board an boarding into optional area). In local trains near big city is too a lot of passengers and you can there use another trick. The train with name City Elephant have two floors. If the conductor walk though first floor through carriage, you can go though second floor and get behind the conductor in the zone where tickets were checked. You have to look when conductor is coming into your carriage. You can use similar in one floor long local train with many passengers near big city. Look which part of train is occupied with conductor and you can get off and boarding into opposite part of train in the stop. For example conductor is near first carriage and you go near last carriage.
If you are captured, you can buy the ticket (for short journey of course) in the train. This ticket is often more expensive (difference is CZK 40 or about USD 2, in Slovakia Eur 1.5), but if you remember the stations without ticket selling - the ticket that you buy in train is for the same price like in station. But if you are captured that you have been hidden and try travel without ticket, you will be kicked out of train in the most cases (in OS or R train) or you have to buy the ticket. PeterOB recommends to look for interval to next train or time of last train before traveling (for example web page www.idos.cz - choose trains (Vlaky)). The local trains have often long interval and the last train arrive quite early. The R-trains, EE, EC, IC is usually more often (1 hour) and last train is just during night.
Sometimes, you can get fine (penalty). The fine is CZK 400 or USD 20 (and CZK 1000 or USD 50 if you pay the fine it later than 14 days after you have been captured). You can get the fine especially in the long-distance train with restaurant. In OS or SP and usually R-train you are often only kicked out of the train.
PeterOB does not recommend hiding in toilet, it is very wrong tactic in Czech Republic and Slovakia. Conductor has to check the toilet (it is rule for a conductor) and conductor have special key to open locked door. If you do not lock the door, the conductor sometimes check toilet too and look into toilet. You can try choose relative invisible position in toilet (and other passengers can open the door and see you). Hidden in the toilet is worst in long-journey trains - conductor usually check toilets there. But it is very bad in all type of train.
You can try walk around the conductor during ticket inspection and go in the area where tickets have been checked. It is much better than stay in the toilet. It is good especially in long-journey EC,IC,EX trains with many carriages and too in local train near city.
And one more trick in trains between Bratislava and Kosice, which go through Zilina. This trains have a lot of carriages, and still sometimes crowded. Number of carriages is 10-13 during day with 2-3 conductors and 5-7 carriages during night time with 1-2 conductors. The key is that conductor do not go so often, usually once a 2-5 stations, especially in night trains. You can walk around conductor to area where tickets have been already checked. You can use outside way in some stops or walk around conductor inside train (wait when conductor finish your wagon and return for backpack). Interval to next check is quite long and conductor check new passengers only. You do not answer for new passenger checking (Sleep, look out of window, read a book). But be carefull in station Zilina - this is place for change conductors crew and new conductors checked all passengers. Similar situation is for EC from Prague to Budapest in Slovakian area (From Kuty to Sturovo). Conductor go only one or two times and you can walk around conductor. The similar situation is fror IC and EX trains from Prague to Zilina through Vsetin and Puchov. Conductor go only one or two times and you can change trains in Puchov (train from Bratislava go few minutes after) in Slovakian part. Ticket between last czech and first slovakian stop is quite expensive, and price in train (buy from conductor) can be cheaper than normal. Conductor usually do not go in border Kuty-Breclav but yes in border Horni Lidec - Puchov. If you are captured without ticket, you can be kicked out or conductor ask for paying penalty or your ID in EC train. Because of immigrats and druck, there are usually cops or security in international EC trains and sometimes might check your backpack and pockets (in Czech Area sometimes, especially in trains from Poland). More coops an be in international trains now because of immigrants. Trains between Kosice and Bratislava though Zilina, Trains between Czech Republic and Budapest through Bratislava and trains from Czech to Zilina through Puchov go once a two hours during day time.
For non-French citizens fines virtually don't exist. Feel free to give your passport and a fake (or real) address. You can have as many fines as you want. They disappear from their system within two months. Whatever it says on the back of the fine (about fines adding up etc.) might or might not be true, but it ONLY applies to French citizens. Sometimes ticket inspectors bluff (a lot) that they will call the police, while trying to get you to pay on spot. You have nothing to worry about. As long as you keep calm and polite they have no legal reason to call the cops. They just hate writing fines because it is extra work for them and they get to write a lot of fines every day. So if you are nice and have a good story, they won't pressure you or try to kick you off, as they sometimes do.
If you don't have an ID the cops will be called and, as the law is in France, you have to prove your identity, which means just giving your name, address etc. Unfortunately it is up to the cops' opinion whether you are telling the truth or not and they may arrest you. North of Paris you are more likely to get arrested than to the South.
Tip: Before getting checked it is best to locate yourself in-between carriages, where there are a few seats, a table and luggage compartment. Usually nobody stays there. When the inspector comes the atmosphere is more informal as they don't have to keep up an image of 'master-of-the-train' in front of other passengers and it goes more smoothly. After you get your fine (which is a valid ticket) feel free to sit wherever you like in the train.
