London to Aachen by train

How to take the rail journey from London to Aachen

The journey from London to Aachen by train involves making a connection at Bruxelles-Midi station, which is also known as Brussel Zuid station.
Eurostar is the sole provider of the train service between London and Bruxelles/Brussels but both ICE and Eurostar Thalys trains are available between Bruxelles and Aachen
Which of these two train services you take when travelling on to Aachen matters, to both the end-to-end journey time and when booking tickets.



From London St Pancras International to Aachen Hbf

Journey Summary

Travel Time
3hr 35min - 4hr 30min (approx)
Travel Information

Eurostar is the sole provider of the train service between London and Bruxelles/Brussels, but the high speed train service between Bruxelles/Brussels and Aachen is split between ICE and Eurostar Thalys trains.

The fastest end-to-end journeys from London to Aachen usually involve connecting into the ICE trains at Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid station.
On the journeys with the fastest end-to-end timings of all, the transfer time at Bruxelles Midi/Zuid station, between the arrival of the Eurostar and the departure of the ICE train, is usually around 20mins.

However, the journey options which involve taking a Eurostar Thalys train on from Bruxelles typically allow more than hour to make the connection.

At St Pancras:

Eurostar is currently suggesting that Standard Class And Standard Premier ticket holders should be at the Eurostar departure area in St Pancras International 90 mins before departure; and that Business Premier ticket holders should be there 45-60mins prior to departure.

The departure gates will close 30 mins prior to departure for Standard Class And Standard Premier ticket holders; and 15 mins prior to departure for Business Premier ticket holders.

Our guide to taking a Eurostar from London is here.

Note that London is in a different time zone to mainland Europe, it is one hour behind; hence what can seem like a discrepancy between the journey time and the interval between the departure and arrival times.

Departing from Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid station:

You will usually* have to pass through security checks before boarding these trains on to Aachen 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.

Rail Pass Users:

If you take ICE trains on from Bruxelles, you can avoid the reservation fees/supplements on the Eurostar 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.

5 x connections per day

The variations in the end-to-end times is to do with the time between trains in Bruxelles.


Worth knowing before booking London to Aachen train journey tickets online:

  • Eurostar is now only offering tickets for the journey options which involve taking a combination of Eurostar + Eurostar Thalys trains
  • DB only offers tickets for a combination of Eurostar + ICE trains
  • B-Europe and Trainline sell tickets for end-to-end journeys which involve taking either an ICE train or a Eurostar Thalys train on from Bruxelles.
    Note that B-Europe and Trainline can offer two journey options with the same departure time from London, but one option will involve taking an ICE train on from Bruxelles and the other will involve taking a Eurostar Thalys train.

Whether you take a combination of Eurostar + Eurostar Thalys trains, or Eurostar + ICE trains, matters with respect to the terms and conditions around ticket exchanges post -booking.
That's due to the operators of each of the three services having different ticket policies, which they apply to each of their respective trains.
There is no 'blanket policy' around ticketing terms, regardless of which combination of trains will be used on the end-to-end journey.

Eurostar ticket terms summary:

Customers can exchange tickets for travel in Standard and Standard Premier class multiple times without paying an exchange fee, as long as tickets are exchanged 7 days or more before the departure time of their individual journey
Though if the new ticket option is more expensive the difference in price will need to be paid, but if it is cheaper the price difference won't be refunded.
But make the exchange within 7 days of the individual journey and an admin fee of £30 will need to be paid, along with the price difference
Tickets to travel in Standard and Standard Premier class are not refundable.
In contrast tickets to travel in Business Premier Class can be refunded and they can be exchanged to alternative departures without paying the admin fee, or the price difference.
Eurostar's full ticket terms and conditions are here .

ICE ticket terms summary:

As applied by DB the national rail company in Germany because it operates these trains.

  • Super Sparpreis Europa / Super Saver Fare Europe tickets: cannot be exchanged or refunded.
  • Sparpreis Europa / Saver Fare Europe: these tickets can be 'refunded; up until the day of departure for admin of €10. The refund will be in the form of a voucher, matching the value of the price paid.
    So in effect these tickets can be exchanged for a fee of €10 and the difference in price will need to be paid.
  • Flexible tickets can be refunded free of charge with payment returned, but after the travel date a €19 admin fee is applied.
    So in effect if you want to 'exchange' flexible tickets, you can use the cost you originally paid towards the cost of a re-booking, but the new price will likely be higher.

