Keeping Track of European Train Travel

Eurostar
Renfe train 596021 - © Ray Smith
TGV, France
Deutsche Bahn, Switzerland
TGV, France
TGV, France
TGV, France
Deutsche Bahn train
Italian trains

As one of only a few UK suppliers of European train tickets, Ffestiniog Travel has been monitoring the impact of rail travel to and across Europe closely during the COVID-19 crisis. The information contained on this page provides comprehensive details of the health and safety actions being taken by the various European rail providers with links to their websites for further updates.

Every person travelling to the UK must complete the Government Passenger Locator Form no more than 48 hours before arrival in the UK. The online form and details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/provide-journey-contact-details-before-travel-uk.

Most operators encourage, if not mandate, the use of face masks. Trains are being regularly cleaned, especially those places where there is high tactile usage. Depending on local regulations some operators have reduced the train’s capacity for sale with customers encouraged to use “window seats” to safeguard distance. Eurostar in particular will reallocate passenger seating (if not part of the same booking) to ensure social distancing is easier. Ticket checks will still happen, but will be a visual check rather than physically handled. Within the stations the announcement of platforms will come earlier to allow easier movement around the station.

Measures will vary between countries and train operators, so we have provided information on the key rail providers in Europe below to give a fuller picture of the situation and ensure you are informed of the facts as you consider travelling again by train. We have close and regular contact with our suppliers and are continually being updated with information. Keep checking back here for updated information as and when we receive it from the operating companies.

As an example of the type of information we receive, here is a quote from the French operator SNCF which touches upon the use of air-conditioning on trains. A similar explanation was also sent to us from Deutsche Bahn in Germany:

“Specialists consider that the risk of exposure to the virus in a train via the ventilation/air conditioning system is extremely small. The ventilation/air conditioning system in our trains works mainly through a permanent supply of air from the exterior and this air is filtered before being released. The ventilation/air conditioning system in our trains refreshes all the air in carriages approximately every 6 minutes. Ventilation in our TGVs is not orientated, directed towards passengers but indirectly, most often along the windows towards the ceilings, which prevents any passenger saliva droplets being dispersed towards another passenger, which is also avoided thanks to the obligatory wearing of a mask.”

UPDATE - FOLLOWING RECENT UK GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION

The United Kingdom is taking steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

From 8 August, travel restrictions for passengers travelling to England from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and other Amber list countries changed.

If you have been fully vaccinated by the NHS at least 14 days before travel, you will no longer need to quarantine on arrival in England. The same rule will apply to your dependents or if you are under the age of 18 and are usually resident in the UK.

You will still need to complete a Passenger Locator form, provide proof of a negative COVID test before travel, and take a COVID test 2 days after arriving in England.

Only the main NHS app or an NHS COVID pass letter will be accepted as proof of full vaccination.

The UK government has announced that arrangements for accepting vaccine passports from other countries will be announced at a later date.

If you’ve not been fully vaccinated more than 14 days before travel, the following rules will continue to apply - You will still need to complete a Passenger Locator form, provide proof of a negative COVID test before travel, quarantine on arrival for 10 days and take COVID tests on days 2 and 8 after arriving in England.

Failure to comply with the above measures is a criminal offence and you could be fined. Please visit www.gov.uk/uk-border-control for detailed public health advice and requirements for entering the UK.
 
We kindly ask that you comply with the above regulations.

Eurostar

Eurostar have announced that Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International stations will not reopen until 2022 at the earliest.

The latest travel advice for Eurostar destinations

UPDATED: TRAVEL TO FRANCE

EU nationals (including EU expats living in the UK) are allowed to travel to France. 

Non-EU nationals (including UK citizens) whose main residence is not in France will either need:

  • a compelling reason to travel to France from the UK as stated in the Travel Certificate below in the ‘What documents do I need’ section.
  • or proof of being fully vaccinated.

Visit the French Consulate website for more details and the latest information about restrictions in France.

DO I NEED A COVID-19 TEST? 

  • From the 18th July 2021, COVID test requirements will change for entry into France. Passengers who have proof they have been fully vaccinatedat least 7 days before departure no longer need to take a test. France accepts both the NHS COVID pass and the EU Digital Covid Certificate as a proof of vaccination.
  • Passengers who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, must present a negative antigen or PCR test taken within 24 hours of departure. Until this date current rules apply. Find out more official details.
  • Antigen and PCR coronavirus tests at St Pancras Int’l: You can now get an antigen or PCR coronavirus test at St Pancras International* Find out more info and book your test here.

WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED? 

All passengers travelling from the UK – regardless of their nationality or if they’ve been fully vaccinated must carry a printed and completed Statement of honour.

If you haven't been fully vaccinated you must carry a printed and completed version of these two forms:

When entering France: Travel certificate to Metropolitan France.
When leaving France: Certificate to leave Metropolitan France.

WILL I NEED TO QUARANTINE? 

Passengers travelling from the UK must self-isolate for 7 days unless fully vaccinated, then take another PCR test following this period of self-isolation.

 
UPDATED: TRAVEL TO BELGIUM

As of Friday 9 July, classification for the UK has moved from ‘very high risk’ to ‘red’ and the following rules now apply when travelling from the UK to Belgium.

You’re not allowed to travel to Belgium unless you are:

  • A Belgian citizen or resident
  • A non-EU/Schengen citizen or resident who has been fully vaccinated at least two weeks before travel and has an EU Digital Covid Certificate or a vaccination certificate issued in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. (Please note that vaccination certificates issued in Scotland are currently not accepted for travel to Belgium. This is because they use a different electronic signature.)
  • The partner of a Belgian citizen or resident. Or the child of a Belgian citizen or resident or their partner's child. You must hold an Essential Travel Certificate issued by a Belgian diplomatic or consular post.

 

UPDATED: TRAVEL TO THE NETHERLANDS

The Netherlands has added the UK to its list of ‘high-risk’ countries. Dutch citizens, residents and EU nationals are allowed to travel. However, non-EU nationals, including British citizens, are not permitted to travel from the UK to the Netherlands by the Dutch government (unless exempt). Please visit the Dutch government website for more information.

Recent statement from Eurostar CEO Mike Cooper

I am writing to personally reassure you that the health and well-being of our customers and colleagues has been the top priority of everyone at Eurostar throughout this crisis. And it remains so: We care deeply about getting you to your destination as safely as possible while ensuring our teams face no unnecessary risks.

For those who can travel, our teams have been working hard to put a number of hygiene and social distancing measures in place. And for those who can’t or, understandably, would rather not travel, we want to give you as much flexibility to rearrange your trip as we can.

Keeping you safe at our stations and on board

Some of our trains are busier than others and social distancing may not always be possible but we’re keeping some seats free in every coach to give you more space.

If you were given a yellow ticket as you passed through the ticket gates, please make sure you sit in your new seat.

You should wear your face mask for the whole journey. But you can take it off briefly to eat and drink on the way. 

The train will have been intensively cleaned and disinfected in line with advice from health authorities before boarding. 

We’re topping up soap stocks and water tanks on our trains more regularly so you can wash your hands more often on board.

Update on flexibility and e-voucher policy

How to get an e-voucher?

  • Go to "Manage your booking"
  • Enter your booking reference (found on your confirmation email or tickets)
  • Select ‘Claim e-voucher’ to request an e-voucher

Important information for e-vouchers
If you’ve got a booking up to and including 30 September 2021:  

  • You can get an e-voucher that is equivalent to the full value of your initial booking. 
  • Your e-voucher will be valid up to 30 December 2021 to travel to any Eurostar destination (subject to availability). 
  • Please note that you do not have to travel before the expiry date on your e-voucher, you simply need to book your new journey before your e-voucher expires.


Please note: e-voucher requests must be submitted at least 7 days before your departure time. For example, if you’re booked to travel on the 11:04 train on Wednesday 29 September, you must request your voucher before 11:04 on Wednesday 22 September. You will not be able to claim a voucher after this cut off point.

Alternatively if you’ve booked a trip but are no longer able to travel abroad, you can now exchange them online.

Here’s how they work:  

You can rearrange your trip without paying an exchange fee up to 7 full days before departure. You’ll only pay the difference in fare.  

You can still change your booking within 7 days of your departure, but you’ll need to pay a £30 exchange fee for Standard tickets, plus any difference in fare.  

Eurotunnel

Eurotunnel has implemented additional cleaning procedures. Automatic hand sanitisers have been installed in passenger areas in both the UK and France, toilet facilities are being cleaned and checked for supplies more frequently and all cleaning regimes have been increased at the terminals and on board the shuttles.

In line with regulations terminal buildings are closed. There are toilet facilities available in the allocation lanes and people are urged to use them as the toilets on the shuttles are also closed. Customers are required not to leave their cars whilst on board the shuttles to comply with "social distancing" advice from both Governments.

For more information on Eurotunnel services visit https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/travelling-with-us/latest/covid-19/.

SNCF - France

Acting to protect everyone by:

When you travel you must: 

  • wear a mask throughout your journey. If you don’t wear a mask, you are subject to a €135 fine.
  • bring your ticket, your railcard or pass, and an ID.

International travellers: if you began your journey in an EU country other than France, you must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. This requirement does not apply to cross-border commuters.

France’s Health Pass

Which trains require a health pass?

Starting 2 August, you must have a health pass to board any TGV INOUI, INTERCITÉS or OUIGO train to destinations in France, or any long-distance international train departing from France. The health pass is not required for travel in July, or on the weekend of 31 July–1 August.

What is the health pass?

You must present your health pass on paper or in digital format via the TousAntiCovid app. The health pass consists of at least one of these 3 documents:

  • proof of full vaccination
  • proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken within the last 48 hours
  • proof of a positive PCR or antigen test showing that you have recovered from Covid-19 in the last 6 months. This test must date from at least 11 days and no more than 6 months before travel.

Important: For travel in France, you are now considered fully vaccinated 7 days after you have received the second dose of a 2-dose vaccine, and 4 weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

For travel outside France, you must continue to wait 14 days after your second dose to be considered fully vaccinated. For more information on the health pass, please visit the French government's website.

Who must present a health pass?

If you are over 12 years old and are travelling on one of the trains listed above, you must present a health pass.
For passengers ages 12 to 17 (inclusive), this requirement does not take effect until 30 August.

Should I arrive at the station early?

If you’re taking one of the trains listed above, we will be required to check health passes, and boarding will probably be slightly slower as a result. We therefore recommend arriving at the station a little earlier. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, we have announced platform numbers 30 minutes ahead of departure (10 minutes earlier than usual) to make boarding easier for our passengers.

Staying safe together

It’s up to all of us to follow public health guidelines, so that everyone can travel with confidence.

  • All adults and all children ages 11 and older must wear a mask in our stations and aboard our trains. Law enforcement and Railway Security officers will check for compliance at the entrances to major stations, and if you do not wear a mask, you are subject to a €135 fine.
  • You may purchase masks and hand sanitizer from vending machines and in-station shops. You’ll also find hand sanitizer in nearly 200 dispensers installed in 120 stations.
  • The SNCF employees on hand during your journey will wear masks to protect everyone.
  • The Ministry for Solidarity and Health also recommends downloading the TousAntiCovid app and using it to protect yourself and the people around you.

Public health measures in the station and during boarding

To keep you safe, we’ve adopted new in-station crowd flow measures and modified our boarding procedures. Here’s what’s new:

  • Law enforcement and Railway Security officers are now positioned at station entrances to ensure that everyone wears a mask in stations and aboard trains.
  • In large stations, inbound and outbound foot traffic are kept separate.
  • New floor markings promote social distancing in waiting areas, under the main departures and arrivals boards, at self-service machines, on escalators and on platforms, and we’ve installed queue management solutions in front of sales areas and shops.
  • Posters and loudspeaker announcements remind everyone to practice social distancing.
  • We’ve stepped up cleaning and disinfecting procedures in stations and aboard trains.

To keep up to date with SNCF measures and all its French and cross-border rail services visit https://en.oui.sncf/en/help-en/coronavirus.

Deutsche Bahn (DB) - Germany

Entering Germany

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, special rules are in place for anyone entering Germany. Depending on their point of arrival, travellers must adhere to the measures imposed by the relevant federal state.

At the moment, they are obliged to provide contract and travel details before they enter Germany if they were in a high-risk area within the 10 days before travel.

Information and access points are available here:

Recommendation to wear an FFP2 mask

Travellers must comply with mandatory requirements in line with German government regulations ("emergency break") and various state laws. DB recommends that passengers wear FFP2 masks so they can comply with public health requirements when travelling on trains and waiting at station platforms. The rules applicable in individual states can be found on the website of the federal government. We do not recommend using a mask with an exhalation valve. Certain regulations in German states now prohibit the use of masks with exhalation valves on public transport services. We recommend that you obtain a printed or digital version of the relevant certificate (e.g. EN 14683:2019-10) when using a multi-layer fabric mask that is permitted in line with states' regulations. Bring this certificate with you when travelling by train and present it to the train crew if asked.

