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 on or after 8 June must complete the Government form BEFORE travel. 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. Around 50% of the train’s capacity will be available 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.”

Eurostar

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

We’re closely following advice from governments in our destination countries and have adapted our services. You’ll notice some changes to your usual travel experience. Everyone, including our teams, must wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth at our stations and on board. Measures are in place to keep everyone a safe distance apart throughout their journey, including a new queuing system. There’s more information on signs at the station and our team is there to help and guide you.

We’ve also updated our seating plan on board to leave every other seat free and give you plenty of space.

New cleaning procedures

There are now cleaners on board every train to make sure the highest levels of hygiene are maintained. They’ll be cleaning throughout the journey, with their focus on regularly disinfecting areas of the train which you’d be likely to come into contact with, such as door handles and tables. We’ve also increased stocks of soap and water on board.

Giving you more flexibility to rearrange your trip

Many of you will be unable to travel due to the border restrictions in place. We appreciate that many others are able to travel but will feel reluctant to venture far from home right now. That’s why we’ve extended our offer of an eVoucher for the full value of your booking if you’re due to travel up until 01 August 2020. Our vouchers give you the opportunity to rearrange your trip with no fee to travel up until late 2021 instead.

You can find out more about all the measures Eurostar has put in place here https://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/travel-info/service-information/coronavirus-and-eurostar-service

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:

Ensuring the safety of our passengers and teams remains our priority. In accordance with French government directives we undertake to:

Make sure wearing masks is respected to ensure the protection of all passengers and that of our staff

  • When possible, access to the station, train, and sales areas is filtered. Customers not wearing a mask will not be authorised to board the train.
  • Customers who do not have a mask will be able to buy one in the station and its vicinity.
  • All agents present during the journey have a mask to ensure everyone’s protection.
  • If a problem arises on board (rip, etc.), the Train Manager will provide a mask for the customer.

Ensuring the opportunity to wash hands at any time during the journey

  • Hand sanitiser provided for agents and passengers in the station and in sales areas.
  • On the train, stocks of water and soap in the toilets are secured and checked regularly by the Train Manager and cleaning manager. If there is a temporary shortage, hand sanitiser is provided for customers.

Intensive cleaning of trains, stations and shops

  • Cleaning is increased in shops and protective glass partitions have been installed.
  • On trains, a complete disinfection procedure (fumigation, ...) is set off if infection is suspected.
  • Cleaning is increased and contact surfaces are disinfected with a viricidal product several times a day.

Your Questions & Our Answers

Is access still checked in stations?

Access is still checked at the entrance to some stations. Following the announcement of the French Prime Minister, wearing a mask is obligatory for passengers aged 11 and over during the journey and in the station. You must therefore have a mask when you go into the station.

What assurance is provided in train stations to ensure health safety?

So that you travel in complete safety, we undertake implementing the most rigorous health and hygiene actions both for our agents and passengers in line with French government directives. For example, we are providing hand sanitizing gel distributors at each entrance to major train stations or suburban stations with many passengers passing through. In order to respect social distancing, points will be marked on the ground in train stations and on platforms. Cleaning is increased and regular disinfection carried out with a viricidal product up to twice a day.

Will boarding gates be in operation?

Following the announcement of the French Prime Minister, from 11 May, and if all conditions are present for the lockdown to be eased, checks at boarding gates will start again with hygiene rules respected. And with the protective measures vital for protecting our agents and passengers.

Are you going to open boarding checks more than 30 minutes before train departure to avoid customers crowding together while waiting?

The train platform is displayed 20 minutes before departure. Where possible and in certain major train stations, in order to make moving around the station easier the platform may be displayed 30 minutes before train departure.

On-board ticket inspection

As a reminder, all passengers must have a valid train ticket. Inspections on board take place respecting the hygiene rules outlined by the French government in order to ensure maximum protection of both our agents and customers.

Is it obligatory for passengers to wear masks?

Yes. Following the announcement of the French Prime Minister, from 8 May, wearing a mask is obligatory for passengers aged 11 and over to ensure passenger safety and that of our agents in the station and on board the train.

Do you provide masks for pro or premier customers?

The business premier service is not provided at the moment. Each customer must provide their own mask.

Are you selling two seats for one as has been the case up to now?

SNCF is doing everything to ensure the health protection of its customers and agents.

Since June 2, all places will be offered for sale.

Are we allowed to eat on the train?

