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Keeping luggage safe on trains

We arrive in Munich next Monday. Although we have traveled by train a bit on other trips, but this time we have four train rides -- Munich to Budapest (7 hours), Prague to Berlin (5 hours), Berlin to Cologne (5 hours), and Cologne to CDG by way of a train change in Brussels (2 hrs + 1.5 hrs). I am having a preemptive fret about keeping our suitcases safe when they will presumably be somewhat distant from our seats in the luggage racks which are near doors. Even if we are seated so that they are visible to us, on a long train ride we will be dozing or reading and there is no way we can keep an eye on them at all times. The bags will be locked and I do have a (very thin) cable-with-lock thing I bought some time ago and have never used. I would appreciate suggestions as to how to use the cable (string bags together? and/or to the luggage rack itself??) and what other steps we should be taking to keep our luggage safe. Of course computers and such will be with us in bags under the seat or overhead.

Posted by
21356 posts

First off, baggage theft is extremely low. Just look at all of the luggage thrown in the luggage bins by the locals. If theft was a serious, do you think they would be doing that?
Second, if you are concerned then use the cable lock to locks your bags together. The concern is that someone would grab your bag and jump off at the station stop. If your bags are cabled together then the second bag suddenly being drugged along with the first bag will serve as an anchor. Kind of hard to grab two bags hooked together. And we do the same thing with the bag on the overhead storage. Use a cable lock to secure it to the rack. Then sleep all you want.

Posted by
4524 posts

I never lock my bags to the bin but I do lock my bags whenever I'm not with them or in transit (even in hotel rooms). While not foolproof, it prevents a casual and quick pillage through them. If you are keeping valuable items with you, there really is no need to worry about the other luggage. And the trains you are likely on will likely have few stops (versus local milk trains). Those are harder for your common thief to board and try and swipe bags. Doze away!

Posted by
12806 posts

If you already have the cable, go ahead and use it to secure your bags to the rack (string through the handles of both and then around anything stationary.) We have a similar, retractable cable that we use on some trains, and it just provides a little extra peace of mind.

While I will agree that baggage theft is very rare and much more likely to occur on regional commuter trains, we are cautious with our carry-ons as well as it would be particularly easy for a smaller item to be lifted from an overhead if we're asleep. No paranoia here, really, but if I'm know I'm not going to be paying attention, I'll put my small bag under my seat and stick my foot through the strap. It's all about those ounces of prevention which make us individually comfortable. :O)

No worries: go and have a good time!

Posted by
2170 posts

I imagine all train lines are different but on OBB in Austria the luggage area was in the middle of the trains. I just locked my bags but did not bother with using the cable I had since I was sitting right across from the luggage area. Even if I wasn't I didn't feel that it was necessary. The train was half empty (Vienna to Budapest) so I was able to sit my carry-on bag on the seat next to me, though it was locked as well. Anything truly valuable was in my purse and that went with me to the bathroom.

Posted by
11613 posts

I agree with Emma about the cables. If you do use them, practice at home to be familiar with how to unlock and unhook them - even more annoying to other passengers trying to get off the train is someone holding up the luggage retrieval process when the train stop is only a couple of minutes.

I put my luggage at the end of the car, in the overhead (usually someone else volunteers to hoist it, I can't put it up but I can drag it down) area, in the middle of the car if there's a rack, in the A-shape space between back-to-back seats. I really don't worry about it. My daybag/messenger bag are with me at my seat. A carry-on bag (if it's not stuffed) can fit under some train seats.

After hauling my simple 21" rolling carryon for almost three months, anyone who wants it would be doing me a favor.

Posted by
2081 posts

Faith,

What i would do is to not have anything of value in the bags. Anything of value woukd be on or near me.

Depending on the luggage size you can stowe it above you or some times between back facing seats. If you decide to stowe your luggage at the end, then get a seat nearby facing them so you can keep an eye on them.

