I’m planning to travel between London St Pancras and Cologne on 1 May this year, using one of the days of my 1st class Adult Interrail Global Pass (7 days in one month). However, the timetable has changed since I bought the pass and made reservations for that day.
I bought the Interrail pass and reservations for the Eurostar (through the SNCB website) on 13 March. My original itinerary was as follows, which I settled on using DB’s Reiseauskunft:
- 09:01 London St Pancras - Bruxelles Midi 12:05 (Eurostar 9116)
- 12:25 Bruxelles Midi - Koln Hbf 14:15 (ICE 315)
However, it appears that, since then, DB have changed the timetable for the Bruxelles - Frankfurt ICEs over the period from 29 April to 1 May. I noticed this in Reiseauskunft and it is referred to on another part of DB’s website: https://bauinfos.deutschebahn.com/linie/ICE79-ICE-INTERNATIONAL-Bruxelles-Midi-Frankfurt-M. ICE 315 now starts at Bruxelles Nord at 12:15, meaning I can’t get to it from the incoming Eurostar.
My connection is therefore broken, so I’d like to change my Eurostar booking to the 08:16 from London St Pancras (Eurostar 9114). I could get on the next ICE, but I’m losing two hours in Cologne. I don’t speak German regrettably but it looks like from DB’s website that the change was made on 16 March - after I bought the Eurostar reservations.
I’m aware SNCB charge a fee for exchanging Eurostar reservations. However, I feel like this isn’t fair, given the connection was broken after I bought the reservations. I’m also mindful that SNCB might have no association with DB’s timetable change or my onward journey. Still, I thought I’d post and ask whether anyone knows of any way I can get out of the exchange fee, either before exchanging, or perhaps paying it now and claiming it back.
Any help would be much appreciated.
There are planned engineering works by Infrabel around Liège that prolonged weekend if I’m not mistaken. An alternative schedule is in place, leading to quite heavy alterations for the train traffic.
Multiple options without changing your Eurostar reservation:
I would go to the last option. It’s a public holiday anyway in Belgium, I’lld go with the flow and use the extra time to strecht your legs a bit.
Or do you plan to travel further than Cologne that day?
I don't think Eurostar would give you a free change as a result of DBs timetable change, but it does no harm to give them a ring with your booking reference and ask.
You could point out that they're both Railteam members. Not sure if that really gives you anything rights in this situation?
Otherwise it's a£15/ €15 change fee.
Thank you both for your replies, very quick and very helpful.
I decided to pay the exchange fee (today), which was 20 EUR with SNCB. I did ask nicely but they were adamant that the ICE timetable change placed no obligation on them. I still don’t think it’s fair but I’ll swallow it as the price of being on time in Cologne.
Only took me a phone call with SNCB (who directed me to Eurostar), a phone call with Eurostar (who directed me, rightly, back to SNCB), and then two further phone calls with SNCB! If anyone comes across this trying to work out who to call, I got it exchanged through the SNCB number quoted at the bottom of my original booking confirmation:
Eurostar are obliged to rebook you without any charge. You have a through ticket (your pass) and a timetable change after booking a reservation gives you the same rights as any other disruption (EU Regulation 1371/2007, article 16). You could file a formal complaint with them and if they still don't want to refund your extra costs, then appeal to London Travelwatch.