This end-to-end journey is less complicated than you might have supposed, with only two easily timed connections required.
Though travelling overnight is not an option on this route.
Use this journey guide to access good to know info for the stations, trains and tickets.
When travelling between most cities by train there is only one logical option, though on other journeys there is a choice between different trains or alternative routes. If different options are available you can use the info to decide which is best for you.
10hr 18min (typical)
ShowMeTheJourney earns a small commission on Trainline ticket sales. It can be a particularly good option for: Comparing different train services; Booking international journeys with connections; Travelling between the UK to destinations beyond Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris - and for international travellers who don't reside in western Europe.
DB is the national railway operator in Germany, so its website can be used for booking journeys by German express trains; the ICE and IC trains and it doesn't charge booking fees.
It also sells tickets for journeys by direct trains on all international routes from Germany regardless of whether DB is operating the train service.
It also sells an extensive range of end-to-end journeys which involve making connections both within Germany and in neighboring countries, but journeys between Germany and Britain cannot be booked on DB.
On journeys within Germany and on most international journeys from and to Germany on trains operated by DB:
When booking both types of the discounted 'Sparpreis' tickets seat reservations are an optional extra, so need to be added when booking if you want an assigned seat(s).
B-Europe is the website provided by Belgium's national railway operator for the sale of international rail journeys from and to Belgium.
Therefore tickets can be booked for the following international train services to/from Belgium
It also sells international end-to-end journeys solely by train, with connections outside of Belgium, if you will be heading to popular destinations in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
Users of Eurail and InterRail passes can also book seat reservations on the Eurostar and Thalys services without paying booking fees.
The connecting time between trains at Koln Hbf station will be around 53 min and trains from Hamburg very rarely arrive more than 45 mins late, so making the connection shouldn't be a problem.
Though it is not 100% guaranteed.
The connecting time between trains in Bruxelles will typically be around 1hr 20mins
Depart from Hamburg before 07:00 and you will be taking an EC train between there and Koln/Cologne.
Departing from Hamburg:
Final Destination: Stuttgart or Nurnberg (or destinations in Switzerland)
The DB trains:
Some trains in the timetable are also EC trains heading to Switzerland - so you may find yourself on a Swiss and not a German IC train.
The lack of a high speed line means that it doesn't matter which train you take in terms of journey time.
Final Destination: BruxellesMidi/Brussel Zuid
All trains also call at: Aachen
For virtually the entire train journey from Koln to Bruxelles the trains, will either be travelling at up to 290 km/h on purpose built high speed lines, or up to 200km/h on section of railway, that has been re-engineered to allow trains to travel faster.
It is a journey of six distinct phases:
Most of the departures between Bruxelles/Brussels and London will be by the e320 trains, but the e300 trains are still used on some departures.
Our guide to taking the Eurostar from Bruxelles/Brussels has more information including details of check-in and how to connect into the Eurostar from other train services.
Our guide to arriving by Eurostar in London is here.
It's not a scenic journey, but it is a journey with distinct phases and highlights:
1: There is little to see from the high speed lines in Belgium and France.
2: The train will slow down as it approaches The Channel Tunnel.
Announcements are no longer made that the train is about to enter the tunnel.
The journey through the tunnel will take around 22 mins.
3: As the train nears Ebbsfleet International station, comes the scenic highlight of the journey - the crossing of the River Medway on a high bridge.
4: After Ebbsfleet International (which can only be seen from the right) the train will enter a tunnel under the River Thames.
As the train exits this tunnel, from the left, the Queen Elizabeth II road bridge can be seen.
5: For most of the final 8 -10 mins of the journey the trains use tunnels to enter London (Stratford International station is located between the tunnels).
Book Early And Save: Yes
Online bookings open: usually open around 6 months ahead of the travel date.
There is relatively new E.U. legislation which protects travellers against financial loss in the event of missed connections due to train delays, but it only applies to 'through tickets'.
The Eurostar terms and conditions specifically state that when booking journeys which combine Eurostar + Thalys trains 'through tickets' will be issued.
However, 'for all other journeys that combine a Eurostar Service and a service provided by another carrier(s), including when purchased in a single commercial transaction, those tickets will be separate contracts and issues regarding delays, missed connections, cancellations, compensation, and the management of aftersales will be handled accordingly'.
Though both DB, the operator of the ICE train, and Eurostar are members of The Railteam Alliance which offers a Hop on the next available train (HOTNAT) policy.
It 'allows travelers to take the next high-speed service leaving from the same station as originally planned when a delay on or cancellation of a preceding Railteam member’s high-speed service prevents them from making their originally-planned connection. This service is free of charge and is subject to the following conditions:
So 'issues regarding missed connection and cancellations' should be 'handled' by Railteam's HOTNAT policy.
Though HOTNAT can't be applied if the arrival into Bruxelles is after the final Eurostar of the day has departed for London.
Much more info is available on this ticketing guide.
Three options to mitigate against potential complications:
2: Choose end-to-end journey options which have a combination of
3: An option is to book separate tickets for the Hamburg to Bruxelles journey with DB, and then book separate tickets for the Eurostar to London, but with an extended period of time between trains.
Then if the ICE trains on the journey to Bruxelles are cancelled or delayed, DB will issue alternative tickets to enable a later arrival into Bruxelles, as this part of the journey has AJC protection.
Similarly if the booked Eurostar train is cancelled, it will transfer tickets to a later departure.
Though if the journey to Bruxelles is so delayed that you miss the booked connection on to London, you will have to re-book the Eurostar
The tickets will be train specific, but seat reservations are OPTIONAL on both the ICE train between Hamburg and Koln/Cologne AND the ICE train between Koln/Cologne and Bruxelles/Brussel.
The reservation fee is 2nd class = €4.90, 1st class = €5.90; but the reservation charges cover BOTH of the ICE trains on this journey.
When making a booking with DB or Trainline, you will have to add the reservations.
In contrast seat reservations are mandatory on the Thalys trains, so the ticket prices on all of the agents automatically include this reservation fee,
Reservations are also compulsory on the Eurostar and this is included when booking point2point journey tickets; your Eurostar seats will be automatically assigned.
The faster end-to-end journey:
It's also often possible to depart Hamburg 20 mins later and make an additional connection in Hannover, but because these end-to-end journeys are faster they can be the only options offered by the ticket agent.
They will be the options with 3 x transfers between trains.
If you see them SMTJ's is to avoid booking these options, they will be dependent on making a non-guaranteed connections between trains in Hannover.
Though if you make separate bookings for the Hamburg to Koln and Koln to London journeys you will have to re-book the journey on to
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