TGV trains are best because they are the fastest and with the least stops, so in the unlikely event of you getting kicked off, you will still get pretty far. TER trains are slower and with more stops.
It is quite possible to speak with the driver and the controller before the train start and tell them you want a ride for free. Some of them are kind enough to let you in. Bikepunk got better luck with TER than TGV with this technique so far.
Mipplor hitchhiked a train from Luxembourg to Nancy, Lyon, Marseille, Monaco, Nice, and Perpignan in October 2009. Actually 1/3 of his time was spent in the toilet to read newspapers. He was a lucky dog that no single inspector came to trouble him.
Germany is great for riding the trains for free. ICE and IC are the best trains (with fewest stops). There's always two conductors on them. They are pretty pedantic about checking tickets, so it's pretty unavoidable to get caught. Once you're caught, however, you'll simply have to get off at the next stop. Sometimes they'll ask you to show your passport or remind you that you can buy a ticket on the train. They'll never call the police or give you any fines. The regional trains are not that bad too, they are lightly checked. The trains go all night (unless you're somehow stuck in a very bad station), so they're a great option when it's too late to hitchhike. Taking the very small train from Aachen to Liege (Belgium) is a very big mistake, you will get kicked off in a small village far from any main road and you will have problems getting out of there.
On the weekends, it's easy to hitch regional trains with other people's group tickets. There's a ticket valid for up to five people on regional trains throught Germany on Saturday and Sunday called the Schoenes Wochenend Ticket, which is generally cheaper than a round trip ticket or two tickets. The result is that any group from two to four people is using one of these tickets, and has a free spot. Simply get on any regional train (not IC or ICE) or walk around the platform before the train arrives. Ask groups of people if they're traveling with a SW ticket and if they have a free spot on the ticket. Usually they will let you ride for free, but if they ask for a few euroes, you can always barter (another person doesn't cost them any more) or ask more people. On most regional trains, there's someone who will let you ride for free. Beware of rideshares (mitfahrgelegenheit), which always ask for money. Also, when you reach your ticket-holder's destination, ask if they still need the ticket! If they're transferring or taking the S-Bahn, they will probably use the same ticket. But if not, they will probably give you their ticket and you can use it to continue on your way. Take it even if they wrote their name on it, because you will rarely be asked to ID yourself. Questions about this method of traveling can be directed toward Keith, who has used this method extensively throughout Germany.
PeterOB do not think that you are only kicked out of train. Control is very hard and pedant – all passengers, all places and WC too are checked. In high speed trains ICE with not so much stops – you have to manage seat reservation and conductor have free seats and seats with person in computer and compare stats with computer every station.
You can go to prison for free riding in Germany, not only in train. If you are captured first time, you only get penalty and controlor ask for your ID. If you are captured more times, you can get to jail for few weeks (or months, up to one year). And it is not only in train. For example you were captured first time in train and you got penalty. But you were captured second time in tram and you will go to jail for two weeks (PeterOB 's friend was captured in train and second time in tram and he go to jail for 14 days).
Generally, Germany is very bad and unrecommended for free riding in trains or public transport. But classic hitchhiking is quite good. Dumpster diving is quite good, especially a lot of bread in trash.
Greece is a great destination for train hopping. The coductors are asking in the wagon if somebody is new(from the last destination). If you are not getting on in the start(when everybody should be checked), then is quite easy to avoid paying. Wait some minutes before the train arrives, and choose not the first and last wagon. Get in and pack your belongings fastly. Find a place to sit down(better when the both seats are free,as the system prefers to replenish the seats until the end), and then listen to music or pretend that you are sleeping. Preferably trains are the fast ones IC and ICE. You shouldn't try(if possible) to the night train between Athens and Thessaloniki as the coductors are stricter, probably because many people are trying. If they catch you, they will ask you to pay for your trip. The ticket will be then almost the double price. I have no personal experience what will happen if you tell them a story and try to convince them. I suppose that some of them could be convinced. If you don't want to pay, you should get off to the next stop. Then, you can try to the next one.
PeterOB have written some information about trains in Czech Republic and Slovakia, read this part first. Let's explore some another country – Hungary. PeterOB travelled through Hungary in summer 2014 to Rainbow Gathering and use the same tricks that is written in the part Czech Republic and Slovakia. Many people in railway station and train do not speak English (only young people) and pronunciation of Hungarian towns and stations is very difficult. If you want to buy ticket (short journey ticket of course) or ask for platform, pronunciation of town is difficult, better write town on paper. If you ask for platform, use you terminal station and do not show more people you ticket with near station and do not ask the conductor but better to ask some passenger. The trains in Hungary (or Austria, Romania and other European countries) is too at internet Czech page www.idos.cz, you choose "Vlaky" - trains. There are all stops at the journey and arrival and departure times, but the distance in Kilometers is only Czech, Slovakia and some trains that ride though Czech or Slovakia. But the stops and time for every stop is always on this page.
The interval between stops is in Hungary quite small, every trains including EC have usually many stops (every 5-10 km R-trains and 10-30 km long, journey trains, but in some case interval between stops is long). EC often stops in small towns. The interval to next train is quite variable, from 1 hour to 12 hour.
