If you will be taking a journey by TER train in France our guide will take you through the travelling experience from booking and using to tickets, to what you can expect on board.

TER is used by national rail operator SNCF for local and regional trains, so a broad swathe of trains are classified as TER - both in terms of the type of service and the actual train you will be travelling on.


The different types of TER service:

There are multiple different types of TER train services, so what we have striven to do is to give and insight into what you can expect when traveling by these trains.

(1)  Trains that travel comparatively long distances - these services are to be branded 'Chrono'.

These services link major towns and cities by passing through multiple regions, but don't use the high speed lines.

A variety of trains are used for these services, but some of the oldest trains in France are used on some of these longer routes - including:

(i) Strasbbourg - Colmar - Mulhouse - Basel
(ii) Lyon - Valence - Avignon Centre - Mirimas - Arles - Marseille

Though brand new trains, which compare favourably with the older Intercités trains are being introduced across France

1st class is available on most of these longer distance routes.

(2) Long distance and local trains that stop at all stations in largely rural areas.

These services are to be branded 'Proxi'.

(3) Local trains to/from cities other than Paris - these services are to be branded 'City'.

The majority of the trains in this third category are new and some are double-deckedmany French regions have evidently been investing in rail transport in recent years.

And these new TER trains are comparatively comfortable and many of the single deck variants have particularly large windows – which come into their own in scenic areas.

On most routes that fall into this third category, all of the trains are 2nd class only.

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On board - a summary:

As different types of train are used for TER services there will be variations in the specifics of the travelling experience, but the following apply irrespective of which train you find yourself boarding.

(i) Some TER trains/departure are 2nd class only.

(ii) When 1st class is available it can be comparatively difficult to spot from the outside of the train.

So it can be easier to board by any door and walk through the train to find the 1st class seating.

Also take care not to be sat in 1st class in error if you have a 2nd class ticket.

(iii) Power sockets are only available on the more modern TER trains.

(iv) If you are taking a long trip by TER, take food/drink on board with you, TER trains have no on board catering facilities.

(v) On board announcements are in French only and the conductors may not speak English.

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Using Tickets on TER trains:

Unlike Intercités and TGVs, tickets for travel by TER trains aren’t discounted, so you won’t make savings if you book in advance.

Therefore ticket prices will be the same if you pay at the station, immediately prior to boarding.

However, on routes/journeys shared with TGV and/or Intercités trains, the very cheapest, discounted ‘Prems’ tickets for TGV and Intercité trains are generally cheaper than for these TER trains.

So don’t assume that you will automatically be making a saving if you travel by TER train, if you book far enough in advance the faster alternative trains can be cheaper

Although if you will be buying tickets at the station on the day of travel, the TER trains will be cheaper.

Ticket restrictions:

Book a ticket online or a station for a journey by TER train and you can't then use it on a TGV train OR on an Intercités service that has compulsory reservations.


Seats cannot be reserved on TER train services.

An intro to train travel in France

How to buy tickets for French train journeys

Riding ON French trains

Travelling on European daytime trains

Travelling on European overnight trains

International train routes to/from France

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