Happy trails

Posted by
21356 posts

I have seen many jumpy American tourists that could not relax on a train. Everything the train stopped they jumped up, ran to the luggage area, or sat awkwardly on their seat watching their luggage. It is not a big deal to have a touch of security with your luggage so you can relax and look out the window and enjoy the train. If I want a lot of stress, I will take a plane. Two-thirds of reason for train travel is the relaxing ride, use the restroom, wonder down to the bar, etc. We have used a cable lock for years with no problems for ourselves or fellow travelers. When we put our luggage in the storage bin we make a point of arranging our bags in a corner or another out of the way place. It may mean moving someone else's luggage a bit to make room for our two bags. Lock them together and push the bulk of the cable out of sight so it is not obvious that the bags are hooked together. We don't lock them to the bin because something could happen to the locks which would mean that our luggage was attached forever to that train. Worse situation, I could carry both bags off hooked together. We always make a note of the stop just before our final stop and the time between the stops. With about ten minutes to go, we gather our seat stuff, hit the luggage bin and untangle our bags and we are ready to go when the train stops. Some of you are making this much more complicated than it needs to be.

Posted by
484 posts

Frank, you raise a good point about locks failing and having luggage secured to the train. I never thought of that. Thanks.

Posted by
186 posts

Thanks everyone! I like the idea of knowing which stop is just before ours. Anyone have any idea how to find that in English? DB website is in German once I get off the main pages. I see ICE on our first set of tickets, but when I click where I see ICE I just get a mishmash of a map on which I can see Munich and Salzburg with an arrow pointing towards Budapest. What I'd like to see is something that has Munich at 9:34 followed by a list of cities and times ending with Keleti station in Budapest at 16:49. There must be somewhere I can see a list and timetable of stops. Maybe that info is available at the train station in booklet form?

Posted by
6372 posts

It looks like that train is a direct one from Munich to Budapest, no other stops. Just check the time when it gets close to the scheduled arrival time. You will probably see many people getting up and gathering their luggage about 10 mins before arrival.

Posted by
186 posts

Thanks for the info -- where did you find that? I'd like to be able to check the other legs of my trip.

Posted by
6372 posts

http://www.bahn.de/i/view/USA/en/index.shtml

Just input Munchen HBF for the 'from' station and Budapest Keleti for the 'to' station. Input your date and put in 9:00 for departure time and the first train that comes up is the 9:34 - under the column titled CHG you'll see 0 (no train changes).

Posted by
18064 posts

Every train I have been on has at least had a rack for luggage directly above the seat. My regulation carryon fit easily in the overhead rack, where it was easy to watch.

Actually, on almost all trains, they were not full and there was room for my luggage on the seat next to me.

Posted by
7979 posts

Some trains (like the ICE) have space behind the seats for larger suitcases, but for smaller bags, there is space over the seat. If you have a seat with no space, or your bag is too big for the overhead rack, the racks at the end of the train are fine. I have never worried about someone stealing my suitcase and I don't have it locked either. At stations, if you feel like getting up to keep an eye on it, then do so if it makes you feel better, or lock it to the rack. Have to say I have never seen anyone do this though.

Posted by
12040 posts

Most of the ICE trains in Germany have an extra luggage rack in the middle of each carriage.

Put your luggage on the rack, relax, and don't think about it until you reach your destination. Luggage theft, particularly on long-distance trains, is excedingly rare. And in the few cases were it does occur, the theft is usually "targeted", where they know in advanced that a specific passenger is carrying something of high value. A thief isn't going to buy an expensive ICE ticket just to grab a random bag full of tourists' clothes.

Posted by
8889 posts

Faith. How to see all the stops for a train on the bahn.de website:
1) Look up a train from A to B. It will show you a list of options with the number of changes for each option.
2) Just to the left of each option is a small orange square with a white arrow. Click on this for your chosen option.
3) It nows shows in details the train or trains. It lists where and when you have to change. Against each train is a train number, for example "IC123" or "RE4567".
4) Click on this train number. It now shows all the stops for the train, from beginning to end (not just from where you get on to where you get off), together with the arrival and departure time at each stop.

On a long journey I sometimes print out this list and keep it with me. I can then keep track of where I am, and if we are running late or on time.

