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luggage on trains

We will be travelling on trains in Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Where does one store their luggage - are there overhead bins or storage at the end of cars? Any safety tips? Thanks!

Posted by
798 posts

In Switzerland, it is really going to depend on the type of train you are in, most but not all will have over head luggage racks and it is usually possible as well to store bags between or under the seats. Large cases most often need to be stored at a location close to the main compartment doors either immediately inside the doors or in older carriages outside in the hall way. You should also note that as of last year in Switzerland you may be charged the full fare for any seats you place luggage on!!! Normally this will only happen if the train is very busy and you refuse to move your luggage when asked to do so by the train staff or another passenger. As regards theft, I've been travelling on Swiss trains on a daily basis for the past 20 years and I have only once ever heard anyone complaining about something going missing... in fact most people would not thing twice about going of to the dining car and leaving all their stuff at their seat (myself included).

Posted by
18052 posts

Yes, there are overhead bins. They are open, not like airplane bins. My regulation sized carry-on fits nicely. Larger luggage might not fit as well; larger luggage might be difficult to lift into the bins. And yes, there is room at the ends of the cars to store luggage, but it is an open area, you might want to stay near it, particularly when the train stops at a station. Most of the time, I find room for my bag on the seat next to me. Sometimes there is room on the floor next to or between the seats. Rick suggests to clip the strap to the rack to prevent "grab and run". I don't think that is a problem in Germany. Possibly it's more likely a problem in Italy.

Posted by
1167 posts

An exception might be some of the high speed trains.

Posted by
6898 posts

In Switzerland and Italy, we have always been able to place our regulation carry-on luggage overhead. However, we haven't yet ridden the newer Frecci fast trains in Italy. Being more aerodynamic and sleek to be able to hit up to 180MPH, I'm betting the overhead luggage space is no longer as high or deep. We recently rode the TGV in France and we noticed the smaller and narrower height overhead space on that train. We had to place our luggage at the end of the carriage. My wife and her daughter will be in Italy next year. I'll get the report with pictures. Or, hopefully, more travelers will comment. In Italy, luggage theft does occasionally occur. Anybody can wander the platforms and even get on to the trains. Nobody checks tickets at this point. Before the train departs, the luggage is stolen. No authority seems to check people leaving a train with luggage as it is ready to depart. This can happen at other train stations along the way. Thus, the recommendation to watch you luggage or as mentioned above, attach the strap to the luggage frame.

Posted by
127 posts

In October, I traveled the NTV Italo from Rome to Naples; it's a high-speed train. Its overhead rack easily accommodated my RS 21 inch roll aboard. So did the Austrian Railjet that I took from Salzburg to Budapest two years ago.

Posted by
12040 posts

On Deutsche Bahn's ICE trains, in addition to the overhead racks, there's usually a large rack in the middle of the carriage. I generally ride an ICE about once a month, and I've never seen anyone complain of stolen luggage. Not saying it never happens, but if it does, it's a rare occurrence.

Posted by
31318 posts

JR, You might find it very helpful to have a look at the excellent Man In Seat 61 website, as it provides fantastic information on the luggage storage options on various trains. One point to mention regarding theft of luggage on trains. This doesn't only occur in Italy and countries in the south. I seen it happen in Germany / Austria / Switzerland as well. In one case that I witnessed a year ago, a young couple from the Orient placed a rather large wheelie bag in the "A" between seats, and then went to the dining car. When they returned, the bag was gone. That particular train was going between two countries (Germany - Switzerland as I recall), so Police from two countries walked the length of the train numerous times looking for it, but it was GONE. It's unlikely that other passengers would know who belongs to each bag, so whoever took it wouldn't even be noticed. As I travel solo much of the time, this is one reason I'm not able to go to the dining car. There's no way I'm hauling my entire kit with me! Cheers!

Posted by
75 posts

hello; a lot of replies state about carry-on;however, what about checked size luggage? the 40 lbs size ones? Thank you

Posted by
26359 posts

Lee, Larry, Tom and Jim, all above, all addressed the larger suitcases. I'll do it again - it depends on the different configuration of the cars. Some have luggage areas in the middle of the car, probably just the width of a larger but not huge suitcase. It replaces a row of seats so is just the size that will take that space. These are reasonably rare. Sometimes you can fit a case into the "A" shape between the backs of back-to-back seats. Depends on configuration and the size of your trunk. Sometimes there is a luggage area just inside the entrance to cars. Usually not. Sometimes you can leave the luggage next to the door. What you must not do is block the passageways and especially never block the doors at the ends of the train used by traincrew. You brung it - you tote it. There will be nobody to help you so be sure that your 40 pounder is something you are comfortable lifting up into the car, lifting down, and lifting onto and next to other bags in the luggage area. Train steps, especially in Italy, are very steep and high. On Regionale trains especially, and there is often a metal bar vertically in the step which gets right in the way of large luggage. Most people who use trains regularly learn to pack light. Very large luggage on a train is just a pain in the neck, for both the people trying to hump it about and the other passengers who have to try to get past the roadblock.

Posted by
467 posts

We are all travelling with only a carry on size bag. Should be to a minimum at the very least!

Posted by
26359 posts

JR, sorry to caught your eyes with the above, I was responding to the individual who recently asked about the 40 pound luggage.

Posted by
12040 posts

"Very large luggage on a train is just a pain in the neck, for both the people trying to hump it about and the other passengers who have to try to get past the roadblock." Amen to that! That's the main reason I always purchase a reservation on Deutsche Bahn ICE trains. When occupancy is high, you can stand at the end of the carriage, waiting for the roadblock to clear, while watching all the available unreserved seats fill up as people enter from the other side. You may be able to fit a 40 lb suitcase on the rack in the middle of the carriage, but don't count on it.

