Travelling to Brussels on German Rail Pass?

Hello,

Does anyone know whether the German Rail Pass is valid for DB trains travelling to Brussels from Köln (and vice-versa)?

Thanks,
Hans
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) March 20, 2012 19:42
    Hi Hans,

    Since you would be traveling from Cologne to Brussels with a pass that does not include the Benelux (Belgium), you would purchase your reservations at what is known as the 'Passholder 2' rate. The 'Passholder 2' rate is a special rate created to allow passengers in possession of a rail pass that only covers one of the countries being traveled through for a particular Thalys route, to still take the train at a lesser cost. Please note that this would only apply to the Thalys trains from Cologne to Brussels, and not the ICE (Inter City Express) trains that operate along the same route.

    To ensure you are purchasing the reservations at a Passholder 2 rate for a direct Thalys train from Cologne to Brussels, you would take the following steps:

    1.) You would do a search for the individual train under 'Book a Reservation for Your Pass' and indicate the type of pass you are traveling with when prompted (you would just type 'German Rail Pass').

    2.) You would then locate a direct train and click on 'Select' listed with the costs that are shown for your preferred train.

    3.) After you've clicked on 'Select', you would then refer to where it says 'Ticket Flexibility'. Underneath 'Ticket Flexibility', you may see 3 options: 'Non Flexible', 'Semi Flexible' and 'Fully Flexible. You would click 'Read More' next to each of these options until you see the fare titled 'Thalys Passholder 2'. Generally, the Passholder 2 rate would be found under the 'Semi Flexible' option.

    4.) Be sure the option labeled as 'Thalys Passholder 2' is checked, and then click 'Select' to proceed and add it to your shopping cart.

    The same would apply for a return from Brussels back to Cologne.

    The Passholder rates can sell out very quickly, so we would recommend booking your reservations as soon as possible. The Thalys trains can be booked at any point within 90 days of an intended date of departure.
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  • Thank you for the information, Jeffrey.

    Should I take it from your answer that I cannot travel on the Deutsche Bahn's ICE to Bruxelles with the pass?

    In which case, would it be beneficial to take a BENELUX + Germany pass, and if are there still reservation fees and may I only use Thalys and not DB?

    Many thanks,
    Hans
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) March 21, 2012 19:25
    Hi Hans,

    These are all great questions. It isn't that the ICE trains in Germany are not able to be covered by a rail pass, it is just that that the ones that happen to exit Germany and go to Brussels would not be covered with a pass that doesn't include the Benelux as well, and they do not offer Passholder 2 rates to compensate for this, as the Thalys trains do. A German Rail Pass would cover the ticket costs for all ICE trains while operating within Germany but not when they cross the border into neighboring countries.

    Therefore, if you wish to take a ICE train between Cologne and Brussels, and have the ticket costs be completely covered, you could do as you suggested and purchase the Eurail Benelux-Germany Pass, instead of just the German Pass.

    With the Eurail Benelux-Germany Pass, the ticket costs would be covered on either the Thalys trains or the ICE trains between Cologne and Brussels, however, the Passholder 1 fare on the Thalys costs more than the reservation fee on the ICE trains (on the ICE trains, the reservation fee would not be referred to as a 'Passholder 1' fare).

    The Passholder 1 fare is the fare you would book when the rail pass you'll be traveling with includes all of the countries being traveled through for a particular Thalys route. To ensure that you are purchasing the lowest possible reservation fee on a Thalys train, if traveling with a Eurail Benelux-Germany Pass, you would follow the same procedure you would to identify the Passholder 2 rate, as described in my above post. When applicable and available, the Passholder 1 rate would also generally be found under the 'Semi Flexible' option of Ticket Flexibility after you've clicked on 'Select'.
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