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Train Ticket and Rail Pass Guides A guide to reservations for Eurail and InterRail pass users

A guide to reservations for Eurail and InterRail pass users

A one page guide to the trains on which Eurail and InterRail Pass users do and don't have to pay additional fees, plus the prices of making the reservations and how to book them.

| Last Updated: 6 days ago
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If you have opted to use a Eurail or InterRail pass, we thought at an a glance guide to the trains which DO and DON'T require reservation fees to be purchased before boarding would be useful.

Whether you opt for the mobile or paper pass you'll also have access to the Eurail/InterRail reservations service, which you can use to book most* mandatory or optional reservations, though when using this service you will be charged a booking fee of €2 per reservation, per person.
*Non-Eurostar trains in Great Britain, plus trains in Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Serbia and Turkey are among the exceptions.

Booking reservations

Eurail pass users can access the Eurail reservation service and InterRail pass users can access the InterRail reservation serviceand fees are charged, in addition to the reservations costs, of €2 per booking, per train.

Though something to watch out for is that these services have two functions:
(1) Before you book a pass they are in effect a reservation price guide per departure; if a reservation is mandatory it will show its cost, even though you haven't logged in
(2) However, once you have a pass and can log-in, you will then see the price and availability per departure.

This matters, because if you use the services at the trip planning stage, you can't assume that the reservations for the trains will actually be available, once you have bought a a pass and can log-on.
Reservations can sell out weeks in advance on specific departures, particularly when:

  • travelling by Eurostar (see below),
  • in sleeping cabins on night trains; availability on Nightjet trains can be looked up on OBB.
  • on any express train on the days either side of national holidays,
  • when travelling by TGV trains in France and other high speed trains to/from France, particularly on Fridays to Sundays in Summer; see the notes on the guide to using a pass in France, for how to check the availability before you purchase a pass.

Using RailEurope as an alternative

RailEurope now sells rail pass reservations on most daytime trains without charging any booking fees, a notable exception are the high speed trains in Spain,

The steps to take are:

  1. On the RailEurope home page above the Search button, there is an 'Add rail pass' button.
  2. When clicked you can select the type of rail pass you will be travelling with.
  3. Then look up the journey, as when booking tickets.
  4. The prices you will see on the search results is the price of the rail pass reservation.

Though something to look out for is how RailEurope manages the sale of reservations on the Eurostar trains to and from London.
When the rail pass reservations are sold out on a particular departure, RailEurope will indicate that the pass no longer applies, so will automatically offer the purchase of a regular point-to-point ticket instead.

Booking direct with the train operators

Regardless of whether you opt for the mobile or paper types of Eurail and InterRail passes, you can also avoid this €2 fee; and other booking fees, by booking reservations with the national rail operators online:

On B-Europe, the international train booking platform of Belgian's national rail operator, SNCB, reservations can be booked for Eurostar and Thalys train services.
In effect B-Europe will add a booking surcharge of €4, but reservations can be available when they are 'sold out' on the Eurail and InterRail reservation services.
This B-Europe service can also be a useful tool when planning a trip, as you don't need to already have a pass to check the actual availability of rail pass reservations on specific departures.

When bookings open

The usual reservation windows are:

  • 1 month ahead = Poland
  • Up to 2 months ahead = Czechia/The Czech Republic and Denmark and Hungary and now Switzerland
  • 12 - 13 weeks ahead = Norway
  • Up to 3 months ahead =Thalys trains
  • Up to 4 months ahead = Italy IC and IC Notte trains
  • Up to 6 months ahead = Austria and now France and Germany and now Sweden and now the Frecce trains in Italy.
  • Up to 300 days ahead = Eurostar
    Booking periods for international trains can vary as the window can be dependent on which country the journey is beginning or in which country the journey is finishing.
    Though the key information here is not to assume that you'll be able to go ahead and book reservations as soon as you have a pass, particularly if you have purchased a pass more than 4 - 6 months ahead of when you will be travelling.

Also note that specific departures may not be available for booking within these windows if works on the line is altering the schedule.

More info on how to book reservations is available in the country guides, which you will find on the Contents menu.

Using mobile passes

If you have opted to book a mobile version of a Eurail or InterRail pass, you will have a pass number that will be unique to your purchase. it will be included in your order confirmation email and will also be on your Pass in the Rail Planner app.

Paper versions of Eurail or InterRail pass also have numbers individual to each purchase, but they are in a different format to those used for mobile passes.

Some of the third party options for booking reservations when using Eurail and InterRail passes, will ask for a pass number, but they will then only accept the type of number issued to paper pass purchasers.
So Eurail and InterRail have come up with a number generator, which purchases of mobile passes can use to create a 'paper pass number' when required.
Eurail mobile pass purchasers can use this pass number generation service; InterRail mobile pass purchasers can use this pass number generation service; you enter your mobile pass number so that you'll also then have a paper number.

So when using a mobile pass, if a third party service tells you that you have used an invalid number, you can use these number generator links to obtain an alternative paper pass code, which should then work.

Reservations in summer

In summer some routes with mandatory reservations can sell out earlier than usual, particularly on popular routes to summer holiday destinations in July and August.

