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Old March 28th, 2010, 02:03 AM   #1
Suburbanist
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MISC | Behaviour of Vistors on your Country's Railways

I'm creating this thread so we can discuss behavior of foreign tourists and visitor in general in our countries' railways, particularly the annoying/awkward situations.

I'll start with Foreigners using Italian railways.

Italians are quite used to reserved seats (only regional services and a few others don't require reservation anymore), and usually abide to their reservations, because we are not that gentle toward people taking that window seat I reserved 3 days before travelling... Some tourists are totally annoying in disregarding completely their own seats and taking the first available in the service class they've paid for. I'm fluent in English and often more than rarely I had to confront, politely, tourists who had taken my seats.

Sometimes they start yelling at passengers asking them to move out, especially in trains that stop often. They are usually those travelling in couples/groups and buying tickets 10min before departure, not paying attention to ENGLISH instruction about how to get an assigned seat near someone who already has a ticket or, worse, taking the last seats available when there is no longer side-by-side - let alone a group of 4 seats - available anymore, then complaining. Sometimes we need to ask conductors to deal with unruly passengers who refuse to leave their seats.

Then, sometimes they leave, but take another seat that is not theirs. Then, because in Italy there is no visible indication above/on/beside the seat of whether it is taken like in Germany, they just get upset again at the next station when someone else come and out them. Quite annoying to travel in a carriage where this happens, each stop yields a confrontation - why don't they just seat on their rightful places? Amazingly, backpackers and people who can speak English are usually the most annoying in this aspect. They feel our trains are like a big subway system operating in a fist-come, first-serve basis.

Other particular behavior IMO is tourists that dump their luggage on the seats next to them, by fear they would be stolen if left on the end of the car, then having the same problem.

Finally, there is a small minority of very annoying people who insist on smoking on trains, specially those quite empty. They do it next to the doors, in old trains that have movable windows, and think that it is okay to lighten a cigarette there. Unacceptable, and conductors get harsh when they caught it.

Netherlands
I've been here for a relatively short time still, but I already know of some common problems caused by tourists.

First, it amazes me how so many of them try to get "smart" in order to save some bucks of the "expensive" fares here.

They buy discounted fares (40%) without being residents and having the proper discount card. They seat on first class seats when they have luggage while paying for second class tickets. They take a mounted bike without paying the bike supplement. I've spotted so many times they playing the foreign card and asking for "leniency" when they are issued a fine on spot.

Some respectable tourists guides (like Lonely Planet) even suggest that one buy a discounted ticket then try to get a companion with the card on board (someone with a discount card can take up to 3 other passengers with him), because "local youth to this all the time" - never mind I've never seen local people begging to travel on others cards... but in Amsterdam Centraal, this happens with a certain frequency and it's annoying: someone asking you where are you going to because he/she has a ticket with a discount he/she couldn't take advantage from.

A particular trick I've seen these days is tourists who take the faster Fyra trains (which require hefty supplements I pay when I want to travel fast from Rotterdam to Amsterdam) with regular tickets. It is very common between Schiphol and Amsterdam Centraal, people see a train, with a livery that is not totally different than regular ICs, and pretend it is a regular train when asked to pay the € 3,20 suplement (over a € 4,60 fare) on spot plus service charges.

On the night trains, there are always some drunk/stoned foreign tourist refusing to pay his/her fare at all.
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Old March 28th, 2010, 11:46 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I'll start with Foreigners using Italian railways.

Italians are quite used to reserved seats (only regional services and a few others don't require reservation anymore), and usually abide to their reservations, because we are not that gentle toward people taking that window seat I reserved 3 days before travelling...
One of the reason why Trenitalia went to "all reserved" on most long distance services is probably the simple fact that Italians did not abide by reservations. In my experience reserations were next to worthless on trains in Italy, as there would always be someone sitting in your seat, and they would not move even if you showed them the proof of your reservation. The biggest problem is basically that Trenitalia is so inefficient that they end up running far less trains than they could or should.
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Old March 28th, 2010, 12:03 PM   #3
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Suburbanist, I just have to ask.. Are you a conductor or do you take the train for a living?
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Old March 28th, 2010, 12:18 PM   #4
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One of the reason why Trenitalia went to "all reserved" on most long distance services is probably the simple fact that Italians did not abide by reservations. In my experience reserations were next to worthless on trains in Italy, as there would always be someone sitting in your seat, and they would not move even if you showed them the proof of your reservation. The biggest problem is basically that Trenitalia is so inefficient that they end up running far less trains than they could or should.
That used to be a problem, becasue many people didn't pay for reservation, but since 2007, and particularly since May 2009, almost all non-regional train not only allows, but REQUIRE a reservation that cannot be paid on board and must be done before departure - so everyone riding a giving train has to have an assigned seat.

