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When to arrive for train ride?

How much earlier before the ride leaves do we have to get to the station?

Posted by
693 posts

You want to get there in time to find the right platform and maybe the train car you've been assigned, so you can stand at approximately the correct spot on the platform where it will stop. (There are usually signs that tell you and there are numbers on the cars.) Some of the fast trains only stop for three minutes or so. When you get off the train and don't see a door handle or door knob and nobody else is getting off, look for push buttons on the side walls.

Posted by
18690 posts

I guess I'd have to say it depends. It would depend on how prepared I was. I usually know the platform number (available on the Bahn) and the station layout (available from many sources). If it's the first train I'm taking that day, I almost always have to buy a ticket or Länder ticket, but I'm familiar with automats, so that doesn't take much time. I'd say I don't normally "shot" for more than five minutes, but I allow time getting to the station for things to go wrong, so usually I'm a little earlier than five minutes. Even for major stations, which I rarely leave from as a first train of the day, I never allow 30 minutes.

However, if you are new to rail travel, haven't checked out the track numbers and station layout, and don't have a ticket, 30 min seems about right.

I rarely stay within walking distance of a major station. I am more likely coming in on local transportaion. In that case I'm usually at the mercy of their schedule.

BTW, I have never missed a train that I had planned to be on, unless I was on a connecting train that was late (once).

Posted by
39 posts

Thank you for the replies. We leave at 7:15 a.m from Paris Gare de Lyon, and another day from Avignon TGV at 10:15 a.m. Since I am indeed new to this I will plan to get to the station 30 minutes ahead. I do have my tickets.

Posted by
22611 posts

There really is no point in being at the station more than 30 min prior. Generally the track/platform number is not posted until 30 mins prior. Also I do not go down the platform until about five, maybe 10 mins prior to the train's arrival. I like to wait here the top of the platform where I can see the arrival board. While a train may generally use the same platform each time, there is always the possibility of a change just prior to arrival especially in the larger stations. And sometimes it happens in small stations. We arrived once about 45 mins early, train posted for track 5, bought some snacks, wondered down to track 5, right on time the train pulls in and we get on. About 15 minutes later we realized we were headed in the wrong direction. A quick check with another passenger confirmed we were headed in the wrong direction. And this was one of the few times that we did not asked someone standing on the platform if the train was going to XXXX. I always thing it is a good idea to ask someone on the platform if the train is going to XXX.

We recently noticed in Spain that some stations are controlling access to the platform area and you have to show your ticket prior to entering the platform area.

Posted by
18690 posts

"Generally the track/platform number is not posted until 30 mins prior"


We've talked about this before. In Germany, the track number is posted months before. Only once (1988) have I ever had a track number changed on me, and that was less than 5 minutes before the train arrived. In Germany there are signs over the platform giving the train number and destination.

There are also placards in the window showing the destination of that car, but I admit I rarely pay attention to them.

Posted by
80 posts

Kathy -

Gare d'Lyon is a pretty manageable Paris train station. You'll be fine with 30 minutes, though if you slept in and only had 15, you'd still be fine. Walk in, look for a "big departures board," identify your train, notice the track number and head on out to the platform. If that's too complicated, ask at information.

Avignon TGV is tiny. It serves only TGV trains, and is on the outskirts of town. There is a regular bus between the main Avignon station and the TGV station. Once at Avignon TGV, navigation is easy, as there are only a couple of platforms.

Posted by
349 posts

As I understand it a sleeping accommodations are non refundable . so don't cut that connection close at all.

Posted by
13820 posts


If you get to the station around half an hour prior to your scheduled departure, that's fine. At Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est in Paris the platform number won't be posted until 20 mins. prior, normally, not 30 mins. Sometimes, it's only 10 mins and then it's a rush. In Germany it's much can look at the electonic board, or the yellow departure schedule, or listen to the announcements over the loudspeaker if your train is an ICE.

Posted by
30323 posts


I hope this thread is still alive. Gare de Lyon is a funny place. It has two sets of tracks pretty far apart. Yellow numbers at one end and blue letters at the other one.

I'd really recommend getting there ahead. It is true that the platform (track) is often not posted until pretty close to the time, but you never know for sure if you will be blue or yellow. I think the last time we were on the TGV to Nice via Avignon it was Yellow 17.

If you are early you can get the lay of the land, ogle the palm trees, grab a bite because the food on the TGV is fair to ok but expensive, and when the mad scramble to the other end of the station happens you can be in the know.

With TGVs you must travel in the carriage you reserved.

good luck, and enjoy the ride!