As wearing a mask is obligatory on the train, we recommend, as far as possible, not to eat on the train. As a reminder on board catering will not be available before 2 June.

Will the trains provided really operate after lockdown is eased?

We are preparing a very gradual increase in our transport offer. All trains available for ticket sale from 11 May are guaranteed to operate.

Until what date will the sales be open?

Train ticket sales are open for the June, July and August period, with a booking capacity of 1 place in 2 as is the case at the moment, with the option of ticket exchange or refund at no cost until 31 August.

On 2 June, we should know the new rules that should apply in terms of health conditions for train travel.

If the indicators are green in this second phase of lockdown lifting, SNCF may proceed with adjusting the volume of available places on board TGV INOUI, OUIGO and Intercités trains.

Are you going to take advantage of this crisis to increase ticket fares?

No. There will be no increase in ticket fares. SNCF is committed to and will monitor that no increases are applied. The same fares as usual will be applied, and passengers with reduction and subscription cards can also continue to benefit from their preferential rates.

Are ticket sales shops going to reopen? And what about shops in trains stations? What hygiene is provided?

Shops will gradually reopen from 11 May with opening times likely to be adjusted. Additional hygiene measures will be provided in these areas.

Is Group reception also opening again?

Following the French Prime Minister’s announcement and if all conditions are in place for lockdown easing, the transport offer will gradually increase. All terms and obligations will apply to all Groups, the same as for our individual passengers.

Will it be possible to provide assistance for disabled passengers from 11 May?

From 11 May 2020 it will gradually be possible to book your assistance through Accès Plus within usual timeframes. This could be guaranteed for all journeys starting from 13 May 2020.

However, taking the reduced transport schedules and limited number of seats on board into account, customers are invited to postpone travelling. If you cannot postpone your journey, we recommend that you book assistance in advance in order to guarantee that it will be provided.

The assistance service terms for disabled and reduced mobility people are temporarily adapted. As such:

  • Wearing a mask is obligatory: please note that if the passenger does not have a mask, the service will be refused
  • Luggage carrying is suspended: the passenger must ensure their luggage is suitable for them to be able to carry it themselves.

Are night trains operating?

As night trains have to be organised into reduced compartments and journeys being very long, it is not currently possible to consider starting this service again with sufficient health and hygiene conditions in place. SNCF will keep watch on starting operations again as soon as travel conditions allow for it.

Are TGV Inoui from France to Europe or Europe to France operating again?

The TGV Europe offer is gradually starting again from 11 May in agreement with European partners:

  • From France towards Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Italy
  • From Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Italy to France
  • TGV INOUI from or to Spain and France are not operating for now.

Is social distancing applied on board trains from or to International destinations?

Social distancing is applied to these operations until 2 June. Only 1 seat in 2 is being sold to ensure spacing on board.

Will the conditions to travel be the same as in France?

The specific conditions of the foreign country must be respected, in particular:

  • Health and hygiene rules (masks, protective measures, temperature taking, etc.) of the countries in which customers are travelling.
  • Passengers may be required to show a travel authorisation form when they arrive in the foreign country.
  • If your customers are travelling from an international train station to France, a travel authorisation form may be requested to justify their travel to France.
  • Some countries are putting quarantine procedures in place for passengers when they arrive.

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

Everyone in the industry is looking forward to returning to regular business and DB is no exception: We would like to enable travellers to arrive at their destination in comfort while staying safe. To achieve this goal, we have started an initiative to raise standards in hygiene and cleanliness. DB has established a comprehensive catalogue of coordinated measures to protect customers and employees:

Hygiene

Long-distance trains are cleaned at maintenance facilities upon deployment and every two hours during regular operations. DB Regio trains are cleaned three times a day on average with shorter cleaning intervals on intensively-used routes. For cleaning procedures during regular operations, we put strong emphasis on keeping toilets and contact surfaces, such as grips and handrails at entrance areas, sanitary. We refill soap and disinfectant dispensers on a regular basis.

By July, we aim to double the number of employees cleaning IC and ICE trains during regular operations. Starting from a solid foundation of 500 mobile cleaners in July, DB intends to increase this number to 600 by September. In addition, DB employees at stations clean door handles, handrails, and consoles of ticket and snack vending machines at a high frequency.

At Germany’s 20 biggest stations, customers can wash their hands for free at local restrooms. Furthermore, 180 stations and 150 service stores will provide free disinfectant from dispensers. Markers on the ground at DB info points and travel centers help customers keep their appropriate safety distance.

