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Are passengers allowed to board a fully booked train?

Do they allow passengers to board a train and stand during the trip when the seats are all taken?

Posted by
10344 posts

It would help us to give you better answers if you say which country(ies) you're talking about.

Posted by
672 posts

I'm not sure what train you're referring to, but on a recent trip from Berlin to Dresden, our train was full of people who had no seats. We were very thankful to have seat reservations for this very-full train as many people were stuck sitting on the floor in the aisles.

Posted by
3110 posts

We've observed this on long distance trains Italy to Germany and Vienna to Budapest. We've also seen this on regional trains in Germany and France. I never knew what those little flaps were in the aisles of compartment cars until we saw people pulling them down to sit on.

The reasons that we've seen such crowded situations on trains were popular travel/holiday dates such as August 1 or 15, a big festival somewhere on the route, or a prior train broken down. We ALWAYS get a seat reservation if this is possible for journeys of more than about an hour.

Posted by
49 posts

Kent and Nancy, I'm talking about returning from Chamonix, France at the end of our Alpine tour to Murren, Switzerland. There are several transfers from Bellegarde (Ain) to Murren BLM that one has to take, and one leg (from Bern to Interlaken Ost) is flagged with 'high occupancy expected' on the SBB timetable.

Posted by
5697 posts

Trains which require reservations, no. Regional trains, yes. AND if a seat is reserved (see the signs above the seat) even if it looks empty you will have to give it up when the ticketed passenger gets on at a later stop.

Posted by
18301 posts

I'll add to what Laura said, express trains in Germany (ICE/IC/EC) that don't require reservations (almost all express trains, except ICE Sprinters). Those you can get on without a reservation, but you might have to stand (it happened to me once) if all seats are occupied. That train was packed, but less than half the seats were actually reserved.

Posted by
12883 posts

On the regional trains in France you can encounter in the summer situations where if you're lucky enough to get a seat (remember no reservations, ie a free for all), there might people standing over you literally squeezed in like a sardine can, luggage and all.

The ICE and IC trains in Germany and Austria can be so packed too with people standing the entire route, sitting on the floor next to the WC, luggage included. I don't mind with out luggage, a lot less cumbersome, There have been times I've stood one or two hours on German trains.

Posted by
16765 posts

You are traveling mostly on regional trains which don't have reservations, or Swiss IC trains that don't have reservations. If you look at later trains, what is the occupancy then? Bern to Interlaken Ost trains go every half hour. You might have to make an extra connection at Spiez, but if more room is important, consider it. You might also be an extra half hour at Interlaken Ost. Remember, in Switzerland there is always at least one train per hour in each direction, unless your talking late night.

Posted by
4684 posts

The main railway system where people aren't allowed on trains at all without reserved seats, except in the event of serious disruption to the service, is TGV and Corail long-distance services in France.

Posted by
8889 posts

Jo, there are trains you book, and trains you don't book.

1) Trains you have to book, for example French TGV's and Italian High speed trains. In this case you can't (without getting a fine) get on without first having a booking, whether it is full or not.

2) Trains where you can pre-book seats, but don't have to. For example a German ICE or long distance trains in the UK. They never book all the seats, and the are always some "no shows" who get on a different train to the one they booked. So yes, you can always get on, and if you are really unlucky and it is very busy you may have to stand.

3) Trains where you cannot book. Local trains / regional trains / suburban trains / métro, all domestic trains in Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands. This is basically most of the trains in Europe. You cannot book, so the train can never be "fully booked". As above, you can always get on, and if you are really unlucky and it is very busy you may have to stand.

"Do they allow passengers to board a train and stand during the trip when the seats are all taken?" - There is no "they". There is nobody to check who gets on a train, in most cases you can walk in off the street and get onboard a train and nobody stops you. Tickets are (again in most cases) checked by the on-board ticket inspector while the train is moving.

Posted by
592 posts

I hope that jo_pie never goes to India. The concept of a train being full doesn't apply. There is always room on the roof, or hanging on the outside.

Posted by
21710 posts

In Italy all the trains, except the Regionale trains, a seat reservation is absolutely required. I think it is safe to say that only Italy has this system. Most of the other European trains systems uses a mix of reserved and non-reserved seats.

And, as the others have answered jo-pie, no one controls boarding on a train. As long as you have a ticket for that train you can get on. And if you do not have a seat reservation or cannot find a vacant seat, you stand until a seat becomes available. On trains with mixed seating understanding if a seat is reserved can be a little tricky. Sometimes a light is used, other systems are pieces of paper. It is possible that for a trip from A to D, the seat is reserved from B to C but open the other times.

Posted by
27714 posts

.....Italy..... This is one benefit of having a Eurail pass where you can hop on any train. If you don't have a Eurail pass, you won't be able to purchase tickets for booked trains.

Sorry, that's just flat wrong.

A Eurailpass is no magic wand. If a train requiring reservations - anything over a Regionale or Regionale Veloce - is sold out, having a Eurailpass does not allow to board it, nor does it require the station staff to issue a reservation to you.

No reservation on a higher train is a fine - a big one. In cash. Right then. No cash? The train police may march you to a Bancomat.

Posted by
12883 posts

"...hop on any train." As correctly pointed out above, that is not the case in Italy, nor in France for that matter. Hopping on any train is valid depending on the country or which type of train you're doing that and when, ie, not on a night train. Any night train, EN or CNL the reservation is mandatory. Showing the controller your reservation or Pass, which is s/he going to look at first and stamp/click? . It's the reservation for that seat you are occupying. I've done this a number of times. Always the reservation was checked first.

Hopping on any train basically applies to Germany and Austria, day trains, ICE (who ever sees a splinter train?), IC, RJ and regional trains.

Posted by
2580 posts

the thread has veered away from this very basic, important question:

Do they allow passengers to board a train and stand during the trip when the seats are all taken?

Posted by
8889 posts

Phred, that was answered early on, though it may have got lost since.

  • If it is a bookings-only train, then you aren't allowed to travel on that train without a booking, whether it is full or not.
  • If it is a train where you don't have to book, you can get on if you have a valid ticket, seats are first come first served, and if there are no seats you stand.

And, in fact your question, and jo_pie's original post are based on a false premise "Do they allow passengers to board a train and stand during the trip" - there is no "they" who allow you or stop you from getting on the train.