Trains can be fully booked by ticket purchasers and this inevitably impacts on the availability reservations available to Eurail and InterRail pass users.
This situation is outside the control of Eurail and Interrail, it doesn't set timetables or ticket / reservation allocations.

The situation is particularly acute on Saturdays on departures before 15:00, so avoid that day if possible or plan routes so that you can travel later in the day.

On the high speed routes between Bruxelles, Lille, Paris and destinations in southern France; and on the trains between France and Barcelona, if you have to travel on a Saturday be open to the possibility of alternatives to taking direct trains.
An option can be booking reservations on TGV trains to Lyon, Marseille or Montpellier and then continuing a journey by TER trains, on which advance bookings aren't available to non rail-pass users.

Train services which DON'T have mandatory reservations:

These trains and train services fall into two categories.

1. Services on which reservations aren't available:

On these services because seat reservations aren't available to any traveller, rail pass users inevitably don't have to reserve either.

Virtually all local and regional trains across Europe are in this category, including these train services, that are most often encountered by rail pass users;

Some of the independent railway lines in Switzerland, also come into this category, including the four largest:

Seat reservations aren't available when travelling in Great Britain on trains operated by these companies:

Seat reservations also aren't available on express trains in the Benelux countries, so rail pass users don't have to reserve on these train services:

2. Services on which reservations are optional:

On these train services if you don't pay the optional seat reservation fees, finding seats on these trains is NOT guaranteed.

EuroCity (EC) trains:

IC trains:

Other express trains:

  • ICE trains (journeys within Germany)
  • ICE trains (international journeys until mid June and from mid August)
  • Lyn (Denmark)
  • Railjets (both within Austria and journeys between Austria and Czechia, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia; but NOT between Austria and Italy)
  • Regiojet trains (Czechia/Austria/Hungary)
  • SJ Intercity (Sweden)
  • SJ Regional (Sweden)
  • Turkish express trains including the YHT trains.

Long-distance British trains:

on trains in Great Britain operated by:

Services on which reservations ARE mandatory:

When available, click the train services below to find out the price of the reservations and how you can book them.
Reservation fees are normally charged in local currency; so the € symbol can be a guide:
If you would rather avoid the most expensive rail pass reservation fees charged on the direct trains, take a look at these alternative journey options.

Fees when using 1st class passes on day trains:

If you will be using 1st class Eurail or InterRail passes you will need to book reservations in First class, but users of 2nd class passes cannot book seats in First class or its equivalents.
*= The prices do not include any booking fees.

Under €5 per seat:
Alfa Pendular (Portugal)
Avant (Spain)
EC trains between Austria/Germany ↔ Slovenia/Croatia
EC trains Germany ↔ Poland
EC trains Poland ↔ Austria
EC trains Poland ↔ Czechia/Hungary/Slovakia
EC trains Hungary ↔ Croatia/Slovenia/Serbia
EC trains - within Hungary
Ekspressen (Bulgaria)
Media Distancia (Spain)
IC (Hungary); IC (Portugal); IC (Slovakia); IC (Romania); IC (Poland)
Intercity (Italy) (reservations are compulsory May to September and on and around national holidays)
ICS (Slovenia)
IR (Romania)
Regional (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
EIC (Poland)
TLK (Poland)
The reservations on these Polish services are free of charge if booked at a ticket office at a Polish station.

€5 - €10 per seat:

  • Alvia (Spain)
  • EC GermanyDenmark* between June 18 and Aug 21st
  • EIP (Poland)
  • Intercités (France) certain routes only, price is €20 when the £10 reservations are sold out
  • SuperCity (Czechia)
  • Euromed (Spain)
  • ICE trains (international journeys from mid June to mid August)
  • IC (Spain)
  • TGV (inOui) (France) price is €20 when the £10 reservations are sold out.

€11 - €20 per seat:

€21 - €30 per seat:

more than €30 per seat:

Limited numbers of reservations are available to rail pass users on the Eurostar, Thalys and DB-SNCF services, so booking as soon as possible for these trains is highly recommended, the most popular Eurostar and Thalys departures in particular, can sell out more than a week in advance.

Fees when using 2nd class passes on day trains:

The prices do not include booking fees.

Under €5 per seat on these EC services:

Under €5 per seat on these other train services:

  • Alfa Pendular (Portugal)
  • Avant (Spain)
  • Ekspressen (Bulgaria)
  • Media Distancia (Spain
  • IC (Ireland) (free with a 1st class pass)
  • IC (Hungary); IC (Portugal); IC (Slovakia); IC (Romania) and IC (Poland)
  • Intercity (Italy) (reservations are compulsory May to September and on and around national holidays)
  • ICE trains (international journeys from mid June to mid August)
  • ICS (Slovenia)
  • IR (Romania)
  • Regional (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • EIC (Poland)
  • TLK (Poland)
  • The reservations on these Polish services are free of charge if booked at a ticket office at a Polish station.

