( Originally Published Early 1900's )
In England and a few countries on the continent express trains make greater average speed than those in the United States. Most foreign trains, however, are considerably slower than ours. On the whole railway fares are less than in the United States, because with few exceptions all foreign railroads have two or three classes, and only first-class fare, and that by no means in all countries, is as high as our ordinary fare. In England and some other countries this amounts since the war to a little more than our Pullman travel.
Brazil, Chile,, Korea, Manchuria, are among the few foreign countries with purely American trains, even to the Pullmans. Most of South America, China, etc., have a kind of cross between American and European trains. Virtually all of Europe, and some other countries, besides most European colonies, have the compartment type of car, and the screechy little engines without a bell. In the older style, still used for almost all local traffic, each compartment has a door on either side of the car, so that emptying a train is quicker than in America. Expresses and the better class of through trains now nearly all have the corridor on one side of the car, with compartments without outside doors opening off them.
The usual European classes of trains, in the order of their speed and appointments, are Trains de luxe, Rapides, Expresses, Trains Omnibus, and Mixtos. These run the entire gamut between very swift and comfortable travel and that reminiscent of the wheelbarrow. The first two or three categories may have only first and second class. In most continental countries at least the last two classes of trains and sometimes all but the de luxe trains have third class. In Germany there is a fourth class, used by farmers in going to market with produce (and as horsecars in time of war) in which travel is possible at next to no cost. Second class has virtually disappeared from British railways since the war. Almost everyone in England now travels third class, and the normal American tourist need have no qualms about doing so. On the continent second class is advisable, except in Italy, Spain perhaps, and a few isolated cases, where first is advisable. Outwardly the coaches (called "carriages" in England and wagons in France) are indistinguishable, except for the usually Roman I, II, and III on the sides. Within, the chief differences between first and second class is in the color of the upholstery and the evidence of more use in the lower class coaches. Except in England third-class coaches have hard wooden benches.
First-class compartments usually seat six, sometimes only four passengers, and second-class, eight, movable chair-arms separating the places. The two seats in a compartment face each other, so that half the passengers, must ride backward. In every class are compartments marked "Smokers" or bearing the corresponding continental word, but it is a rather common practice to smoke in any compartment unless one of the passengers in it objects. Many travelers find it quite comfortable enough to travel in reserved second-class compartments on the more luxurious, and faster trains. In England "saloon" carriages, consisting of two sections, one for smoking, may be reserved for parties in either first or third class.
First class is advisable almost everywhere in South America and Mexico except in the Argentine and Uruguay, where second is comfortable enough. Japanese second class is also all that the reasonable traveler could demand.
On the Japanese railways of Korea and Manchuria purely American cars are used, with wooden seats in third class. In China, except in second-class compartments of newly importer coaches on the "Blue Express" between Nanking and Peking, and on the biweekly express on the Peking to Hankow line, even first class leaves something to be desired. French Indo-China has first, second, and third class all in the same coach, the two second-class compartments at one end being quite as comfortable as the single first-class one in the middle. The other half of the coach is third class, clean but hard. The bulk of the natives ride fourth class, the freight-car-like coaches of which make up most of the train. In India certain compartments in al three classes are "Reserved for Europeans and Eurasians, ' which makes it possible to ride even in third class without coming into close contact with the natives. Most travelers, however, will wish at least to ride second class there.
Children over one year pay half fare in Poland and Jugo-Slavia; those over three in Great Britain, France, Italy, and Roumania; those over four in most other European countries. Full fare begins at ten in most countries, at six in Spain, seven in France and Italy, eight in Roumania, and twelve in Switzerland. Excess fares are charged on trains de luxe, rapides, and some expresses.
TIME TABLES issued by continental lines are hard reading to most Americans. In place of them (since they must be purchased in any case) it is advisable to use the British Bradshaw (6d in any bookshop or news-stand) issued once a month and giving all railway schedules, steamship sailings, and many other useful hints to travelers. The Continental Bradshaw is even more comprehensive and costs but little more.
In most continental countries, in Brazil, Chile, Indo-China, etc., what might be called the 24-hour system is in vogue in railway time-tables. That is, A.M. and P.M. have been eliminated, and with them much confusion and actual danger in train operation. Thus one o'clock in the afternoon appears as 13.00, six in the evening as 18.00, ten thirty at night as 22.30. The figures may have a strange look to the newcomer for a day or two, but the average American tourist does not find subtracting twelve from figures used between noon and midnight a particularly arduous mental exertion after a little practice. Arrivals during the first hour of the twenty-four hour day are usually shown as 24.49, etc., while train departures are likely to be 0.27 and so on.
