12

So far I have noted two different policies on train tickets: Some companies such as DB (German railways) have a standard fare and cheaper tickets that you must book in advance, have a fixed quota per train, and if they’re gone, they’re gone and you are stuck with a more expensive ticket. Other companies such as the Belgian state railways just have a single price for a journey and there is no way of saving by optimising one’s time of booking.

I am aware that when booking trains in Sweden via SJ.se, I can choose between non-rebookable non-refundable tickets, rebookable but non-refundable ones and refundable ones. Typically, the non-rebookable ones are the cheapest by some thirty or fifty crowns.

Is it preferential to book tickets as early as possible? Are there pre-booking discounts following the German model that will be gone when they’re gone?
Or are there last-minute offers that significantly lower the price? Given the potential discomfort of having to take a different train does it sometimes make sense waiting for the last minute?
Or does it not matter, as the non-rebookable tickets will always be sold for the same price?

In case this varies by train company and depending on whether I am taking long-distance or regional trains, please consider long-distance trains preferentially and SJ trains as a second preference.

7

I doubt that you will get a complete and trustworthy answer unless an employee from SJ decides to answer here and publish confidential information about their pricing strategy. Nevertheless, perhaps some of my observations can be of some help.

One unusual thing about the SJ ticket pricing is that even the price of refundable tickets vary depending on demand. If you buy a full-price, refundable ticket from German Railways for an ICE from Berlin to Hamburg, you will e.g. pay 78€ no matter what. On an SJ train, the price for a refundable ticket may vary so much, that it might be cheaper to buy a refundable ticket well in advance, than buying a non-refundable ticket on short notice.

Just to mention an example, here are the current ticket prices for the X2000 service from Stockholm to Gothenburg at 12:29 tomorrow and on three other Sundays in the future:

Date       fixed   changeable   refundable
------------------------------------------ 
Jun 26      836         931         1100 
Aug 14      299         394          777 
Aug 28     1135        1177         1279 
Sep 18      299         394          777

As you can see based on the much higher prices for the train on August 28th, the price is not only based on how long in advance you are booking, but obviously also on estimated or real demand. Assuming that the refundable tickets for the trains on June 26 and August 28th were also initially priced at 777 SEK, it would have been cheaper to buy refundable tickets for those trains when they were made available for booking, than to wait and buy the 'cheap' tickets now.

SJ also offers last-minute tickets, but only for youths (up to 25yo) and students. For the 12:29 train tomorrow, last-minute tickets are currently available for 477 SEK.

  • Saturdays and Sundays are more expensive on average. If you book a weekday ticket 2-3 months in advance, mostly you shouldn't pay more than SEK 300 (again, 195 is the base fare of X2000 Trains - until 2012 it was 95) – Crazydre Jun 25 '16 at 19:24
  • I'm a student, last time I travelled I got a last-minute for under 300sek I believe (X2000 Skövde - Stockholm) – Bertware Jul 28 '16 at 6:19
5

The cheapest tickets are released 90 days before departure, so that's when you should start looking.

The cheapest tickets on the X2000 and SJ 3000 servives cost SEK 195, while for InterCity Train it's usually SEK 95.

X2000+SJ 3000 are all-reserved, so if all places sell out there'll be no more tickets

May I ask what route(s) you're doing?

  • Typically something like Malmö–Alvesta, Malmö–Nässjö; or with Copenhagen replacing Malmö. So something along the södra stambanan from Malmö half way northwards. – Jan Jun 25 '16 at 18:19
  • Yeah, those are all served by the X2000 services Stockholm-Malmö-(Copenhagen). The bracket means most Services terminate in Malmö (with connecting Öresundståg Service across the Bridge) while some go all the way. NOTE: if taking the Öresundståg from Denmark to Sweden, you'll be subject to both Danish Exit Immigration (at Kastrup) and Swedish entry Immigration (at Hyllie), while if taking the X2000 through Service, a single "combined" pre-clearance takes place in Copenhagen before boarding – Crazydre Jun 25 '16 at 18:47
  • Yeah, I knew that ;) But thanks anyway ;) – Jan Jun 25 '16 at 18:49
  • @Crazydre There is no Danish exit immigration control going by train to Sweden. Pre-boarding controls at København H and Københavns Lufthand (Kastrup) are done by private security guards and fulfil the transport operator's duty to only allow passengers eligible to enter Sweden to board the trains. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jun 25 '16 at 19:10
  • Aha, good to know (I always assumed it was a Danish control). Anyway, my Point is that X2000 passengers are only subject to one check, not two like Öresundståg passengers are. – Crazydre Jun 25 '16 at 19:13

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