Passholders / Seat reservation guide

Just bought a rail pass? Secure a seat onboard a train
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What does ‘seat reservation’ mean?

A seat reservation means that a traveller gets a guaranteed seat on board a train. A seat reservation is compulsory for nearly all high speed, international and night trains.

Book a seat reservation with Rail Europe and enjoy a hassle-free trip.

How do I know when to book a seat reservation?

When you buy a train ticket, in most cases you won’t need to purchase a seat reservation. We include it in the price of your ticket, especially for trains operating in France, Italy, Spain, UK and Sweden, making it simpler for you to take the train.

When you buy a rail pass, you will need to purchase a seat reservation before you board a premium train (high speed, international or night trains). Regional trains do not require a seat reservation, so you can board them with a valid rail pass. See below which trains require a seat reservation.

Is it more advantageous to book a seat reservation online or once in Europe?

If you have already planned your trip, then it is definitely better to purchase your seat reservation online. Premium train sell fast, so to avoid situations where all seat are already reserved, we highly recommend that you book your seat in advance. You can always book your seat reservation in Europe, if you have no time constraint.

How early can I make a seat reservation?

For most trains, you can purchase your seat reservation between 60 to 90 days in advance.

Which trains necessitate a seat reservation?

It is compulsory to have a seat reservation for all premium trains (high speed trains, international trains and night trains).

See which trains require a mandatory seat reservation:

Eurostar (International train operating between Paris, London and Brussels)
Thalys (International train operating between Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam)
TGV Lyria (International train operating between France and Switzerland)
TGV France-Italy (International train operating between France and Italy)
France-Spain high speed (International train operating between France and Spain)
ICE international trains (International train operating between German and neighbouring countries)
TGV international trains (International train operating between France and neighbouring countries)
Intercité trains (domestic trains operating in France)
Intercité de nuit (domestic night French night trains)

We highly recommend you reserve these trains as soon as possible. Seats are limited! Reservations on the above trains can be made between 60 to 90 days in advance.

Book a seat reservation with Rail Europe and enjoy a hassle-free trip.

It is highly recommended to have a seat reservation for certain trains which operated mostly in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic etc. Those trains do not necessarily require a seat reservation, but travellers are allowed to book a specific. This allows the traveller to have priority over other travellers and to have a guaranteed seat.

It is not required to have a seat reservation for most regional trains. You can just board the train with a valid rail pass.

How to purchase a seat reservation online?

Rail Europe provides an online seat reservation service.

Book a seat reservation with Rail Europe and enjoy a hassle-free trip.

Why purchase a seat reservation with Rail Europe?

• You can buy in your country’s currency and avoid bank fees in Europe.
• You can save time by avoiding long queues and losing precious time in railway stations.
• You will travel without any stress, everything will be planned and all your travel documents will be ready in advance.

How to avoid purchasing seat reservations?

You can choose to travel on board local or regional trains which do not require a seat reservation. You can simply board the trains with a valid rail pass, find a seat and relax to your destination.

In France, TER trains do not require seat reservations. TER trains serve all major towns and cities in France.

Seat reservation fees

A seat reservation doesn’t cost much. Compared to the price of a full fare ticket, it represents only a fraction. Have a look at the seat reservations fees for the most popular trains in Europe:

  • Domestic trains

Austria
ÖBB Railjet trains
Reservation optional.
Indicative seat reservation fee: AU$5

Bulgaria
Express (Ekspresen) trains
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee:

Croatia
ICN Zagreb - Split
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: AU$2

IC Zagreb - Rijeka/Osijek/Cakovec
Reservation compulsory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: AU$2

Czech Republic
IC/EC (domestic journeys)
Reservation recommended.
Indicative seat reservation fee: AU$3

France
TGV
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: between AU$14 and AU$29

InterCités
Reservation mandatory or recommended (depending on routes).
Trains with mandatory reservation:
Indicative seat reservation fee: AU$10
Trains with recommended reservation:
Indicative seat reservation fee: AU$2

Germany
ICE/IC/EC
Reservation recommended.
Indicative seat reservation fee: AU$6

ICE Sprinter
Reservation compulsory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: AU$18

Italy
EuroCity (domestic journeys) and Le Frecce / Frecciarossa / Frecciargento / Frecciabianca
Reservation compulsory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: AU$16

Spain
AVE
Reservation compulsory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$16

Sweden
InterCity and Regional trains
Reservation recommended.
Indicative seat reservation fee: AU$5

SJ High Speed trains
Reservation compulsory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$11

  • International trains

Eurostar (France, Belgium, Great Britain)
Main cities served: London, Paris, Lille and Brussels.
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$142

ICE/TGV (France, Germany)
Main cities served: Frankfurt, Mannheim, Paris, Marseille, Stuttgart, and Munich.
Reservation compulsory only for international travel.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$21

France-Spain high speed (France, Spain)
Main cities served: Paris, Barcelona, Marseille
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$19

TGV (France, Belgium)
Main cities served: Brussels to southern France
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$14

TGV (France, Italy)
Main cities served: Paris – Milan
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$53

TGV Lyria (France - Switzerland)
Main cities served: Paris, Montpellier, Marseille, Zürich, Bern, Lausanne and Geneva.
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$25

Thalys (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany)
Main cities served: Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$48

  • Night trains and Scenic trains

Intercités de nuit (France)
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$14 for a reclining seat or AU$32 for a couchette

Bernina Express (Switzerland)
Reservation mandatory for panoramic train.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$13

Glacier Express (Switzerland)
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$16

Wilhelm Tell Express (Switzerland)
Reservation mandatory.
Indicative seat reservation fee: from AU$49

Prices are indicative and may be subject to variations, but in all cases they are always cheaper than a train ticket. This means that if you have a rail pass, you will only pay a fraction of a full fare train ticket.