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when to by train tickets???

I am apprehensive about buying my train tickets before I go to Eruope b/c I don't want to have to commit to dates and times and I am also worried about getting a bad deal over the internet. Would I be okay buying my tickets at my destinations? Such as my ticket from London to Paris, or should I buy that now?
Also, is the underground train from London to Paris inculded in a rail pass? And if I buy a rail pass, does it include all train stations around Europe? Would it be cheaper to buy a rail pass or point to point tickets?

Posted by
6898 posts

If you buy tickets in advance, you will be comitting to a firm travel schedule once you arrive. If you are able to buy discounted tickets, many are non-exchangeable and/or non-refundable.

Whether or not you need to buy a railpass depends on where you are going beyond the London/Paris journey. If that's it, you don't need a pass. On your question about including all train stations in Europe, only the Eurail Global Pass is good througout most of Europe. Other Eurail passes are good only in 3-5 bordering countries depending on the pass. Some of the countries have their own country passes. Note that any Eurail pass covers only the base fare. Many train categories, mainly high-speed trains, will add a seat reservation fee.

Posted by
8700 posts

Larry has given you good information. If you have a Britrail Pass or a Eurail Pass that includes France, only then can you get a special passholders fare on the Eurostar between London and Paris. If you buy a regular ticket on the Eurostar, the longer you wait the more you'll pay. See the fare schedule at

A pass is good on all trains operated by a national rail company in the country (or countries) covered by the pass. It is not good on private railways (like the Circumvesuviana between Naples and Sorrento).

With a pass not only will you need to buy a seat reservation on trains that require them, you will also need to buy a supplement for sleeping accomodations on night trains, the price of which varies according to the type of accommodations you choose.

Click on the Railpasses tab at the top of the page you're reading now. You'll find many pages of information about types of passes and how they work.

Posted by
32053 posts

Holly, regarding purchase of rail tickets, I normally just buy them in Europe at the local stations. I don't see any reason to purchase in advance, and perhaps pay more in the process.

I often buy my tickets for the outgoing journey when I arrive in each city. If I'm travelling with a Rail Pass and need reservations for a particular trip, I buy these in the same fashion (a few days before departure).

Regarding the London-Paris trip on the EuroStar, as the others have indicated I believe there's a small discount offered for Rail pass holders. Information is normally supplied with the Rail passes.

Travelling the European rail systems is usually very easy, but you might find it helpful to read the "Rail Skills" section in Europe Through The Back Door or download the PDF Guide on this website.


Posted by
515 posts

We just returned from 16 day trip. We bought our 2nd class less expensive train tickets in advance after we fully confirmed our stays in each place. We rode Eurostar London to Paris, regional trains to Bayeux and back, then Thalys Paris to Brussels. We were only uncertain of possible day trip to Rouen, so we bought those at the station the morning we decided to go. I think it depends on the time of year; the Eurostar, Bayeux, and Thalys trains were full in mid June, at least in our coach.
Surely wish we had such trains here. They were great. Enjoy!