Köln / Cologne / Koeln to London by train

How to take a thrilling high speed rail journey from Koln/Cologne to London

The journey by train from Cologne/Köln to London involves making a transfer between high speed trains at Bruxelles-Midi station.
Eurostar provides the services on to London from the Belgian capital, but ICE and Thalys trains share the route between Köln and Bruxelles.
The split between these two services impacts on the end-to-end journey times and the ticketing; in terms of both price and availability.

Though due to the current reductions in the number of timetabled trains as a consequence of the pandemic, the departure and arrival times have become more important, due to the more limited options for making the end-to-end journey.

When taking a combination of ICE + Eurostar trains or Thalys + Eurostar trains, up to 8 connections per day are usually available, but for the time being there are only 3 or 4 departure options per day.



From Köln/Cologne Hbf to London St Pancras International

Travel Information

On the current timetable the connecting time in Bruxelles-Midi/Zuid station between the arrival of the Thalys train and departure of the Eurostar trains will be a minimum of 1hr 10 mins - 1hr 20 mins.
The journeys with this transfer time in Bruxelles are those with an end-to-end time of around 5hr 10mins

So this will allow sufficient time to check-in for the Eurostar, even if the train from Koln/Cologne arrives in Bruxelles/Brussels more than 45 mins late.
(Hence the journey time being longer than when travelling from the UK, because in that direction the connecting time between trains at Bruxelles-Midi station is shorter).

The other end-to-end journeys, with a total travel time of around 6hr 30mins, have a gap between arrival and departure in Midi station of more than two hours.

This guide has more information re: making the connection into the Eurostar train at Bruxellles-Midi station.

Change trains in: Bruxelles/Brussels

Taking a combination of ICE + Eurostar trains:
Mon-Fri = 5 connections per day
Saturday = 4 x connections
Sunday = 5 x connections

Taking a combination of Thalys + Eurostar trains:
Mon-Sat = 1 x connection per day
The first connection of the day which typically departs Koln Hbf at 06:45


Book Early And Save: Yes

Online bookings open: usually open around 6 months ahead of the travel date.

Eurostar sells tickets for this journey, but it does so in partnership with B-Europe

The tickets sold by each agent:

B-Europe. Eurostar and Trainline will sell tickets for the end-to-end journey which involve taking both the combinations of ICE + Eurostar trains and the combinations of Thalys + Eurostar trains(not available on Saturdays) which involves taking a combination of ICE + Thalys + Eurostar trains.

The German national rail operator DB only sells the journey options which involve taking the ICE + Eurostar trains, but it can be worth looking up the journey as it can offer a cheaper price.

Seat Reservations:

The tickets will be train specific, but seat reservations are optional on the ICE train between Koln/Cologne and Bruxelles/Brussels
The reservation fee is 2nd class = €4; 1st class = €5.30
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.

Rail Pass Users:

A combination of ICE + Eurostar trains will save money.
Reservations are optional on the ICE trains, but comparatively expensive reservation fees are compulsory on the Thalys trains.

Click the Eurostar train info on how to book rail pass reservations on the Eurostar

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
DB *

DB Guide

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.

A key feature of DB website worth keeping mind is that it offers 1st class ticket purchasers complimentary seat reservations on journeys both within and to/from Germany.
Seat reservations for daytime in both 1st and 2nd class can also be booked separately from tickets.

Two types of ticket have recently been made available;

  1. Cheaper 'Young' tickets which can only be booked by those aged 15-26 on the travel date.
  2. Flexi Plus tickets, which are now the most expensive type of ticket, but they're the only type of 2nd class tickets which DO include a seat reservation.
Trainline *

Trainline Guide

B-Europe *

B-Europe Guide

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

  • Eurostar
  • IC trains to France, Luxembourg and The Netherlands
  • ICE trains to Germany
  • Thalys trains to Germany, The Netherlands and Paris
  • TGV trains to destination in France other than Paris
    B-Europe offers a 'Best Fares' policy for journey by these trains.

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.

Eurostar *

Eurostar Guide

In addition to direct journeys by Eurostar trains, the Eurostar website also sells

  • 'Any station in Belgium' tickets; the key feature of these tickets is that they live up to their name, so how distant your Belgian destination is and the journey time doesn't impact on the ticket price.
  • Journeys to SOME major cities in France not served directly by Eurostar– including Avignon, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nice, Nantes and Rennes.
  • Journeys to destinations in Germany that are served by direct ICE and Thalys trains from Bruxelles, including these cities; Aachen, Cologne/Koeln, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt (Main).

Eurostar also sells seat reservations to users of Eurail and InterRail passes without booking fees.

Journey Features

Scenic - NoHigh Speed (partial journey)

Good to Know

Final Destination:
The ICE trains = BruxellesMidi/Brussel Zuid
The Thalys trains = Paris Nord

All trains also call at:  Aachen

Between Koln and Aachen Between Koln and Aachen
Between Aachen and Liege Between Aachen and Liege
Between Liege and Brussels Between Liege and Brussels

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:

  1. Between Koln and Aachen the trains travel at up to 200 km/h on a re-engineered stretch of railway.
  2. Then for most of the the 25 min journey between Aachen and Liege the train will travel at up to 290 km/h on a high speed line; this is also the most scenic part of the trip.
  3. Then for around five minutes after departure from Liege, the train will travel fairly slowly on a route which ascends from the city.
  4. Next up is the HS2 Belgian high speed route as far as Leuven, in theory the ICE and Thalys trains can accelerate back up to around 290 km/h on this part of the trip.
  5. From Leuven to just north of Brussel-Nord station the maximum speed is 200 km/h.
  6. For most of the journey between Brussel-Nord and Brussel-Zuid the railway crosses the city centre in a tunnel.

Journey Features

High Speed (total journey)

Good to Know

Final Destination: London St. Pancras International

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 (they are to be re-introduced in 2022).

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.

A typical view from the high speed line between Lille and The Channel Tunnel A typical view from the high speed line between Lille and The Channel Tunnel
Crossing The River Medway Crossing The River Medway
The Queen Elizabeth II road bridge seem from the left of the train The Queen Elizabeth II road bridge seem from the left of the train

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).

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