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.
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.
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
|Ticket Provider||Approximate Cost|
The ICE trains = BruxellesMidi/Brussel Zuid
The Thalys trains = Paris Nord
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:
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.
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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