OPINION: Why a French national is jealous of Czechia’s train system

In contrast to back home in France, trains here are far more affordable and interconnected, making life easier for internationals and locals alike.

Simon Ecotiere

Written by Simon Ecotiere Published on 22.02.2024 16:34:00 (updated on 23.02.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

I use trains a lot. As a student from France, I appreciate French railways – reaching Paris from Bordeaux with the high-speed TGV rail service in just two hours is always welcome.

Moving to Czechia, however, made me realize the sheer benefit and quality of Czehia’s rail system. 

Above all, the affordability of train tickets puts some French rail providers to shame despite billing themselves as being “the cheapest in the French market.” 

Long journeys, small prices

As someone who travels regularly and is based in Ostava, I appreciate being able to book a last-minute train from Ostrava to Prague for around CZK 200 (for a student price) and from Ostrava to Vienna for CZK 253. Journeys with the same distance in France would cost markedly more – sometimes by three or four times.

A recent Euronews report found that Czechia had the 11th-cheapest rail fares in the EU (costing around EUR 0.1 per kilometer for a standard return rail fare). This low price makes it cheaper than Spain, Italy, and Germany.

For students, the deal gets even sweeter. Holding an ISIC card gives international students a 50-percent discount on all rail travel in the country.

Oftentimes, traveling on the Czech-owned RegioJet or Leo Express comes cheaper than using national rail carrier České dráhy (ČD, or Czech Railways).

An expansive network

Trains form the backbone of Czech public transport. Czechia has a state-owned rail network of a whopping 9,355 kilometers, and a 2019 study found that people took around 180 million journeys on ČD.

Impressively, Czechia has the highest amount of rail track per capita and surface area in the whole EU – a vital aspect, seeing as 85 percent of Czechs say they are “frequent or occasional” users of trains in their country.

Does the cheap price affect quality?

Often, cheapness compromises quality. Thankfully, this is not the case in Czechia. In my experience, the services are almost always on time, the trains are clean (although some, admittedly, are old-fashioned), and the staff is very attentive.

All of ČD’s trains come with air conditioning and sockets for charging, and the Wi-Fi generally works trouble-free. 

ČD is also updating its fleet to provide customers with an even more pleasant journey. Updates to the EuroCity and InterCity ČD services will now ensure that more trains will have “a bistro car, Wi-Fi internet connection or sockets for recharging travel electronics,” ČD wrote in an earlier press release. 

One thing, however, that surprised me in Czechia was the system of reservations. Czech train carriages typically have a mix of unreserved and reserved seats, which can lead to awkward situations when you are (unknowingly) sitting in someone else’s place. This has led me to sometimes sit on the floor for parts of a train journey here!

Support from the government

The state is working hard to improve rail journeys in the country – something I appreciate. In 2023, Czechia replaced 37 trains with a new electric fleet thanks to a EUR 223 million Cohesion Policy fund allocated to the project. 

The Transport Ministry has also said that developing high-speed rail lines that connect Prague and Brno with the capitals of Germany, Austria, and Poland is a “priority” for Czechia. The state-backed Czech Railway Administration also plans to create the country’s first-ever high-speed rail line, which will be completed next decade if all goes according to plan.

The ambitious Beroun Tunnel project in Czechia, seeking to connect the capital with the Central Bohemian town of Beroun via a 13-minute train journey, also underscores the state’s desire to make rail travel even more interconnected in the country – benefiting travelers.

How can I save money on Czechia’s trains?

The three main rail companies in Czechia – ČD, RegioJet, and Leo Express – all offer various ways to save on your trips. The best way to save money on tickets is to ensure you purchase in advance, use so-called split fares, and hunt out special deals.

Here is a handy overview:


  • The “In Card” gives discounts – up to 25, 50, or 75 percent – if you make a one-time payment for the card. For example, an “IN 50” yearly card costs CZK 3,590, and offers a 50-percent discount on ČD journeys for the year.
  • Combined with the In Card, you can also pay for weekly, monthly, or annual tickets for unlimited travel on a selected route.
  • For one-day trips throughout the Czech Republic, a special one-day ticket offers strong discounts (prices vary by region) – great if using multiple trains.
  • Take notice of “Flexi,” Flexi-discount,” and “Bound” journeys, which can all save you money on journeys.
  • ČD’s Ticket for Summer (Jízdenka na léto) provides unlimited travel for seven or 14 days.


  • The Credit Ticket is transferable (not tied to a name) and automatically allows you to buy journeys on RegioJet trains at “the lowest possible prices.”

Leo Express

  • If you are part of this carrier’s Smile Club, you can get cashback (depending on loyalty level, but between 2.5 and 10 percent) on every journey traveled. Seniors and young people get 25 percent cashback.


If you plan to travel this spring or summer, now is a good time to save 15 percent on all Eurail and Interrail Global Passes – covering 33 European countries, including Czechia – if you buy until March 5.

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