€5 - €10 per seat:

  • Altaria (Spain)
  • Alvia (Spain)
  • AVE (Spain)
  • EIP (Poland)
  • Euromed (Spain)
  • IC (Spain)
  • EC trains Switzerland ↔ Italy
  • EC trains Austria/Germany ↔ Italy via Brennero
  • Intercités (France) certain routes only, price is €20 when the £10 reservations are sold out
  • Pendolino* (Finland)
  • Railjet Austria ↔ Italy
  • Long-distance and most regional trains (Norway); pay extra and travel in first class on the long-distance trains
  • Snabbtåg (Sweden)
  • SuperCity (Czechia)
  • TGV InOui (France) price is €20 when the £10 reservations are sold out

€11 - €20 per seat:

€21 - €30 per seat:

more than €30 per seat:

Limited numbers of reservations are available to rail pass users on the Eurostar, RENFE-SNCF, Eurostar formerly Thalys and DB-SNCF services, so booking as soon as possible for these trains is highly recommende - the most popular Eurostar departures in particular, can sell out more than a month in advance.

Using Eurail or InterRail on night trains:

Using a rail pass on a European night train is a different experience to using a Eurail or InterRail pass on a daytime train, so we have produced some bespoke info that you can find here.
Though the key thing to be aware of is that reservations fees for couchettes and sleeping cabins are comparatively expensive.
When ticket prices are set for the night trains, the fees for the journey element in the couchettes and sleeping cabins can be only around 20% of the total amount and this journey fee, is the only 'cost' covered by the Eurail and InterRail passes.

The details of the type of accommodation you can choose from, and the reservation fees for each of them is included on these guides to specific types of overnight trains;

AND on these EuroNight train routes:

Though if you want to book your night train reservation in advance of setting off on your trip, the three key things to be aware of are:

1: Booking services, which allow seats on daytime trains to be booked online, usually don't allow rail pass users to make reservations for night trains, particularly in the sleeping accommodation such as the couchettes and the beds in sleeping cabins.

The main exceptions to this 'rule' are:
- OBB, the Austrian national rail operator and provider of the Nightjet network, now enables rail pass users to book reservations online for any journey by Nightjet PLUS any other night train to/from Austria - how to do this is explained here.

- The Czech national rail operator CD, also enables rail pass users to book reservations online for night trains from and to The Czech Republic - here are the instructions.

- Rail pass reservations can be booked by phone for the Caledonian Sleeper services, between London and Scotland.

2: The German national rail operator DB has recently withdrawn its online facility for the booking of night train reservations.

3: If you will be travelling on a service/route on which the operator doesn't offer the facility for rail pass users to book specific night train rail pass reservations online, the only option for booking in advance of your trip, is to use the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service - though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

Services which particularly should be booked in advance:

ShowMeTheJourney's advice, based on our own travel experiences, is to avoid booking both optional and mandatory reservations at the last minute, on these services in particular:

Trains sold out earlier than usual in summer 2022, particularly for departures between 13:00 on Fridays and 16:00 on Sundays.

on Eurostar

The quota of seats available on each Eurostar departure is is limited and it's not unknown for it to sell out on some departures months ahead, particularly for travel in June to August and around holiday dates at other times of year.
The most poplar departures will inevitably sell out faster; and it's these trains which have the best connections in Bruxelles, Lille and Paris for travel to and from more distant destinations.
Reservations on Eurostar trains can now be booked up to 330 days ahead of the travel date.

It can be a good idea to maximise the flexibility by making Paris or a city in Belgium the first or last stopover points on travel day; because it's seemingly rare for every Eurostar to have its rail pass allocation sold out on a travel date, but it's more common for only evening departures to have availability

If you will need to travel by a specific Eurostar departure, you'll want to check that rail pass reservations are available for the train you need to take prior to buying a pass
The availability can be looked up on B-Europe as it will show which trains are still available - and you don't need to already have a pass to check this

Also avoid thinking, 'great I can see the reservations on B-Europe, so I'll book the pass now and go back to B-Europe tomorrow' - because at busy times the reservations can be sold out by the time you go back online.
It can be a good idea to return to B-Europe to book the reservations as soon as you have made a pass purchase - and therefore have a pass number.

Before you have a pass; and therefore can't log-in, the InterRail/Eurail website will tend to show seats as available on every departure; because before you have a pass, the function of the Eurail and InterRail 'timetable' tool is to show which departures require a reservation.
So you can contact Eurail and InterRail and check whether reservations are available to purchase before you book your pass, but the key thing is to avoid buying a pass and assuming Eurostar reservations will be available, and then discovering that they aren't on the train you need to take.

on the TGV trains between France and Spain

The number of seats available for Eurail and InterRail pass users on the TGV trains which take the Paris - Nimes - Montpellier - Perpignan ↔ Figueres - Girona - Barcelona route is limited, regardless of how many tickets are sold per departure.
And now that bookings open for these trains six months ahead, it's possible for the rail pass reservations on a specific departure to sell out months in advance of the travel date, particularly when travelling between May and September.
The alternative is to take regional trains on either side of the border and make transfers between trains in Cerbere or Port Bou.

Reservations by country:

These lists of DAYTIME train services; also include the international train services to/from each country.

