Europe Rail Star : Help You Travel in Europe with Ease

First Class vs Second Class

European trains first class second class

Most European trains have two classes of seats: first and second class.

On local, regional and most express trains, there’s not as much difference between the classes as there is on the high-speed and premiere trains. First-class cars usually have either three seats per row (a seat on one side of the aisle, two seats on the other) or six seats per compartments; second–class cars have four seats per row (two on each side of the aisle) or eight per compartment. First class has more legroom, and the upholstery may be plusher or better kept

Note that second class tends to fill up a lot faster than first class, so if you’re travelling second class on a major route where reservations are not required, you’ll likely need to show up a lot sooner at the train station in order to guarantee yourself a seat.

The major difference between first and second class on most trains is the clientele; the folks in the first-class compartment will be older and include mire business travels. Most families and young travellers will be in second lass. Both classes, of course, get to their destinations at the same time.

On high-speed trains, first class often includes airline-style amenities and very spacious seating. In the individual country chapters in this website, we point out where the difference between second class and first class isn’t enough to justify paying the higher fee. And we also point out instances where going first-class (on older train in Greece, for example) is almost a must if you want to have anything approaching a comfortable ride.

Fabulous in First Class
Country Train First Class Bonus
Belgium/France/Netherlands Thalys Meals, wine and newspapers served at seat
England/Belgium/France Eurostar Meals, wine and newspapers served at seat, power ports, Wi-Fi lounges, dedicated business cars
Germany ICE Newspapers
Italy Eurostar Italia Drink and snack
Italy/Switzerland Cisalpino In-seat music system, power ports, drink, snack, newspaper
Norway Signatur Meals, phone, in-seat music, power ports
Spain AVE/Talgo/Euromed Meals and newspaper served at your seat, audio/video services
Sweden X2000 Free meal, coffee/tea, in-seat music, newspaper, Internet access

If you feel like switching classes, first class pass and ticket holders can sit in second class any time the like. Second class ticket holders can upgrade on board the train by paying the price difference if a seat is available.

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