You can use Short journey ticket trick or you do not respond when conductor ask who is new or watch conductor and in some stop go to area where tickets were already checked (if the next stop is so far, you can try walk around conductor). PeterOB do not know how often conductor check toilets and he do not know if there is ticket inspector in trains (this is not conductor), but he saw ticket inspector in bus. In long-journey trains you must watch conductor change in some town. New conductor check all passengers, but not only new passengers.
If you are captured that you travel without ticked, you are usually kicked of out train (no penalty usually), but some conductors let you continue journey. The ticket inspections is not so hard like in another countries. PeterOB had wrong ticket but young conductor in R-train let him to travel. But some another conductor in EC train kicked him out. PeterOB's friend travel too without ticket and conductor let him to travel. Most of conductors do not speak English or another language or speak English little. PeterOB had to show ticket again in some D-train and they do like do not understand and conductor let him be. The Hungary is middle-difficult or good for free riding in train and very good for classic hitchhiking.
Hungary have few tips of trains, like Czech. PeterOB think that all trains belongs national railway company and there are not private trains in Hungary, but he is not sure.
The R-trains is not like R-trains in Czech or Slovakia. This trains have many stops (about every 3-10 km or 3-10 min), it is like OS local trains in Czech. This trains have usually one conductor (sometimes maybe 2 conductors) and about 2-5 carriages. Amount of passengers is variable from teens to hundreds. R-trains near big city (Budapest) have more than 5 carriages, one or 2 conductors and many passengers. The interval to next train is every hour near big city, every 2-4 hour generally. You can look where is the conductor and in some stop go into area where tickets are already checked. (conductor go first time and interval to next control is long near big city). But in general, there are many stops and sometimes small amount of passengers. You can try short time ticket trick. Conductor check only new passengers, you can do nothing when conductor is coming, but in case of small amount of passengers – there is big chance to conductor ask you for ticket. Amount of passengers and carriages is variable.
The D-trains is quite similar R-trains but the interval between stops is about 10-25 km or 10-20 minutes. This trains is like SP or R trains in Czech. D-type trains have usually 3-6 carriages and one (or two) conductors. The amount of passengers is variable, about from 30 to 200. The tricks are the same – short time ticket tricks or do nothing when the conductor ask who is new. Interval between D-trains is quite long (several hours) but you can use another type of train (EC, INT or R).
The next type of trains is IC and EC in Hungary (and EN or INT or Rex trains contains this type too). You do not need seat reservation at most of trains (you have to have seat reservation maybe it few long journey trains but it is very rare). This trains is for long journey (international), usually to, from or through Budapest. This trains have usually a lot of carriages, (5-8), two conductors and a lot of passengers. But not always. There was IC in the timetable but arrived only two-carriages local type train with small amount of passengers. In mostly cases the interval to next control can be long but not always. You can use classic short-journey ticket trick (and go near conductor to be checked before critical station) or do nothing (sleep, look out of the window, read a book), when conductor ask who is new or watch conductor and in some stations go into area, where tickets were already checked.
The interval between net trains is quite variable. First direction is from Germany or Poland through Czech and Slovakia to Budapest and sometimes continue to Beograd. Interval to next trains s 2 hours. Trains have a lot of passengers, two conductors. The interval between stops in Hungary is only 7-20 km. In the journey Kosice-Budapest is interval to next EC train 12 hours and trains have one conductors and a lot of passengers (not in Slovakia). The interval between stops is from Kosice to Miskolc about 20-30 km but between Miskolc and Budapest is only one station Füzesabony. PeterOB think that EC do not stops in Hidasnemeti, it is only cross-border to Slovakia. PeterOB travel from Kosice to Miskolc and buy ticket only for Slovak area, where is small amount of passengers) and in Hungary PeterOB watched conductor and go to area where ticket already checked.
The direction from Budapest to Romania is 4 hours but Budapest-Püspökladany 2 hours (Some EC ends at Püspökladany and another R train continue to Biharkeresztes). The interval between stops is for trains to Biharkeresztes and Romania about 50 km before Püspökladany and 10-15 km after Püspökladany. But if the EC ends in Püspökladany, the interval between stops is whole journey 10-30 km. If you are kicked of the train, you can combine next train type with EC, R,D-trains. You can see in time-table that EC trains continue to Romania and train wait tenths of minutes near border. But in some cases train ends in Biharkeresztes (near border) and you have to change train. Some trains continue to Romania for long journey (for example to Brasov). There are EC and D trains in Romania (EC are international) with stop every 40-70 km usually. But the seat reservation in Romanian EC and D trains. There are too local trains in Romania with many stops. Romania is difficult for free riding in train and for classic hitchhiking too.
The direction Budapes-Wien is similar, interval to next train every two hours ans stops every 15-40 km. PeterOB do not use this train (Rex type of train), but he think there are a lot of passengers and two conductors. This train crossing borders to Austria.