Posted by
26448 posts

To elaborate on Nancy's answers, yes there are no changes of train required, but there are a considerable number of stops along the way where the train stops at stations to allow passengers the chance to board and alight from the train. For the 9:34 it is:

München Hbf Tu, 07.10.14 dep 09:34 12 RJ 63 railjet
Salzburg Hbf dep 11:08 4CF
Linz Hbf dep 12:15

St.Pölten Hbf dep 13:05 3
Wien Westbahnhof dep 13:48 6
Wien Meidling dep 14:02 8
Hegyeshalom dep 14:58

Mosonmagyarovar dep 15:05

Györ dep 15:22

Tatabanya dep 15:56

Budapest-Kelenföld dep 16:33

Budapest-Keleti Tu, 07.10.14 arr 16:49

Each of these towns is a stop, and if you look at the website you will see much neater columns, but the first is the name of the stop; if 2 or more words it is usually the town and then the station name in the town, for example Wien Melding is Melding station in Vienna. Note that the train first calls at Wien (Vienna) at Wien Westbahnhof (at 13:48 or 1:48 pm) and then at Wien Melding at 14:02, 14 minutes later. That's important when getting on or off, just like at Budapest - yours is the last stop, 16 minutes after Budapest-Kelenföld, so don't go getting off at the wrong Budapest station. The 3rd column is the platform number so you can see that the normal platform to join the train at Munich Hbf is platform 12, and you can see that it is a Railjet and the train number is 63.

Other information is also available about that train, viz.:
business-compartment, mobile on-board service (snacks and beverages), space for wheelchairs, Wheelchair space - For advance notification, call +43 (0) 5 1717, Vehicle-mounted access ramp for wheelchair users, WC accessible for wheelchair, handy/quiet zones, Children's cinema


All this is available by clicking on the orange/red right hand arrow. Notice that the arrow changes to a downward pointing orange/red arrow and all that information pops up. So while you have no changes the train will stop 10 times on the way.

Now, while that is all shown, click on the number RJ63 and even more goodies come up, and now you can see everything that that train going to do including arrival times as well as departure times and more information about what is available on board the train.

Back to the screen we were using above, and you can see a map icon you can click on (scroll down to see the map of the route, and an icon for station information with station goodies there.

Gute reise....

Posted by
26448 posts

Now that I have typed all that in I see that Chris F has beaten me to the punch again. Thanks Chris F.

Posted by
6372 posts

Thanks Nigel. Duh (slapping forehead), don't know what I was thinking, just had it in my head about train changes, not boarding stops. I apologize Faith for leading you astray. Listen to the train guys.

Posted by
186 posts

OMG! You guys are great! I am so glad my train safety question morphed into a tutorial on what other information is available on the DB website. Didn't know any of that other stuff was there! Between the maps and the list of stops I'm all set. And I LOVE knowing when my train is arriving from its previous stops and knowing that I have almost 25 minutes to get settled in Munich, but only 7 minutes at one of the other stations. Thanks so much! Now if the last couple of days trying to get my business shut down for a couple of weeks doesn't kill me first, I'm all ready for my vacation.

Posted by
18064 posts

A thief isn't going to buy an expensive ICE ticket just to grab a random bag full of tourists' clothes.

Well put.

Posted by
145 posts

Chris:

That was excellent info! I had - on a different bulletin board - sought help figuring out the stops and the origin and destination of my trains. I did get my questions answered, but none of the answers included the information that you provided, i.e., click on the train. The bahn.de website does not display the trains as clickable, so I didn't even try to click on them. So now, though I previously knew that train ICE941/ICE951 is a combo train, I did not know where the combo was happening. Now that I am seeing both trains individually, I know that it happens at Hamm (West). :-)

Tom:

"A thief isn't going to buy an expensive ICE ticket just to grab a random bag full of tourists' clothes."

ICE is not that expensive if you book early enough. At least as compared to Amtrak or Swiss trains!

Posted by
16878 posts

My experience has been like Lee's - I've always found luggage space over my head or in my seating space, where it really is not hard to keep an eye on. Train travel is one of the main reasons to pack light and to use airline carry-on sized luggage, so that it won't be too hard to get your bag on to the overhead rack, nor to navigate stairs, etc. in the train stations. If your bag is so large that it only fits in larger racks near the doors, then it is too big!

Posted by
13 posts

My husband and I just returned home a couple days ago from our 5 week trip to Europe. We went on 10 different trains from London-Paris-Munich-Zagreb-Belgrade-Budapest-Prague-Leipzig-Berlin-Paris and back to London! I came prepared with locks and cables but never used them once. Some of the trains we were in compartments where we kept our luggage above us. Others were coach style and we still had room to put our 24" bags on top. One train was a sleeper cabin. We never once felt uncomfortable that someone was going to take our luggage. We were more watchful when the trains stopped at other stations along the way as that would be the time someone could hop on the train and grab your bag and hop off. We had a wonderful time and can't wait to do it again!