Austria:

Reservations not available:

Optional reservations available :

Reservation Required:

  • EC trains between Austria ↔ Slovenia/Croatia/Serbia
  • EC trains Austria ↔ Poland
  • Railjet and EC (Austria ↔ Italy)
  • all night trains

Booking with OBB

Whether you have a mobile or paper pass you can book these optional and compulsory reservations online without booking fees on the OBB, Austrian national railways, website before arriving in Austria.
You can usually book reservations for journeys within Austria and for journeys to Germany up to 6 months ahead and on most other international trains up to 3 months ahead.

How to book day train reservations follow the step-by-step instructions
And there are also step-by-step instructions for booking the reservations on the night trains.

Other booking options

RailEurope now sells rail pass reservations on the above trains without charging any booking fees.

Or you can book reservations online by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service - though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

Belgium:

Reservations not available:

Optional reservations available :

  • ICE Reservations are not available for journeys within Belgium by these trains.

Reservation Required:

Avoid booking reservations at stations in Belgium, you will have to pay booking fees.

You can book reservations online by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

RailEurope now sells rail pass reservations on the above trains without charging any booking fees.
When the rail pass reservations are sold out on a particular departure, RailEurope will indicate that the pass no longer applies, so will automatically offer the purchase of a regular point-to-point ticket instead.

You can also make reservations for the Eurostar and Thalys trains on B-Europe.
Eurostar reservations can normally be booked up to 6 months ahead and Thalys reservations can usually be booked up to 4 months ahead; with reservations for the international TGVs usually available 3 months in advance.
Though in effect you will be paying a €4 fee for using B-Europe, as it only sells rail pass reservations as 'mobile tickets', so that you can download the reservations and store it on your phone, but it applies a surcharge for booking these.
So it's more expensive than using the reservation services provided by Eurail and InterRail, but reservations can be available to book on B-Europe for specific departures, when the Eurail and InterRail reservation services doesn't have them, particularly for Eurostar departures.

B-Europe will ask for pass numbers when booking, but it only accepts the numbers issued with paper passes.
If you have a mobile Eurail pass you can use this pass number generation service and InterRail mobile pass purchasers can use this pass number generation service; you enter your mobile pass number. so that you'll also then have a paper number.

Bulgaria:

Reservation Required:

  • Ekspressen
  • EC trains
  • night trains

The only means of booking reservations is to use a staffed ticket desk at a Bulgarian station, reservations are not available on the Eurail/InterRail reservation service.

Czechia:

Reservations available:

Rail passes are are also now valid on Regiojet trains.

Reservations not available:

  • All other trains operated by CD; the Czech national rail company

Reservation Required:

Whether you have a mobile or paper pass, these mandatory and optional reservations for the day and night trains can be booked online from 2 months ahead, with no booking fees, on the CD website - how to do this (it's the same process as adding a reservation when booking tickets).
CD also enables rail pass users to book reservations online for night trains from and to The Czech Republic - here are the instructions.

You can also book reservations online by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

More info about using rail passes to travel both within and to/from Czechia by day trains.

Denmark:

Using Eurail & InterRail Rail Passes for train journeys in Denmark:

Rail pass users can hop on any daytime train for journeys within Denmark.
Although reservations are recommended if you want to travel on Lyn train services and have a 2nd class pass.

Using Eurail & InterRail Passes for train journeys FROM Denmark:

International journeys on which rail pass reservations ARE NOT required:

  • On the Øresundståg trains to Sweden:
  • On the EC/IC trains to Germany; but only if you WON'T be travelling between June 18th and August 21st.
    Though we strongly recommend reserving on these EC/IC trains whenever you will be travelling.

International journeys on which rail pass reservations ARE required:

  • On the EC trains to Germany between June 18th and August 21st: 1st class = €5.30; 2nd class = €4.
  • On the Snabbtåg trains to Sweden*: 1st class = €17; 2nd class = €7
    Or avoid the fees by taking an alternative routing when travelling from Copenhagen/Kobenhavn to Stockholm.

Booking these rail pass reservations:

Rail pass reservations for the trains between Denmark and Germany can be booked through the DSB website (the tech is provided by the B-Europe reservation system).
The German national rail operator is also once again selling these reservations on the the DB website

For the Snabbtåg trains to Sweden*.
Book on the SJ (Swedish Railways) website asn these reservations can't be booked on the DSB (Danish Railways) website.
Booking ahead is highly recommended, seats on the most popular trains can sell out days in advance, bookings usually open around 3 months ahead

*You have to take the Øresundståg trains on journeys to Malmo.

Or RailEurope now sells rail pass reservations on the above trains without charging any booking fees.

France:

NO Reservation Required:

  • Intercités most routes
  • TER except the 'Krono' services on these Paris <> Hauts-de France and Normandy routes, which have a €1.50 fee
  • other cross border local trains .

Reservation Required:

Rail pass reservations for journeys by TGV, Intercités, Intercités de Nuit and the international services marked with an * above, can be booked at the advance ticket desks in SNCF Boutiques, which can be found in most major French stations - and from SNCF ticket machines.
Though it's best avoided, as the cheaper reservation fees will often sell out ahead of the travel date; and some TGV departures can also sell out completely weeks in advance,

RailEurope now sells rail pass reservations on most* of the above trains without charging any booking fees.
When the rail pass reservations are sold out on a particular departure, RailEurope will indicate that the pass no longer applies, so will automatically offer the purchase of a regular point-to-point ticket instead.
*= the exceptions are the AVE high speed trains.

