What do I need to know about traveling with connecting trains?

Just like airlines, it’s quite common that certain itineraries involve two or more connecting trains. For instance, if you’re going from London to Amsterdam, you’ll travel on the Eurostar between London and Brussels, and in Brussels take the Thalys train to Amsterdam.

So how do you know if you’ll be traveling on connecting trains? Schedules involving a connecting train are easy to spot. When you browse fares and schedules before buying your ticket, you’ll see the connecting trains are listed together in the same box. When you choose the fare for these connecting schedules, you’ll be able to view seating options for each segment and a breakdown of the total price for each train. You can also use the filters in the side bar to enable or disable the display of connection options. The rail system is designed to only match trains with feasible connections. In most cases, you’ll only have to get off one train and walk to a nearby platform to board the next, so don’t worry if you see the connecting train departs only a few minutes later.

Now that you know that you have a connecting journey, here’s how things work in practice.

You need to determine if your connecting train will depart from the same station or a different station. Simply compare the name of the arrival station to the station of departure of the connecting train; both are printed on your ticket. If the connecting train is the same station, then you just have to find the right track. If you’re unsure as to where your connecting train is departing from, ask the conductor on board your train. The conductors are generally knowledgeable about the arrival stations and should be able to guide you.

If the connecting train is in a different station, then you will have to get to the station from which your connecting train departs. Usually, public transportation such as bus or subway will easily allow you to make the trek, or you may decide to catch a cab – although this can sometimes be challenging due to long taxi lines or heavy traffic in certain cities such as Paris or London. Don’t worry if your connecting train departs from a different station because this is quite common, especially when connecting in big European capital cities, which often have many train stations. If this is the case, our system takes the additional travel into account and allows enough time for you to travel by metro to the other station.

What happens if you miss your connection?

In the case that your first train is delayed and causes you to miss your connection, ask the conductor to endorse the ticket to say there has been a delay. This is usually sufficient proof for the train staff at the onward station to allow a free transfer to the next available train.

If you missed the connecting train because you decided to wander off track to visit a landmark on your way to the station, or you spent a little bit too much time at the station bar – then it’s a different story. You may have to purchase a new train ticket. If you’re traveling with an open ticket or a rail pass, you’re fine. You can simply hop on the next train that accepts open tickets or rail passes. If you have a ticket with a reservation, look at the exchange terms and conditions of your ticket. Flexible tickets sometimes allow exchanges at the station, even after the train has departed.

It’s always good to do research on your train trip and be prepared, but don’t stress. Millions of travelers have successfully taken connecting trains to reach their destinations.