The direction Budapes-Szeged have EC-trains with stops 15-30 km away and interval to next train is one hour. Direction Budapest-Beograd is not so much freqvent. Interval between stops 15-30 km (about 50-80 km in night D-train) and there are only two times with train from Budapest to Beograd – 13:05 INT and EC train from Budapest and 22:20 D-train from Budapest.
Fines don't exist, the conductor checks only a few times during a trip (even on those very small trains), and if he finds you without a ticket, he simply kicks you out, although some are nice enough to let you ride for free. An exception is Eurostar trains, they have police on the train and will ask you to pay, although you can still get away with it. The night train (InterCity Notte) is the best option for making long distances, as after midnight until after about 8 am nobody is checking tickets.
- I'm sorry, the last thing is not completely true. In the night train from Munich to Rome I was controlled 5 (!) times, 3 times on the Italian side.
- Besides, on night trains they DO check regularly. Years ago it was much looser, but not anymore
PeterOB went to sea in Italy near Venecia and Padovas in June 2015 and he use free rides with Italian trains. The phrase Fines do not exist is not complete true. First train, which PeterOB used in Italy, was EC Train from Munchen (South Germany) to Verona (North Italy) and conductor want to give him fine and just prepare block for fines in DB Bahn. But PeterOB have succeed in many Italian trains, it I not difficult in Italy.
As we can find, Italy have many types of trains.
First type is regional train (Treno Regionale). This type of train have distance between stops 5-30 km, usually 10-20 km. Journey of this type of train is about 100-250 km and it takes 2-3 hours with 10-20 stops. Regional trains are quite fast. This type of trains have only one conductor and conductor do not check tickets so often, he go only one-two times during whole journey, usually once 4-8 stops only. You can find conductor in stop quite easy – he wear blue-black suit and white shirt. Number of passengers is quite big, up to few hunderts. Some regional trains are quite crowded near big town. Conductor asks for ticket all passengers during checking, tot only new passengers (and time to next control is long). You never know, when conductor go. You can watch during trip if conductor is coming and walk around conductor during ride without backpack and in the area where ticket were already checked wait until conductor finish your wagon and go back after it but conductor go out of train in stops for give sign to driver – you can in this time go behind conductor in the train easy. You can do sit in WC, do not lock door and hold toilet paper – play shitting during control, not for whole journey. Because of not so often checking ticket and checking all passengers – you can not use Short Distance Ticket Trick or play that you were already checked like in central Europe. If you are found that you travel without ticket, conductor will ask you for buy ticket, but you will say that you have no money. Conductor usually ask you, where is your final destination and sometimes let you travel or kick you out. Sometimes, conductor ask you for passport, bat you will say that you do not have. He let you be. There are no coops in regional trains and conductor do not call police. Most of conductors are nice to free riders and speaks English good. Interval between regional trains is usually 1 hour and trains go from early morning to late evening. Some types of regional train have a lot of short wagons (8-12) and it is not visible so far in this train, where conductor is now. But some trains in north, near Bolzano in mountains are better – you can see whole area of train and where is conductor now and this trains are sometimes crowded and have stops and arriving time in monitors.
Next type of train is FS Treno. This type of train have probably one conductor and about 5-9 long carriages, you can see all carriage area (no coupes) and but not to other carriages. FS trains usually go for long distance, hunderds kilometers and distance between stops is 30-80 km. Speed of this train is quite fast, PeterOB thinks about 100-180 km/h between stops. Conductor go usually once 2-4 stops (or more) and probably check all passengers, not only new passengers. As you can see in information board, this type of trains required seat reservation (maybe because of a lot of passengers and maybe for checking tickets) and ticket is more expensive than in regional train, but you travel compete free. Amount of passengers is quite big, but sometimes not so big. Interval to next train is usually 1 hour and trains go from early morning to late evening.
You can walk around conductor (and play telephoning) and wait until your wagon is complete checked, or stay sit on toilet without locked doors (play shitting). Of course, you can use short distance ticket trick or play that you was already checked. If you are find that you travel without ticket, conductor ask you for buy ticket first. But you have no money. So conductor probably kick you oft of rain or he might ask you for passport in some occasions or let you travel without ticket. You can tell to him that you have no passport. There is no coops or security in this type of trains and time to next stop is not so long because of high speed.
Some FS trains are Treno Alta velocita. This type of FS trains have same distance between stops but speed of this type of train can be faster. FS Alta velocita looks like high speed train (Pendolino) and there are information monitors inside and wifi inside too. But the password for wifi is probably on ticket. This type of train have probably one conductor and maybe restaurant wagon, conductor check tickets probably once 2-5 stops. Ticket for FS Treno Alta Velocita can me more expensive and of course, with reservation obligatory. You can use the same tricks like in FS trains or regional trains. If you are find that you travel without ticket, you probably will be kicked out at next stop or conductor might ask you for passport. There are no coops or security on trains (PeterOB hope), and next stops is up 100 km away.
