Europe Rail Star : Help You Travel in Europe with Ease

Train Reservations & Supplements

Train Reservations Supplements

A railpass means you’ve paid up front and can just hop on a train, right?

Alas, no. Most high-speed trains (including some EuroCity and InnerCity), scenic trains, and all sleepers require reservations, and reservation fees will cost you over and above the price of your railpass. Some fast trains have “Passholder Fares”, which are essentially reservation fees.

Some exceptions: Reservations aren’t necessary on Germany high-speed trains (although they’re helpful, as they guarantee you a seat). They’re also unnecessary on certain Spanish and Portuguese train, British trains (except on some routes to Scotland), or Swiss trains (except certain scenic trains).

We say, don’t nickel and time yourself to avoid reservation fees. The difference in spend between regular and high-speed trains is so striking that for your extra $20 you’ll usually get several hours more at your destination.

You can often reserve within just a few hours of departure at European train stations, and you probably won’t have to worry about most trains selling out. You’ll also likely save money by making reservations in Europe: while the reservation fee on most trains begins at $11 if booked from the U.S., it can be as little as 4€ ($5.2) if you’re booking in Europe.

There are cases when you will want to reserve before you leave home. If you’re travelling on popular routes (especially night trains) in the summer or during holiday period, we advice you always to reserve in advance through Rail Europe. We let you know in the individual country section when a reservation should be made before you leave home. You can make reservations up to 120 days in advance for Eurostar up to 90 days in advance for Thalys, Elipsos, and German, Swiss, and French TGV trains; and up to 60 days in advance for most other trains. Reservation in Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, and Ireland can’t be made from North America.

Note: If you did reserve a seat, there is one quirk you might want to watch out for. Some countries (Greece, for example) don’t mark seats as reserved and confusion occasionally reigns when people occupy seats they didn’t know were reserved. If you show up your reserved seat and someone’s sitting in it, politely but firmly inform him or her that you have a reservation and ask him or her to vacate. Don’t let them talk you out of your own seat (and some people will try to do just that). Ask a porter if you need assistance.

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