Posted by
12372 posts

I've fitted baggage larger (within reason) than carry-on on the overhead bins with no problems. Make sure you don't carry bricks or other heavy construction material because it will be hard to lift it up. On second thought, maybe you should transport several bricks or something that heavy while traveling South (in Italy). That will make it harder for people to run away with it. For some reason peoples from the North often seem to think that peoples in the South are not to be trusted (I'll call that Septentrio-centric bias). Northern Europeans have even called the Southern Europeans PIIGS recently. Yes, Ireland is a Mediterranean island now.

Posted by
2788 posts

My wife and I go to Europe every summer for a month and when traveling on transportation that requires us to park our two RS 21" roller bags anywhere besides at our seats, we use two cable chains. One to tie the two bags together and the other to attached the two to a fixed object on the transportation. Never had a problem doing that in the last 10 years.

Posted by
977 posts

Bike chain with lock is a simple and hassle free way to secure your luggage. Sit back, relax and enjoy your train travels.

Posted by
9110 posts

What's with all this chaining things down business? Travel light and wash stuff in the sink so you have room/weight for manacles? Exactly who is going to swipe a bunch of dirty socks and clothes that don't fit? The visual picture is of a bunch of nervous nellies sitting upright in their seats, with chins a quiver, clutching their goods. I was trying to turn a buck on the October trip. Which meant that the car trunk had photography equipment worth close to half the value of the cheapo rental. Which also meant that I had to hike a gazillion miles and would be gone about half that many hours. Which also meant that to avoid hiking two gazillion miles, I'd have to park next to a farm gate on a wee road so people could get by. Which also meant that I'd screw over Farmer Brown if he needed to get in or out of his field. Which also meant that I left the sucker unlocked with the keys on the seat since I'm a good citizen. It's not exactly like I've never done this before. Often the car has been wiggled around. A couple of times there's been a note of thanks in one language or another. The world is not full of crooks. What's next, chaining the dry cleaning to the trailer hitch while you run in the grocery store? Welding u-bolts to the overhead bins on airplanes? End of observation. Amen.

Posted by
977 posts

Ed you are a unique traveller. I really enjoying reading your insightful and wry comments. We usual travel for 5 - 6 weeks at a time. We share one large case between us. However, I disagree with your take on this question. I'm far from being a 'Nervous Nellie'. I just believe in not 'giving a sucker an even break'. Having travelled thousand of kilometres through Europe by train, taking a few seconds to secure our luggage in the baggage hold gives me peace of mind to move around the train and enjoy the journey. Having witnessed a couple lose their bags from a luggage hold on a Spanish train, reinforced my view.

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi, While I don't believe in traveling light, (you pack twice as much for 8 weeks as you would for 4 weeks), still a 40 pounder is in my view way too much. My roller case doesn't go over 20 lbs. whether it's going to be one, two or three monthe. Plus I have a ca.12 lbs shoulder sack. Throwing a 20 pounder on top of an ICE or IC rack is quick and easy, as long as it fits on that rack above. The other main issue...get on and get off that train quickly with the luggage.

Posted by
2353 posts

Ed - how fortunate for you that you have not had any luggage stolen - yet. If a cable lock gives someone peace of mind to leave their luggage and go to a snack or bar car for a while that's great - doesn't make them a "Nervous Nellie" - just prudent. The minute it takes to tether bags is well spent versus the hours & hassle of losing your luggage. For me everything of value is in my backpack which never leaves my side but it would really suck to have to replace luggage, clothing, toiletries, etc, in the middle of a vacation.

Posted by
9110 posts

If it gives you peace of mind, then for Pete's sake do it. I've got as many quirks as the next guy (which I ain't fessing up to), but there just isn't a boogey man behind every tree and lamp post - - which you would come to believe if you picked through most of the Helpline posts. The safety-in-travel concern is over-exaggerated based on anecdotal incidents somebody heard about from somebody who ..... Back when we were kids, a buddy of mine witnessed a very well-done assassination in a saloon in Marseille. This doesn't mean that we now sit with our backs to the wall and a pistol under our hat in every bar in the world. If I had to worry about everything that could go wrong, I'd just sit home and watch Doomesday Preppers on the History Channel.

Posted by
26359 posts

While I realize that the question was asked about Germany, Switzerland and Italy, I will just advise people using British trains to be very careful about using cables, or anything else, to secure luggage to a British train especially if the luggage is then left unattended. Train staff in the countries of Germany, Switzerland or Italy may not be concerned about possible security concerns but I can assure you that on UK trains a member of train crew seeing such a thing (or having it reported to them) might well declare a security alert. This might well involve evacuating the train, involvement of the security forces and removal and/or destruction of the items. The UK is very sensitive to terror threats and frequent announcements are made in train stations and onboard telling the public not to leave unattended luggage or parcels and about the consequences if they do. Please consider carefully before doing such a thing. And please never, ever attach anything to a train near a door or in a vestibule. If the train needed to be evacuated for any reason something in the way that could not be moved could cost lives. We hope it would never be the case - but if it were, would you want to be named as the cause? I speak as someone involved in the daily running of trains.

Posted by
31318 posts

Nigel, Those are excellent points! Those are one reason I don't chain my Pack to the luggage rack and then go to the dining car.

Posted by
467 posts

We are back, and had absolutely no trouble on any of the many many trains we took with our luggage. We always managed to have it overhead from where we sat. Really never worried about it at all and am glad we got all the great advice here. Thanks everyone!

Posted by
31318 posts

JR, You're back??? Already!!!! Be sure to post a short summary in the "Trip Reports" section.

Posted by
467 posts

Yes - we were gone 10 days - short but awesome. Already planning our next one! Thanks for all your help and advice!