How to travel from London to beautiful Aachen in Germany on a combination of Eurostar and ICE trains.
No direct trains are available
The high speed train service between Bruxelles/Brussels and Aachen is split between ICE and Thalys trains.
The end-to-end journeys with a total time of around 3hr 35min involve connecting into the ICE trains at Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid station.
The connecting time at Bruxelles Midi/Zuid station, between the arrival of the Eurostar and the departure of the ICE train, is usually only 20 mins; and this combination of Eurostar + ICE train tends to be cheaper too.
However, making these connections is not guaranteed.
Though you don't need to be concerned about losing out financially, in the fairly unlikely event of missing the connection in Bruxelles, due to a delayed arrival of the Eurostar.
Though if you want to take the pressure off making the connection, the usual options are explained in the 'Ticket information' section below.
Rail Pass Users:
If you take ICE trains on from Bruxelles, you can avoid the reservation fees/supplements on the Thalys trains, because you don't have to reserve a seat on the ICE train. so no additional charges have to be incurred.
IF the Eurostar arrives too late to make the connection, then leave your bags in the left-luggage at Midi/Zuid station, explore Bruxelles and then take a later ICE train.
5x connections per day
Changing trains in: Brussels/Bruxelles
Book Early And Save: Yes
Online bookings open: usually open around 6 months ahead of the travel date.
Worth knowing before booking London to Aachen train journey tickets online:
Changes to ticketing on this route:
DB has withdrawn its 'Europa Sparpreis Spezial' and no longer sells that type of tickets on this route, as a consequence the cheapest prices of booking the end-to-end journey has increased to approximately €70.
However, DB has retained its offer of 'Europa Sparpreis Spezial' tickets on the Bruxelles > Aachen part of the journey when travelling by the ICE trains (and not the Thalys trains)
As a result it's now often possible to save money by booking separate tickets for the London > Bruxelles journey with Eurostar and then booking the Bruxelles > Aachen journey by ICE train with DB.
Though if you do, it's likely that you will have to re-book tickets for the journey on to Aachen, in the event of a delay to a Eurostar causing a missed connection in Bruxelles.
Which can be an issue when the connecting time between Eurostar arrivals and ICE departures is only around 20 mins.
So an option is to book the tickets, so that you'll be taking a later ICE train on from Bruxelles.
Comparing the ticket agents:
It is now worth comparing the prices and journey times across the agents for this journey.
In particular Trainline will offer journey options which involve taking the ICE train OR the Thalys train for the part of the journey between Bruxelles and Aachen.
Reservations are optional in 2nd class on the ICE trains from Bruxelles/Brussels on to Aachen; when booking First class, the reservation fee is included in the ticket price
The prices you will initially see on Eurostar, for a 2nd class journey, include this* reservation fee, so if you book with Eurostar and don't want to reserve, you can be proactive and remove it from your booking, by clicking on the green ticket you will see on the booking page.
In contrast the ticket prices on Trainline and B-Europe, for a 2ndclass journey, do not include the price of opting to reserve a seat on the ICE train - though on both sites you can add opt to add a reservation to your booking.
Hence the initial price you will see for 2nd class travel, will be cheaper on Trainline and B-Europe.
So if you want to reserve seats on the ICE when travelling 2nd class, it's simpler to book with Eurostar because it will automatically include the reservation on its booking path.
Though it charges around €1.50 more for the seat reservations than the other booking services.
Managing the connection:
Because the time between the arrival of the Eurostar and departure of the Thalys is typically more than an hour, both Eurostar* and B-Europe only usually sell the combination of Eurostar + ICE trains online.
*Eurostar uses B-Europe’s booking system when looking up London to Germany train journeys.
A plus of looking up this journey on Trainline is that it sells journeys which involve taking an ICE train on from Bruxelles AND the journey options which involve taking a Thalys train on from Bruxelles to Aachen; when connections into Thalys trains are feasible.
Though when comparing prices, keep in mind that that reservations are mandatory on the Thalys trains, in both 1st and 2nd class.
Therefore the journey prices, for 2nd class travel, you will initially see on Trainline will include the cost of reserving on the Thalys trains, but won't include the optional cost of reserving on the ICE trains.