Or the mandatory reservations for all* of these services can be obtained by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service - though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

You can also make reservations for the Eurostar and the Eurostar formerly Thalys trains on B-Europe.
Eurostar reservations can currently be booked up to 330 days ahead, Eurostar formerly Thalys reservations can usually be booked up to 4 months ahead.
You can also check the actual availability of reservations per departure on Eurostar and Eurostar formerly Thalys services, prior to buying a pass.

Though in effect you will be paying a €4 fee for using B-Europe, as it only sells rail pass reservations as 'mobile tickets', so that you can download the reservations and store it on your phone, but it applies a surcharge for booking these.
So it's more expensive than using the reservation services provided by Eurail and InterRail, but reservations can be available to book on B-Europe for specific departures, when the Eurail and InterRail reservation services doesn't have them, particularly for Eurostar departures.

B-Europe will ask for pass numbers when booking, but it only accepts the numbers issued with paper passes.
Eurail mobile pass purchasers can use this pass number generation service and InterRail mobile pass purchasers can use this pass number generation service; you enter your mobile pass number so that you'll also then have a paper number.

Journeys by TGV train within France can also be booked with B-Europe and you can check the real-time availability and costs of the reservations prior to buying a pass - you need a pass number to make the booking, but not to see the info.

More info about using rail passes to travel in and to/from France by day trains is available HERE

When to book

Reservations for journeys within France = can be available 3 to 6 months ahead of the travel date.

Reservations on the international:

  • TGV France-Italy services
  • Lyria services
  • TGVs to Spain
  • DB-SNCF routes to Germany
  • Eurostar formerly Thalys services
    can now be booked up to 6 months ahead* of the travel date
    *The info on Eurail and InterRail reservation service will indicate that trains from and to France can only be booked 90 days in advance,.

Eurostar reservations for journeys to and from London are now available from 330 days ahead.

In the summer and before and after the Christmas and Easter holidays, reservations can sell out on specific departures weeks in advance.
Have also seen reports on social media that reservations on the TGV France ↔ Bruxelles appear to be near permanently unavailable on some departures.

Germany:

Reservations not available:

Reservations are available, but optional:

Reservation Required:

  • ICE trains (international journeys from mid June to mid August)
  • DB-SNCF Germany ↔ France
  • EC GermanyDenmark between 12 June and 4 September (Can be booked 4 months in advance)
  • EC trains Germany ↔ Poland (Can be booked 2 months in advance)
  • EC trains Germany ↔ Slovenia/Croatia (Can be booked 3 months in advance)
  • EC trains Germany ↔ Italy (Can be booked 4 months in advance)
  • Thalys

Whether you will be using mobile or paper passes, you can usually purchase optional and mandatory seat reservations for the daytime trains without booking fees on the DB (German national railways) website the main exceptions are the Thalys trains, the DB-SNCF high speed services and the trains to/from Poland.
The booking process is explained here (ticket holders can take the same steps to add a reservation).
Though note that rail pass reservations for night trains can no longer be booked with DB, but reservations for journeys by Nightjet trains can be booked without booking fees, by using the OBB website - here is the info on how to do this.

The major stations in Germany, the hauptbahnhofs, house Reisezentrum travel desks at which rail pass reservations can be booked for the majority of all European train services, day or night, with no booking fees applied.
More info about using rail passes to travel in and to/from Germany by day trains is available HERE.

The exception to this are the EC trains to Italy; if you book reservations for these specific trains at a Reizesentrum travel desk in a hauptbahnhof or on the DB website, you won't be charged the full amount of the reservation and will therefore have to pay €10 to the conductor on the train.
So it's best to book the reservations for these trains with OBB, the Austrian national railways website, before arriving in Germany = you can avoid the €2 booking fee and save €2 on the total costs of the reservation.
How to book day train reservations is included in the guide to using the OBB booking service.

You can also book reservations online by for any train service from and Germany by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

Great Britain:

Reservations available:

Rail pass reservations aren't mandatory on any British train service, but if you will be travelling on train services operated by...

(*= long-distance journeys only)

There is no charge for booking them, but the cut off time prior to departure, at which reservations can be arranged varies according to which TOC will be operating the train you will be travelling by.

  • When travelling by Great Western Railway; Hull Trains, TFW and Scotrail, you'll need to have requested a reservation around 2 - 3 hours ahead; though this isn't fixed.
  • For journeys by Avanti West Coast; CrossCountry; EMR; Grand Central; LNER and TransPennine Express, the time limit for reservations will be between around 15 mins and an hour prior to departure.

They can often be booked by messaging the train operator's social media channels - here's a guide to which company operates the services on the most popular routes.
Or they can be booked at staffed ticket counter, or at an Advance Travel office, if a station has this facility; If you'll be making multiple journeys, it can be a good idea to book all the reservations you require on the one visit to a ticket/travel desk.
They can also now be booked online on the GWR website, regardless of whether the journey is by GWR's trains, the instructions on how to this, along with a stack of tips and other info, is included on the guide to using rail passes in Great Britain.