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Suburbanist, I just have to ask.. Are you a conductor or do you take the train for a living?
Nope. Just an user who gets angry sometimes for the lack of civility of fellow users, fellow drivers on the road, fellow passengers on airplanes etc.
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Old March 28th, 2010, 11:43 PM   #5
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I'm sure you see foreigners do these things, but I am also sure that there are many foreigners you don't notice because they act like natives and follow the rules.

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Then, sometimes they leave, but take another seat that is not theirs. Then, because in Italy there is no visible indication above/on/beside the seat of whether it is taken like in Germany, they just get upset again at the next station when someone else come and out them. Quite annoying to travel in a carriage where this happens, each stop yields a confrontation - why don't they just seat on their rightful places? Amazingly, backpackers and people who can speak English are usually the most annoying in this aspect. They feel our trains are like a big subway system operating in a fist-come, first-serve basis.

Other particular behavior IMO is tourists that dump their luggage on the seats next to them, by fear they would be stolen if left on the end of the car, then having the same problem.
Maybe the seat numbers are not clear and they're not doing it on purpose. In Korea, they would assign seat numbers, but if the train was half full people would just sit wherever.

Regarding the luggage, in the USA it is common to put your backpack on the seat next to you so no one sits there. I've ridden plenty of commuter trains around the country and it's the same everywhere. We wait until the last possible moment when there's at least one person in every row before moving our stuff. I'm guilty of that too. Maybe Europeans don't do that?
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Old March 29th, 2010, 08:58 AM   #6
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Regarding the luggage, in the USA it is common to put your backpack on the seat next to you so no one sits there. I've ridden plenty of commuter trains around the country and it's the same everywhere. We wait until the last possible moment when there's at least one person in every row before moving our stuff. I'm guilty of that too. Maybe Europeans don't do that?
Oh, we do it all the time in Europe. I do it too. Outside peak hour this is usually not a problem.
People will usually move their stuff if you ask.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 11:31 AM   #7
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I also get annoyed when people take my reserved seat on an ICE, but I have to admit in most cases it's a German and not a tourist. Tourists don't usually argue or debate it, they just apologize and move, but sometimes Germans will try to debate it when there is no real point. I have a printed reservation and they don't. So get out.

Regarding tourists taking other people's reserved seats in Italy though, well, I'm not surprised if there is no clear sign above the seat. It doesn't matter what instructions are written on the ticket, even if in English as no-one reads tickets. It must be clearly labelled above the seat that it is reserved. If the Italian trains don't do this, only they are to blame. Not tourists.

Onto the Dutch trains. Good on the tourists there for trying to get the discount tickets. I believe it is completely wrong to discriminate with ticket prices. This is a deliberate ploy to rip off tourists.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 12:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Onto the Dutch trains. Good on the tourists there for trying to get the discount tickets. I believe it is completely wrong to discriminate with ticket prices. This is a deliberate ploy to rip off tourists.
Think of it as a loyalty program. I have to pay EUR 55 a year for my Off Peak Discount card. Just like monthly or yearly subscriptions this only makes sense for frequent users.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 01:43 PM   #9
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Think of it as a loyalty program. I have to pay EUR 55 a year for my Off Peak Discount card. Just like monthly or yearly subscriptions this only makes sense for frequent users.
Except that it is not available to everyone, only selected people.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 01:57 PM   #10
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Foreign tourists are probably the least annoying people on trains. Really bad are drunken kids or football fans.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 02:10 PM   #11
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Except that it is not available to everyone, only selected people.
Theoretically, it is available to anyone that has an address in The Netherlands and is legal in the country. Germany and Austria have similar schemes. The rationale is that trains are already quite empty outside peak-times, and for operational reasons they don't cut number of cars or coupled units in trains, so it would make sense to try to divert people to travel in "less busy" periods so overcrowd in peak-time is reduced.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 02:24 PM   #12
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Theoretically, it is available to anyone that has an address in The Netherlands and is legal in the country. Germany and Austria have similar schemes. The rationale is that trains are already quite empty outside peak-times, and for operational reasons they don't cut number of cars or coupled units in trains, so it would make sense to try to divert people to travel in "less busy" periods so overcrowd in peak-time is reduced.
That part defies the logic behind the discrimination. If they really wanted to encourage travel during off peak times they would think about tourists as they don't need to travel during the peak commuter periods ;O)

The real reason is to bleed tourists. Ripping off tourists is nothing new, but that doesn't mean it's not wrong.

By the way, I am not aware of any discounts only offered to residents here in Germany. The DB discount I use is the Bahncard 50, which offers 50% off when you buy the card, but the card is available to anyone. It's just of more use to Germans because it offers a year of 50% off, something which is not as useful for a non resident. That said, someone living outside of Germany, but near and travels a lot in Germany can also buy a bahncard.

