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Landing at Charles de Gaulle airport but otherwise travelling within Benelux - Benelux pass or Global pass/

  • 24 July 2022
  • 6 replies
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Almost at the end of August (in barely over a month from now), I will be landing at Charles de Gaulle Intl. Airport (near Paris) from Montreal, Canada (where I live), and I will go by train to Antwerp. Throughout my 10-day trip, aside from going through Charles de Gaulle and northern France, I will be entirely within Benelux (first Belgium and then the Netherlands). My trip will be divided into three parts:

  1. While staying in Antwerp for a few days, I will go on one round-trip train journey to Bruges and/or Ghent for the day, and another one to Brussels for the day (each on a separate day, adding up to two).
  2. I will then take the train from Antwerp to Amsterdam, where I will be staying for the next six days after that.
  3. Within the Netherlands, I might take one, possibly two, train trips (round trip) to the countryside for the day, and finally I will make my way to Schipol Intl. Airport near Amsterdam at the end of my trip in early/mid September (by either local transit or Eurail train).

All of these train trips put together most probably add up to about 5-7.

Having said all of that, is it better for me to buy a Benelux Pass, or (given that I’m flying into Paris and then hopping the train to Benelux) to buy more like a Global Pass even if I’m just passing through another country/region besides Benelux at the very beginning?

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Best answer by jtim 28 July 2022, 11:03

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Userlevel 7
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Age? Junior and senior can get generous discounts for train travel in BE/NMBS-makes a pass more expensive. Also want to use local tram/bus extensively?

If booked at least 7 days advacne there are cheap fares for BE->NL, without even tied to a specific train.

Want it fast=expensive or dont mind the slower cheaper way to go FR->BE?

EUrail-other as many think form over the oceans, do not run any train-its a kind of >70 yrs old coöperation of what once were the glorious state railways of most EUR countries (as VIA is in Canuckyland) and has since then transformed into a hodgepodge of >100 companies-but in BE its all NMBS and in NL most are NS (in one of its trains I now sit, using its wifi)

Sorry that I forgot to mention my age. I’m 40.

Sorry to sound stupid, as I really don’t go to Europe often, but is NMBS the name of the Belgian train company?

You said there are faster and more expensive trains from France to Belgium, and then there are slower and cheaper trains on those same routes?

And given that I’m 40 and thus not eligible for the junior or senior discounts, would the Benelux Pass be worth it after all?

Userlevel 7
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Thanks for your answer @mcadv, can you elaborate on the fast and slower trains. @rvdborgt , @AnnaB , @seewulf , you having loads of experiencee, any advice to YosefMTL? 🙂

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Both between France and Belgium, as well as between Netherlands and Belgium, there are both slow and fast connections.

Within Belgium a pass is unlikely to be worth it as ticket prices are relative low and you can buy a Railpass giving you 10 trips (or 5 trips with two persons) at 8,4 euro a trip to anywhere in Belgium (switching trains is allowed in one trip). 

I suggest to compare the cost of Pass+Reservation with tickets. Outcome is more likely to be in favour of tickets in this case. 

France to Belgium: two options

  • TGV directly from Paris CDG Airport to Brussels. High Speed, fastest and most expensive option. Even with the Interrail pass you will need to pay a relative expensive reservation fee.
  • Local Trains from Paris to Belgium: Multiple options that take a significantly longer, run less frequent and with multiple switches, but are less costly.
    • Paris-Lille-Brussels
    • Paris-Maubeuge-Charleroi-Brussels
    • Paris-Luxembourg-Brussels

Netherlands to Belgium: three options

  • Thalys: High Speed, fastest and most expensive directly from Antwerp/Brussels (BE) to Rotterdam/Amsterdam (NL). Even with the Interrail pass you will need to pay a relative expensive reservation fee.
  • Direct Intercity (traditionally called BeNeLux train): slower than Thalys but still direct without having to switch trains. No reservation needed with passes. 
  • Mix of InterCity and Regional trains to cross the border between Antwerp (BE) and Roosendaal (NL) or between Liege (BE) and Maastricht (NL). Lowest cost, longest duration and with switches. No reservation needed with passes. 

Note NMBS is the Dutch name, SNCB is the French name of the same national railway company in Belgium. 

So from what I’ve looked up so far, I would need a reservation in going from Charles de Gaulle airport to Antwerp via Brussels, and in going from Antwerp to Amsterdam I would need a reservation in going on the higher-speed direct Thalys train but not on the lower-speed direct Intercity train (so long as I have some sort of Eurail pass). And going within Belgium or within the Netherlands I wouldn’t need to reserve (so long as I have some sort of Eurail pass). Sounds right?

If I don’t have any pass whatsoever, I guess I would have to pay for a little rail trip for a day trip every single time I would do so? And thus a pass would spare me from such additional headaches?

When I was using the “plan your trip” calculator for the itinerary that I’m interested in, I see that the budget price is $129 US and the economy price is $156 US. Is it worth it after all, the alternative being the headache to have to spend extra time ordering tickets each time I go on train rides?

And is the generic Eurail pass different from either the one-country pass (such as the Benelux Pass) or the Global Pass?

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