Most major train stations have a variety of services including food vendors, shops, assistance with tickets, newsstands (which is often where you purchase tickets for the local bus and subway system), left luggage (luggage storage), tourism information, hotel-booking services, and more.
Smaller stations will offer fewer services, but ticketing and some form of luggage storage are standard, as is a newsstand and, often, a place to eat.
Yes, the major train stations are just beginning to offer this service—but please be careful and make sure you are working with a licensed operator.
You will not need to show your passport to board the train, but you should have this in your possession when the conductor comes around to check your ticket.
Carriage numbers and seat numbers are usually clearly marked, so you should have no trouble, but you can always ask a conductor for help.
Some trains may split at certain junctions; one part going one way and the other another way or stopping. Make sure that you are seated in the right part of the train when you board. You can do this by looking at a diagram of your train, which is usually posted on the platform, by listening to announcements, or by asking an official.
In some cases, the platform itself may be marked with corresponding numbers or letters. Numbers on the outside of the train cars indicate whether they are First or Second Class.
The track number will be provided at the station before the train leaves the station.
No. You will only be able to board your train when your track number is announced.
IMPORTANT: You MUST validate your rail pass before boarding your first train. See an agent at a Customer Service Desk at the train station prior to boarding.
If you have already validated the pass and are using a consecutive-day pass, you can just hop on board any train from then on (though remember to validate any printed seat reservation slips in the box at the track before boarding).
If, however, you are using a flexipass, before boarding the train you must fill in the pass's calendar box with the day's date (or, if after 7 p.m. on an overnight train, the following day's date).
If your connecting train is from the same station, you will just have to find the right track. If you're unsure where your connecting train departs from, ask the conductor on board your train. This information is not normally published in advance but closer to the time you will board the train.
Regional and local trains often use tracks in different areas of the train station, therefore you should allow plenty of time to make your connection. Do not worry if your connecting train departs from a different station; this is quite common, especially when connecting in big European capital cities, which often have many train stations. If this is the case, our system takes the additional travel into account and allows enough time for you to travel to the other station.
If the connecting train leaves from a different rail station in town, allow ample time to make the transfer. Usually, you can easily make the trek on public transportation, such as a bus or subway, or you may decide to catch a cab—although this can sometimes be challenging due to long taxi lines or heavy traffic in certain cities, such as Paris or London.
If you are just hopping a train, be there about 20 minutes prior to departure to be safe.
If you need to purchase a seat reservation at the station before boarding, arrive at least 30 minutes early to give yourself time to stand in line at the ticket counter or kiosk.
If you are arriving by air from an international destination and plan to get on a train directly, budget at least an hour to get to the train station from the airport, and another hour at the station to validate your pass and take care of any other reservations.
There are a number of travel options to get from the airport to the train station. Most major airports have local train services that take you directly to a central rail station downtown, whereas others rely on shuttle buses or city buses. All also offer taxi services, though this can be quite expensive.