True Using the On Board the Trains guides

Using the On Board the Trains guides

On mainline Europe, train services and the types of train used on journeys are often fixed. 

If you’ve never travelled by train in mainland Europe before, this is a somewhat alien concept to grasp, but we're here to help.

If you’re flying from London to New York, you won’t be told by the airline whether you will be travelling on an A-380, a 747, a Dreamliner or a 777 etc.

That’s because it doesn’t particularly matter which type of plane you will be travelling by, it’s primarily the airline itself, which makes a difference to your travel experience.

Train travel in mainland Europe isn’t like this - hence our Guides To European Trains and Train Services.


Take a train from Zurich to Salzburg and you will be on a Railjet, between Amsterdam and Koln/Cologne you will be on an ICE 3, between Paris and Marseille you will be on a TGV Duplex etc.

All Railjets, ICE 3 and TGV Duplex trains are similar to each other, so have the same on board ambience and facilities etc.
It's why we have striven to give an insight into which train you will be travelling by.

The terms of using a ticket or rail pass are also defined by each of these types of train and/or train services.

For example, seat reservations are optional on Railjets and ICE 3s, so rail pass users don’t have to pay a reservation fee/supplement to use them.
In contrast reservations are compulsory on TGV Duplex trains, they’re automatically included when you buy a ticket, but rail pass users will need to book the reservation. Etc etc.


We’re trying to keep this simple, but sometimes the train notes refer to a specific train, such as an ICE 3 or a Railjet, but it can also refer to a service.

For example two different types of train are used on Lyria services and many different types of train are used on TER services.

Our guides make the distinction clear, but we can make distinctions between these train services, because that’s what the train operators do.

Travel on a TER train service and it won’t particularly matter if the train is relatively old or new, but what you can be sure of is that the train won’t have any catering facilities - and you won’t save any money if you book the journey by TER train in advance. Etc etc.


When you are planning a journey it’s the ticketing terms and conditions that are applied to a train service, that are particularly worth knowing about.

On many routes there is a choice between different train services and you can usually save money by taking the slower option.

(When that is the case the different options are shown at-a-glance on our Popular Journey guides).


Price doesn’t have to be the sole factor in choosing which train service to take, the faster train is also likely to be comparatively more comfortable.

It’s why we have include the trains on our Popular Journey guides, as they can make such a difference to the overall journey.

Some train services between cities are faster than others because they use a high speed line.

Irrespective of the on-board ambience, travelling across the ground at more than 250 km/h can make such a huge difference to the travel experience, that we’ve highlighted which services/trains are high speed.

Though just because you will be travelling on a high speed line, on some routes high speed trains can spend most or all of the journey at normal speed.

 As well as the facilities and ticketing terms, we also give an insight into how board the express trains, so that you can be train smart.
Discover when there’s no need to rush to find a seat or the exits, and where to stow your luggage etc.


On some identical routes, in terms of travel time and price, two (or more) different trains provide the service.

On ShowMeTheJourney, the train used on the majority of departures will be listed first.

If more than two trains provide the service, the lesser used alternatives are included in the journey notes.

So what are you waiting for, come on board!