Making sure your trip with DB is safe and hygienic

DB strongly recommends that passengers wear FFP2 masks on trains, on buses and at stations in line with mask-wearing requirements and as part of public health measures. Please adhere to the relevant regulations in all federal states. Security staff perform random checks to ensure that people comply with mask-wearing regulations. If a passenger repeatedly refuses to comply with mask-wearing requirements, DB staff can ban them from travelling. In the event of a conflict, the police will be requested to enforce the ban. Protecting the health of its employees and passengers is Deutsche Bahn's top priority. People who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons are exempt from doing so. DB's train crews are, within the scope of privacy regulations, entitled to ask passengers to produce a medical certificate. We would therefore ask anyone in this situation to ensure they bring relevant documentation when travelling.

The general hygiene guidelines issued by Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (rki.de) are in force on our train and bus services and at our stations.

Other hygiene recommendations and safety measures from DB:

  • Maintain a suitable distance from fellow passengers and DB staff.
  • At stations, we have installed plexiglass panels at our DB Travel Centres and information desks to minimise the risk of transmission.
  • Our train attendants scan tickets or perform visual checks to confirm validity.
  • On buses, the front door beside the driver will not be in operation, so use other doors further down the vehicle when getting on and off.

We are in continuous communication with Germany’s interior ministry, national and regional healthcare authorities, and national and regional transport ministries. Whenever the situation regarding public health changes, we are in a position to react with speed and flexibility.

Further and general information and regulations can be found on the website of the Robert Koch Institute (rki.de) as well as the respective authorities. An overview of the local health authorities, for example, can be here https://tools.rki.de/plztool/.

Thalys – Belgium

  • Since 1 July, the European digital COVID certificateis introduced in the European Union. This health pass, applicable to all the countries Thalys connects (France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands), certifies that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, that they are in possession of a negative Covid-19 test result or that they are immune after having contracted the disease.

  • This information may be subject to controls by the local authorities upon arrival in some countries. We therefore strongly advise you to carry it with you when travelling within the European Union.

  • The health authorities of the countries served by Thalys have also issued other recommendationsconcerning international travel. You will find an overview of the measures relevant to our travelers below. 

  • This can differ according to your destination and evolve with the changing public health situation. We recommend you consult europa.eu before your departure to learn more about the health and safety measures that currently apply.

For more information visit https://www.thalys.com/be/fr/situation-sanitaire-coronavirus-mesures-commerciales-exceptionnelles

Trenitalia - Italy

For a safe journey on board

HAND SANITISER DISPENSERS
Frequently sanitise  your hands also using dispensers available on bord.

MASK 
As required by current regulations, wear your mask correctly throughout your journey and remember to change it if you are travelling for more than 4 hours.

SOCIAL DISTANCE
Always respect safety distance

HOW TO CHOOSE A SEAT
On Regional trains, you are invited to first occupy a seat and then the standing places in the bases of specific regional ordinances. On Frecce and Intercity trains, you must only sit in the seat assigned to you.

HEALTH AND SAFETY OF CREW AND PASSENGERS
Trenitalia staff wears protection for everybody's safety on board.

CONTACTLESS TICKET INSPECTION
We check tickets with contactless technology. Have your ticket ready in time to show the Ticket code to the Train Manager.

A SANITISED AND SAFE ENVIRONMENT
The train is sanitised in compliance with protocols of the Ministry for Health.

FOLLOW THE SIGNS FOR YOUR EXIT DOOR

To unboard please use the dedicated doors. Do not stand next to the doors and stand at a safe distance along the corridor..

IN CASE OF SYMPTOMS
In accordance to current regulations, do not use the train if yoy have symptoms of acute respiratory infections (fever, cough, cold).

Trenitalia is the first railway company in the world to obtain the Biosafety Trust Certification, a certification that recognises the important work carried out in recent months to guarantee both passengers and employees the highest levels of safety in managing the prevention of infections while on board.
The certification recognises the best practices adopted in the field of infection prevention and control according to the requirements defined in the certification scheme established by RINA.

