5

As a general question, can you buy flexible tickets in Poland which allow you to get on and off on your route?

For my specific case, is there a ticket I can get that will allow me to travel from Warsaw to Gdańsk breaking my journey at Malbork? If not, what is my most cost effective option?

1 Answer 1

7

This is indeed possible, though it depends on which website you use to book your tickets. The website of PKP Intercity, intercity.pl, lets you specify a station through which you want to go, but not how long you want to stay there, so it's not useful in this situation. I tend to like buying my tickets on Bilkom, which has a much better UX, despite also being ran by PKP. The only downside being that they don't seem to have an option to switch the website to English.

In Bilkom, you can specify an intermediate station by clicking here:

Bilkom train search interface with the "Dodaj stację pośrednią" button highlighted

...typing in the station name, and adjusting how long you want to stay there:

The same search interface with an additional field for entering the intermediate station

Note that if you say "I want to stopover in Malbork for 6 hours", it'll suggest connections that minimize any time spent in Malbork in excess of this 6 hours, even if it means being in a more expensive EIP train. You might want to look up the two legs separately, and then enter a more exact stopover length to guide the website into showing you the connection you're interested in.

Now, what prices can you actually get in this way?

As an example, let's say you want to travel on the 10th of January – booking about a month in advance. One of the options would be:

08:34 Warszawa Centralna – 11:19 Malbork, IC 1510 (booked separately: 19 PLN, ~4.40 EUR)
17:45 Malbork – 18:20 Gdańsk Główny, IC 58108 (booked separately: 4 PLN, ~0.9 EUR)
Total if booked together: 23 PLN, ~5.3 EUR

So, exactly the same – while there is a distance-based tariff for connections involving multiple trains, it comes out at 47 PLN at the current price point. Thus, the software suggests buying separate tickets instead.

Nevertheless, depending on the exact circumstances, searching for a single ticket with a specified stopover can save you money.

Now, let's say you don't know exactly how much time you want to spend in Malbork. Maybe you'll have enough after 4 hours, maybe you'll want to catch the last train of the day. It is possible to get a ticket that will be valid regardless of which train you take, but it varies whether this is actually worth it.

Specifically, if you choose a connection consisting of trains ran by at least two different carriers (e.g. PKP Intercity and Polregio), you'll have the option to buy a Wspólny Bilet (through ticket). Such a ticket includes a list of trains which you are supposed to take, with some flexibility:

  • your ticket's validity starts at the time of departure of the first train listed, and lasts for a number of hours dependent on the distance covered. This is:
    • 3 hours for a distance of up to 50 km,
    • 6 hours for a distance of 51 – 100 km,
    • 12 hours for a distance of 101 – 300 km,
    • 24 hours for a distance over 300 km.
  • if your ticket lists a specific regional train, you may also take any other regional train between these two stations, as long as it's within the period of validity of your ticket
  • if your ticket lists a specific TLK, IC, EIC or EIP train, this comes with a seat reservation, so you can't just hop on a different train. You are still allowed to adjust this by talking to staff at the ticket office at the station, but let's face it, that's gonna be a huge hassle if you don't speak Polish, and even then you probably wouldn't want to use this option unless you have to.

(the above is my summary of the relevant part of "Zasady i warunki stosowania Wspólnego Biletu (ZW-WB)")

Conceivably, the best option could be to buy a through ticket for an Intercity train to Malbork and then a regional train to Gdańsk. It is not clear what a good way is to measure the distance listed in the rules above, but there's an easy way around this – buy a ticket that lists the last regional train with this offer, and you'll be sure that any earlier train is also within the ticket validity.

For your specific circumstance, I don't know whether this would be worth it – if you're after flexibility, then from what I've seen, on this particular route the cheapest option seems to be to buy the Warsaw–Malbork train well in advance (i.e. about 30 days, as that's when booking opens for domestic trains), and then buy the Malbork–Gdańsk train just before departure, when you know which exact train you want — while the trains are cheaper if you book early, this works by applying discounts when booking early, as opposed to jacking up the price arbitrarily high based on perceived demand. You can reliably see how high the price is going to get, by checking what the same train costs today or tomorrow.

Lastly, a word of warning. Since you'll be traveling through Warsaw, note that Warsaw has two quite similarly named stations: Warszawa Centralna (Warsaw Central station), which serves most trains today, and Warszawa Główna (Warsaw Main station), which used to serve a lot of trains but doesn't anymore. Make sure not to confuse them. I've heard of people going to Główna when then train leaves from Centralna, and then struggling to get to the correct one in time.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .