I could write a lot about travelling by train. I wrote some of my thoughts when I commented on Damyanti’s What’s Your Take on Train Travel, but I feel it’s not enough.
I usually like travelling by train. You can see the landscape, take a walk and stretch your legs, breath fresh air, go to the toilet, etc. Generally, the train is more comfortable than the bus. Still, there are differences between countries and types of trains that make me unable to speak in general.
There is a difference between daily travelling (commuting to school, work, or just moving inside the city) and taking the longer distance train.
This post will cover only the daily (or local) travels, airport-bound trains will follow up.
All the posts will be based on my personal experience so you can expect information about trains in Poland, Norway, Japan and Indonesia. Please note that the prices were valid at the time of my trip. I welcome any suggestions, corrections and other points of view.
So far my experience tells me that capital cities use trains as one of the public transport around the town and surroundings. Every town does it differently. Continue reading for the information on local trains in Warsaw (Poland), Tokyo (Japan), Oslo (Norway) and Jakarta (Indonesia) and photos.
There are over 50 train stations in Warsaw, serving various types of trains. You can ride them with your public transportation tickets (only 24 hours, weekend, 30-days and 90-days tickets!). Actually, there are two zones for tickets in Warsaw – 1st zone is Warsaw, 2nd zone are selected neighbouring towns. The 2nd zone tickets are more expensive. Unless you say otherwise, you will be given the 1st zone tickets.
There are several types of trains serving the people from Warsaw in the city and outside of it. In Warsaw, it’s Warszawska Kolej Dojazdowa (WKD in short), Szybka Kolej Miejska (SKM) and Koleje Mazowieckie (KM). It can get tricky when the travellers want to use them. Only SKM relies wholly on Warsaw public transport tickets. The other trains also have their own tickets, which you have to buy in separate places. The timetables in stations may not show the exact info (line) of the train, but train number. I had problems with it when I came back after a year in Indonesia (sic!).
The local trains (especially SKM trains) are often wheelchair-friendly or bike-friendly, but the biggest problem is that the train stations usually aren’t. Like Warszawa Zachodnia (Western Warsaw) station, the only major station serving the three types of local trains in Warsaw. You can get to the platforms there only by stairs.
There might not be information on stations in the trains, so it’s better to know the route beforehand and count the stops. :D Or ask people.
I just spent few days in Tokyo in September 2011, but I got to love it. And the trains. In Tokyo and Greater Tokyo region, I mainly travelled by trains. It was something entirely different from my experiences in Warsaw. The number of stations and lines were overwhelming. Over 20 platforms in Tokyo Station when in Warsaw it’s only 8 (Warszawa Zachodnia) at best. But, fear not! The signs will point you in the right direction. Inside the trains, you can see the route and possible transfers, sometimes also in English. And of course, there are announcements.
For travelling the trains in Tokyo, I used Suica card. It’s a rechargeable card making paying for the tickets hassle-free. Just touch the card reader on entrance and exit and the fare will be deducted from the card. It also can be used for paying the baggage lockers or in shops and restaurants, especially around the station.
Some trains have ladies-only waggons during the rush hours. There are priority seats for elderly with turn-off-phones (etc.) zone, so there won’t be any issue with the peacemakers. And you always know where the train will stop on the platform, so you can just wait there.
On average I paid around 180 yen per ride, which should be between 1-2 Euro or USD.
There is just one important thing to remember when you want to use the train in Tokyo. The stations are big, especially the major ones. It’s better to reach the station even half an hour earlier. Getting to the station 5 minutes before the train leaves may result in you not boarding the train.
When I was in January 2010 for a weekend in Oslo, I mainly travelled by foot or by buses. But I took the Holmenkollen line train (underground in the city centre) from Oslo to Frognerseteren (over the ground). This line is one of the reasons why I fell in love with Oslo. It gives you a fast ride (around 30 mins maybe) from Oslo to the slopes where you can ski (cross-country, alpine skiing) and sledge to your heart’s content. Or until the closing time. In Holmenkollen there is the Holmenkollen National Arena, hosting many competitions.
For travelling this line, I used my 72-hours Oslo Pass, which also gave me free entrance to museums.
I didn’t travel much by train in Jakarta, when I was there in September 2012. Still, I can say few things from my one-day rides. The cheapest economy class trains are the worst idea ever. Unless you like cockroaches in the daylight, broken fans and open door during the whole trip. The open door and slow ride (it’s local!) make it easy for thieves, so take care of your bags! And don’t travel with big luggage, there’s no place for that. The local trains will have – also during the ride – beggars, sellers of various goods.
If you can, go for a more expensive type of train. I think I paid around 3.000 Rupiah for the cheapest and 7.000 Rupiah for the better train. Which is still less than 1 Euro or USD. The trains can take you to the tourist places, but buses too (I think 3.500 Rupiah).
My Opinion on Local Trains Travels
The best service was in Tokyo. The worst one was in Jakarta. Warsaw is somewhere in between. A lot of things changed (for better) in trains in Warsaw and Mazovia region since 2011. The new trains have announcements, route and transfer information but in Tokyo trains, it’s just easier. Bigger font, screens over every door, etc. I didn’t encounter “Attention passengers, please change the platform” type of announcement which happens in Warsaw.
What do you think about travelling by train on a daily basis? How it’s in your town?