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How to reserve train seats in advance?

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Feb 25th, 2012, 02:33 PM
  #1
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How to reserve train seats in advance?

Hi Folks. I wondering if you can help me to figure out a couples questions, or maybe i have to say couple concerns, this is the situation:
After spent a couple hours browsing on the Internet, I could not find any website that I allow me to reserve train seats in advance. I planning to travel to Europe next Octuber, using an eurail select pass - 5 countries.
This is my itinerary
Roma - Paris
Paris - Benelux(Netherlands)
Benelux-Germany
Germany -Switzerland
Switzerland - Roma

Now, working on this in advance, I was trying to figure it out, what could be the best train rounte for Roma to Paris. So I found the following

Roma Termini - Milano Centrale - Paris Gare Lyon

Everything fine at this point, however, reading about the route EN 220 (Milan-Gare de Lyon), I saw that i require a seat reservation, so I according with Rick Steves, the www.raileurope.com is the place where you can do this, so i went to the web site, however after find the route on there, i could not see any way to resever the seats. So, Am I doing something wrong here?
Finally, I ready several posts on here, I am saw a lot people having problems reserving seat on night train.

I will apreacite if somebody can explain how does it work. Thank you very much.
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Feb 25th, 2012, 07:42 PM
  #2
 
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It may be too early to purchase for October. For example, the train schedules for Italy for June- December won't be posted on the official italian rail site until May.

RailEurope is a ticket reseller that sells the tickets of the official rail companies for each country. You might find the advice you need at
http://www.seat61.com/
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Feb 26th, 2012, 02:04 AM
  #3
 
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1. Bookings open 90 days ahead, so too early now. But by all means do 'test' bookings.

2. 'Thello' plan to introduce a direct Rome-Paris sleeper train from June. Probably similar to the old Artesia train's timings, Rome depart around 18:15, Paris arrive around 09:00.

3. Thello is Trenitalia in partnership with Veolia. It is the first 'open access' operator to enter France in 'competition' with SNCF French Railways under new EU 'open access' laws. Rail Europe are a subsidiary of French railways. Got the picture? They are not exactly buddies any more!

4. Thello doesn't accept Eurail or InterRail, at least not yet. But with cheap fares from 35 euros in couchettes, from 55 euros in 4-berth couchettes or from 145 euros in a 2-bed sleeper, why bother with a pass plus berth supplement?

5. Paris to Brussels or Amsterdam WITHOUT a pass starts at 35 euros, INCLUDING reservation. WITH an expensive pass, you must pay a 39 euro reservation fee. So assuming you're happy to pre-book a month or two ahead on a no-refunds, no changes basis, it makes no sense to use a pass. In fact, even if you had already bought the pass, it would be cheaper to buy a 35 euro ticket than pay the 39 euro fee!!!

6. Amsterdam to Munich by City Night Line sleeper train (www.seat61.com/citynightline.htm), or Germany to Zurich or Basel, book at the German Railways website www.bahn.de. Cheap fares if you pre-book may be cheaper than a pass. With a pass, you can often but not always make pass reservations by looking for the little black link 'Book only extra charge' bottom right in the search results.
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Feb 27th, 2012, 01:13 PM
  #4
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ellenem , Man_in_seat_61,

Thanks for your early reply on this. I really appreciate.

• I know it is kinda of early in order to book a train ticket, However at this point I just trying to figure it out how does the online booking works, so in the moment I have to do it(Octuber), I will have a good understanding on how to do it. Let me tell you something, I have some train experience on some USA and Asia trains, but it look like that Europe has its own flavor.
• Now, Man_in_seat_61: you recommend me to use Thello (private railway service created by a joint venture between Veolia Transdev and Italian state owned railway company Trenitalia) due to its cheaper fares, however in the other hand the online resource(seat61), they say I have to use www.tgv-europe.com, because I can no longer a buy a ticket from Italy to France due to they are operated entirely by French railways with no Trenitalia involvement. Therefore, if I am getting this clear, If I want to buy a ticket to travel from Italy to France I have to buy it from lower fare found on all available French providers ? Right? If so, any other way?
• I will try to check prices in order to have an idea how much money we are talking about.

