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train

hands-down the best mode of transportation in Poland; affordable, comfortable, and picturesque.

- what are the trains like?
- how do I buy tickets?
- what types of trains are there?



contents

trains

trains & tickets

tickets

tickets

domestic travel

domestic travel

international travel

international travel

trains


trains

There are 6 types of trains in Poland, some divided into 1st and 2nd class. All types have sections with an open layout, and some (EIC, IC, and TLK) also have compartment sections. Below is an infographic and a description of each type, sorted from most to least expensive.



Express Intercity Premium (EIP)

Bullet train service, also called "Pendolino", available only on select routes from Warsaw to Gdańsk, Katowice, Cracow, and Wrocław. The price is approximately 2.5 times the price of a regular Intercity ticket for 2nd class. 1st class is 50% more expensive than 2nd class. EIC trains are 50% faster than regular Intercity trains. They are also a bit more comfortable.

EIP train

EIP train 2nd class

EIP train 1st class

EIP destination map


Express Intercity (EIC)

EIC trains are non-bullet trains but typically more modern than regular Intercity trains and approximately 50% faster (ridiculously, just as fast as EIP trains). They also run only on select routes, especially high-demand routes not serviced by EIP trains, usually between major cities. They price is approximately 2.25 times more than for a regular Intercity ticket for 2nd class. 1st class is 50% more expensive than 2nd class. EIC trains are 50% faster than regular Intercity trains. They are also often a bit more comfortable. In fact, the only reason to pick EIP over EIC is that EIP employs only the most modern bullet trains and you can therefore be sure of optimum comfort. Note that the modern trains do not have compartment sections.

Newer EIC train

Older EIC train

New 1st class (open)

New 2nd class (open)

Old 1st class (open)

Old 2nd class (open)

Old 1st class (compartment)

Old 2nd class (compartment)


Intercity (IC)

IC trains are mid-tier services that operate both more and less modern trains. They run to cities of all sizes, and typically terminate at a larger city, such as Wrocław, Warsaw or Gdańsk. All major Polish cities are connected with each other with regular Intercity services. Intercity trains are also divided into 2 classes and have both open and compartment sections.

IC train

IC car

IC train 1st class (open)

IC train 2nd class (open)

IC train 1st class (compartment)

IC train 2nd class (compartment)


Twoje Linie Kolejowe (TLK)

TLK are lower-tier intercity services that run parallel to IC trains. Oddly enough, TLK uses mainly the same trains as IC and usually costs exactly the same. The main difference is that, with TLK, there is a (small) risk of catching an older train, for example with 8-person compartments. There is also a risk of a lack of air-conditioning and a dining car. Finally, some TLK connections take a longer route, extending the travel time. For photos, see the IC sub-chapter above.

POLREGIO (REG)

POLREGIO, often called Przewozy Regionalne, is a medium-haul service that runs between two close major cities, such as Poznań and Wrocław, or from a major city to a smaller one. These trains stop very often, even in tiny towns. They are approximately 40% cheaper and 30% slower than regular Intercity trains and are not divided into classes or into compartment and open sections. Currently, old trains are being replaced by modern ones, which are quite comfortable. The chance of catching an old train is around 30%. Overall, however, the level of comfort is a bit worse than in IC trains and comparable to TLK trains.

new POLREGIO train

old POLREGIO train

new POLREGIO train inside

old POLREGIO train inside


Local Carriers

Poland is divided into 16 voivodeships. Many of them have installed their own, local carrier, and those carriers do not compete with one another or run parallel services. Local carriers serve low-demand routes between smaller cities or from small cities to major cities. The service on all those carriers is very similar and you will never have to choose between two since whenever local carriers will be your choice, they will be your only choice. The trains are all modern and comfortable and resemble urban rail trains. They are approximately 40% slower and cheaper than regular Intercity trains and stop in all villages on the way. The trains are not divided into classes or compartments.

