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Traveling with Handicap by Train from Paris > Brugge > Amsterdam

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Oct 11th, 2018, 04:29 PM
  #1
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Traveling with Handicap by Train from Paris > Brugge > Amsterdam

I am traveling with my 82 year old mother from Paris to Amsterdam with a 2 day stopover in Brugge. She has a walker she uses to help her walk (not wheelchair) I have never been to Paris or Brussels train stations so I have no idea how big, small, crowded, access to elevators, etc.. It appears from my research that we will take a high speed train from Paris to Brussels, then Inner-City train to Brugge. My questions are these:

1) What is the name of the train that takes you from Paris to Brussels (and continues onto Amsterdam)?
2) What is the best site to book tickets? (Thalys, Rail Europe, Go Euro, SNCF, etc...)
3) Any advice on booking tickets for seniors with mobility issues and/or getting around terminal & platforms?
4) Most of the trains look like they have a 17-19 minute transfer time to the Inner-City train to Brugge? Do you think this is a realistic amount of time to help an 82 year old off the train, get to the next platform and board next train? Or should we book 2 one way tickets to have longer transfer times (more expensive)?

Thanks so much for your help and guidance.
mskipwith927 is offline  
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Oct 11th, 2018, 04:50 PM
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1- Thalys train www.thalys.com = ABS fare be sure to get that with Paris-Brussels ticket - lets you jump on any train to Bruges for 24 hours after your Thalys train arrives in Brussels.

2- www.thlays.com for sure as book direct with Thalys company not a third party and always cheapest price. Easy to do.

3- See what site says about that - no doubt there is proper assistance available and can chose own seats so can try to get one near entrance/exit doors - in general on trains those seats are often reserved for physically-challenged folks.

Paris station on main level - street level. Brussels escalators and elevators and maybe special assistance if needed. Bruges not sure but always count on main stations having lifts for special needs folk.

Book tickets as early as possible for deep discounts. www.seat61.com has great advice on booking own tickets online - general info like what to expect on trains www.rickstees.com and BETS-European Rail Experts.

4- see answer with ABS Thalys fare - can take any train and with two hourly I think forget about rushing around.
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Oct 11th, 2018, 10:10 PM
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Hi mskipwith927,

I ride the trains in Europe a lot, and while I haven't had this experience myself, I have noticed some of the options available for travellers with disabilities. I live in Germany and have seen that the German rail site offers these things, so I encourage you to look for them on the French, Belgian, and/or Netherlands rail sites.

First, you can change the length of the connection times. On the German rail site, the default is "prefer faster connections," but you can touch the button and then adjust the connection time. As I've gotten older, I leave it set at 25 minutes, but you can increase it for far longer.

Secondly, they offer assistance to passengers with mobility problems. There should be a button to get information on travelling with disabilities, etc, that will tell you what they can do for you and what to do to get it. Normally it will require you to send an email telling them what station you'll be in, what train you're arriving on, and what train you're departing on. They will send staff to assist you, and they will bring any equipment they think will be necessary (I've even seen special lifts to get wheelchairs on & off the trains!).

I guess this will take some specific planning and effort, but you should be able to make it happen. Your mom is a lucky lady to have you in her life!

Have fun as you travel!

s
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Oct 12th, 2018, 12:49 AM
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https://www.ns.nl/en/travel-informat...nal-disability no doubt Thalys and the Belgian rail site have something similar if you look.

Generally there is something of a step onto the train, but some carriages are easier than others and these are usually marked. The ones accepting bikes for instance are easier, though modern trains are better than older ones were with regard to the step. The conductor will not set the train off until they are sure everone is safely on board, or has safely got off.
Allow a little extra time to orient yourself at the station.
With a walker there is not normally extra help offered, that is more for wheelchair passengers who need ramps.
hetismij2 is offline  
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Oct 12th, 2018, 02:02 AM
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Use the national railway sites (Thalys, SNCF, etc.) or use www.trainline.eu - it's often easier if you need to research in English, and the schedules and prices are the same as those of the national railways. Do not use Rail Europe or Go Europe.

Paris and Brussels stations are large and fairly chaotic. You can google ahead of time for maps and other information about how to get around in them.

Every national railroad offers free assistance for passengers with reduced mobility. Order a wheelchair for your mother from each of them ahead of time (even if she doesn't normally use a wheelchair). She will be met by a helpful, friendly staff person at each station, whose responsibility will be to get her safely on the next train.

You can request similar assistance at any airport.

17-19 minutes is generous for train transfers, especially if you have requested special assistance.
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Oct 12th, 2018, 02:52 AM
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I booked via SNCB International for my trip Paris Nord to Bruge. I booked 2.5 months in advance (booked 18th of June and travelled on 5th of September.) Two tickets (adults) cost me 74 euro with a 2 euro mastercard fee. No printing of ticket required either.
The train from Paris to Brussels is seat reserved, however from Brussels to Bruge you do not get allocated a seat and the trains can be busy, I had to stand until the train reached Ghent, so for this reason, I would suggest you book 1st class as the trains are less crowded in 1st.
The trains from Brussels to Bruge are nice and although I made the train with a similar 17 min break, I do walk fast and read quickly. I will say though, that you can take any train to bruge and there are plenty of trains that run very frequently. Some are faster and some slower. For instance, you can get an express Brussels to Bruge which takes 55 mins whereas you could stop at every stop and take up to 2hours to get there depending on which train you take.
MaryAlex is offline  
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Oct 12th, 2018, 07:15 AM
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Again with ABS fare with Thalys you need not worry about rushing to make a connecting train- take any train and there are two an hour usually - check for faster trains.
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Oct 12th, 2018, 08:16 AM
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If you book through the SNCF (and almost certainly Thalys) out of Paris, there is a service to assist passengers with mobility problems. I'm not sure if booking through a different site would offer this service.
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Oct 12th, 2018, 09:48 AM
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I don't think they need special assistance perhaps but depends on how much walking with a walker she can do - you may have to walk a bit in stations to get to your Thalys train car. If really needy then yes wheelchair and assistance readily available if arrange for it.
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Oct 12th, 2018, 11:13 AM
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You're right, kerouac. Trainline says book special assistance through the train operating company. SNCF is absolutely wonderful for such services IME.

If you use a walker, I don't think you have to be "really needy" to get a wheelchair and special assistance. I used it when I was on crutches. I could manage to get around on the crutches quite well, but trekking through train stations and boarding/deboarding would have been no fun without a wheelchair and someone to help.
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Oct 12th, 2018, 11:16 AM
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Seriously consider going first class as seats are wider - fewer other folks in those cars often - easier getting on and off. Especially on domestic Belgian trains. Sometimes not much more than cheapest 2nd class tickets available on Thalys - not that much more and assume ABS fare available in 1st class too for the Brussels-Bruges train which could always be busy - not sure you can rserve handicapped seats on those but check.
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