Problems making reservations

  • 15 October 2021
  • 3 replies

Once upon a time with an Interrail Pass one just entered where one was going and got on board. Total flexibility. But now everything is digital and limited and needs to be booked ahead and printed out….. I have bought a pass and wish to reserve a place from Brussels to Valence, from there to Barcelona, from there to Madrid. But despite going to the web page for ‘Book reservations’ I only get a red blob telling me that no Trips are entered; I have created a Trip entry but this repeats. The ‘timetable’ I fill in with date and time of planned journey does not then go dark to allow one to press a ‘Search’ or anything similar, just brings me back in a continuous loop to where I already was. This is frustrating. I see from other people’s comments that they, too, have difficulties with making a reservation. What should one do? 

3 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

The problem is that French Rail (SNCF) and Spanish Rail (RENFE) makeing it more and more difficult to reserve :/ as they doesn´t allow on all train bookings from other International Ticket offices :/
2 years ago Ticket Offices like DB,SBB, Ceske Drahy, or Austrian Rail could reserve nearly everything in these countries but currently it´s quite difficult :/ and i guess that Eurail have similar problems.
I try to avoid as much as possible France and Spain.

I saw you are from Germany thats why i recommend to try to reserve at a DB Reisezentrum as the International TGV´s can usually reserved at german stations :)
Note that the International TGV Reservations are quite high. worstcase up to 56€ on top for a seat :/
Because of that i recommend to use some “money saving Routes” :D  

For example Brussels  - Lille with Belgian Intercity and catch from Lille the same TGV as from Brussels but you pay just 10€ for a seat (limited) or 20€ until sold out :) (this reservation can be bought online via Eurail or via B- Europe)

for Valence - Barcelona you can go via Perpignan  - Portbou/Cerbere - Barcelona nice route along the coast and you save the expensive International TGV reservatoin.

Many thanks. I simply wish to travel Berlin - Köln - Brussels with ICE (NO problem!), overnight near Midi, then an early train Brussels - Valence, Valence - Barcelona, Barcelona - Madrid (overnight near Atocha) and next day Madrid - Lisboa. BUT - no reservations are possible, one finds only an irritating Bot which tells me it is unable to help, or a Helpline which either leads to ‘Error 404’ or tells me it is always heavily overloaded with enquiries (also at midnight!!?) - a response which tells me that the management is not interested in staffing the Helpline adequately. This is not the fault of whoever is at the far end but, if they cannot help me when I need help, then they are useless. This is NOT good management or customer-friendly. In Railway Gazette I see a proposal is being made to make cross-European rail tickets easier to buy. Badly needed. My DB /Berlin Zoo) counter staff could not help me beyond Brussels. This in an age of computer networks.

So now I try to think creatively. I could instead go Berlin - Mannheim - Basel by ICE, no problem; SBB to Geneva, a TER to Lyon, overnight there instead at Part-Dieu, then get an early TER (not TGV) train 07.20 to Avignon Centre 09.55, a TER dep. 11.35 to Port Bou 15.45 and at least I have reached Spain without further hassle. Moving on to Barcelona without being diverted back to Perpignan and an AVE seems difficult. One cannot otherwise find NON-TGV or AVE timetables for simple ordfinary semi-fast trains. Even RENFE website is hard to navigate.

The irony is I am attending a conference in Lisbon on Railway History. All the other participants I know are flying and cannot understand why I am taking the trouble to travel by train!!  But I have already decided to fly back….

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

DB used to be able to make all those reservations but SNCF changed their system and DB has not caught up yet (or didn't think it's a priority), unfortunately. Please complain to them.

Belgian railways should be able to get you French and Spanish reservations. Not sure if all of them are available as a PDF via mail though but you can ask:

NMBS International phone service