Face masks / On-board bistro

Travellers and DB employees are obligated to wear face masks on long-distance and regional trains. We recommend our customers use masks also at stations, stops, and on platforms. Please note that it is important to wash hands thoroughly before putting on and taking off masks and to avoid touching anything but the straps. Customers can buy singleuse masks – which are subject to availability – at the on-board bistro of our long-distance trains for EUR 1.50. Our bistros on long-distance trains remain open and still sell the regular selection of food and drinks in single-use packaging. Use of contactless payment options is recommended.

Ticket inspection

Until further notice, train attendants will check tickets only at a safe distance. In addition, on-board announcements tell customers to use all the available doors for boarding and departure in order to optimize the adherence to safety distance regulations.

Return to regular operations

Cross Border City-to-City Services

Starting from the beginning of June and under constant re-evaluation, DB is slowly returning to the regular number of national and cross-border long-distance connections.

Domestically, we put a strong focus on city-to-city ICE connections depending on the increase in demand: Munich-Dortmund via Nuremberg, Frankfurt, and Cologne; Munich Dortmund via Stuttgart and Cologne; Basel-Dortmund via Karlsruhe and Cologne. ICE sprinter trains between Munich and Berlin will be returning as well.

Trains between Germany and Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Czech Republic are already operating. The number of daily return trips will be increased stepwise in June with traffic to resume to Poland as well.

DB have introduced a new passenger capacity display on www.bahn.com and within the DB Navigator app. Trains with reservations exceeding 50% seating capacity will be highlighted. Reservations will be limited with an option to restrict bookings for certain trains expected to be in high demand.

find all tips and regular updates on https://www.bahn.de/en/view/home/help/corona.shtml . We would like to wish all of us a secure journey towards normality

Thalys – Belgium

Everyone at Thalys is mobilized to support you and respond to your requests during this period.

  • In order to follow the directives given by the Belgian authorities, Thalys imposes from May 4 the wearing of masks ("general public" masks) on all travellers who board our trains.
  • We authorize for 1 year the postponement without charge of any trip planned on a deleted train between March 10 and August 29, 2020
  • The frequency and the service of our trains are adapted to meet the new travel conditions between the different countries we serve.

After several weeks of reduced activity, we are happy to announce the gradual increase in the circulation of our trains from June 9 in France, Belgium and the Netherlands and from June 15 in Germany. We will then increase frequency to reach 20% of the usual capacity of our service. This will then be revised upwards from July 12, to reach 50% of our capacity.

As an international carrier, we wanted to make three commitments to you:

  • maximum security at all stages of your trip , including the wearing of a mandatory mask and compliance with barrier gestures;
  • improved hygiene , thanks to an even more regular cleaning of our trains;
  • the mobilization of all our employees, to support and protect you.

These commitments, deployed on all our trains and for all our destinations, translate into "Responsible Together "

  • Responsible - you can count on us to do everything for your health security
  • Together – everyone - customer and collaborator – must respect and adapt to the rules to overcome this unprecedented crisis.

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

Trenitalia - Italy

We are pleased to announce that all passengers on journeys on board Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains will be given a free health & safety kit, consisting of mask, hand sanitizer gel, latex gloves and single use headrest. Inside the kit customers will also find some water to make their journey more comfortable.

Trenitalia is asking clients to give contribute to our health and safety measures by removing the disposable headrest at the end of their journey and disposing of the them respectfully – with the environment in mind.

Trenitalia apologizes for the temporary interruption of the catering service as well as the welcome drink on board trains due to current regulations and is ready to reactivate them as soon as it will be possible.

Trenitalia has introduced a new Self Check-in tool via its App. The service means customers, who have purchased tickets online for travel on domestic trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca, Intercity and Intercity Night) can avoid physical ticket checks on board and enjoy a more relaxed journey. It provides a safer way to travel during the current health crisis.

It is a useful, optional tool but not compulsory and the check-in is valid from the point of departure until the scheduled time of arrival - once Self Check-in has been carried out, it cannot be cancelled. It is available to all customers, through the Trenitalia App. Those already registered on the App can access the service via their reserved area in the "My Trips" section and non-registered customers can  enter the "My Trips" section of the App and select the “recover” button to insert the PNR, email address and reservation code.