There are another luxury High Sped trains in Italy, which can belongs to private company. This type of trains – Treno Alta Velocita with cangoroo in logo have wifi, restaurant, streewards and conductors and obligation of seat reservation of course. PeterOB have not use and do not recommended this trains but speed of this trains is big and distance between stops long.
Next type of train is EC train. EC trains are usually international and go for long distance. Journey length can be more than 1000 km and distance between stops 30-100 km. Interval to next train is few hours (better use regional train), ticket price about Eur 1 per 8-10 km, speed in normal, usually 100-150+ kph. EC trains have not so much passengers and two conductor (and conductors might be out of Italy). Conductors probably go more fregvently and probably check only new passengers, but remember often who is new, because of not so much passengers. And there is conductor crew change at border and checking all passengers. Toilets are probably checked too. There are bigger chance ask you for passport and conductor write fine for you instead of simply kick you out of trains. Because of international type of train, there can be cops or security in train, but it is not rule. Many immigrants use EC trains for going to France, Germany, Scandinavia from Italy without ticket and conductors know it, and this is reason of bigger chance of coops occurrence.
Night rains are similar to EC or FS trains, but goers in night. Interval between stops is about 50-100 (150) km and journey length is quite long, often more than 1000 km. Interval to next train can be 2-4 hours. Night trains can go from Germany or France to Italy, to Rome or some trains from Rome to south. This trains stops only in big towns. PeterOB did not not try this type of train. Conductor go probably once 2-4 stops and check probably all passengers, not only new passengers. It is easy to play sleep that you are already checked in the dark. It was very easy few years back because conductors do not check tickets during night trip but now – they check it regular and probably all passengers, not only new (for example three times checking during long journey from Austria or Bolzano to Rome). Seat reservation obligatory – that is question. If you are found without ticket, that is question, if you are only kicked out or conductor ask you for ID (Conductor first ask you for buy ticket, of course). Because of international trains, police or security can be inside train, especially now because a lot of immigrants take train from Italy.
Last type of train is Eurostar train – international high speed train with long distance between stops. Tickets are expensive with obligation of seat reservation. And there are police in Eurostar train and if you found without ticket, conductor probably always ask you for ID or passport.
Generally – traveling by train without ticket is in Italy very Easy }more Easy than in maybe all European countries). Classic hitchhiking is very difficult in Italy but PeterOB think that Spain is worse. There are no places for stay on the road, roads are narrow and cars have not place to stops (narrow road, a lot of cars behind) and you have not place for stay in most of cases. You can hitchhike in petrol pump, but not so much drivers stops. And it can be not allowed in petrol pump or many places near road, the fine is Eur 21, be careful about coops arriving. North is better because of a lot of German, Austrian cars go by motorway.
One more think. Dumpster diving is easy in Italy and trashes behind supermarket are usually accessible. Some food is too in small trashes. And in summer is markets in center of town and there are many garbage – fruits and vegetables at the end of market (in afternoon or evening). Distance to supermarket can be long. There are public transport – buses, trams in Cities and it is easy to take it for free. Fine is not so high. But there are entering only by front door (and you have to buy ticket from driver) in buses in smaller towns.
The local trains (CFL) have two floors; be aware that there is a ticket booth at the end of the first car - don't accidentially run in it, unless you want to buy a ticket. There are ticket inspectors too. If you want to get out of the country, be aware that the inspector will check tickets on the international train as soon as it departs, so, if the next stop is still in Luxembourg, you're screwed. The cops are not liberal.
- It's insanely easy to hop trains in Norway. When I went to Norway I found it rather difficult to hitchhike, so instead I resorted to abusing Norway's "Ubjent" train system to get me around the country. I managed to train hop from Vestfold (south west Norway) to the Swedish border using just free trains! Go to whatever train station, even if it's Oslo central station, size doesn't matter, and look for trains which are going local. For example, Oslo - Ljan (a tiny village not far from Oslo). These trains will usually be red and old looking, and every 2nd carriage will have "Ubjent" written on the outside doors with a small message (in English) saying that you must have a validated ticket before entering as there is not a ticket inspector (!). This essentially means buy a ticket and get it electronically stamped before entering, but of course, no one ever does this. Just hop on to this carriage and keep going with it until the line runs out. From there, you can get another local Ubjent train until that line runs out again! Keep doing this until your destination. Like I said, I managed to travel from Tonsberg to Holden, about 250km, using this method.
As we can read – PeterOB have many experiences in free riding by train in Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Tips and trick for game with conductor is similar in all countries in central Europe (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland). Leťs explore Poland. Tips and tricks are similar.
