You’re spoilt for choice for trains between Gdańsk and Warsaw, with several departures a day connecting the northern Baltic coast city with the capital in Poland. These options are sorted into three train classifications, which is the case on long-distance routes across Poland.
The lowest prices can be found on the Twoje Linie Kolejowe (TLK) services, the mid-range are the InterCity (IC) services, and, the most expensive, fastest services are trains of the Express Intercity Premium (EIP) type. A journey on the latter classification from Gdańsk to Warsaw takes as little as two hours and thirty-four minutes, while the fastest TLK service take three hours and eleven minutes. There’s also an all day TLK option for the adventurous called the ‘Biebrza’ that takes eleven hours and thirty three minutes. This train is routed east, close to the Belarussian border – perhaps one for another day.
Looking to experience the best of Poland’s railways, I opted to take an EIP train between Gdańsk Główny and Warszawa Centralna (Warsaw Central), booking a ticket in First Class accommodation. The EIP trains serve the cities of Gdynia, Gdańsk, Warsaw, Wroclaw, Katowice and Krakow and are capable of running up to 200 km/h on Poland’s rails. European train travel aficionados might recognise these trains that part of the ‘New Pendolino’ family, identical to those in other countries in Europe and China. This includes those operated by the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and Trenitalia, pictured on the right below, with the Polish variant pictured on the left. The Polish versions however do not tilt on corners as the other versions do, probably due to the mainly straight tracks in Poland.
Here is a map of the journey from Gdańsk to Warsaw:
Our train arrived into Gdańsk Główny with a delay of two minutes arriving from the train’s starting point, Gdynia Główna. Once the very smart looking train had appeared we realised we were standing at the wrong end to where the single First Class carriage was located in carriage number one – right at the front of the train. The minor stress of having to jog was more than made up by the welcome from the Conductor and the dedicated First Class Host upon boarding the First Class carriage.
Seat reservations are compulsory on the EIP train in both of its classes, First Class and Second Class, and are provided automatically when booking the ticket. When booking online with the operator of the train, PKP InterCity, we were able to select our seats from a seat map – a neat feature.
First Class Accommodation
First Class seating on the EIP comes in a 2+1 configuration, with a choice of seating around tables with one, two and four seats. These comfortable seats all lined up with the windows, offered recline and a fold out table. There was also train running information on the rolling screens at each end of the carriage as well as TV monitors used for advertising.
As soon as we departed Gdańsk Główny, we were handed a menu card from our dedicated host. A complimentary light meal was provided within the cost of the ticket. I selected the salad with matured ham and blue cheese. As the train departed Tczew, the host passed by again with a trolley with tea, coffee, orange juice, apple juice, full-sugar Coca Cola and water. This was the only occasion where we would see the trolley on our journey, having asked if further drinks would be available, I was directed to the Dining Car in carriage number three. This didn’t stop customers joining the train at subsequent stops being offered the same food and drink offer, however.
Second Class Accommodation
The other type of accommodation on the train is 2nd Class, located across six coaches in carriage numbers two-seven. Seats are arranged in a 2+2 configuration with a mix of airline-style and tables of four. There are also a limited number of compartments with six seats in each. A complimentary bottle of water is provided.
WARS Bistro Car
Dining Cars in Poland are well renowned for their extensive menus provided by WARS, the hospitality and catering supplier of PKP InterCity trains. The menu in the Bistro Car on the EIP is no exception with hot, freshly prepared dishes along with salads, soups and desserts.
In search for something more substantial than our complimentary First Class light meal, we opted for the traditional pork chop dish and what I believe Poland is rightly most renowed for, the pierogis, or meat-stuffed dumplings. Something that you have to try!
There is one catch with the Bistro Car on the EIP train and that’s that there is no seating – though you can order the meal at your seat, however, we found it much easier to go to the Bistro Car than flag down the already rushed-off-her-feet First Class host. Standing up does take away some of the pleasure of dining on the move, however, it does mean that people don’t hang around for long meaning a highly efficient use of the only four tables.
There is another benefit of dining in the Bistro Car, and that is that you can purchase and consume alcohol. We were informed that you can only purchase alcohol in the Bistro Car, though there wasn’t much compliance with this as customers carried their beers through to the Second Class saloon.
The Express Intercity Premium train is very comfortable and modern, bringing rail travel up to date in Poland and serving the key cities.
The complimentary offer in First Class is a nice touch, but it’s likely it won’t fill you up if you’re travelling during breakfast, lunch or dinner times. It was great to have the Bistro Car on the EIP serving the same extensive menu available as the Dining Cars on the InterCity and some international trains in Poland, however, it’s a shame to not be able to sit down. Customers were able to order Bistro Car items at their seat in First Class though this was on takeaway boxes and wasn’t offered proactively.
Overall I would certainly recommend the EIP train and First Class accommodation is worth the upgrade, especially for the often reasonable price differential between Second Class and First Class.
Fares are available at the website of the PKP InterCity thirty days in advance for domestic travel (sixty days for international travel). Fares vary like air fares, so the earlier you book the lower the price.
|Journey Leg||Second Class||First Class|
|Gdańsk to Warsaw||from 118,30 Polish Zloty (~26€, £23, $28)||from 181,30 Polish Zloty (~40€, £35, $43)|
This article was first published in May 2023
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