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I have a PDF ticket from the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) for an ÖBB Nightjet train from Germany to Switzerland (not going through Austria). The PDF includes the following text:

In Österreich akzeptieren wir Ihr PDF-Ticket digital (Anzeige auf Laptop,Tablet, Smartphone). Grenzüberschreitend drucken Sie dieses bitte auf weißem Papier A4 Hochformat aus.

In Austria we accept your PDF ticket digitally (display on laptop, tablet, smartphone). Crossing borders, please print it on white A4 paper in portrait format.

(my translation)

I understand that some operators can only handle paper tickets, but in this case the whole route is operated by ÖBB. Do I really need to print the ticket, just because I'm not actually in Austria?

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    It is not really an answer to your question, but I can at least confirm that the ÖBB Nightjet trains are not only operated by, but also staffed with ÖBB employees at least in Germany. I would very much assume that they have the same possibilities there to verify your ticket as in Austria, but the text you have quoted does indeed say something else. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 25 at 18:10
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I have travelled on the ÖBB Nightjet from Germany to Switzerland, and can confirm that indeed they require a printed ticket.

I suspect that the reason is that on long international trips the ticket may be checked multiple times, as crews are changed, and with a paper print the first conductor can just stamp it, thus signalling to subsequent ticket checkers that the ticket is ok.

And on night trains it is common for the tickets to be kept by the steward, so that when the conductor comes to check the tickets the passengers do not need to be woken up.

  • Thanks for including the possible reasons why they do this. – Max Sep 26 at 6:33

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