Hygiene and sanitation procedures on trains

From the earliest stages of the health emergency, in order to ensure all its passengers and employees have a safe journey, Trenitalia has enhanced its hygiene and sanitation procedures on trains, by reducing the time between one cleaning session and the next. Furthermore, new methodologies have been adopted to improve disinfection and sanitisation procedures.
The nebulising spray and steam-cleaning equipment used allow all surfaces that passengers come into contact with to be thoroughly sanitised.
Below is a list of the hygiene and sanitation measures employed on all trains:

  • Installation of disinfectant gel dispensers in toilets.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of the train and driver’s cab upon return/exit from the cleaning facility with specific sanitising products and atomising sprays.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of the surfaces that passengers and crew come into contact with the most - during the journey - by the on-board cleaning personnel.
  • Sanitation of surfaces and interior spaces during longer stops at stations.
  • Sanitisation with a nebulising spray when dealing with suspected or ascertained cases.
  • Disinfection of all coaches, bathrooms and the driver’s cabs is carried out every 48 hours with “Medical-Surgical products” using systems that atomise these products and saturate the train interior to ensure all surfaces and hidden spaces are thoroughly disinfected.
  • Frequent daily disinfection, at stations, in association with light cleaning. 

For more information visit Trenitalia's website 

Renfe – Spain

To Make Your Trip Safer

In order to avoid contact and crowds and guarantee your safety, we have established new mandatory measures.

These measures, as well as the disinfection and cleaning procedures of the trains, have earned the recognition of the  AENOR certificate against the COVID-19  for the transport of passengers.

The protocols, certified by AENOR through exhaustive face-to-face and documentary evaluations, cover all the moments in which a traveler comes into contact with the company's services before, during and after the end of their trip, including check-in and access to trains, the distribution of passengers, the cleaning and disinfection of the interior of the trains, as well as the protection measures for passengers and employees, among others.

This certification process against the contagion of COVID-19 is one more step in the  Safe Train Objective program , designed by Renfe to offer all its travelers maximum confidence when traveling and successfully face a return to normality.

New Mandatory Measures

  • Access to the boarding area can only be done within 40 minutes prior to the train departure. If you arrive with more time you can wait in the station lobby.
  • The boarding process (check-in) will close 2 minutes before the train departs.
  • Boarding will take place in an organized way, with preferential access for the elderly, families, people traveling with children or with baby carriages and people with reduced mobility.
  • Interpersonal distance is ensured by marking or markings on the ground and issuing reminder messages.

In this way, you will have more time to access the train, you will be able to carry out the process in an orderly manner, we will avoid crowds and we will respect the safety distance.

We also modify the processes of disembarking or unloading the train, which will be carried out progressively upon arrival at the destination station, always starting at the rows closest to the door and continuing in an orderly manner.

Other Measures

  • We recommend  paying at the ticket offices of the stations with telematic means  (card or mobile), to avoid contact with cash.
  • This is what you must do to protect yourself and others

  • Wear a mask whenever you travel, both in transit through the station, as well as inside the train and throughout the journey. Its use is mandatory, for your safety and that of everyone.
  • Use public transportation responsibly - don't travel if you have symptoms consistent with the disease.
  • Remember that the maximum weight of your luggage cannot exceed 25 kilos.
  • Make sure you get to the station early enough. It is recommended that you arrive 30 minutes in advance.
  • Pay attention to signaling, public address announcements, and staff directions.
  • Take the seat assigned on your ticket: this will help us process any request in case we have to contact you. 
  • Try not to talk to other passengers or on the phone.
  • When the train stops upon arrival, remain seated in your seat until the passengers seated in the rows closest to the exit have disembarked.
  • Avoid crowds during your trip, especially on the platform of the exit door.
  • At all times maintain the recommended hygiene standards and respect the safety distance from other travelers.

Respecting these simple rules, we will avoid crowds and unnecessary contact with others.

SNCB - Belgium

SNCB is closely monitoring the situation regarding the spread of Covid-19 in Belgium and in Europe.

Belgium closed its borders to non-essential international journeys (only essential professional trips are allowed). International leisure travel to/from Belgium resumed on Sunday 7 June. It’s campaign has been named #MoveSafe.

Wearing a mask

Wearing a mask is compulsory in public transport for travelers from 13 years old. Headscarves, bandanas and other scarves are not permitted as a protective mask.

  • As soon as you enter your station, you must wear the necessary protection, as well as on the platforms and on board the train.
  • Each traveller must have his/her own protective equipment.
  • Our station or train staff are also equipped with masks.
  • Regular checks will be carried out on site by Securail and the police.

Regular updates are available here https://www.belgiantrain.be/fr/news/coronavirus

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