Currently, there are 6 local carriers: Koleje Dolnośląskie (Southwest), Koleje Małopolskie (South-Southeast), Koleje Mazowieckie (Central-East), Koleje Śląskie (South), Koleje Wielkopolskie (Central-West), and Łódzka Kolej Aglomeracyjna (Central). Smaller villages in Northern Poland are serviced by POLREGIO.

local carrier train

local carrier train inside

amenities

toilets

All trains in Poland have toilets. Some of them are amazing and some of them are horrible - there is really nothing inbetween. On EIP, EIC, Local Carriers, new POLREGIO trains, new IC trains, and new TLK trains, they are fantastic and modern. On everything else, and especially older POLREGIO trains, they are a nightmare.

new train toilet

old train toilet

food

dining cars

In Poland, dining cars are called WARS. Trains with a WARS have hot foot available onboard. Almost all EIP, EIC and IC trains have a WARS. You can simply leave your seat and walk through the train to get to your WARS. There is no information in the train on where it is, but you can see it from outside - so pay attention when boarding. Breakfasts cost 17 zł [4 EUR] on average, and main courses cost around 30 zł [7 EUR]. The selection of dishes is equivalent to a restaurant. You can pay by cash or by card.

small WARS (EIC)

large WARS (IC)

delivered to seat

Using a mobile app developed by WARS, mWARS, you can now order food from the dining car to your seat. The menu is limited to takeaway items and beverages, though. Though you order using the app, you pay when the food is delivered. You can pay by cash or by card. This service is only operated on EIP, EIC, and IC connections.

Once in a while (every 2 hours or so), a steward/stewardess will also push a cart with sweets and beverages through the train. To purchase something, simply stop the stewardess as she passes you and pick something. You will have to pay by cash. This service is only operated on EIP, EIC, IC, and TLK connections.

food delivered to seat

steward with cart

bicycle transport

You can take your bike onto all types of trains, and there are special locking mechanisms in place in the more modern trains. To bring your bike onto the train, you must, however, buy a special bike ticket - you can do that at a ticket booth or ticket machine. It will cost you between 2 zł [0.5 EUR] and 10 zł [2.5 EUR].


tickets


There are a few ways to buy a train ticket for services operated by Polish rail companies:

ticket machine

For a tourist, this is by far the best way. Touchscreen ticket machines can be set to English and are present at almost all stations (though not in villages and very small towns). You simply walk up to the machine, choose your destination, choose your desired train, pick your ticket type (more on that later), pay by cash or card, receive a printed ticket (that does not need to be validated), and are on your way.

We strongly recommend this option.

ticket machine

ticket machine system

ticket booth

The more conventional and old-fashioned way is to buy a ticket at a ticket booth. At every station, no matter how small, there will either be a ticket booth or a ticket machine, described above. To buy a ticket at a booth, you come up to the booth, say what station you want to go to, say what train you want to take (as in: what time your train departs), say what ticket type you need (more on that later), pay by cash or card, and receive a printed out ticket that does not need to be validated. The issue with this method is that the cashiers often do not speak English very well and you may misunderstand each other.

ticket booth at big station

ticket booth at village station

in train

The third option, and one that we do not recommend, is to buy a ticket in the train, already after departure. This can be done in almost all trains, but is a bit tricky. This is because you need to purchase the ticket before the ticket controller walks through the train. This means that you must buy the ticket as soon as you get in. To buy a ticket in the train, you must find the train crew (which have a designated space either at the back or at the front of the train), tell them that you want to buy a ticket, tell them what station you want to travel to, what type of ticket you need (more on that later) pay by card or by cash (an additional charge of up to 8 zł [2 EUR] may be added to the ticket price), and receive a ticket (that does not need to be validated). The issue, just like with the ticket booths, is that the crew is not always very good at English, but in trains you have a bigger chance of finding someone that will help you.