There are several types of trains in Poland. First type is local train. This type of train is marked like OS or R-train in Poland. Local trains have distance between stops about 2-7 km, and this type of train have a lot of stops during journey (50-200 km). Speed of local train is not so big, because of loot of stops and not so fast running. Classic speed is 40-60 km per hour (without stops 60-100 kph). Local trains have about 4-6 wagons and usually only one conductor (or two conductors), some wagons are not so long. You can see about 2-4 wagons away, where is conductor in some types of local trains. Number of passengers is not so big, but it can be more than 100 near big town, but only 10-30 passengers in some train. Conductor go usually every 2-5 stops and check only new passengers, but in some local trains from big town conductor go one time at start and no more during journey, because of almost no new passengers go to train. The conductor's walk is quite fast, but not so fast at the begin in big town with a lot of passengers. You can try walk around conductor, especially in some stop get off and go to area, where tickets have been checked. But it do not work, if conductor's walk is fast. As I have told, conductor check only new passengers. You can try sleep, read a book or look out of window and do not answer for checking new passengers (you, are new, of course). But if amount of passengers is small or you do not look like average person – there is big chance for asking you to show ticket. Especially in night/late evening local train and not to close to town, you can get on as quiet as possible and conductor might do not go. Method, that PeterOB use in Poland is Short Distance Ticket Trick. The ticket price is about Eur 1 per 10-13 km. You bu ticket only for short distance (20-30 km, few stops), and you go near conductor, show your ticket during control and continue journey much further than distance in your ticket. The conductor do not remember final destination of all passengers and check only new passengers. But if you look like strange person, the chance that conductor remember your final destination is increasing. If you try to hide in toilet, do not lock the toilet, and sit down like during shitting and hold toilet paper in hand. But stay in toilet only for control time, because of another passengers go to toilet and open the door. And one more thing. Be carefull in in some stops in bigger town because of conductor change. New conductor check all passengers, not only new. And many passengers changed in big town. If you are found that you travel without ticket, you will challenged to buy ticket or you might be challenged for give your passport or identity card for write fine. The fine is Zloty 200 (about Eur 40) + Ticket price/ If you in local train refuse to give ID (do not have). You will be kicked out of train in most of cases. Interval to next train is usually 1-4 hours, it depend on location and time. But be carefull for last train at evening.
Next type of trains is IC or R-train. This type of train is faster. R-train have distance between stops about 10-20 km and IC train about 12-30 km between stops. This type of train usually have two conductors and more passengers than local train. This type of train is usually electric (Local train is usually diesel). Interval between this type of trains is usually 1-2 hours or 2-4 hours. Seat reservation is requited for this type of train, maybe because of a lot of passengers or ticket control system. Because of more passengers you can more easy walk around conductor in some stop outside or inside during control (play that you have telephone and go out of seats area around conductor) and you wait until conductor finish your carriage and you return to your seat after it. But you can do it one or two times, if you travel for long distance, it might fail. You can too use Short Distance Ticket Trick or no not respond during checking new passengers or you can hide in toilet and do not lock door, if you see when conductor is coming). And you course, be aware of conductor change in big town. If conductor found that you travel without ticket, the chance of asking you for pay penalty or give ID to conductor is bigger. And in bigger train for long distance can be coops or security, especially now because of immigrants.
The last type of train is EC-train with a lot of passengers and a lot of wagons. Seat reservation is required (long distance, a lot of passengers, because of control ? ) This type of train is sometimes international and run for very long distance. Some EC trains go from Prague (Czech) through Ostrava and Bohumin (CZ) to Katowice and Warsaw. Some EC trains go from Hungary or Austria (Budapest or Wien) through Bratislava, Zilina (SK) or Breclav, Ostrava, Bohumin (CZ) to Warsaw. Speed of this train is usually 80-120 km per hour (more than 100 kph without stops). Distance between stops is quite variable – from 10-15 km to almost 200 km, usually 15-80 km. EC-trains from capital city Warsaw to south go to Bohumin (CZ) and continue through Breclaw to Wien or through Bratislava to Budapest and some trains go to Prague. Some trains divide to two parts in Bohumin (CZ) and one part continue to Prague, Second part to Bratislava and Wien or Budapest. Look for stops, arriving time and distance between stops at www.idos.cz, choose trains - “Vlaky”. You can find for example EC 111 Praha from Prague to Warsaw (Prague 0 km 10:07, Warszaw Wschodnia 18:48 721 km, one conductors crew is from Prague to Bohumin and probably second crew from Bohumin to Warsaw). Record distance between stops is from Zawiercie to Warszawa Zachodnia 190 km and 122 minutes, averages speed 93,44 kph.
Because of number of carriages and passengers is big and distance between stops quite long, it takes a lot of time and maybe few stops when conductor come to you. I do not if the seat reservation (you have to have) is used for ticket inspection. You can go in some stops to area where tickets are already checked (interval to next control is quite long) or walk around conductor to area where tickets have been already checked by outside way or inside wagon without backpack and play telephoning (wait for finish checking your wagon and go back) or try stay in toilet during control and play shitting, do not lock the door. But the chance of toilets checking or asking you for ticket when you walk around conductor can be bigger that local, R or IC trains, because of long distance journey and long distance between stops. I am not sure, if Short Journey Ticket Trick work (you can go near conductor for checking before final stop on ticket and in is not so cheap because of long distance between stops), because of seat reservation (conductor can have in computer with seat is with passenger and which seat not and if you sit on free seat, conductor will ask you for ticket, of course). And I do not know if conductor check only new passengers in EC/IC trains (because of seat reservation). The control before boarding do not exist in Poland or Czech, Or Slovakia or Hungary except of black private Leo Express IC trains – in Leo Express black train is control before boarding and in Yellow Regioet is one conductor per wagon and conductor have free seats and seats with passengers in Regiojet train in Czech and Slovakia). But Back to Poland EC trains. Because of international Journey, the cops and security is very often in this train, especially now because of immigrants. If conductor found you without ticket, the chance of asking you for pay penalty (About Eur 40 or Zloty 200 + Ticket price) is quite big and if you refuse to pay and give ID, the chance of coops coming is big (conductor can too phone to next stops for coops because of long time between stops). Or sometimes you can be kicked out in the middle of fields or forest, this can usually happen in Czech-Slovakia high speed train (up 160 kph) Pendolino with small passengers, seat reservation required and expensive tickets.