Eurostar Thalys ticket terms summary:
Tickets for travel in Standard and Comfort Class can be can exchanged without paying an exchange fee, as long as tickets are exchanged 7 days or more before the departure time of their individual journey.
Though if the new ticket option is more expensive the difference in price will need to be paid, but if it is cheaper the price difference won't be refunded.
But make the exchange within 7 days of the individual journey and an admin fee of €15 will need to be paid, along with the price difference
Though tickets can be refunded up until 7 days before departure, but are non refundable in the 7 days before departure.
So note that the cheaper tickets to travel by the Eurostar Thalys trains can be refunded (up until 7 days), but the cheaper tickets for the ICE trains can't.
Tickets for travel in Premium Class are exchangeable without payment of an admin fee up to the departure time, but price difference between the old and new tickets will need to be paid.
Premium Class tickets can up refunded until one hour after the departure time.

Seat Reservations:

Your seats will automatically be reserved on the Eurostar and Eurostar Thalys trains, but seat reservations on the ICE trains are optional and are therefore an additional cost - unless you book the most expensive type of ticket.

What if you miss a booked connection in Bruxelles:

There's no getting away from this being a complicated scenario in terms of explaining what the options are, because what matters is:

  • the reason for the delay to the Eurostar on route to Bruxelles;
  • what type of tickets you have been issued with.
    This 'type of ticket' in this scenario isn't to do with what class you have opted to travel by, or the type of ticket you have booked, instead it matters whether you have been issued with a 'through' ticket, or a 'bundle of tickets' - which equates to tickets per train.

In effect 'the terms' for 'through tickets' now protect travellers against financial loss in the event of missed connections due to train delays , in non-exceptional circumstances, and this includes expenditure on hotel fees (up to a limit) if an overnight stay is required in Bruxelles.
Eurostar classifies end-to-end journeys involving Eurostar + Eurostar Thalys trains as 'through tickets', but it classifies journeys involving Eurostar + ICE trains as being booked as a ticketing bundle - and this applies regardless of the agent used when booking tickets.
Hence Eurostar only sells the combination of Eurostar + Eurostar Thalys trains.
Though these new E.U. 'rules' protecting against financial loss don't apply in the exceptional circumstances causing a delay to the Eurostar, which can include - extreme weather conditions, the behaviour of a third party such as persons on the track; and on-board emergencies.

There is also an Agreement of Journey Continuation Policy, the AJC, which Thalys and DB - the operator of the ICE trains has signed up to, but Eurostar hasn't.
Under the terms of the AJC the ticket holder can take the next train on to Aachen, regardless of what type of train it is, with no need to book new tickets and the exceptional circumstances don't apply - but the AJC doesn't cover the costs of overnight accommodation.

So in summary SMTJ's understanding is that;

  • if a delayed Eurostar causes a missed connection in Bruxelles (which is less likely when making the connection of more than an hour into the Thalys trains) tickets can be transferred to the next departure, regardless of whether it is a Eurostar Thalys train or an ICE train;
  • if a delayed Eurostar in non-exceptional circumstance results in a missed booked connection into a Thalys train and and overnight stay in Bruxelles is then required, there will be compensation for the cost of the overnight accommodation;
  • if exceptional circumstances cause a missed booked connection into a Eurostar Thalys train the overnight accommodation costs won't be covered;
  • if a delayed Eurostar results in a missed booked connection into an ICE train and and overnight stay in Bruxelles is then required, the overnight accommodation costs won't be covered.

Much more info is available on this ticketing guide

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
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 Thalys trains from Bruxelles, including these cities; Aachen, Cologne/Koeln, and Dusseldorf.

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

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.

Trainline *

Trainline Guide

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.

On journeys within Germany and on most international journeys from and to Germany on trains operated by DB:

  • For journeys by the express trains, EC. IC and ICE trains an adult (on German railways an adult is a person aged 15 and over) can take up to four children aged 6 - 14 with them at no additional charge.
  • Tickets need to be booked for children aged 0 - 5, but there is no charge for them.
  • Those aged 65 and over can take journeys at a discounted rate.
  • Dogs, which are too large to be placed in pet carriers, require tickets which cost 50% of the adult rate.

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).

Journey Features

High Speed (total journey)

Good to Know

Most of the departures between London and Bruxelles will be by the e320 trains, but the e330 trains can be used on some departures, which don't travel beyond Bruxelles.

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.

Journey Features

High Speed (total journey)

Good to Know

Final Destination:
Frankfurt (Main) – the ICE trains
Essen/Dortmund/Koln –  the Thalys trains

All trains also call at: Liege

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