Changing Trains in the EU
From Crossing Platforms to Changing Stations, View all You Need to Know About Train Changes in the EU
If you’re headed across Europe by train, it’s likely you’ll have to change trains! This will commonly happen in Paris, Brussels, or Lille; the Eurostar’s termini.
If you are connecting from the Eurostar to an onward destination, Railbookers will always allow enough time for you to connect – whether you’re changing stations or simply finding a different platform. It is likely that you will need to change stations in Paris, where in Lille or Brussels you’ll probably only need to leave the Eurostar arrivals and find your connecting platform.
Connecting in Paris
Eurostar arrives into Gare du Nord in the north of Paris. If your onward train requires a station connection rather than a platform change, please refer to the information below. Railbookers are also able to book transfer services between stations if you require them. Just speak to one of our Travel Consultants.
Gare de l’Est is a short walk away from the Eurostar terminal.
Gare Saint-Lazare is just one stop on RER line E, or is about a 30-minute walk from Gare du Nord (not recommended with heavy luggage).
Gare d’Austerlitz is accessible directly on the Metro. Travel on line 5 in the direction of Place d’Italie.
Gare de Lyon can be reached on RER line D, heading towards Melun or Malesherbes. Be aware that although the station is only two stops away, the station gets very busy.
Gare Montparnasse is the furthest station from Gare du Nord, though is still a direct journey. Take line 4 on the Metro in the direction of Mairie de Montrouge.
Connecting in Brussels
Eurostar trains arrive in Brussels at Brussels Midi Station (also known as Brussels Zuid Station). Many trains to the rest of Belgium and Europe run from this station. If you are connecting in Brussels, you will likely just have to find a new platform. Platforms will vary depending on the type of train you are getting. High-speed trains, such as Thalys and ICE services, will normally leave from platforms 3 and 4. For local trains, be sure to check the departure board located in the main terminal. Your Railbookers Travel Consultant will be happy to advise you on timetables.
Connecting in Lille
This will generally be a platform change if you are connecting to high-speed services, such as a TGV. Some local rail services also operate from Lille-Flandres, a short walk away. Railbookers will include a map with your tickets if your holiday includes this connection.
What to expect at the train station as you start and continue your adventure
Train stations in Europe range from ornately sculpted, historical caverns to ultra-modern, “destination stations” of enormous scale. In many cases, the station will be your first taste of a city and the beginning of your adventure. If you are leaving the UK by rail, your first port of call will be one of Eurostar’s three termini:
St. Pancras International
Eurostar’s main hub is situated in the centre of London, connected to stations in the rest of the UK by both Kings Cross, St Pancras, and nearby Euston stations, as well as by six London Underground lines. Railbookers are able to organise your UK rail tickets with your holiday, coordinating timings so you arrive in plenty of time to check-in for Eurostar.
Parking: We recommend taking public transport to St Pancras International. There is an NPC car park located at the station in Pancras Road, NW1 2TB. More information can be found at www.npc.co.uk or by calling NPC directly on 0845 050 7080. Remember that the London Congestion Charge may apply if you are diving to St Pancras International.
Eurostar trains no longer run from Waterloo International. Eurostar’s London station is now St Pancras International.
Many Eurostar services also stop to Ebbsfleet International, located off Junction 2 of the M25, near the Dartford Crossing and Bluewater shopping centre in North Kent. There is a dedicated Ebbsfleet junction off the A2. Use the postcode DA10 1EB for your Satellite Navigation system. The station can also be accessed by bus and high-speed trains. Our Travel Consultants will be happy to add on your train tickets to Ebbsfleet with your holiday.
Parking: Ebbsfleet International has 2,500 car parking spaces within a five-minute walk of the Eurostar check-in. Parking can be pre-booked by visiting www.ebbsfleetintl.co.uk.
Some, though not many, Eurostar services also stop at Ashford International. The station is a 10-minute drive from Junction 10 of the M20 or can be reached by train.
Parking: There are 2,000 car parking spaces located at Ashford International. Parking can be pre-booked by visiting http://ashfordintl.co.uk/parking.
