PKP IC Ticketing system tested – part 2

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FAILS TEST!

Test 2 – Lodz to Krakow

Following Friday’s less than satisfactory results, I thought it only fair to give the PKP IC ticketing system another chance to prove its worth. However, before trying to book a hypothetical journey in Poland, I had another task to perform – to book a real journey in the UK for June 5.

A morning trip from Bath Spa to Slough was bound to be expensive. The rail distance between the stations is 88 miles 35 chains* or about 142.5 kilometres. So, although I knew there were cheap ‘advance’ tickets to be had, I wasn’t very optimistic about getting a good deal on a train that suited my plans.

The cheapest fare finder on National Rail Enquiries.

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Plan one month ahead and get some real bargains.

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To my delight the ‘cheapest fare finder’ on the National Rail Enquiries website came up trumps offering me three morning connections to Slough (changing at Reading) for £10:50! What’s more I could add a ‘Plusbus’ option at either end for only £1.50. The bus journey from Sough railway station usually costs £3.50 so adding this was a no-brainer.

The whole process was delightfully simple and straightforward. Once I had chosen my train, my travel details were seamlessly passed to First Great Western’s booking system. Here I was asked to log on (or register if I had not been a returning customer) given the choice of postal delivery, or printing the tickets myself at any UK station with a self-service ticket machine. (Do not forget to bring the card that you used to pay for the journey with you if you choose this option.)

Altogether the process involved 16 screens (including my bank’s verification process) and took about 5 minutes. I had saved £17.00 on the cheapest ‘walk on’ fare available on the day and another £2.00 on my bus journey. A good morning’s work!

Apparent  dearth of trains from Lodz to Krakow.

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So now I was curious to see what would happen if I gave the IC ticketing system the same chance to prove itself by trying to set up a journey about a month in advance. I enter ‘Lodz Kaliska’ and ‘Krakow Glowny’ as my starting point and destination and choose 5 June as the date of my journey.

The first problem that hits me is that there appears to be no convenient train to get me to Krakow in time to do a morning’s work. The former 07:00 + something connection is no more – The Swinoujscie – Krakow train now runs via Wroclaw rather than Lodz. There is a 05:27 connection via Warsaw which gets me into Krakow for 12:39, but the 09:18 direct train gets me there for 12:45 so that would be a sensible choice.

In fact the system only shows two decent services – the 09:18 and 13:13  – and only these trains appear to be bookable on-line.

So maybe the answer is to take a later train and stay overnight and do my business in Krakow the following morning? Clicking the ‘pozniej’ (later) button a couple of times gives me some more choices.

The train to get would appear to be the 19:30, but that gets into Krakow at 23:05 a but too late to book into my accommodation and sample Krakow’s rich night life. True I could take either the 14:22 or the 16:25 connection via Warsaw which arrive at 22:08 and 22:51 respectively, but that is still rather late and do I really want to spend over 6 hours travelling in a train? So should I take the 13;13 and arrive at 18:08?

If the IC route planner is to be believed there are only three connections to Krakow, the 09:18, 13:13 and 19:30 which provide a journey time of less than six hours. But hold on a moment, there must be something wrong! Since Andrzej Massel took over rail at the Ministry of Infrastructure connections from Lodz to Krakow have improved. The IC booking system would seem to indicate that the opposite is the case. Let’s see what happens if I look up my journey on the official PKP journey planning system.

More choices on http://rozklad-pkp.pl !

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Ah that’s better! Suddenly there are more choices that had been hidden from me by the IC booking system! The 04:41 start is uncomfortably early, but offers the attraction of Euro InterCity travel from Warsaw; the 06:00 gives me 88 minutes extra sleep and still reaches Krakow at 10:50. Both trains have a buffet car serving a cooked breakfast.

After that Przewozy Regionalne’s 06:40 InterRegio offers excellent value for money at 47 zloty and a 11;41 arrival in Krakow, still  early enough for a meeting before lunchtime. I can understand IC not wanting to publicise PR’s services, but why is the company hiding their own quite decent 04:32 and 06:00 connections and promoting the quite dreadful 05:27 connection which takes 7 hours 12 minutes?

The 07:00 connection offers the prospect of a good night’s sleep beforehand and arrival in Krakow just after noon. Again the IC train finder manages to lose this connection. The 09:18 direct train appears on both systems. But the 09:41 and 10:36 connections again do not. Presumably this is because in each case some of the journey takes place on a PR service.

The most peculiar difference between the two systems concerns the 14:22 connection. The main PKP system advises that this should get me to Warszawa Zachodnia for 16:19. There is ample time to catch the 16:39 EIC from Zachodnia to Krakow Glowny. The EIC offers the attraction of a proper wagon restauracyjny (restaurant car), not wagon barowy (buffet car). But when I look up the 14:22 connection on the IC journey planner, I’m advised to wait at Zachodnia (and a less inspiring place to wait at I cannot imagine) until the 17:10 TLK which as we already know gets in to Krakow at 22:08.

So now I know all my options. I decide on the 13:13 direct service, because the ‘Kup bilet’ button shows that it is bookable on-line and I don’t want the hassle of standing in a queue at Kaliska during the summer holidays.

PKP IC Log on screen

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Pressing the button takes me to a log on screen. I have not yet registered on the system, that takes a while as the system is quite demanding on what I am allowed to enter as my logon name and password. At last that’s all done to the system’s satisfaction and I am returned again to the log on screen. I enter my logon name and password and…

Ticket sales start 7 days before the train departs.

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… am told that tickets are only available 7 days before the departure of the train!

…/to be contiued

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2 Responses to “PKP IC Ticketing system tested – part 2”

  1. Ciaran Says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you can help. I am a bit confused by this website.

    Similar to what happened to you above, I am getting a message saying “Advance booking is available 7 days before departure of the train.” That is on this website:http://intercity.pl/en/site/travelers-essentials/journey-planner.html

    However, if I try to book directly through this website (https://bilet.intercity.pl/irez/) I do not have that problem and I am able to proceed with payment.

    The date I tried was June 2nd 2012, TLK train.

    Why is this?

  2. Mike Says:

    Thanks for this post – it’s really valuable feedback that I hope PKP will act on.

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