German & French trains

Oct 5th, 2007, 10:42 AM
  #1  
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German & French trains

How much time before your train is scheduled to depart (for another country, if that matters) do you need to be at the trainstation? Thanks!

octoberinparis is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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I don't think there is any official rule, just whenever you feel comfortable being able to get on and do everything you need to do, as well as find the platform and car. I think there is a rule in France about some high-speed trains only, like Eurostar. Not sure on that one, but I don't ever try to cut it that close. I am thinking Eurostar wants 30 minutes, but I'm not sure if that is advisory or required. There is no rule about regular trains.
Christina is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 10:48 AM
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You need to be able to get on the train before it departs the station.

When I book some TGV tickets recently, I read some very important notice on their website telling people to get there at least 2 minutes before departure.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 10:49 AM
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French train platforms are posted 20 minutes before departure. You can get on the train in the last 10 seconds, except for the Eurostar which follows airline rules (30 minutes).
analogue is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 10:49 AM
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How about security? I've never ridden on a train in Europe, so I really don't know...we have paper tickets, do they need to be validated or anything? Or do we just go to the platform and get on when the train gets there?
octoberinparis is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 10:54 AM
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One second.

Okay, you have to enter the trainstation and walk (with baggage) through the station to the proper platform. This may take 10 min or so in large stations. Usually you walk up stairs to the platform (sometimes there is an elevator too) and on the platform there is a sign indicating the positions of the cars. Then you walk on the platform to the car with your reservation, and when the train arrives, you just enter. That's all.

"One second" is no joke. Sometimes I am running up the stairs when the train has already arrived and I rush to the nearest door to board the train.
traveller1959 is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 10:56 AM
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There is no security. There are no gates. There is no need to validate tickets. Unless you are taking certain TGV trains, you can even board a train without ticket and buy the ticket onboard.
traveller1959 is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 11:00 AM
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Some tickets need to be validated in the automatic stamping machines at the front of the platform. Not tickets that you print yourself, however.
analogue is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 11:01 AM
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You need to allow time to determine what platform your train is leaving from, walk to that platform, and then find your particular car. (Not all cars on the train are necessarily going where you want to go. Cars may be dropped or added enroute.) So if you have your ticket in hand, 10-15 minutes is enough time. If you have to stand in line at the ticket counter to either buy a ticket or retrieve one you've booked in advance, allowing one hour would be good. Lines can be long.

The Eurostar has a MINIMUM check-in time of 30 minutes.
TimS is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 11:12 AM
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If you have printed PREM'S (discount) tickets yourself for trains in France, you simply carry them on board with you and show them to the conductor when asked. Standard tickets must be inserted in the "composteur" at the entrance to the platform where they will be stamped. Then take them on board with you.
TimS is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 11:16 AM
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make sure your watch is coordinated with the station clocks!
PalenQ is online now  
Oct 5th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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And you can usually set your watch by the train departure time.
kerouac is online now  
Oct 5th, 2007, 11:24 AM
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Jack - hazy but last Feb i rode a lot of trains, not TGVs but do i remember hearing announcements that train doors could close a minute before departure?

I'm not sure but it seems i recollect that - for a week i rode trains Les Aubrais-Austerlitz and back and i believe they said that

would not know at Les Aubrais as those trains are always a few minutes late
PalenQ is online now  
Oct 5th, 2007, 11:34 AM
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Since the TGV doors close hermetically like an airplane [I can't believe that somebody here said once that they were not sure if TGV's were air conditioned - the passengers would all suffocate if they weren't.], I would not try to fight with one if it was closing. It is safer to say that the doors will close 1 minute before departure than 10 seconds.
kerouac is online now  
Oct 5th, 2007, 11:39 AM
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TGVs air conditioned? Incroyable... formidable... extraordinaire... super!
PalenQ is online now  
Oct 5th, 2007, 11:46 AM
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Well, jeez! Since you can't open the windows....!
kerouac is online now  
Oct 5th, 2007, 11:56 AM
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ira
 
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Hi Oct,

I suggest that you plan to arrive about 0:30 hr before departure.

You will have to scout the station, find where the arrivals/departure board is, find the tracks, etc.

If you have printed your tickets online, you needn't stamp them.

Otherwise look for the box at the head of the track and insert your ticket before heading for the train.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 12:13 PM
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Ira mentions a good point - if you have bought a ticket in France at stations, boutiques, machines, etc. you have to 'compost' the ticket before boarding the train

don't put it in a compost heap but compost means, i think (and with Jack around i'm afraid to use any French) to "cancel" or validate

this is so because some trains do not have conductors or they don't always check and once you cancel your ticket it's no longer refundable or to be used again since tickets are often good for a wider period of time and not that specific train - online discounted fares that are non changeable or refundable thus need not be self-cancelled

and every train i was on last winter had an announcement over PA prior to take off that tickets had to be composted and if they were not to be sure to see the conductor before he finds (and perhaps fines you as your ticket unless cancelled is not valid).

this announcement seems always prominently made, but in French only. So if you forget to cancel look for the controlleur as soon as possible.

full fare tickets bought abroad thru RailEurope or agents need not be cancelled however - never but just presented to the conductor i believe.

the traditional yellow composteur machines are gradually being replaced by spiffier new white ones i believe.

Railpasses need never be cancelled but just a day of use indicated before the conductor finds you.
PalenQ is online now  
Oct 5th, 2007, 12:53 PM
  #19  
ira
 
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Good advice from PQ.

If you forgot to stamp your tickets, or if you haven't entered the date on the railpass, go find the conductor before he finds you.

ira is offline  

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