And one more warning for all type of trains (OS, R, Local, IC, EC, Pendolino), which crossing border especially Czech-Poland or Slovakia-Poland and Czech-Slovakian border too. Because of cheap drugs and medicaments for drug preparing (and illegal alcohol or cigarets without mark too) in Poland, the c controls of backpacks in international trains is quite often near Polish Borders. The police usually check identities and very detailed check all thinks in your backpack and all pockets (but do not check tickets). Be prepare for this, especially if you take ganja or similar thing with you in your backpack or pocket. The amount of this non-ticket controls can rise up today because of a lot of immigrants.
But generally – trains in Poland are quite slow and with a lot of stops (almost all type of train have a lot of stops and small distance between stops) and interval to next train can be very long, especially in east of Poland (and border controls are not so pleasant), classic hitchhiking is better. Hitchhiking in Poland is quite easy, waiting time is about 10-60 minutes. It is best in east parts of Poland. So going by hitchhiking is better than take train in most cases }it is faster in most of cases even go by train with zero times be kicked of). The same situation (slow trains, a lot of stops and good hitchhiking) is in Hungary. And if you are in car, coops do not check your backpack. And one more gut sign for freegans. PeterOB have found quite a lot of food in trashes in city and a lot of bread and cakes behind supermarket. This is in Poland quite good, better than Czech Republic. But supermarket workers an be sometimes angry.
There are many different types of trains (Cercanias/Rodalia, regional, regional express and Catalunya express are obviously the worst, as they have the most stops) and you have to be aware of the fact that depending on where you are, trains may not go frequently. The conductor may either check the whole train several times or after initial check rely on his memory to see who has just hopped on the train or he may have a list. He doesn´t get off the train while checking, so you can jump off the train and jump back on on that part that he has already checked. Trains have only one inspector, even if they are composed of two parts between which you can´t walk. They don´t call the police if you refuse to pay or show a proof of identity, you simply have to get off at the next stop. White timetables (those showing trains going between two locations, not just those stopping from a particular station) list only regional trains - well, in case, you´re wondering why there are so few trains listed. Trains seem to have only one toilet, if any. In bigger cities (Barcelona, Castellon, Valencia, Alicante, ...) and in many smaller cities which may be even worse since there is less people and security can easily notice you it seems to be the rule that you need a ticket to get to the platforms. Sometimes you need a ticket to get only to Cercanias/Rodalia trains, sometimes only to express trains, sometimes both. If you are kicked out of the train, security may kick you out of the station too, so sometimes the only option is to hitchhike. When leaving Barcelona, take any Rodalies train to Passeig de Gracia where all trains going from Estacio de Franca south and from Estacio de Sants north and Rodalies trains stop at the same platform - that is, there are two platforms for each direction, you don´t need a ticket to go between them.
The commuter trains (S-Bahn) are great (it even goes out of the country), they have A LOT of stops, which means that you can easily jump off. There is no constant presence of ticket inspectors. Most often they are undercover and get on at random stops. They can be hard to recognize so better sit in the front and keep an eye for groups of 2 to 4 people with big side bags. The S-Bahns also get uniformed ticket inspectors who wear blue jackets and red scarfs. As per the busses, most of the public bus drivers don't pay much attention. It is easy to get onto the bus whilst no one is looking, or through the back door. If you are stopped however, often you can get your way out of paying very easily, because the drivers are payed by the kilometer and not passenger.
InterRegional trains often have inspectors that check several times during the trip -- by memory or, occasionally, by asking out loud who just got on the train. If caught without a ticket, you'll usually be asked to pay a 90 CHF fine (~110$), as well as the cost of the ticket. There is a bit of wiggle room with this fine, so if you see a controller, your best bet is to go towards the end of the train and buy a ticket on your phone (using the SBB Mobile app, all you need is a credit card - works on iPhones and Androids). Even though you bought the ticket after you left the platform, the controller wouldn't mind seeing as many people do so - just pretend that you care when he lectures you, and explain that their system is very slow (it is).
