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We all know about the last-minute deals for airlines. However, I'm looking for the same thing for trains through Europe.

Which websites provide such services?

PS: I live in Germany if this may help.

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    > We all know about the last-minute deals for airlines. - do we? I thought the common wisdom was that no such thing exist because then noone would buy the tickets earlier. Much rather, last minute tickets are the most expensive for an air ticket. – chx May 13 '16 at 21:19
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    @chx: "no such thing exist because then noone would buy the tickets earlier" - apparently, all the companies who do offer last minute deals (for whichever product) think differently. Note that everyone who cannot afford taking the risk that, by the time they try and buy what they want in a last-minute-deal, the product is sold out already usually still buys earlier, making the fear that no-one would buy earlier a non-issue. – O. R. Mapper May 13 '16 at 22:40
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    @Tom: I did not say I know any last minute airfare deals. I said the "rule" "if a product is offered at a last minute discount, no-one will buy it earlier at the regular price" cannot be true, because then there wouldn't be any last minute deals for any product. – O. R. Mapper May 14 '16 at 5:22
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    @Tom: The discussion is about the claim "Last-minute deals do not exist because no-one would buy earlier and pay the regular price". I have shown this to be false as last-minute deals clearly do exist for some products. If you wish to argue that airline tickets behave differently than those other products, it is your turn to provide evidence why that should be the case. – O. R. Mapper May 14 '16 at 8:26
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    @neo I don't know who you address. If it's me, then I don't look for last-minute flights, I know where to get these. I'm looking for last-minute bus trips. And "trashy" hotels !!! What do the hotels have to do with the whole thing. And why "trashy" in the first place. The idea about the last-minute thing, is to get decent stuff with a good price. – AhmedWas May 14 '16 at 11:00
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Deutsche Bahn offers "Sparpreis" saver fares up to a few minutes before departure. However, these are the regular saver fares that only rise and almost never fall in price if you are getting nearer to departure,

Up until last December Ltur offered such tickets however that promotors on has stopped. A month ago they once again had a few without long notice so it pays to check from time to time. Note that they currently sell the same tickets as Deutsche Bahn directly but with a surcharge.

You might be able to find someone selling their non-online saver fare on websites such as EBay Kleinanzeigen or local Facebook groups. However, never fall for offers to book a connection you provide them for a low price on those sites as an online-ticket. These are too good to be true.

Other than that there are no last minute deals for Deustche Bahn trains in Germany.

  • '"Sparpreis" saver fares up to a few minutes before departure' - at least this website says Sparpreis tickets have to be bought at latest one day before starting the journey. – O. R. Mapper May 14 '16 at 10:44
  • @O.R.Mapper Probably somebody didn't change that page. On most they removed any mention of a deadline since they allowed booking last December. The conditions of carriage mention the change on page 3, number 1. I also just searched some random connection to confirm and it offered me a saver fare. – neo May 14 '16 at 10:59
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I don't think such a thing exists, because unlike airline tickets or hotel rooms, train tickets aren't generally sold as a limited resource - for most European trains you can walk up to the station and buy a ticket 5 minutes before the train leaves, at full price. As these on-the-day tickets aren't usually tied to a particular train or seat, they also don't know exactly how many people will be on a given train, and this can often be more than the number of seats.

  • It can work for trains with mandatory reservation, though. – JonathanReez May 14 '16 at 7:35
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    Until last year Ltur used to offer such tickets in Germany. – neo May 14 '16 at 7:39
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Last minute deals on train tickets are not generally allowed - for instance, such deals are prohibited by ORCATS (the inter-company ticket settlement system) rules in the UK. Discount tickets in the UK must be available from when reservations are first made available (normally 90 days before departure). This is why the prices rise, as the cheapest class of discount tickets steadily sells out.

Trains also don't usually require reservations, so a train ticket (at least certain types of tickets) just lets you jump on any train you like. For this reason, train companies, unlike airlines, don't know exactly how many spare seats they have on a train. Even for the few registration-required services (like Eurostar or the TGV), there are still lots of passengers with fully-flexible tickets who could switch their booking to that train at the last minute, so there's a risk in selling off the last seat cheaply: a full-price passenger wishing to switch to that train then can't get on - which would be an expensive mistake for the train company.

None of this applies to certain private rail companies that run their own trains separately from the main rail system. Mostly these are railtours (often these use vintage locomotives or carriages or both: some are really expensive, like the Orient Express, but others are more modestly priced) and some of them, especially the ones that aren't deluxe holidays, will offer last minute tickets at a discount - but many of these are small companies and don't have the sort of sophisticated ticketing systems that have the ability to do this sort of thing.

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