Keeping Track of European Train Travel
As one of only a few UK suppliers of European train tickets, Ffestiniog Travel has been monitoring the impact of rail travel to and across Europe closely during the COVID-19 crisis. The information contained on this page provides comprehensive details of the health and safety actions being taken by the various European rail providers with links to their websites for further updates.
Every person travelling on or after 8 June must complete the Government form BEFORE travel. The online form and details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/provide-journey-contact-details-before-travel-uk.
Most operators encourage, if not mandate, the use of face masks. Trains are being regularly cleaned, especially those places where there is high tactile usage. Around 50% of the train’s capacity will be available for sale with customers encouraged to use “window seats” to safeguard distance. Eurostar in particular will reallocate passenger seating (if not part of the same booking) to ensure social distancing is easier. Ticket checks will still happen, but will be a visual check rather than physically handled. Within the stations the announcement of platforms will come earlier to allow easier movement around the station.
Measures will vary between countries and train operators, so we have provided information on the key rail providers in Europe below to give a fuller picture of the situation and ensure you are informed of the facts as you consider travelling again by train. We have close and regular contact with our suppliers and are continually being updated with information. Keep checking back here for updated information as and when we receive it from the operating companies.
As an example of the type of information we receive, here is a quote from the French operator SNCF which touches upon the use of air-conditioning on trains. A similar explanation was also sent to us from Deutsche Bahn in Germany:
“Specialists consider that the risk of exposure to the virus in a train via the ventilation/air conditioning system is extremely small. The ventilation/air conditioning system in our trains works mainly through a permanent supply of air from the exterior and this air is filtered before being released. The ventilation/air conditioning system in our trains refreshes all the air in carriages approximately every 6 minutes. Ventilation in our TGVs is not orientated, directed towards passengers but indirectly, most often along the windows towards the ceilings, which prevents any passenger saliva droplets being dispersed towards another passenger, which is also avoided thanks to the obligatory wearing of a mask.”
UPDATE - Travellers coming to/returning to Belgium - effective from 1st August 2020
Regarding the decisions of the Belgian Security Council, all travellers are obliged to fill in a ‘Passenger Locator Form’ coming / returning to Belgium . On this electronic form you must indicate the country where you are and with whom you are traveling to register it with the health services afterwards.
You must be able to provide proof of registration upon return. Failure to comply can result in fines.
Go to the webform ‘Passenger Locator Form’
More in detail:
- When? This obligation will take effect from 1 August 2020.
- Who? The form applies to anyone returning from a multi-day trip abroad (longer than 48 hours), regardless of whether you travel by car, train, bus, plane or other means of transport.
- Countries: The measure applies to all countries, so regardless of whether you go to a green, orange or red zone.
- Monitoring: You can be checked at any border crossing.(sampling). You must therefore complete the form in time and before your return. This will be possible at the earliest from 48 hours before return.
Eurostar have announced that Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International stations will not reopen until 2022.
Recent statement from Eurostar CEO Mike Cooper
I am writing to personally reassure you that the health and well-being of our customers and colleagues has been the top priority of everyone at Eurostar throughout this crisis. And it remains so: We care deeply about getting you to your destination as safely as possible while ensuring our teams face no unnecessary risks.
For those who can travel, our teams have been working hard to put a number of hygiene and social distancing measures in place. And for those who can’t or, understandably, would rather not travel, we want to give you as much flexibility to rearrange your trip as we can.
Keeping you safe at our stations and on board
We’re closely following advice from governments in our destination countries and have adapted our services. You’ll notice some changes to your usual travel experience. Everyone, including our teams, must wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth at our stations and on board. Measures are in place to keep everyone a safe distance apart throughout their journey, including a new queuing system. There’s more information on signs at the station and our team is there to help and guide you.
We’ve also updated our seating plan on board to leave every other seat free and give you plenty of space.
New cleaning procedures
There are now cleaners on board every train to make sure the highest levels of hygiene are maintained. They’ll be cleaning throughout the journey, with their focus on regularly disinfecting areas of the train which you’d be likely to come into contact with, such as door handles and tables. We’ve also increased stocks of soap and water on board.
Update on flexibility and e-voucher policy
To continue giving customers peace of mind, we will be extending the validity of our flexible fares.
All tickets purchased up to 30th April 2021 will benefit from our flexible ticket conditions detailed below:
Terms and conditions
Customers can exchange tickets in Standard Class and Standard Premier as many times as they want up to 30 April 2021 without paying an exchange fee as long as tickets are exchanged 14 days or more before the departure date of the individual journey. Tickets are non-refundable. Where tickets are exchanged for a higher price ticket, customers will need to pay the difference. Where tickets are exchanged for a lower price ticket, the difference in price will not be refunded. Tickets in Standard Class and Standard Premier that are exchanged within 14 days of the individual journey will incur an exchange fee per person and per individual journey in Standard Class (£30 for an adult and £15 for a child) and in Standard Premier (£40 for an adult and £15 for a child). Applies to tickets booked from 1 July 2020.
Please be aware that our coronavirus e-voucher policy will not be extended for travel after 15th Nov 2020.