On the Inter City trains (the newer, high speed trains with restaurants), there are always at least 2 inspectors, usually 4 during peak times and on the last train. If only two are present, they start at the end of the train each time, and work up all the way to the front. It is often possible to avoid the inspectors on short trips during the day if you sit right up against the front. At each station, they usually just go back to the back again, so you may never even be controlled. It is best not to run or act suspiciously when in front of the inspectors, as they can add a penalty of up to 200 CHF for disrespecting the conductor. Contrary to popular belief, there are railway police agents, and the come to the train station in extreme situations. It is very hard to avoid these fines, however there is one loophole in the system: whenever you see a controller, go to the front of the train, and there should be a kids compartment. In that kids compartment, there is a slide, and under the slide, there is a fairly large area which is big enough to hide a person, yet very hard to spot when walking past. Nevertheless, if you do get caught in this space, the penalties can be quite severe. Seeing as most trains have 2 floors, you could just walk down the stairs (calmly), however, this can arouse suspicion, and the inspector can decide to cut you off on the other side of the wagon.
For short journeys, the UK is fairly good for fare-dodging. Quite a few young people get away with not paying fares, particularly when the trains are busy (e.g. at rush hour). Many trains have no inspectors, and rely on entry/exit barriers to validate tickets. Often these are unmonitored, so a quick hop can get you in. They are often open after 9pm (ish). It is increasingly popular for train operators to have standard fines for people caught sans-ticket. These vary from £10 (maybe, minimum fine is £20 - from 2010, when PeterOB was in United Kingdom) to double the full adult fare (which is a lot!).
A good tip is to look out for 'Permit to Travel' machines. These are designed for people who for whatever reason can't but a normal ticket - the idea is that you buy a Permit to Travel with whatever money you have, then pay the difference later. It shows a general willingness to pay for a ticket - this means that you can escape any fine, so long as you have ample money to pay for a full ticket if caught. The minimum you can put into a machine and get a Permit to Travel is 5p, which is a pretty cheap price to avoid a fine. Also, if you board a train without a ticket and show willingness to pay but just by far not enough money when caught, some inspectors will let you ride for free or be satisfied with your pennies.
Permit to travel machines are largely being phased out by train operators. Those remaining are centred around London and the South East. Locations where some machines are still known to be operating are: London, Thameslink, Kent Coast, Great Northern, Great Eastern, South Western, West Anglia, West Yorkshire, Certain routes around Birmingham.
Ticket inspectors are not allowed, legally, to touch you to wake you up. So put your headphones on and fall asleep. They'll loose interest fast. Be aware some inspectors will try to bump you awake with their ticket machines, or ask the passenger next to you if they could wake you. For destinations with barriers get off at stop before and buy a low cost ticket to the next stop.
PeterOB traveled by train in United Kingdom in Summer 2010 and he tried to use his common game – Short Distance Ticket Trick. But the control system in Great Britain is another than in central Europe. Conductor do not go so often, only once per many stations, or at begin and before finish of train journey and check all passengers, not only new passengers. Conductor usually appear suddenly and go forward quite fast. You can try to walk around conductor to area, where tickets were already checked and wait until your wagon is finish and return to your place after it. Conductor probably do not check toilets so much (you can sit there and do not lock doors during control).
But as you can read here – many train stations have turnstiles, enspecially bigger towns near London (like London Subway) and you have to put your ticket to machine during going towards train and too during leaving platform at finish. There are one or two conductors near turnstiles and watch passengers (or only cameras in some places). You can try to use shadow tactic – go behind person with ticket. Or you can buy ticket for child – turnstile do not recognize your age. If you buy ticket just few minutes before departure, it is very expensive (up to Eur 1 per 4-5 km), but if you buy online ticket for non lucrative time (early morning), the price is much cheaper (Eur 1 per 10-25 km). There are exact train and seat in this ticket, but you can use it whole day. Conductor do not check tickets so much, only very fast because of a lot of passengers. You can buy only one station ticket (close stop, even your train do not stop in this destination, turnstiles do not know which train you want to use) and same think at finish – short distance ticket trick. If you do not have ticket on exit platform, you can still buy it (short distance of course).
But night traveling is better – turnstiles are open after 9pm and no control during entering to platform or leaving platform.
Trains in United kingdom are quite fast, 200-250 km/h is quite common. Many trains have own stop list and it is very different for speed optimalize. Interval to next train is usually 15-60 minutes. Distance between stops is 25-100 km. There are usually a lot of passengers in train, especially at afternoon. Because of Britain population is huge.
There are slower local trains with more stops and without turnstiles at stop of curse.
You can always buy ticket in train (if conductor go) or from conductor that watch turnstiles in entrance and exit way from platform (not whole journey but as short as possible). If you refuse to buy ticket in train or during leaving platform (with turnstile) or you give to turnstile ticket with another final destination that you are now, you can get fine from conductor. Fine is double classic adult fare (which is about Eur 1 per km) or at least pound 20. Conductor choose more expensive fine.
If you want to go another way that through turnstile and you want to cross track, do not do it. There are cameras and penalty is pounds 1000. And trains are very fast and not all trains stops in all stops, it is variable – so crossing track is very dangerous. One train stop, but another train run through station 250 kph.