We will be traveling in France by train and have some seat reservations on a second class car. I would like to step from the platform right onto the car where we have reserved seats. Is there a way of knowing exactly where each train car will stop?
Actually, Susan, that was a pretty good explanation.
Sharon, go to the top of the Grafitti Wall homepage and click on the tab, Railpasses, then go to Using your Railpass, and follow the link to Boarding and Riding the Train.
Well I probably shouldn't be the first to answer since I'm no expert but every station where we have every taken the train in France they post not only the platform number but also show the various car numbers and where they will stop on the track. They usually have a letter designation so if you are second class the car will have a number 2 and then show the seat numbers for that car. The big board will tell you exactly where to stand for that car with those seat numbers. Hopefully someone else will respond and explain this a little better for you.
Susan, you did great! Just one thing to add:
the diagram of the train will be under a sign in French saying "Composition de train".
You'll probably notice a yellow line all along the platform--stand well back of that, because if a train comes through at high speed that's not stopping at the station you're at, the noise and vibrations/mini shock wave can actually be frightening if you're not expecting it and have your back turned and don't see it coming.
The French are good at letting you know how to board their trains. In Nice there was a rail employee on the platform to organize travelers. It would have been very confusing without him, since there were two parts of the train that coupled there and he knew who should go where. French rail employees commonly speak and understand English, so don't be shy about asking. The board showing the train's composition is very helpful if you arrive in time for getting yourself organized.
Yes, normally everything you need to know will be posted on the overhead boards, but sometimes they are hard to understand.
I always look for a conductor to ask about my car. European trains drop cars in transit and if you are in the wrong car you might travel to the wrong destination. Dont hesitate to ask questions.
Also be sure to note the no smoking cars before you board the train. Even after I sit on the train I ask another passenger if I am in the correct car for my destination.
Carl, all trains are all non smoking .
Further clarification on Susan's explanation. There can be several cars displaying "2", so you should check your reservation for the coach # and also look to see if the car # is displayed on the outside of the car (usually there's some type of identifier, either digital or printed) before you board.
Just a small hijack, but I have not found this to be the case in Germany, have any of you?
It has been my experience that sometimes one gets lucky, but most times, you just get on and wobble through the cars.
The German trains are pretty organized, with the 1st class cars usually being together, followed by the 2nd class cars. The car numbers will be on the outside of the train along with the seat numbers. This information will also be on your ticket if you have a reserved seat. Usually, somewhere along the track in several places there will be a board with pictures of different trains on it. The same trains run the same route, so you can look for your train and it will show you on which area of the track your # car will stop. A, B,C, etc. We found the same thing in Belgium too and if my memory is not failing me, also in France. The picture of the train will also show where the dining car is. If trains are going to be unhooking, they will let you know. If you have reserved seats, they will not have you sitting in a part of the train that will be unhooked. The exception to this will be if they had train problems and need to switch locomotives or something. Doesn't happen very often. I often do not make seat reservations, so then I do have to listen up.