What facilities do European trains have? What are the luggage allowances?
The type of train you are taking will determine what kind of facilities you can expect on board. As a rule of thumb, the high speed TGV and ICE trains are generally those equipped with the most modern and accommodating facilities, such as luggage compartments and on board restaurants. Please be aware that all European trains are strictly non-smoking and they all have on board toilets.
SNCF TGV, Lyria and Renfe-SNCF
You will find an on board café-bar (which offers some hot meals, sandwiches and drinks), wheelchair spaces (and accessible toilet) plus baby-changing facilities. There is also a luggage storage compartment at the end of each carriage plus there are luggage racks above and between the seats (they can accommodate smaller suitcases and bags). All TGVs are of course completely non-smoking and are air-conditioned. Many of the TGV Lyria (France - Switzerland routes) and Renfe-SNCF (France - Spain routes) provide electrical power point sockets at the seats as well.
Some TGVs are also duplex trains, which means they have two levels for seating and they offer the exact same facilities as a single level TGV. Regardless of which type of TGV you will be travelling on, there are no luggage restrictions. So as long as your luggage would roughly fit an airline’s size requirements then it will also fit into the luggage compartments on board. There are also no extra luggage costs or check-in procedures so you do not have to preregister baggage before hand. However, please keep in mind other passengers with luggage so it is best to limit yourself to 2 large suitcases person. If you are planning on bringing a bike on board, then please give this article a read first.
For a detailed description of the TGV trains and their facilities, please have a look at this article for more information.
The Intercité trains are the ‘little sister’ of TGV trains. Travelling at no less than 201 km/h, they are also a very comfortable option for getting from A to B. Although they do not have a restaurant onboard (sometimes there is a trolley service instead, serving snacks and drinks), these trains are air-conditioned and offer plenty of legroom. You will also be able to store luggage at your seats and at the end of each carriage. There are no luggage restrictions, though please keep in mind similar size requirements that airlines have. If you are planning on bringing a bike on board, then please give this article a read first.
SNCF TER trains
In terms of facilities and on board comfort, TER trains offer the simple necessities. So you will find space to store your luggage and your bike without any problems. There is no on board restaurant so it is best to bring your own food with you. Most TER trains are air-conditioned and they offer a bit less legroom than TGV or Intercité trains. If you are planning on bringing a bike on board, then please give this article a read first.
You will find plenty of different facilities on board a Eurostar train (e.g. luggage storage, restaurant and powerpoint sockets). The most decisive factor is your travel class. For instance, Business Premier ticket holders will be served a hot meal at their seat, have a guaranteed electrical power point socket and also receive priority boarding, unlike the Standard Premier ticket holders. The seat sizes do vary slightly between the different travel classes. Though the greatest differences are lounge access and meal service. For a detailed overview of Eurostar’s facilities, please have a look here.
There is no luggage weight restriction on Eurostar, instead you just have to be able to carry your own bags onto the train.
Adult ticket allows:
- 2 pieces of luggage (up to 85cm long)
- 1 piece of hand luggage
Child ticket (4 to 11 years old) allows:
- 1 piece of luggage (up to 85cm long)
- 1 piece of hand luggage
The facilities on board Thalys trains are very similar to those found on a TGV (after all, they do use the same train models). Electrical sockets are provided for every seat, plus WIFI is available throughout the entire train. Semi-flex and Flex ticket holders can use the WIFI for free, otherwise there is a charge. There is also an on board restaurant serving hot and cold meals, snacks and drinks (alcoholic ones included). First class ticket holders will be served a meal at their seats. There is plenty of luggage storage as well, however Thalys does have some restrictions. There is a baggage limit of two large suitcases up to 32Kg and one smaller bag, or one suitcase up to 32Kg plus one bulky item (bike bag or skis, for example) plus one smaller bag. As there is no check in or boarding procedure, these baggage limits are loosely enforced. So if you find that your luggage is slightly outside of these requirements then you shouldn’t worry too much, there is no boarding procedure where luggage is measured or weighed.
You will find both that both 1 st and 2nd class on an iDTGV are physically identical to a regular TGV. Though on iDTGVs you can choose to sit in either the Zen zone (located on the lower deck on routes serviced by a TGV Duplex) which is supposed to be quiet and peaceful, or the Zap zone, where it is more lively and you are able to hold a conversation or play card games (located on the upper deck for routes serviced by a TGV Duplex).
Unlike regular SNCF TGV trains, iDTGV does have luggage restrictions. The two free pieces of luggage per person cannot exceed:
- two pieces of hand luggage (suitcases, rucksacks, travel bags) per traveller; or
- one hand luggage and an object per traveller (a pram/stroller, a wheelchair, a bicycle with its wheels removed and placed together in a special protective cover of 1.20 x 0.90m maximum, a surfboard placed in a protective cover of 1.20m x 0.90m maximum, a pair of skis, a monoski or a snowboard, a bag containing a ‘small-sized’ domestic animal; or
- a piece of hand luggage per traveller and a piece of luggage of 50cm x 50cm x 50cm ; or
- a piece of hand luggage per traveller and a musical instrument.