What if you miss a booked connection in Bruxelles:
Those 20mins (ish) connections in Bruxelles between the Eurostar arrivals and ICE departures are not guaranteed; though the ICE may delay its departure by up to around 15 mins.
If the Eurostar is delayed, the train conductor on the Eurostar will request that travellers making connections on to Koln/Cologne seek them out, so that they can have the delay marked on the ticket.
IF you have booked the end-to-end journey as one booking, you will then be able to take the next train on to Aachen even if the next train to depart will be a Thalys train (as long as seats are available on the next departure); though you will have to have your tickets/reservations re-issued at the SNCB International ticket desks in Bruxelles-Midi.
Though obviously the alternative connection on from Bruxelles scenario won't apply if you will making the final journey option of the day.
The alternative booking option:
Another option is to book the London to Bruxelles and Bruxelles to Aachen train tickets separately.
Though the risk is that because you won’t be booking the end-to-end journey on one ticket(s), you may have to re-book the Bruxelles to Aachen ticket(s) in the event of a delay; and you definitely won’t be able to use an ICE ticket on a Thalys train and vice versa.
But this can be a good option if you want to maximise the possibility of having a stress-free journey, by stopping off for a couple of hours (and exploring Bruxelles) between trains.
Book a 1st class ticket(s) and your seats will automatically be assigned on all trains, but reservations are optional in 2nd class on the ICE train between Bruxelles/Brussels and Aachen.
When looking up the journey on Eurostar this optional reservation, will be pre-selected, so you’ll need to remove it; if you don’t want to reserve
In contrast, when looking up the journey on B-Europe or Trainline you will need to add it, the 2nd class reservation fee is €4.
Reservations are compulsory in all classes on the Eurostar, so these are included when booking point2point journey tickets your Eurostar seats will be automatically assigned.
|Ticket Provider||Approximate Cost|
Note that London is in a different time zone to mainland Europe, it is one hour behind - so when looking at a timetable the journey will look as though it's an hour longer.
Most of the departures between London and Bruxelles will be by the e320 trains, but the e3300 trains are usually used on some departures.
The usual calls at either Ebbsfleet or Ashford International stations, have been been temporarily suspended until further notice.
However as the trains only call at these stations to pick up passengers. these station calls are not included on the departure boards at St Pancras International, or usually announced on the train.
Eurostar requests that holders of Standard Class And Standard Premier tickets check-in a minimum of 30mins before departure; though this time increases to 45mins before departure on weekends and holidays.
If you have a Business Premier ticket, Eurostar recommends that you only have to check-in 10 mins before departure.
Our guide to taking a Eurostar from London is here.
It's not a scenic journey, but it is a journey with distinct phases and highlights:
1: For most of the first 8 mins of the journey the trains use tunnels to exit London (Stratford International station is located between the tunnels).
2: Then from the right of the train, there are views of the River Thames marshes and of the Queen Elizabeth II road bridge.
3: The third tunnel that the train will pass through is the tunnel under the River Thames.
4: Shortly after Ebbsfleet International station (can only be seen from the right of the train) is the scenic highlight of the journey - the crossing of the River Medway.
5: 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.
6: There is little of note to be seen from the high speed lines in France and Belgium.
Final Destination: Frankfurt (Main) – the ICE trains
Final Destination: Essen/Dortmund/Koln – the Thalys trains
All trains also call at: Liege
Departing from Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid station:
Aim to be at Bruxelles Midi/Zuid station a minimum of 15 - 20 mins before your train is due to depart.
You will usually* have to pass through security checks before boarding these trains and queues can build up at busy times.
*The security checks are at the entrance to platforms/tracks/voies 3 -6 and these ICE and Thalys trains to Koln are usually scheduled to depart from this part of the station.
But check the departure screens before heading for the security checks, these trains can occasionally be scheduled to leave from platforms/tracks/voies 7 or 8.
For virtually the entire train journey from Bruxelles to Aachen the trains, will either be travelling at up to 290 km/h on a purpose built high speed line, or up to 200km/h on a section of line, that has been re-engineered to allow trains to travel faster.
The high speed part of the route comes between Leuven and Aachen.
Help keep us advertising and paywall free!Donate
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.
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.