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While not necessary on most trains, reservations are recommended in order to be sure that you have a seat on a specific train. A ticket or railpass will get you on most trains, but it won’t ensure a seat. Reservations are not included in the price of your pass. You can make reservations at the train station in Europe on or before the day of travel, or in advance through our online Passholder Reservation system for an extra fee.
To Reserve or Not?
Most regional trains (shorter trips) you can just walk on to the train with your rail pass and sit in any unreserved seat. We do recommend checking into your local rail office the same day or a day before your journey to make sure you don't need a specific seat reservation. When traveling on premier/high speed trains you will most likely need to make a seat reservation before your journey at the departing rail station. Any seat reservation fees or supplements will be charged to you then and you will be guaranteed a seat.
If you are running late or making a tight transfer you can board your premier/speed train and make your reservation and supplement payment with the conductor providing that the train has available seating. Peak travel months are (May,June,July,August), while peak travel times are usually during the business morning and evening rush. ( Between 7:00am-9:30am and between 4:00pm-6:00pm) During peak travel season or if you are traveling with a large group we do recommend making seat reservations to insure that you will be on a specific train and will be seated together. First class passes will also increase your ability to secure a seat during peak/rush time periods as usually 2nd class cars fill first, and in most cases there is always space available in first class.
However, if your travel itinerary is flexible and you want to save money, we suggest that you make your seat reservations before your journey, or when you arrive in Europe. This will allow you more flexibility in your travel plans, and you will save money on not having to secure any pre-journey reservations. Most trains including premier/speed trains run frequently, therefore if by chance you cant get onto one train there is always another one that runs after it or you can opt to travel on slower regional trains that may require some transfers, but will get you where you want to go. First class passes will also help you in this case, as you will find a free seat more easily (2nd class fills up first).
Click here for online rail schedules in Europe.