Please sign in to post.

Why are Train Schedules for Late December not Out? And advice needed.

Hi everyone,

I am planning to go to France and Spain between 12/13 and 1/2. I thought train tickets can be purchased starting 90 days in advance, but I can't seem to search for trains during my travel dates on Bahn.De or TVG-Europe.com. They only have trains through 12/12.

Am I doing anything wrong? I want to book the trains early to get cheap rates and also reserve the major train connections listed below.

Also, I would also appreciate if anyone has thoughts on which of the following trains are busy, and thus need to be booked sooner rather than later.

1.) Sun. 12/13 (morning): Paris to Caen, then Caen to Bayeux. (I'm guessing Caen to Bayuex does not need to be booked)

2.) Wed. 12/16 (2 pm): Bayeux to Colmar.

3.) Fri. 12/18 (night train, 9 pm): Colmar to Nimes / Arles

4.) Mon. 12/21 or Tue. 12/22: Avignon or Aix-en-Provence to Paris.

5.) Mon. 12/28 (night train): Paris to Barcelona.

The above trains are available in the first half of December, so I am guessing that they are available in the second half too. But I can't tell right now since the schedule does not seem to be out.

Thanks!

Eric

Posted by
18528 posts

All of the tickets are for travel in France (entirely outside of Germany). You won't find those tickets available online from Bahn.de. You might find that if you call Euraide.com, they can sell you all those tickets from their German Rail ticket terminal in Munich. They'll charge you $50 for the service and send them to you by mail.

Posted by
8700 posts

As you've noticed, current timetables are effective through 12 December. New train timetables go into effect twice a year, in June and December. Most national rail companies will post their new timetables in late October or early November. In most cases the schedules will remain unchanged. Keep checking the tgv-europe site about once a week.

Posted by
18528 posts

raileurope.co.uk is still RailEurope, that French Rail owned reseller of European rail tickets. Unlike German Rail (Bahn.de), which sells tickets online for the same price or less (promo tickets) than the counter price in Europe, RailEurope adds a markup to every ticket they write. Compare RE UK prices with SNCF prices. If the difference is more than $50, you could save with Euraide.

Also, I don't think RailEurope will get you those promotional ticket that you can only get online from SNCF.

Posted by
70 posts

As fas as I remember, last year, winter schedules were released from DB on 12 October.

Posted by
18528 posts

RailEurope.com is one of THE most expensive sources for tickets.

I can't speak for getting tickets online from the SNCF website (maybe others here can come up with a comparison), but from the Bahn, for instance, the most you would ever pay online for Frankfurt to Munich would be $132 (€91 w/ reserv). That's in an ICE. A slightly slower IC/EC would cost at most $107 (€73 w/ reserv.). If you purchase ahead, which you have to do with RailEurope, you can get the ICE ticket w/ reserv for $45 (€31). Those tickets can be paid for by CC and printed out immediately at home.

For the same ICE ticket, R/E charges $163 ($145 plus $18 S&H), plus you have to wait for the ticket to get there in the mail.

For a comparison of French Rail to R/E, see here.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks everyone for your helpful replies! I will check the schedule again when it comes out later this month.

Am I correct that TGV-Europe.com is the cheapest place to get tickets? I don't think I am interested in a rail pass since I'm reserving way in advance and I don't like the hassle of having to reserve your seats on top of having the pass.

From the link that Lee posted, it sounds like you can book on TGV-Europe, then print out the reservation numbers, and then pick up the tickets in France. To do this, I read somewhere that you have to pretend you're from the UK (and thus pay in Pounds), or else it will kick you to Rail Europe's site. Is that correct?

Lastly, am I correct that the trains I listed (at least those within France) can be booked on TGV-Europe? These are long distance trains, so I'm thinking it would not been booked with SNCF. For the Paris to Barcelona leg, it sounds like I have to book at the Spanish rail site?

Thanks again!

Eric

Posted by
80 posts

TGV-europe.com will be the cheapest place to purchase MOST of those ticekts, because that is the international portal to SNCF (the French train system).

HOWEVER, as an American, you have to play some tricks so you don't get redirected to raileurope.com.

Read these instructions:

http://www.seat61.com/France-trains.htm#How%20to%20use%20voyages-sncf.com

Most important advice - make the system think you're British and select the pick up at the station option.

Posted by
80 posts

In regards to the Paris-Barcelona night train, be aware that this train is an upscale Hotel train. If you are looking for a budget couchette on this train, think again. Only 4 berth couchettes are available, and they're quite expensive, even with an advance purchase discount.

If you're a cheapskate backpacker like me just looking for a simple, six berth couchette, you need to take the traditional Corail Lunea night train with a change at the France-Spain border (France & Spain's train tracks are different gauges).

This Corail Lunea train leaves from the Paris Austerlitz station daily at 2156 and arrives at Cerbere, the frontier station at 0812 the next morning.

I have a beautiful picture I took at about 0700 of the sunrise over the Mediterranean out the window of that train as it slowly chugged along the coast towards Cerbere in Dec 2006.

You'll get off in Cerbere, wait about an hour, and then climb aboard a direct Talgo to Barcelona. Total trip time is about 90 minutes longer than the direct train, BUT considerably cheaper, especially if you are looking for a Couchette.

I've taken this Corail Lunea times in the last three years, and its perfectly acceptable.