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BARGAIN CORNER

New Rail Passes for Eastern Europe

January 06, 1991|JACK ADLER

New rail passes to Eastern Europe and within Hungary have been introduced for 1991.

The European East Pass covers Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland and allows unlimited first-class travel on the rail systems of each country. There are two versions, each permitting travelers to choose a number of travel days within a larger time period. The travel days do not have to be on consecutive days. A pass for five travel days out of a 15-day period costs $160; 10 travel days out of a one-month period, $259.

Travelers who intend to spend most of their time in Hungary should check out the Hungarian FlexiPass, which also offers a pair of options: five travel days out of a 15-day period for $35; 10 travel days out of a month, $55.

The German FlexiPass, while not new, now covers what used to be East Germany. Any five days out of a one-month period costs $190 first-class, $130 second-class; nine days within a month, $300 first-class, $200 second-class, and 15 days out of a month, $375 first-class, $250 second-class.

As a bonus, free transportation is offered on KD steamers on the Rhine River between Dusseldorf and Mainz; on the Main River between Mainz and Frankfurt, and on the Mosel River between Cochem and Koblenz. In addition, free transportation is available on several bus lines.

Fare reductions are also offered for: steamers on the German side of Lake Constance; several day-trips, including the Bavarian castle tours, and on some city tours of Munich.

With all of these passes, children from 4 to 11 travel at half-price. There is no charge for children under 4.

It's important to note that simply holding a pass doesn't guarantee a seat on a train. A reservation should be secured in advance. There is a charge for making a seat reservation. Many trains, however, do offer seats on a walk-on basis. Travelers holding a first-class ticket can always travel second-class, though you will need reservations for this class of service as well. No refunds or replacements are given for lost or stolen passes.

All of the passes have to be bought in the United States and are good for six months from the date of purchase. The time period starts with the first day you employ the pass in Europe.

Contact travel agents.

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