We are going from Brugge to Paris on a Saturday morning in July. We have already booked our train ticket; we have a train booked from Brugge to Brussels, and then the Thalys from Brussels to Paris. We only have 20 minutes between our 2 trains, which worries me because I know there can be some delays. Our booking includes a specific train number, but I was wondering if it was ok to get on an earlier train from Brugge to Paris, since I keep reading everywhere that Belgium trains don't need reservations.
The answer usually depends on how you bought your ticket, and more detail about what it says. For instance, if you bought a Thalys ticket from Rail Europe, and requested a route from Brugge to Paris, then your itinerary may indicate a suggested departure time from Brugge to Brussels, but that is not reserved. In that case, you actually board any train departing Brugge within a day of your Thalys departure and show your Thalys ticket (reserved from Brussels to Paris) on board that train. The Any Belgian Station feature works the same way for Thalys tickets purchased from other sources. The only way your Brugge-Brussels timing might be locked in is if you bought it as a separate ticket, but it's still unlikely.
20 minutes is meant to work, but missing the reserved train would require buying a new ticket, so allowing yourself more time does make sense.
It's just one ticket, bought from SBCB Europe, which means we should be ok to board an earlier train. Thank you so much for your reply!!
No reservations or restrictions on Belgian domestic trains, even if you bought it through Thalys.
From our experiences last month riding the local Belgian trains (Brussels->Ghent, Ghent->Ieper and return, and Ghent->Brugge) you will likely not even be checked for a ticket until you are on the Thalys.
Awesome! Thank you all so much for your help!