If you wish to bring more than two pieces luggage on board, there will be an extra charge of €35 per piece of luggage (you can select this option when booking your ticket), within the limit of 2 extra pieces of luggage per person. If you did not select extra luggage when booking, there will be an extra charge of €45 on board.
OUIGO is a low-cost rail operator that uses high-speed TGV Duplex (double decker) trains. As they are keen on keeping costs low, there is an extra price for additional baggage and a fee of €2.00 for using the power point sockets. There are no catering facilities, which means no snacks or drinks can be purchased on board. Instead you are able to bring your own!
OUIGO has very strict luggage restriction and permits the following amounts on board (free of charge):
- One suitcase which does not exceed 55 x 35 x 25 cm.
- One hand luggage which does not exceed 36 x 27 x 15cm and can be placed on the knees.
- One stroller/pram if travelling with a young child.
If you would like to bring further luggage on board then you can choose to purchase extra baggage for €5 during your booking. Alternatively, you can also purchase this via OUIGO’s website after you have already booked. If you arrive at the station with additional (and unpaid) baggage then you will incur a fee of €20 for each piece.
You will receive free wifi and a power point socket at your seat for the entire trip. OUIBUS also offers reclining seats with plenty of legroom, air-conditioned buses, on board toilets and flexible luggage options. You are given one piece of hold luggage free of charge, though the measurements must not exceed 150cm in length, height and width and the maximum weight is 16kg. You are also able to take on board a second piece of hold luggage for an additional €5 if there is space available (you will see this option when booking your tickets). Plus, OUIBUS also allows you to take one handbag and a small backpack on board, free of charge.
The German version of the well known TGV is called the ICE (InterCityExpress) which runs up to 290 km/h on certain routes. They are a hallmark of modern and ‘civilised’ trains. Some have even argued that these are the most comfortable trains in all of Europe (and with the most impressive interior). You will find WIFI on board some trains, electrical power point sockets at many seats plus open plan seating. There is an on board restaurant/bistro serving hot and cold meals, snacks and drinks including alcoholic beverages. Often first class ticket holders will also be served meals at their seat. You can of course bring your own food too. There are no luggage restrictions for these trains, though bikes are strictly not allowed. For more information (and pictures), please click here.
The German IC (InterCity) trains are also like the little sister to the faster ICE trains. They offer very comfortable seating, travel at a lesser speed and also have a bistro/restaurant on board. You will also find some electrical power point outlets in the newer train models. For a virtual tour, check out this page. These trains have no luggage restrictions.
On these buses, there are comfortable seats with a seat spacing greater than 82 cm, electrical outlets at every seat pair, complimentary WiFi both within and outside of Germany, food and beverage vending machines, a reading lamp at every seat, and an on-board lavatory.
The seat number labels also feature braille for the visually impaired. Small snacks as well as both hot and cold drinks can be purchased from vending machines on board at any time during the trip. In terms of luggage restrictions, with IC buses the luggage is limited to two pieces per passenger and may not exceed the dimensions 70 cm x 50 cm x 30 cm. It also cannot be transported in the seating area. Foldable buggies/prams may be transported if there is enough space available. Oversize luggage cannot be transported under any circumstances, such as skis or snowboards.
For a complete and detailed overview of Thello’s on board facilities, please click here. The luggage specifications are as follows:
- 2 standard size suitcases measuring less than 160 cm (height + length + width), including pouches, wheels, handles and hand luggage.
- You must be able to carry the luggage alone.
Need to bring extra luggage with you? You are allowed to bring 2 extra pieces per passenger for a fee of €40 per piece, which can be paid on board. Luggage can be stored in the racks in the couchette or cabin compartments or on the floor without obstructing the corridor or space of other passengers and crew.
For a complete and detailed overview of Italo’s on board facilities (there are many!), please click here. In Smart class on Italo trains, luggage cannot exceed 75x53x30cm. There is no limit on the number or size of the items you take on board in Comfort, Prima, or Club Executive class, however you can review the guidelines provided in this graphic from Italo for details. Italo asks you to keep in mind the limited space available on any train. So if you’re wanting to move house, another type of transport might be more of a feasible option. Italo also provides padlocks in certain compartments which can be used to lock your luggage during your trip.
All Frecce trains feature a coffee bar service that offers fresh sandwiches, snacks, desserts and hot and cold drinks. Frecciarossa services also have a full sit-down restaurant service, with a regularly changing menu of traditional Italian dishes served by waiters. Trenitalia does not have any luggage restrictions. However, the general allowance is 2 bags/suitcases per passenger plus 1 piece of hand luggage. There is also plenty of space on board for luggage storage, both for larger suitcases and smaller overhead luggage.