Note that reservations for national journeys within Britain cannot be booked online on the Eurail/InterRail reservation service.

Reservation Required:

Journeys by Eurostar train from and to the UK have mandatory rail pass reservation fees; 1st class = €38-43; 2nd class = €30-38, which seems expensive, but ticket prices can be more than four times as expensive
A limited number of reservations are available to rail pass users, so booking at the earliest opportunity is highly recommended, the most popular departures can 'sell out' more than a week in advance,
Therefore the allocation of reservations for specific departures can sell out months in advance, particularly for trains which have good connections in Brussels, Lille and Paris with other services to and from more distant destinations.

Reservations are usually available up to 330 days ahead and they can be booked for a fee of €2 per person on the Eurail and InterRail reservation services.
You can also make reservations for Eurostar departures on B-Europe.
Though in effect you will be paying a €4 fee for using B-Europe, as it only sells rail pass reservations as 'mobile tickets', so that you can download the reservations and store it on your phone, but it applies a surcharge for booking these.
So it's more expensive than using the reservation services provided by Eurail and InterRail, but reservations can be available to book on B-Europe for specific departures, when the Eurail and InterRail reservation services doesn't have them.
You can also check the actual availability of reservations per departure on B-Europe, prior to buying a pass.

B-Europe will ask for pass numbers when booking, but it only accepts the numbers issued with paper passes.
If you have a mobile Eurail pass you can use this pass number generation service and InterRail mobile pass purchasers can use this pass number generation service; you enter your mobile pass number. so that you'll also then have a paper number.

The B-Europe reservation service is pretty much straightforward to use, except for the one quirky feature illustrated above.

This may be to do with SMTJ's settings on the PC, but we had to enter the county of residency manually, B-Europe initially pre-populated it, but it wouldn't stick.

You can also book the reservations on B-Europe before you book an InterRail or Eurail Pass.

The Caledonian Sleeper:

If you will be using a valid rail pass you can travel in a reclining seat at no additional charge, but you must reserve a place prior to boarding, by calling the Guest Service Centre on 0330 060 0500.

If you want to travel in a bed in a Club Room sleeping cabin, you need to pay a 'Room only supplement' of £170 if you will be travelling solo, or £200 if two people will be travelling together.
If you want to travel in a Classic Room sleeping cabin, the supplement is £120 for solo travellers and £140 if two people are travelling together.

These 'Room only supplements' can be booked online.

Hungary:

NO Reservation Required:

Reservation Required:

  • EC trains within Hungary
  • IC (Hungary)
  • Railjets within Hungary
  • EC trains Hungary ↔ Croatia/Slovenia/Serbia

Bookings will be available from 2 months in advance of travel, but for daytime travel the best option is to book at the station
More info about using rail passes to travel in and to/from Hungary by day trains is available HERE

Italy:

NO Reservation Required:

Reservation Required on Italian journeys:

When you have arrived in Italy rail pass reservations can be purchased from:
(1) Trenitalia ticket counters; with mobile or paper passes; though you will now be charged a booking fee,
(2) Trenitalia branded ticket machines.
The ticket machines will ask for pass numbers when using them to make a booking, but they will only accept the numbers issued with paper passes.
If have a mobile pass you can use pass number generation service; InterRail pass purchasers can this pass number generation service; you enter your mobile pass number. so that you'll also then have a paper number, which the machines should accept.
Generating this number before you get to the station and then having it with you so it can be easily accessed when using a machine, is the way to go.

Booking reservations for Italian journeys prior to arriving in Italy

Whether you opt for mobile or paper passes, you can book reservations online by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service but you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

Though these €2 booking fees can now be avoided if you use the OBB, Austrian Railways, online booking service to book the mandatory reservations on Italian day trains.
SMTJ isn't going to question the logic behind this highly useful service, particularly as the bookings can be made irrespective of whether you have a mobile or paper pass.
Though the process is very much less than obvious, hence a step-by-step booking guide for the rail pass reservations, being included on SMTJ's instructions for using the OBB website.

RailEurope now sells rail pass reservations on the above trains without charging any booking fees.

Rail pass reservations are no longer sold on the Trenitalia website.

More information is available here.

Reservations required on international journeys:

Reservations for Eurail and InterRail pass users can't now be booked on the Trenitalia website and ItaliaRail doesn't sell rail pass reservations for international journeys to and from Italy.

If you want to book reservations prior to arriving in Italy for journeys from and to Italy on:

  • the EC trains to/from Switzerland
  • the EC trains to/from Austria and Germany
  • The EC trains on the Trieste <> Ljubljana - Maribor - Graz - Wien/Vienna route.
  • the Railjet trains to/from Austria
  • the Nightjet trains to/from Austria and Germany
    If you want to travel in a sleeping cabin or couchette on a Nightjet train from to Austria or Germany it's best to book the reservation before arriving in Italy.
    Couchettes and sleeping cabins can sell out on these trains weeks in advance.
    Reservations will be available from 6 months ahead on the Nightjets.
    The reservations for the night trains and the day trains can be purchased without paying any additional fees, on the website of Austria's national rail operator, OBB.
    Though the steps to take on the OBB website aren't particularly obvious, hence this guide* to booking Eurail/InterRail reservations with OBB.