If such a discriminatory card does indeed exist in Germany then I would also be against that as well. Visitors here should be able to buy the same products and services as residents.
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Old April 1st, 2010, 11:22 AM   #13
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I never had problems with tourists. It's different with some immigrants.
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Old April 1st, 2010, 12:20 PM   #14
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Theoretically, it is available to anyone that has an address in The Netherlands and is legal in the country.
Actually it's available to anyone with a mailingaddress NS is willing to mail to (which is in practice probably anywhere in Europe). Same with the DB Bahncard.
However if you want to order it online you need to understand Dutch.

I had a Bahncard 50 for a while, but since DB now gives 25% to people with a Swiss Half Fare Card it is no longer usefull for me. I had a Dutch "voordeelurenkaart" for a while too.
The problem is the recurring subscription. You don't buy it for a year. You get a subscription, that you have to remember to cancel in time...
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Old April 1st, 2010, 12:24 PM   #15
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Actually it's available to anyone with a mailingaddress NS is willing to mail to (which is in practice probably anywhere in Europe). Same with the DB Bahncard.
However if you want to order it online you need to understand Dutch.

I had a Bahncard 50 for a while, but since DB now gives 25% to people with a Swiss Half Fare Card it is no longer usefull for me. I had a Dutch "voordeelurenkaart" for a while too.
The problem is the recurring subscription. You don't buy it for a year. You get a subscription, that you have to remember to cancel in time...
On its Trenitalia is not waiving revenue for foreign discount cards anytime soon, and that they also are increasing the reservation fees for Interrail and GlobalRail passes. They are going through a very different path than the rest of Europe, and time will say whether it will pay off or not. So far, it has.
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Old April 1st, 2010, 01:10 PM   #16
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On its Trenitalia is not waiving revenue for foreign discount cards anytime soon, and that they also are increasing the reservation fees for Interrail and GlobalRail passes. They are going through a very different path than the rest of Europe, and time will say whether it will pay off or not. So far, it has.
Trenitalia is busy turning Italy in to an Island. I doubt this will pay off in the long run, as other companies will increasingly encroach on their territory. Systematically underutilising expensive infrastructure and rolling stock doesn help either.
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Old April 1st, 2010, 08:47 PM   #17
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Well I'm a Bahraini student studying in the UK, so I'm technically a foreigner and I use the trains all the time.

I try to respect the obvious rules and most other international students I see do the same. I admit I'm guilty of doing things like putting luggage on seats or taking reserved ones if there's nowhere else to sit, but I would quickly remove the luggage if asked to do so or move from the seat if the owner shows up(they usually don't).

Most of the disruptive people I've seen on British railways, which are thankfully very rare, have been locals. I'm not trying to appear insulting towards the country(the vast majority of locals I've met have been great people), that's just my observation.
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Old April 2nd, 2010, 11:03 AM   #18
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Can't say I've ever noticed tourists behaving differently on the Belgian trains...

Putting bags on the seat next to you is something I do all the time, but when I notice it's becoming busier, I try to put it elsewhere. By the way, what also seems to result in more space: using your laptop on the train. For some reason, people don't bother you that often when you're using it ^_^;

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Old April 2nd, 2010, 06:46 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apoc89 View Post
Well I'm a Bahraini student studying in the UK, so I'm technically a foreigner and I use the trains all the time.

I try to respect the obvious rules and most other international students I see do the same. I admit I'm guilty of doing things like putting luggage on seats or taking reserved ones if there's nowhere else to sit, but I would quickly remove the luggage if asked to do so or move from the seat if the owner shows up(they usually don't).

Most of the disruptive people I've seen on British railways, which are thankfully very rare, have been locals. I'm not trying to appear insulting towards the country(the vast majority of locals I've met have been great people), that's just my observation.
I'd say that tourists in the UK tend to be fairly respectful of our travel rules and conventions. Having said that the only altercation I've ever had with anyone on the trains about reservations was with some Irish guys on the train from Hollyhead (the ferry port to Ireland from the UK) to London who didn't appreciate that if they sat in my seat, I'd have to sit in someone else's and someone else would be without a seat; and it would save everybody all that trouble if they just moved.

They don't have that many trains in Ireland so perhaps they weren't used to the convention, or didn't appreciate how busy they got?
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Old April 3rd, 2010, 02:44 AM   #20
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Annoying things tourists and out-of-towners do on the London Underground, you don't see many tourists on mainline railways in Britain generally, but i'd imagine they do similarly annoying things there.

-Stand on the left on escalators
-Stay in massive groups, blocking corridors and entrances to platforms
-In those massive groups, they always stay at the busiest end of the platform and don't move down
-Take flash photography which blinds drivers who have been in dark underground tunnels
-Take ages at ticket machines
-Walk down corridors and then suddenly stop, causing blockages
-Carry massive amounts of luggage at rush hour
-Push their way into trains before anyone has had a chance to get off
-Take too long to get off the train, delaying people who want to get on and the service generally
-American tourists in particular do this, laugh at the station called 'Cockfosters'
-Impersonate 'MIND THE GAP' announcements
-Never move down the carriage to the less busy part
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