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Eurostar (formerly Thalys)

High-speed trains in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany

Thalys train photo

ABOVE: A Eurostar train races past tulip fields in the Netherlands.


Eurostar has acquired Thalys, a high-speed network that connects the cities of Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne, with stops in cities such as Antwerp, Bruges, the Hague, Rotterdam, and Aachen.

Trains on the Paris-Amsterdam route also call at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. (A southern branch of the network connects Amsterdam, Brussels, and Northern France to the French Alps on weekends during the ski season.)

Train speeds reach 300 km/h (186 mph) on some segments, and travel times are short:

  • Less than 1Ĺ hours from Paris to Brussels

  • About 3Ĺ hours from Paris to Amsterdam

  • Less than 3Ĺ hours from Paris to Cologne

The network's locomotives run on multiple voltages, making it possible for trains to cross borders without switching engines.


Thalys in Paris Gare du Nord

ABOVE: Travelers wait to board a train in the Gare du Nord, Paris.


Traveling on Eurostar's rebranded Thalys trains

Classes of travel

Each train has three classes of service, with seating in open carriages (no separate compartments).

The Premium Experience, or first class,  consists of 2 + 1 seating. Your fare includes a meal on selected routes, along with access to lounges in major stations. All seats have power sockets and Wi-Fi+.

The Comfort Experience, or business class, has 2 + 1 seating. It's like Premium without the meal. (You can buy food from the train's Eurostar Café.) All seats have power sockets and Wi-Fi+.

The Standard Experience, or second class, has 2+2 seating. It's comfortable without being luxurious. All seats have power pockets and a basic Wi-Fi service.

Traveling with children

Kids under 4 travel free, but only if they sit in your lap. If you want a seat, or if your child is 4 to 11 years old, you'll pay a discounted flat rate that varies by class.

You can bring a pushchair (a.k.a. stroller) into the train at no charge.

If you're traveling with infants or toddlers, try to book seats in coaches 7, 17, or 17.  These cars have a Baby Station with changing table, washbasin, and bottle warmer.

Luggage

The luggage allowance in all classes is generous. You're allowed to bring two suitcases (up to 85 cm in combined HWD) plus a carry-on bag.

Note: Luggage space is limited (especially in Comfort and Standard classes), and the overhead racks can be hard to reach if you're short or lacking in strength. If you want to stow your bags on the racks near the doors, try to be one of the first passengers to board.

Tickets and seat reservations

You can buy tickets at any railroad station with an international ticket window, through European travel agencies, or--better yet--on the Internet from the Eurostar Web site (see link on next page).

Rail passes

You can travel on Eurostar with a rail pass such as Eurail or InterRail, as long as your pass is valid for all of the countries in your journey. For details, see Eurostar's railpass page.


Thalys seating

ABOVE: Some seats have tables. (Such seats are identified on the Eurostar Web site's carriage diagrams.)


Thalys Web links

Eurostar
The official Web site has timetables, fares, a booking engine, and other information.


More photos

Thalys PBKA locomotive

Christiaan van Elzelingen's photo shows a Thalys (now Eurostar) train in the Rotterdam station. This is a Thalys PBKA locomotive, which can take electricity from the railway grids of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. The cab electronics are compatible with seven different signalling systems.


Thalys in Brussels

In this picture by Martin Kers, a train collects passengers in Brussels. (Some trains on the Paris-Brussels route continue north to Amsterdam, while others continue east toward Cologne, Germany.)


Thalys locomotive

Eurostar's former Thalys locomotives are noticeably taller than the passenger cars behind them.


Eurostar and Thalys

This panoramic photo shows a traditional Eurostar train speeding alongside a Eurostar Thalys train in France. The red locomotive is of the TGV-based PBA type, which operates on three voltages, has four signalling systems, and runs exclusively on the Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam route.


Thalys Comfort 2 seats

These women share a table in Standard or second class.


Thalys information booth - Gare du Nord

The Gare du Nord in Paris has a Eurostar information booth.


Also see:
More train articles at Europeforvisitors.com

Top photo copyright © Rail Europe.
Inset photo copyright © Eurail Group.
Photo 5 copyright © Christiaan van Elzelingen.
Photo 6 copyright © Martin Kers for Eurail Group.
Other photos copyright © Eurail Group.