RailEurope now sells rail pass reservations on the day trains without charging any booking fees.

The other option for booking reservations for these trains online is to use the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service but you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation.

Reservations for Eurail and InterRail users are not available on the Frecce trains which are now also used on the Milano - Torino - Lyon - Paris routee.

Booking reservations when in Italy:

International reservations can't be booked by using the Trenitalia branded ticket machines.
If you want to book reservations for the EC or Railjet trains* in Italy you have to use a ticket office, but no booking fees are charged.
Though the ticket desks at Italian stations will not sell reservations for the TGV France - Italy services - they can be booked at a dedicated ticket desk in Milano Porta Garibaldi station.

More info about using rail passes to travel in and to/from Italy by daytime trains is available HERE

Norway

Seven Things Worth Knowing About Using Rail Passes in Norway:

(1) Reservations are required on all long-distance services (day or night) and on most regional services including all those operated by SJ NORD, but be aware that all those travelling with journey tickets will have had their seats assigned; hence reserving as soon as possible is particularly recommended on the Oslo ↔ Bergen and Oslo ↔ Trondheim routes.

(2) Seat and bed reservations are usually available up to 90 days in advance

(3) You can book reservations online by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

(4) Though this €2 fee can now be avoided by using the Entur rail pass reservation service.

(5) Reservations can be arranged at the Entur ticket desks in stations

(6) For travel on the Sove night trains, regardless of operator, the reservation fees are the same for both first and second class pass users.
The rail pass reservation fee for the sleeping cabins is a flat rate of NOK 1000 (approx €100) so if you are travelling solo you will have the cabin to yourself, but couples /pairs can pay the one fee, but then double occupancy.
Seat reservations are the same as the day trains, except for on the Oslo - Stavanger route operated by Go Ahead, on which reclining seats are also available, but they can only be booked at the Entur travel desks in Norway.

Booking reservations for journeys to Sweden

For the Oslo <> Stockholm trains: Snabbtåg and IC you can bok the reservations on the SJ (Swedish Railways) website

More info about using rail passes to travel in and to/from Norway by daytime trains is available HERE

Poland:

Reservation Required:

  • EC trains Poland ↔ Austria/Czechia/Germany/Hungary/Slovakia
  • EIP - see the notes below
  • EIC
  • IC
  • TLK

There is no charge for seat reservations on the EIC, IC and TLK trains, but seats must be reserved prior to boarding; can be booked from 30 days ahead of travel.

You can book reservations without payment of booking fees at the major stations in Poland, or if you have a paper pass you can book them on the PKP Intercity (Polish express trains) website.
On the PKP website for the EIP) trains the discount type is called 'Interrail/Eurail/NRT/EWT/FIP/OSJD - seat reservation (supplement incl.)', for the other trains it's called 'Seasonal/network/international ticket - reservation'.
This is also explained on the PKP reservation homepage.

Whether you have a mobile or paper pass you can also book reservations online by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

Travelling on EIP trains

Booking reservations for the premium EIP train services is different, whether you have a 1st or 2nd class rail pass, you need to buy a supplement which is separate to the seat reservation fee.
Both the supplement and the seat reservation cost PLN 43 (approx €10),
If you have a 1st class pass, your reservation will include the complimentary drinks and light meals, which are served to 1st class ticket holders on the EIP trains.

Buy your supplement online on the PKP Intercity website and the seat reservation will be complimentary.
It has also published a how to reserve guide for Eurail and InterRail users.

Or you can purchase these EIP supplement at a ticket desk at a Polish station, at least 15 mins before your train is due to depart.
Although there is a small risk, that by the time you arrive in Poland, seats will be sold out on your first choice of departure.
Though if you book at the station you will receive a complimentary seat reservation.

You can also purchase the supplement and reservations for the EIP trains before you arrive in Poland with the Eurail or InterRail reservation service, though the cost will be €20 + a €2 booking fee.

Or you can book the seat reservations at a station outside of Poland, including at a Reisezentrum travel desk at a major station in Germany - and you can then buy the supplement at a Polish station, or from the conductor on the train,

More info about using rail passes to travel in and to/from Poland by daytime trains is available HERE

Spain:

NO Reservation Required:

Reservation Required:

For journeys within Spain

Spanish national rail operator RENFE does not sell rail pass reservations online, but reservations for journeys on the AVE, Alvia and Euromed trains are now available by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service.

The only other option, other than booking them at a station in Spain, is to pre-reserve seats by calling Renfe phone sales: +34 91 232 03 20; but the service is only available when travelling solely on national trains within Spain.

Pre-reserving a seat is possible up to 24 hours before a train's departure. You will receive a PNR code which you must use to pick up and pay for your reservation at a local station ticket office, making sure to show your Interrail Pass. You must collect your reservation within 72 hours. After this time the pre-reservation will expire.
Please note that a pre-reservation is not the same as a reservation. It only holds a seat for you for 72 hours.
More info about using rail passes to travel in and to/from Spain by daytime trains is available HERE

For journeys to and from Spain

When travelling to and from Spain on the high-speed RENFE-SNCF trains, you can use the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service, but you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation per person.

