Trains between Mainz, Köln, Amsterdam, Paris

In about a month my husband and I will be starting our journey in Mainz, Germany from there we will go to Amsterdam via Köln. Then later from Amsterdam Centraal to Paris Nord. All high speed trains... My question is how early do we arrive at each station with luggage before our departure times. I think/hope we will be able to print tickets using DB Bahn for the Mainz -> Köln -> Amsterdam. Then I think we print a confirmation that we scan at the station to get tickets from Amsterdam -> Paris using nshispeed.com. Can anyone confirm that either of those assumptions is true? Not sure if either of them add time to the amount of time we should allow. Also, what will we do with our larger pieces of luggage? Will they be secure or do we need to take any particular precautions? Thanks for any help!
Amy

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2824 posts

>My question is how early do we arrive at each station with luggage before our departure times.< Usually, you only have to arrive early enough to get on the train before it leaves. Realistically, allow about 10-15 minutes to find the platform and get on the train without running, but if you have less, you'll still make it. The big exceptions are Eurostar between London and Paris or Brussels (strict 30 minute advance check in and security check required) and AVE in Spain (security check, doors on train close 1-2 minutes before departure). Of course, if you have any special needs, or if you want to buy food, use a bathroom, etc, you'll want to arrive earlier. >>I think/hope we will be able to print tickets using DB Bahn for the Mainz -> Köln -> Amsterdam.<< Yes, you book on http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en and print out your ticket. On the train, you show the printout and the credit card used to purchase it to the conductor. They scan your ticket, swipe your card, and you're set. Your printout is your ticket - no extra steps needed. >Then I think we print a confirmation that we scan at the station to get tickets from Amsterdam -> Paris using nshispeed.com.< Don't know about nshispeed.com, but on this route you can go to http://www.thalys.com/nl/en/ and print out your tickets. I think that, like on DB, these act as actual tickets and no extra steps are needed, but I'm not sure. Do be sure to book these as soon as possible. Prices on these routes only go up (shockingly so, in the case of Amsterdam to Paris). continued..

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2824 posts

continued.. >Also, what will we do with our larger pieces of luggage? Will they be secure or do we need to take any particular precautions?< There is luggage storage in open racks above your seat. If your luggage won't fit there or if it is too heavy to lift, there is a luggage storage rack at the end (sometimes at the middle) of each car. While some enjoy getting paranoid about that (talk of securing it with locks and so on), I just make sure no valuables are in it, and keep an eye on it while the train is in the station (it's hard to steal a suitcase from a moving train). High speed trains don't make that many stops compared to local runs, so you don't have to worry every five minutes. Real valuables should be with you at your seat (in your lap, on the floor at your feet, or in the overhead rack), where you can keep a steady eye on them. Also, you can sometimes put luggage on the floor between rows of seats. Here's a video from Rick, with some train basics: http://tinyurl.com/ac82c92

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9094 posts

Deutsche Bahn ICE trains have an extra luggage rack in the middle of most carriages. Luggage theft on a limited stop, high price trains is a negligible problem.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2824 posts

>Do you not show your passport or go through security at all?< Nope, except for the Eurostar (passport and security) and AVE (security, although not as intense as at an airport). All of your trains are between countries in the Schengen Zone, so they are like domestic travel in the US, with no routine passport checks. And they're all EU, so no routine customs checks. >How big is the space above seats for luggage? Carry on size? Probably not big enough for a 26" suitcase, right?< It depends on the particular train. I have a 24 inch suitcase; often it fits in the overhead rack, but sometimes it doesn't. Then there's the issue of weight. Fully loaded, my bag can be hard to heft overhead; I wouldn't want to wrestle a larger and heavier one overhead.

Posted by Tim
Kings Mountain, NC, u\
14 posts

I have to say. If it does come to you missing a train, be patient, they run often. I have gotten the platform 30 secs before train leaves. It is no fun. So I would agree with others try to get there at least 15 min early.
Watch the stops the can be deceptive "Basel Nord"stop got my wife last summer when it was supposed to be "Basel Hpbf" Some tips if you have never been to Koln. If you have time between trains go outside and at least look at the Cathedral its breath taking. Traveling from Mainz to Koln, hopefully you will travel during the day. Stay awake you will travel along the Rhine, which has beautiful castles (22+ not all viewable from the train) and towns along the route. Amsterdam: Watch out for bicycles and trains while crossing the street. Bicycles are like bees there.

Posted by Andreas
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2511 posts

There is a problem with Mainz Hbf, the central train station in Mainz. This problem fortunately is limited to Mainz. It's a technical problem but as a consequence for over a month now hardly any trains have been able to get to and from it. So they get rerouted. Therefore, just in the case of Mainz, plan to be there an hour prior to the scheduled departure time of your train. You may have to be bussed to another station. Other than that I always plan to get to a station 15 minutes prior to the train's departure time just so I don't have to run to get to the platform or the exact position on the platform where my carriage is expected to stop.

Posted by Amy
Farmland, Indiana, USA
22 posts

Thanks for the replies everyone! Harold, thanks for the ticket help! I'm glad it will be that easy! Do you not show your passport or go through security at all? I sure hope Mainz Hbf stops acting up before we get there. I think we'll bein and out of that station at least 6 times... How big is the space above seats for luggage? Carry on size? Probably not big enough for a 26" suitcase, right? Amy

Posted by Amy
Farmland, Indiana, USA
22 posts

Tim - we are stopping in Koln for a few hours especially to see the Cathedral! What else should we see in our 2-3 hours or is that only enough time for the Cathedral? We are spending a day on the Rhine and REALLY excited about it! I can't wait to see all of the castles and half timbered towns. I hope I can stand carrying my heavy DSLR so I can get some amazing pictures! "Some tips if you have never been to Koln. If you have time between trains go outside and at least look at the Cathedral its breath taking. Traveling from Mainz to Koln, hopefully you will travel during the day. Stay awake you will travel along the Rhine, which has beautiful castles (22+ not all viewable from the train) and towns along the route.

Posted by Tim
Kings Mountain, NC, u\
14 posts

Sorry for such a late reply. I would not venture to far from the HBF with just a few hours. Also, if you know what day you will be travelinig into the cities look up where you might be able to find local markets that pop up on the weekends. Its a good way to meet friendly people and really see and taste what they have to offer.