Self-Check-in must be carried out for each train and tickets for multiple passengers must be done for each passenger. Self-Check-in is notified through the App to Trenitalia staff on board directly. In the event of a ticket which requires passengers to insert details (e.g. a child's fare or named ticket) the on-board staff can ask customers to show credentials, even if the Self-Check-in has already been carried out by the client

For more information visit Trenitalia's website 

Renfe – Spain

Transport tickets for AVE and Long Distance services are now available for travel from 8-14 June 2020.

Available Services

  • All commuter centres are open for business as usual.
  • A reduced number of the usual AVE, Long Distance, Avant and Conventional Medium Distance services will circulate, offering the occupation of seats so that passengers have an empty seat next to them that separates them from any other passenger. As an exception, in the case of people travelling together and living at the same address, they may travel in adjoining seats.
  • International trains do not circulate between Spain and Portugal or between Spain and France.
  • Cafeteria services, mobile bar, catering on board, press distribution and headsets continue to be suspended on all trains.
  • All Club Rooms at the stations remain closed.
  • By Order of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda published in the B.O.E., the use of masks that cover the nose and mouth is established for all users of train transport services.

Sale of Tickets

  • The tickets will have their corresponding place reservation, with or without their allocation.
  • For Commercial Services (AVE and Long Distance):
    1. Tickets for trains are on sale until June 14, 2020.
    2. The Tourist class and the Tourist Plus class continue to be offered.
    3. The “Silent Car” continues to be commercialized on the AVE and Euromed trains.
  • Services For Public Service (Avant and Conventional Medium Distance) continue to be sold until June 14, 2020.
  • The estimated rates will be available at all times and with the possibility of applying the discount for large families.
  • The tickets issued for the trains included in this new commercial offer may be changed or cancelled, before the departure of the train, at no cost to the customer. These operations can be carried out through the usual sales channels.

Travel for people with disabilities and people with reduced mobility

  • A ticket must be purchased through the usual sales channels. Customers traveling in their own wheelchairs must also purchase a ticket in Economy class in any seat as seats H. will not go on sale.
  • No assistance can be automatically requested from the sale, or from the Renfe Atendo APP. The client must call the Contact Centre 91.214.05.05, where they can also purchase the ticket. Assistance can also be requested through the OCA (Atendo Central Office) 91.774.40.40. The service will be ensured through GAD.
  • Requests for assistance at the 15 stations listed below will require a minimum of 3 hours in advance of the train departure time from the ticket origin station:

Albacete Los Llanos
Alicante / Alacant
Barcelona Sants
Real city
Cordova
Lleida Pirineus
Madrid Chamartín
Madrid Pta. Atocha
M. Atocha Cercanías
Malaga M.Z.
Puertollano
Seville Santa Justa
Valencia J. Sorolla
Valladolid
Zaragoza Delights

  • If both the origin station and the destination station of the ticket are within the ratio of the 15 stations that require 3 hours in advance, the request for travel assistance will require a minimum advance of 3 hours with respect to the time of train departure from the ticket origin station
  • If the origin or destination station is not within the 15 stations that require 3 hours in advance, the request for travel assistance must be made at least 12 hours before the departure time of the train from the station of ticket origin.
  • If both the origin and destination of the ticket are not included in the list of the 15 stations, the request for travel assistance must be made at least 12 hours before the departure time of the train from the station of ticket origin.
  • In order to comply with the directive to maintain a safety distance between passengers, only one H-spot will be offered.

More information can be found here https://www.renfe-sncf.com/rw-en/Pages/information-covid-19.aspx.

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 on public transport for the travellers from 12 years. It must be worn as soon as you enter the station, on the platforms and on the trainsas will all SNCB staff members on site.

Take care of yourself while respecting others. Regular spot checks will be carried out by the police.

Respect for social distancing

Since May 4, a reduced train offering has been applied to meet both the demands of social distancing and the travel needs of travellers. Passengers are advised to spread out their trips as much as possible and to travel during off-peak hours (after 9 a.m. for example, and, at the end of the day, before 4 p.m. or after 6 p.m.).

How and where can you buy your tickets?

In order to continue to ensure sales, reception and advice to travellers, SNCB has taken certain measures regarding the opening of its counters since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

From June 1, 107 counters were opened during usual weekday hours (except Brussels National Airport and Brussels-Midi) Other stations are temporarily closed.

All other modes of purchasing tickets including via vending machines, the SNCB website or app are available. Purchase by electronic payment only . It is temporarily impossible to buy a ticket from the train attendant.

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

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