This service does not operate in EIP trains. And we do not recommend it.


online

Your final option is to buy tickets online. Where you buy the ticket, however, depends on what type of train you will be taking. To first check this, go to the Polish Railways Planner website and enter your destination and time of travel. Then, you will be presented with your options. Choose the best one and check the "products" column, which will feature one of the six types of trains described above. If the abbreviation for the train type is not mentioned above, it is a local carrier train service. Then, you will either have the option of buying the ticket directly from this page (applicable for EIP, EIC, IC, TLK, and REG), or you will have to find the website of the given local carrier and buy the ticket there. Fortunately, all local carrier websites are translated into English. Be prepared to buy a seperate ticket for all sections of your journey. Remember to print out your ticket before boarding!

Buying a ticket online can be up to 30% cheaper, depending on how long in advance you buy. However, you lose all of the flexibility, and the ticket prices are very low anyway. We don't think it's worth it to book in advance just for the discount.

Most locals don't buy tickets online, but if you like to plan your trip out, it's not a bad option.

in-train ticket purchase

online ticket booking system


types of tickets and rules

regular fare

This is the ticket you should buy as a tourist in Poland. There are reduced-fare tickets available, but the rules around them are not always the same - in fact, as scandalous as that is, some ticket controllers will not acknowledge documentation entitling to a reduced fare if you are not a Polish citizen. This lack of consistency is why we strongly recommend to always buy regular fare tickets, even for small children. Trains are already very cheap in Poland - but fines are not.

reduced fare

Though we do not recommend this (as explained in the paragraph above), you can buy a reduced fare ticket as a tourist. These are the reduced fare categories: We agree, it's not very generous, especially since not a big share of students have an ISIC card. Be aware that you are entitled to these discounts only if you're a citizen of the EU.

rules for tickets

You must have the paper version of your ticket with you on the train, ready to display when the ticket controller asks you for it. This also applies to any documentation that entitles you to a reduced fare. It is also important not to sit in 1st class if you have a 2nd class ticket, even when there are free seats in 1st class.

ticket layout

This is what the ticket you buy will likely look like (you may get a squarer ticket, but the contents will be the same so the translation still aplies):




domestic travel


Train travel within Poland is easy and efficient. There are thousands upon thousands of kilometers of railways and you can get almost anywhere by train. This chapter answers some miscellaneous questions about domestic travel in Poland.

where can I go?

Almost anywhere. Here is a map of the different connections operated as of 2019. And this doesn't even include the local carriers, which operate services on railways of longer length than all other carriers combined.



should I buy my ticket in advance?

Unless you're travelling by bullet train (EIP), which you likely are not, then no, you shouldn't. Of course, you are running the risk of not having a seat (and having to stand/sit on the floor), but as long as you buy a ticket more than 1 hour before your departure (already at the station), you are almost guaranteed a seat. Otherwise there is an approximately 10% chance of you not being delegated a seat (though if you find an available seat on the train, you make take it). Now, the good thing about not buying tickets in advance is flexibility. And with so many train choices, this flexibility can be very useful if you don't want to rush it or want to be able to adjust your departure time.

how do I check which platform my train is departing from?

There are screens in all stations that show you when the next trains are departing, whether there are delays, and what platform they are departing from. The screens show the final destinations of trains, but also include the stations at which the train will stop. Most stations also have small screens at the platforms that show what train is departing from the platform next.

train status screen in Poznań

status screen on a platform

To learn how to reach specific cities in Poland, find the city's dedicated article in the website's cities section.


international travel


There are a few train connections to international destinations, and they are all worthwhile. Please note that tickets for international journeys should be bought in advance. Below is a map of international destinations reachable by direct trains from major Polish cities.

international train destinations



The prices are quite tough to swallow. Below is an infographic containing prices, travel times, and departures per day for each of the major destinations.



The train to Berlin also stops in Poznań. The trains to Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, and Vienna stop in Katowice. The train to Kiev stops in Lublin.

international trains

Here's what to expect in a long-haul international train (this does not apply to trains to Berlin or Vienna which use regular EIC trains, see above). Sleeper compartments are shown for all services that operate them.

Ukrainian train to Kiev (2nd class)

Russian train to Moscow/Minsk

Czech train to Vienna

Hungarian train to Budapest