The following samples of rail rates in Europe will serve as general examples. In the main, rates in other foreign countries tend to be lower these :
Round trip on the "Flying Scotsman" (a de luxe train between London and Edinburgh which has been running since June, 1862) first class—L129s Od; third class—£7 19s 3d. From Berlin to Munich, 399 miles; $12.61 in second class; $8.17 in third (as compared with $14.29 for the same distance from New York to Buffalo). In England the same distance costs $12.12 third class; in Switzerland, $12 second; $8.45 third. The fare from New York to Philadelphia (about 100 miles) is $3.24; the same distance in Germany costs $3.19 second and $2.02 third, while modest tourists bent on saving money to be spent to better advantage elsewhere may travel 427 miles in fourth class in Germany for $5.52. First class, patronized in most countries mainly by the wealthy, the foolish, or government officials and others provided with passes, averages a little more than American fares with Pullman.
CIRCULAR TOUR TICKETS are again used in some parts of Europe, as they were before the war. Germany has a sixty-day ticket of this kind that saves at least excess fares on fast trains. Spain has the billete Kilometrico (Mileage ticket), sold at terminal cities and requiring a photograph of the holder. It is issued for round-number distances from 2000 to 20,000 kilometers, at greatly reduced rates and is good on almost all lines in the country. As the tendency is for this system to increase in various countries, the tourist seeking to economize will do well to make inquiry before starting on an extended land journey abroad.
SLEEPING CARS ABROAD offer more privacy than our democratic curtain-chambers. They resemble our state-room cars and are normally divided into single or double rather than higher than compartments holding two or four persons. The most modern have four two-berth compartments and eight single berth—no difference in price. Upper and lower berths, quite like those on shipboard, are also financially and socially equal. Pillows, sheets, blankets, and in some cases shoe-shines, are provided, and the attendant expects a tip of at least twenty-five cents per passenger.
In Germany most expresses traveling by night have sleeping compartments. First class usually has a single berth; second, two berths, third, three or four. The cost for any distance is: 1st, 26 marks, 2nd, 13 marks; 3d, 6.50 marks. Note that nearly all advance reservations carry a slight "supplement." England also has single, double, and triple berths in the respective classes with hot and cold water, electric fans, and all other comforts, with a truly British privacy.
For those unable to secure, or unwilling to pay the high price of, regular sleeping-car accommodations in France, there is the couchette. The seats of converted day coaches are reserved for half the usual number of passengers, in first and second class, by extending them to human length. Here passengers lie side by side, regretting it if they have not brought their own blanket and pillows, since nothing but rather inadequate mattresses are furnished.
Brazil, Chile, Korea, Manchuria, Mexico, etc., have American Pullmans with both berths and staterooms. In Brazil an inferior means "lower" and superior means "upper," where berths are concerned. Argentine, China, India, Australia, and South Africa, have the compartment form of sleeping-room, as do the Russian railways of northern Manchuria and Siberia, and even little Porto Rico. In Japan the so-called sleeping-car is a snare and a delusion, since it consists of little more than permission to lie down on the lengthwise cushions in first or second class coaches.
DINING-CAR TICKETS are as essential in European travel as are sleeping car tickets. Immediately upon boarding a European train of the better class for a ride that is to include a meal-hour the dining-car attendant who passes through the train should be asked for a reservation slip. There are usually several sittings, and this system obviates the barbarous American custom of standing in line until a table is available. European dining-cars usually serve table d'hote meals at fixed hours (and at more reasonable prices than in the United States) and are used as cafes, generally with a la carte service, between meals.
Dining-cars will be found in Argentina, in Korea, on China's two de luxe expresses, on Japanese and Russian lines in Manchuria, and in various other lands. There is a tendency for the system to spread. But the STATION RESTAURANT, with the time-table adjusted for meals, still prevails in some parts of Europe. The Japanese system of station vendors of native meals and other supplies is well known.
The Question, of RAILWAY RESERVATIONS ABROAD merits a word. On some European trains all seats are reserved in advance; for example, on the "D" trains in Germany. There is usually but a small charge for this, but without a Seat reservation the intending passenger may be left behind. The head porter in better-class hotels will attend to this for a slight gratuity; tourist agencies make this a part of their business; there are some local agencies, and unless there is a bar of language there is no reason why the traveler should not get his own tickets and make his reservations at the railway ticket-window as at home.
A point worth remembering is that some express trains in Europe run only three days a week; that they may be crowded, or all accommodations reserved long in advance, if it chances to be a holiday, of which the traveler may know nothing. This is one of the matters in which the tourist agency serves you well.