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Are reservations needed for trains in Germany?

We'll be traveling to Europe in June and are looking at buying a 6 day Benelux-Germany pass. From past traveling in Belgium, I know we won't need reservations for some train trips, but for others (in Germany) we don't know if we do. Can we make reservations for only certain days/trips of our pass? (We definitely want to catch a morning train June 25 from Cologne to Hanover, so should we reserve it?). Can we reserve it while in Europe and how far in advance is suggested? Or, do we have to reserve these trains before we go to Europe? Thanks.
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  • In a nutshell, a reservation is a guaranteed seat on a specific train, assigned to you personally.

    Whether you need a reservation or not depends on three things: the train you’re on, what type of rail pass you have and the country.

    Let’s start with the train you’re on. There are essentially three types that run in Europe, each with different requirements.

    The first type of train is “Reservations Required.” This generally applies to high speed and overnight trains. Tickets sold for these trains always include a reservation. If you are traveling with a rail pass, you must purchase a seat reservation separately, at an additional cost. If you try to board these trains with your rail pass only, you will most likely get fined.

    The second type of train is “Reservations Recommended.” These trains offer you the possibility of a reserved seat, but a reservation isn’t mandatory. You can opt out of purchasing it, but we feel it’s a small price to pay for the convenience and peace of mind of knowing a reserved seat is waiting.

    Finally, “Non-Reservable” trains are trains where a reservation is NOT needed or possible.Simply get on board and sit in any open seat in the class of service of your pass.

    The standard reservation price is $12 USD per person, per train. For overnight trains, sleeping accommodations start at $36 USD per person for a couchette. Certain international high-speed trains like the Eurostar or Thalys, as well as international overnight trains, have their reservations priced much higher. Make sure to do your research in advance to determine whether a pass is most cost effective for your itinerary.

    You also need to keep in mind that rail carriers usually have a limited number of seats for travelers with a rail pass, so be sure to book as soon as possible. If reservations are sold out, you can usually buy a regular city-to-city ticket. While it does cost more than a reservation, it won’t cost you a day on your rail pass. Reservations can generally be booked 60-90 days before your train trip, so don’t delay!

    Ready to find out if your train route requires a reservation? Just click over to our website’s “Book a Reservation for your Pass” section (on the home page under the main booking box). Type in the name of the rail pass you’ll be traveling with so we can retrieve reservations compatible with your pass. If you’re traveling with a Eurail Select Pass, you’ll also have to indicate which countries are included in your pass. Then enter your city of origin and destination, your preferred train departure time, the number of travelers and the class of service for your pass.

    The next screen will list all the trains available for your travel preferences, clearly indicating whether reservations are required, recommended or not offered for each option.

    Have a great trip
    Fred
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) March 07, 2012 16:51
    Yes, Gary, you can determine whether or not a reservation is needed by following the procedure explained by Frederick. I would also just suggest that, if a cost displays when you do your search under 'Book a Reservation for Your Pass', you would want to go ahead and book the reservation.

    While high-speed trains throughout Europe require reservations, the high-speed trains operating within Germany (ICE trains) are an exception and actually do not require reservations, but we still strongly recommend booking reservations on these trains. The ICE trains do connect Cologne and Hannover, so we would advise you to purchase reservations for that route and any other routes in Germany where a reservation is possible, especially for travel in June. These ICE trains will connect most of the larger cities in Germany.

    Trains in Germany can only be reserved within 90 days of an intended date of departure.
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