Railways Romania

Romania has one of the best rail networks in Europe, though the quality of the trains itself isn’t that great if you are to consider other travel guide. I for one like them quite a bit, especially the old ones.

There are some new Siemens trains operating since 2003 called “Blue Arrows” (dubbed as “Intercity” in certain situations). They’re supposed to be fast and very comfortable. From my own experience, they’re neither. I took a ride with one of these trains from Constanta to Mangalia. The seats are very rough and you’ll end up with a back ache from them. There’s no privacy either and you have to share a full, open space, train wagon with everyone else in it. Add to that the fact that it took me more than 2 hours for a 50 kilometres trip from Constanta to Mangalia and you’ll get my point.

The most comfortable trains now operating in Romania are those labeled “Intercity” (except for the “Blue Arrows”). They operate between major Romanian cities. They’re a bit pricy compared to the other trains but it’s well worth it. 2nd class on a normal Intercity beats the “Blue Arrows” by a country mile.

Romania has direct train lines to Hungary (Budapest), Serbia (Belgrade – the distance from Timisoara to Belgrade should make for a short trip, but it usually takes quite a while to reach the Serbian capital), Greece (Thessaloniki), Moldova (Chisinau), Bulgaria (Sofia), Warsaw (Poland) or Istanbul (Turkey), making it well connected with its neighbours and the rest of Europe. International train routes to and through Romania include EuroCity trains, making the experience very comportable.

Trains are ideal for reaching remote areas of the country. Romania’s rail network is Europe’s fourth largest, operating in almost every urban or rural settlement.

The Romanian state carrier is named CFR, short for Caile Ferate Romane. 

Tickets can be bought at the railway station (make sure you get there in time) or at a CFR agency located in city centers. Also, as of the summer of 2006 (and since 2001 in Bucharest), you can book train tickets by phone in 7 major cities: Bucharest, Constanta, Timisoara (Nord), Cluj-Napoca, Brasov, Iasi and Galati. Here are the numbers you can use to book train tickets: 

  • Bucharest – 9522;
  • Constanta – 0727.999.952;
  • Timisoara Nord – 0256.200.457;
  • Cluj-Napoca – 0264.952;
  • Brasov – 0268.421.700;
  • Iasi – 0232.202.777;
  • Galati – 0236.496.000.

For the last six cities, remove the first four digits if you’re calling from the same county. Bookings can only be made in the day the train is leaving. Tickets cost an extra 3 RON (that’s about an extra US dollar) each and can be picked up from the train station 30 minutes before the train departs. There’s no extra phone charges for this service.

Here’s how fast the trains are:

  • Personal” – this one is the slowest, stopping in every station; use it if you want to get to small villages;
  • Accelerat” – quite fast; stops only in towns and cities;
  • Rapid” – same as the “Accelerat” but faster:
  • Intercity” – the fastest and most comfortable; links major Romanian cities; the best (except for “Sageata Albastra”).

For updated train schedule information, or the purchase of tickets online check the website www.cfrcalatori.ro or through the mobile application “CFR Călători train timetable and online tickets” available in all application stores: Google Play, Apple AppStore and Huawei AppGallery.