A lot of my trains require reservations. But we have no idea which train we will take. It will depend on what we wind up doing that day. But it says you have to make a reservation 3 hours in advance and they are not refundable. A lot of our journeys offer trains every hour or every 30 mins but still require a reservation. So how can we be flexible if we must make a non refundable reservation? Can I just walk up a few mins before and still get a reservation on the next train or do I really have to book it in advance and lock us into a specific time?


Best answer by Yorkie 10 May 2023, 17:51

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Userlevel 7
Badge +5

What are the routes you're looking at ? We'll be able to give you more precise advice

Many trains do not require seat reservations, simply hop on any one you'd like. Either reservations are not possible (Belgium, the Netherlands, all regional trains) or they're optional (cheap and recommended on busy mainlines)

High-speed trains on the other hand need to be booked in advance (esp. Eurostar and Thalys) in France and Spain. Frecciarossa high-speed trains (Italy) require a 13€ seat reservation but there usually is availability on the day

It's best to avoid for seat reservations (extra fees). See :

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

Although not an absolute answer I am sure most of the trains requiring reservations can be reserved up to a short time before departure through the ticket office or, in some countries from ticket machines. However each station will have varying facilities and some are busy and can take quite a time to reach the counter.

Obviously you take a risk that the chosen train may be full on the day, but since you recognise that many routes have regular services alternatives should be available. You can also look for the regional and mid distance trains that have optional or even no reservations that are slower (more stops) but always boardable with your pass.

If you travel in the UK reservations are free and easily sourced at main stations. All daytime trains in the UK are optional reservations and will allow all to board, but you may be standing. There is no issue with booking UK reservations and not using them - if the train is busy the seat will quickly be taken.