Regional trains serve shorter and medium-distance routes within a region. They generally feature in timetables under the abbreviation R, but in Germany as RB (Regionalbahn). You’ll run across a huge variety of train types, some brand new but others very antiquated, as you travel across Europe on Regional trains. There are single and double-deck trains.
Regional rail services may be the only rail option in many areas of Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain. These trains serve rural regions, linking cities with their hinterland. They are often the key feeder services into the Regional Express network. Many Regional trains make short cross-border forays into neighbouring countries (eg. from Austria into Hungary or from Germany into Poland), but even on those international journeys these trains still cater mainly to local or regional demand.
Some regional trains are air-conditioned, but generally they are practical rather than luxurious. Access to power sockets is the exception rather than the norm. Prior seat reservation is usually not possible. Most Regional train services offer just a single (Standard) class. Regional trains generally do not provide any catering service.
Luggage on Regional trains can be stored either in small luggage racks above the seat or under the seat. Some trains, notably certain German RB services, have further dedicated luggage space in each carriage. Bicycles can often be taken on board for a supplement. Due to their frequent stops along the way, Europe’s Regional trains allow travellers to catch the local flavour of each region. They are, in a word, fun.
Seating and sleeping on Regional Trains
Seating in Regional trains might be in open-plan double or single-deck carriages or, where older carriages are still in use, in six-seat compartments. The latter are being phased out. In open-plan carriages, seats are arranged in pairs across a central aisle.
Food and drink on Regional Trains
Bring your own
There are no rules against bringing your own food and drink on board the train. On the contrary, it is perfectly normal. So whether it’s a sandwich bought at the station at the last moment, or a full-scale hamper with a bottle of champagne, the train is the perfect place for a picnic. Don’t forget to bring your own ice bucket too!
Image credits: © hidden europe