Thalys

If you will be taking a journey by Thalys trains our guide will tell you all you need to know, from boarding, to making the most of the journey experience.

ON BOARD     RESERVATIONS      BOARDING

TRAVEL WITH BIKES     USING RAIL PASSES

SUMMARY


THE ROUTES:

Thalys is the name of the high speed trains which operate on three international routes.

(1) Paris Nord - Bruxelles Midi-Zuid - Antwerpen Centraal - Rotterdam Centraal - Schiphol Airport - Amsterdam Centraal

(2) Paris Nord - Bruxelles Midi-Zuid - Liege-Guiilemmens - Aachen - Koln/Cologne Hbf -  Dusseldorf - Essen - Dortmund

(3) Lille Europe - Bruxelles Midi-Zuid - Antwerpen Centraal - Rotterdam Centraal - Schiphol Airport - Amsterdam Centraal

The only direct trains between Paris and Belgium, The Netherlands and northern Germany are the Thalys services.

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ON BOARD:

Externally Thalys trains resemble TGV trains but in contrast to TGVs Thalys trains have 3 classes of seating - Standard, Comfort and Premiere.

Premiere class travellers are served a complimentary light meal at their seats.

Users of 1st class rail pass,who have made reservations on Thalys trains, will be seated in Comfort Class.

Thalys trains have in effect replaced flights between Paris and Bruxelles, which is apt as the Standard Class seating saloons on Thalys trains are more akin to a cabin on an airline, than on virtually any other train.

To be particularly avoided if possible are the small number of seats parallel to the windows that face inwards, if this is your seat is located here, you will be travelling sideways at more than 250 km/h!

All other seats are open saloon style, there are no conventional compartments with a door to a side corridor on Thalys trains.

The power cars/engines on the Thalys trains can differ, but the type of power car makes no difference to the coaches (refurbished = red doors, unrefurbished = grey doors).

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The Thalys train interior:

A program of work to refresh the interior of Thalys trains has commenced, so if you are in luck you will travel on such a train (we have yet to have had the pleasure).

The refresh is welcome news, as Thalys trains that have yet to be refurbished, reflect their 20 years of service.

Toilets, power sockets, light switches etc can be temperamental, so for journeys by the yet to be refurbished Thalys trains - it’s the high speed that provides any wow factor.

You won’t know if you will be travelling on one of the modernised trains when booking a ticket - but when boarding, if the door is painted is red, then you’re in luck!

The trains yet to be refurnished have grey doors, while those that have been refreshed have red doors.

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RESERVATIONS:

Seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets for journeys by Thalys train.

Rail pass users will need to have made reservations prior to boarding (see below).

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BOARDING:

Aim to be at the station a minimum of 20 mins before departure.

Security checks, including airport style luggage screening, are now carried out prior to before boarding Thalys trains

It is your responsibility to allow enough time to pass through the checks, the train won't wait if you are still in line waiting for your bag to pass through security.

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 TRAVEL WITH BIKES:

We hesitated before against a tick in the 'Bikes on Board box' - because the only means of transporting a bike on a Thalys train is if it's folded or disassembled and placed in a packing case no more 120 cm high by 90 cm wide.

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USING RAIL PASSES

If you will be travelling with a Eurail or InterRail pass, you will need to make a reservation prior to boarding.

They can be booked online here.

Ideally arrange this before the day of travel, as rail pass reservations on Thalys trains can sell out.

Some welcome news is that the rail pass reservation fees for Thalys trains have been reduced and the charges have become easier to understand.

Previously the rail pass fees compared to the cost of the cheapest point-2-point tickets, so varied according to the journey you were making.

But now the price is fixed depending on how many countries you will be travelling through – though as can be seen, the rail pass reservation fees for Thalys trains are still comparatively expensive.

The new fees (in either direction) are:

Paris – Bruxelles/Antwerp/Liege.
2nd class: €20
1st class: €30

Paris – Aachen/Koln/Dusseldorf/Essen
2nd class: €25
1st class: €35

Paris – Rotterdam/Schiphol/Amsterdam
2nd class: €25
1st class: €35

Lille - Rottterdam/Schiphol/Amsterdam
2nd class: €15
1st class: €25

Bruxelles/Antwerpen - Rottterdam/Schiphol/Amsterdam
2nd class: €15
1st class: €25

Bruxelles/Liege - Aachen/Koln/Dusseldorf/Essen
2nd class: €20
1st class: €30

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Catering
Availability
Restaurant
Bistro (Hot Food)
Bar (Cold Food)
Features
Availability
Double Deck
High Speed
Classes
First Class
Première/Premium/1ére
Second Class
Seconde/Standard/2nde

Rail passes and reservations


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Other features


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Countries


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