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Reservations

When and how do I make a seat reservation on trains in Europe?

You must be in possession of a valid rail pass that covers the routing of the train in order to make a reservation. It is helpful to research the train schedules before making a request.

Reservations are required for: Sleeping accommodations on all overnight trains; most high-speed trains (e.g. Eurostar, TGV, TAV, Thalys); Long Distance and Express Trains in Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe; and Long Distance and Express Trains during high season (July and August). You can make a reservation at the station or by contacting the participating railway company directly.

I missed my train. What should I do?

With a rail pass, just hop the next train. If required, you will have to purchase another seat reservation at the customer service desk or a self-service kiosk first.

Can I change seats after the train departs?

It is not likely. You would have to check with the conductor to find out if any open seats are available.

Should I buy my seat reservations prior to leaving North America, or can I just get them at the train stations in Europe?

You do not have to purchase your seat reservations prior to leaving home.

HOWEVER, there is no guarantee that the first train you want when you arrive at the station will still have seats available. So if it is a train you MUST be on, we would advise you to book your reservations ahead of time through the railway you intend to travel on. If it is an overnight train, we recommend you book in advance as they can sell out quickly and have limited accommodations.

What happens if I don’t pay for my reservations before the expiration date?

This is not an option. You must pay for your reservations at the time you book them.

Are reservations included in my pass?

No, seat reservations are not included and must be purchased separately.

How can we make sure the whole group is seated together?

Currently there is no way to guarantee seat location; seats are assigned by the rail line and you cannot choose specific seating.

Do I need to buy a reservation if I already have a rail pass? And how do I book one?

Reservations are mandatory for most high-speed service and overnight trains. While it is possible to secure reservations from train stations during your trip, pass-holder seats are limited on many high-speed trains, making it difficult to secure a seat on a specific train without making your reservations prior to departure.

 

Remember: A rail pass does not guarantee a seat on the train. Please note: RailPass.com cannot make reservations; you must book via the participating railway company.

 

Reservations are required on: Sleeping accommodations on all overnight trains; most high-speed trains (e.g. Eurostar, TGV, TAV, Thalys); long distance and express trains in Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe; and long distance and express trains in many countries during high season (Jul-Aug). On many regional European trains, reservations are not necessary; however in some countries (particularly France, Italy, and Spain), a pass or a ticket does not guarantee a seat, so reservations are highly recommended. We also recommend reservations to guarantee a space on any particular train, date, and time.

 

To make a reservation: There are additional charges for seat reservations, sleepers, couchettes, and travel on certain high-speed trains. You must be in possession of a valid rail pass that covers the routing of the train. It is helpful to research the train schedules before making a request.

 

When to make a reservation: In order to avoid being assessed a fine on board, we strongly recommend that you make a reservation in advance. Reservations can be made at a train station or in some cases, electronically via the participating railway website prior to travel.
 

Seat vs. Sleeper Reservations: Private cabins include 1–2 berths in First Class and 2–3 berths in Second Class. Sleeper prices are generally lower in Italy, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe. Prices are higher on certain quality trains such as Hotel trains between France and Spain. Couchettes are community cabins and include six berths in Second Class and four berths in First Class, if available (mostly in France). Most British sleepers and ferry crossing reservations must be made in Britain. Changing Reservations: Most reservations are non-refundable and non-changeable.

Is it possible to avoid making train reservations?

Only on trains that do not require seat reservations. You can hop on and off the majority of local and regional trains in the countries covered by your pass at will, but a good rule of thumb is that reservations are usually required on premium high-speed trains, including...

 

Overnight trains, high-speed trains, and international trains. Other popular trains might require passengers to purchase a seat reservation in addition to the cost of the pass. Trains offer seat reservations starting at €10 per seat and ranging up to the cost of a single sleeper for one person (available with a First Class pass). It’s important that you check with us to find out exactly which trains need reservations and what the extra costs may be.

 

The various types of Eurail passes, from the Global Pass to the Single Country Pass, exist because of the cooperation between some 28 European countries. That said, each national railway has its own set of rules and regulations, and the rules regarding reservations vary from country to country. Please refer to participating railways for complete rules.

 

In France, the TGV and InterCity trains require seat reservations. The cost for a seat reservation is about €10 per seat.

 

In Germany, trains that require seat reservations include the ICE trains, IC (Inner City) trains, and EC (Eurocity) trains. In addition, any cross-border day train will require a seat reservation.

 

In Italy, you must reserve seats on IC (InterCity), EC (EuroCity), Frecciarossa, and Frecciabianca trains starting at €10 per seat. If you are traveling on International trains (between countries), you will also need a seat reservations. For example, if you take the Thalys train from Paris to Amsterdam and you have a First Class rail pass, you can choose a First Class seat reservation for an additional cost of €90 per seat. If you have a Second Class pass, the cost of the seat reservation is €60 per person.

 

You will have to wait until you are in Europe and head to the station to make the reservation. 

 

PLEASE NOTE: If you board the train without a reservation you can be fined up to €80 per person and have your rail pass confiscated, which means you'll lose whatever days of travel you have left on the pass. Take heart in knowing that if the train you want requires a reservation, that reservation is required for all passengers, not just rail pass holders. When you buy a point-to-point ticket, any required seat reservations is automatically included in the total price.