Again, thanks.
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Feb 27th, 2012, 01:56 PM
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I think you're confusing two different trains.

Paris-Turin-Milan DAYTIME TGV - now run entirely by SNCF, so book at SNCF's Englihs-language website tgv-europe.com in whichever direction.

Paris-Milan-Venice THELLO SLEEPER train, run entirely by Trenitalia+Veolia so book at either thello.com OR Trenitalia.com, in whichever direction.
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Feb 27th, 2012, 02:38 PM
  #6
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Thanks Man_in_seat_61 I will do my numbers from there.
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Mar 1st, 2012, 10:09 AM
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day train pass is fully valid Paris to Milan for 3 euro seat reservation and Milan to Rome 10 euro - on top of pass.

In Germany and Switzerland you can hop on nearly every train without formality aand full fare can be really high - alternative is booking months in advance to grab discounted tickets that often cannot be changed nor refunded - thus value of a pass is flexibility to decide as you go along which trains to take.

And also pass is if over 25 first class and that IME of decades of incessant European trail travel a BIG difference and a much more relaxed journey - fewer seats in each same-sized train car - bigger seats and often IME many empty seats - I can nearly always put my luggage on a seat near me rather than having to fend for space in much more crowded 2nd class overhead luggage racks -2nd class is not a cattle car but first class much much more relaxed so when comparing costs factor in that a pass is first class and cheapest online discounts 2nd class and usually non-changeable.

great sources of info on trains and passes - www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com (Man in Seat 61 who posts above his commercial site - click on his link to RailEurope to check railpass prices) and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - If you have any questions you want an expert and objective answer to IME after dealing with Byron there for years call him - if you want someone to talk to. and yes for schedules www.bahn.de - schedules for nearly all European trains.
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Mar 2nd, 2012, 12:14 AM
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PalenQ, the Rail Europe fares sheets show a whopping £51 passholder fare on the Paris-Milan TGVs now. But only a 10 euro fee for France Pass holders. I challenged this, as it looked like a misprint, but RE confirmed it was correct. I cannot check this online, as RE's online passholder reservation system won't do reservations for those TGVs to Mian.

Anyway, regular Paris-Milan fares start from just 25 euros at www.tgv-europe.com!
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Mar 2nd, 2012, 11:46 AM
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Man - thanks for the update - the pass fares do seem out of kilter, except for the France Pass but I guess it is because the train is like you say run entirely by SNCF (French Railways) so giving break to France Pass over multi-country passes.

Just another thing making passes more inconvenient to use vs years ago when a Eurailpass could be used to hop on any train anytime with no surcharge, etc. Tant pis IMO!
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Mar 5th, 2012, 11:48 AM
  #10
 
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Just reviewing your proposed trains except any involving French TGVs the others I have always been able to make easy as I went along. And you can usually do so at any train station in a country - do not have to be in say Munich to make a reservation from Munich to say Verona.
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Mar 6th, 2012, 12:45 PM
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Paris-Benelux - If you take the Thalys train with a Eurail Pass to Brussels or Amsterdam then you will pay a huge supplement along with using a day up on your pass - this is about the only train in Europe with this absurd policy - even in 2nd class you could well pay $35-40 above the pass day. But you can avoid the Thalys train all together if you say take a French TGV (3 euro seat reservation fee only) to Lille and then a regional hop on at will train from there to Bruges, to many the absolute highlight of Belgium - then take regular hop on trains to Brussels or Antwerp and then hop on at will trains to Amsterdam - incurring total a 3 euro fee only.

If taking the Thalys though it will cost a ton - but if Bruges is in your plans then there is no reason to take the Thalys as the route via Lille is just as fast and you can easily make a passholder reservation on this TGV in Paris.
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