Bookings now open 180 days ahead of the travel date.
The number of reservations available to rail pass users on these trains is limited, so they can sell out, despite tickets for non-pass users still being available.

Rail pass reservations or these trains are not available on the SNCF Connect (French national railways) or Renfe (Spanish national railways) websites.
Or (in theory) you can call SNCF on 00 33 18494 3635.

But in the summer these RENFE-SNCF trains can be very popular, particularly as the number of trains available per day is around 50% of the pre-pandemic service.
The quota of rail pass reservations on Fridays, Sundays and summer Saturdays in particular can 'sell out' weeks in Advance, despite tickets being still available for non rail pass users.

SMTJ has seen reports on social media from rail pass users, who when trying to book at French or Spanish stations and were told that the reservations were sold out.
But SMTJ has also seen a Facebook post in which an InterRail user boarded the train regardless, accepting that they wouldn't have a seat, but then saw that a seat was available, occupied it and then purchased a rail pass reservation from the conductor when they came to inspect the tickets.
So it can seemingly be worthwhile to attempt this if tickets are still available, meaning that not every seat has been sold; but this scenario won't be possible if all the tickets have also been sold on a specific departure, and that can be the situation on these trains.

Sweden:

NO Reservation Required:

Reservation Required:

Rail pass reservations for travel by Snabbtåg trains can be booked on the SJ (Swedish Railways) up to 6 months ahead of the travel date with no booking fees; though the process is rather quirky, hence the explanation of how to do this.

SJ will ask for pass numbers when booking, but it only accepts the numbers issued with paper passes.
If you have a mobile Eurail pass you can use this pass number generation service and InterRail mobile pass purchasers can use this pass number generation service; you enter your mobile pass number. so that you'll also then have a paper number.

You can also book reservations online by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

More info about using rail passes to travel in and to/from Sweden by daytime trains is available HERE

Switzerland:

No Neservation Required

Reservation Required

- all overnight trains from Switzerland,
- the Lyria trains to France,
- the EC trains to Italy (international journeys only)

Be aware that reservations for these international trains can't be booked on SBB's online seat reservation service; and the Italian national rail company, Trenitalia, now no longer sells rail pass reservations for the EC trains between Switzerland and Italy online.
The reservations for direct journeys by these EC trains can booked, without paying any additional fees, on the website of Austria's national rail operator, OBB.
It's best not to question the logic of this and use the only option for booking reservations on these trains, without incurring any additional expense.
Though the steps to take on the OBB website aren't particularly obvious, hence this guide* to booking Eurail/InterRail reservations with OBB.
The OBB website will also sell reservations to InterRail and Eurail pass users for journeys by the overnight Nightjet services from and to Switzerland.

The other option for booking reservations on these EC and Nightjet trains before arriving in Switzerland, is to book reservations online, by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service but you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation.
These Eurail and InterRail reservation services are the only option for booking reservations online for the Lyria trains and the night trains from Switzerland that aren't Nightjets

However, if you wait until you are in Switzerland and book rail pass reservations for international trains at a Swiss station, you will charged a booking fee of more than 11-CHF per reservation.

OR if you will be travelling through Germany prior to arriving in Switzerland, you can pay for reservations for these trains at a Reisezentrum travel desk in any hauptbahnhof station - and won't be charged a booking fee at all.

The Netherlands:

Reservations not Available

Reservations Available but not required

Reservation Required

Avoid booking reservations at stations in The Netherlands, you will have to pay booking fees.

You can book reservations online by using the Eurail reservation service or the InterRail reservation service though you will be charged a €2 booking fee per reservation, per person.

You can also make reservations for the Eurostar and Thalys trains on B-Europe.
Eurostar reservations can normally be booked up to 6 months ahead and Thalys reservations can usually be booked up to 4 months ahead.
Though in effect you will be paying a €4 fee for using B-Europe, as it only sells rail pass reservations as 'mobile tickets', so that you can download the reservations and store it on your phone, but it applies a surcharge for booking these.
So it's more expensive than using the reservation services provided by Eurail and InterRail, but reservations can be available to book on B-Europe for specific departures, when the Eurail and InterRail reservation services doesn't have them, particularly for Eurostar departures.

B-Europe will ask for pass numbers when booking, but it only accepts the numbers issued with paper passes.
If you have a mobile Eurail pass you can use the pass number generation service and InterRail mobile pass purchasers can use this pass number generation service; you enter your mobile pass number. so that you'll also then have a paper number..

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Author

Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.

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This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.

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This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is exciting and new, so we are genuinely thrilled that you are here and reading this, but we also need your help.

We’re striving not to let anything get in the way of providing the most useful service possible, hence a facility has been set up with DonorBox which can be used to support the running costs and make improvements.

Instead of advertising or paywalls, your financial support will make a positive difference to delivering an enhanced service, as there’s a lot of ideas which we want to make happen.

So if you have found the info provided here to be useful, please consider saying thank you.