First-Class Lounges at Stations in Europe
Larger stations across Europe will often have lounges available for first-class ticket holders. Facilities will vary, but you will invariably be greeted with a quiet, peaceful place to wait for your train. Some lounges also offer beverages and free Wi-Fi internet access. Your Railbookers Travel Consultant will be able to advise you of the facilities available on your holiday.
PASSPORT, VISA AND INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS
Review passport, visa and ID requirements for travelling by rail
To leave the UK and travel into Europe, the USA, or beyond, you will need to make sure you have satisfied your destination’s passport and visa requirements. All passengers, including infants, are required to have a valid passport. Please check your documents to ensure all passports and visas are valid prior to purchasing your tickets. If your passport is in your maiden name this should not normally cause any difficulties, please take a copy of your marriage certificate with you when you travel.
For information relating to visa requirements, please refer to the relevant embassy. Some are listed below.
It is a condition of booking with Railbookers that you have sufficient travel insurance to cover your trip.
If you have any further questions regarding ID requirements or insurance, please contact one of our Travel Consultants on 020 3327 2440.
Frequently Asked Questions About Changing Trains in the EU
In most cases in Europe, there is no check-in or passport check required before travel, and your tickets will be checked on board rather than before boarding.* Many European train stations – especially in larger cities and all capitals – have large train stations to match, and it might take a little time to navigate to your platform. For this reason, we recommend arriving at the station a minimum of 30-40 minutes before departure as it’s always best to have too much time rather than not enough – you can always grab a coffee or a snack while you wait!
*Any train journeys requiring a check-in or passport check will be noted on your travel documents.
Yes. Eurostar trains between London and mainland Europe have a minimum check-in of 45 minutes before departure – so we recommend arriving in plenty of time to find the Eurostar check-in area in the station! In Spain, travellers are required to go through security to scan all luggage before boarding for high-speed trains. For this reason, we recommend allowing for more time within Spain, in case a line develops and you have to wait longer than expected. Finally, all luxury trains such as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express will have a designated check-in time.*
*Any train journeys requiring a check-in or passport check will be noted on your travel documents.
For nearly every train journey, your train tickets and travel documents will reflect a set schedule recommended by your travel consultant. For any journeys requiring a change of trains, we will allow for the appropriate amount of time between journeys – one of the many benefits of booking your rail vacation with our experts! The main exception is regional travel within Switzerland, where train travel is flexible with your Swiss Pass. This allows you to travel within Switzerland at whatever time you choose, except for onboard the Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Golden Pass, and Gotthard Panorama Express which require seat reservations! Swiss trains run quite frequently, almost every 30 minutes in most cities, however, our rail experts will still make recommendations on when to travel as it best suits your itinerary.
For any journeys connecting with an overnight train, we will always recommend extra time between journeys to allow for any delays. We do not recommend connecting an overnight train with a flight or cruise without including an overnight in a hotel in between to help ensure that you don’t miss the next leg of your trip.
In all stations, you will find a departures board where you can locate your train. When locating the platform for your train, we recommend referring to the train number located on your ticket! The station you are boarding at may not be the final stop on the train’s journey – your train to Florence may well continue to Rome or Naples, for example. Once you have found the platform, head there in plenty of time and wait nearby until the platform signs change to your train’s number as other trains may call at the platform before your train arrives – so don’t board the wrong one thinking the train is early! Many train station platforms will also indicate the layout of the train so that you can see in advance which part of the platform to head towards. If you need assistance, all train stations have staff located throughout the station or at an information desk.
It’s extremely important to prepare to travel according to the schedule on your travel documents, however, should you miss your train, please give us a call as soon as possible! We have offices located around the globe, offering 24-hour assistance to you while travelling. Our team will work to get you on the next train, if possible, or we will assist in making other arrangements until another train can be taken. Phone numbers for all of our offices are listed on your travel documents, so please keep them with you throughout your entire trip.
Don’t throw any of your train tickets away until you’ve completed all of your travel! Sometimes, your ticket may cover more than one journey, even on another travel day – and train tickets that are lost or damaged cannot be replaced. If you do lose any of your tickets while travelling, please give us a call as soon as possible so we can assist you.