We will continue to offer e-vouchers as part of our cancellation compensation policy, but we will no longer offer e-vouchers for running trains.
You can find out more about all the measures Eurostar has put in place here https://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/travel-info/service-information/coronavirus-and-eurostar-service
Eurotunnel has implemented additional cleaning procedures. Automatic hand sanitisers have been installed in passenger areas in both the UK and France, toilet facilities are being cleaned and checked for supplies more frequently and all cleaning regimes have been increased at the terminals and on board the shuttles.
In line with regulations terminal buildings are closed. There are toilet facilities available in the allocation lanes and people are urged to use them as the toilets on the shuttles are also closed. Customers are required not to leave their cars whilst on board the shuttles to comply with "social distancing" advice from both Governments.
For more information on Eurotunnel services visit https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/travelling-with-us/latest/covid-19/.
SNCF - France
Acting to protect everyone by:
Ensuring the safety of our passengers and teams remains our priority. In accordance with French government directives we undertake to:
Make sure wearing masks is respected to ensure the protection of all passengers and that of our staff
- When possible, access to the station, train, and sales areas is filtered. Customers not wearing a mask will not be authorised to board the train.
- Customers who do not have a mask will be able to buy one in the station and its vicinity.
- All agents present during the journey have a mask to ensure everyone’s protection.
- If a problem arises on board (rip, etc.), the Train Manager will provide a mask for the customer.
Ensuring the opportunity to wash hands at any time during the journey
- Hand sanitiser provided for agents and passengers in the station and in sales areas.
- On the train, stocks of water and soap in the toilets are secured and checked regularly by the Train Manager and cleaning manager. If there is a temporary shortage, hand sanitiser is provided for customers.
Intensive cleaning of trains, stations and shops
- Cleaning is increased in shops and protective glass partitions have been installed.
- On trains, a complete disinfection procedure (fumigation, ...) is set off if infection is suspected.
- Cleaning is increased and contact surfaces are disinfected with a viricidal product several times a day.
Your Questions & Our Answers
Is access still checked in stations?
Access is still checked at the entrance to some stations. Following the announcement of the French Prime Minister, wearing a mask is obligatory for passengers aged 11 and over during the journey and in the station. You must therefore have a mask when you go into the station.
What assurance is provided in train stations to ensure health safety?
So that you travel in complete safety, we undertake implementing the most rigorous health and hygiene actions both for our agents and passengers in line with French government directives. For example, we are providing hand sanitizing gel distributors at each entrance to major train stations or suburban stations with many passengers passing through. In order to respect social distancing, points will be marked on the ground in train stations and on platforms. Cleaning is increased and regular disinfection carried out with a viricidal product up to twice a day.
Will boarding gates be in operation?
Following the announcement of the French Prime Minister, from 11 May, and if all conditions are present for the lockdown to be eased, checks at boarding gates will start again with hygiene rules respected. And with the protective measures vital for protecting our agents and passengers.
Are you going to open boarding checks more than 30 minutes before train departure to avoid customers crowding together while waiting?
The train platform is displayed 20 minutes before departure. Where possible and in certain major train stations, in order to make moving around the station easier the platform may be displayed 30 minutes before train departure.
On-board ticket inspection
As a reminder, all passengers must have a valid train ticket. Inspections on board take place respecting the hygiene rules outlined by the French government in order to ensure maximum protection of both our agents and customers.
Is it obligatory for passengers to wear masks?
Yes. Following the announcement of the French Prime Minister, from 8 May, wearing a mask is obligatory for passengers aged 11 and over to ensure passenger safety and that of our agents in the station and on board the train.
Do you provide masks for pro or premier customers?
The business premier service is not provided at the moment. Each customer must provide their own mask.
Are you selling two seats for one as has been the case up to now?
SNCF is doing everything to ensure the health protection of its customers and agents.
Since June 2, all places will be offered for sale.
Are we allowed to eat on the train?
From 4 July, 'the TGV bar' will be open. From that time passengers can enjoy a chilled drink or hot meal on board.
In order to ensure their safety and respect the health standards applied in the areas of refreshments and take-away, certain changes have to be made.
Mandatory wearing of face masks for passengers aged 11 and over.
Consumption on 'the TGV bar' is not permitted. We invite customers to eat in their place.
Will the trains provided really operate after lockdown is eased?
We are preparing a very gradual increase in our transport offer. All trains available for ticket sale from 11 May are guaranteed to operate.
Are you going to take advantage of this crisis to increase ticket fares?
No. There will be no increase in ticket fares. SNCF is committed to and will monitor that no increases are applied. The same fares as usual will be applied, and passengers with reduction and subscription cards can also continue to benefit from their preferential rates.
Are ticket sales shops going to reopen? And what about shops in trains stations? What hygiene is provided?
Shops will gradually reopen from 11 May with opening times likely to be adjusted. Additional hygiene measures will be provided in these areas.
Is Group reception also opening again?
Following the French Prime Minister’s announcement and if all conditions are in place for lockdown easing, the transport offer will gradually increase. All terms and obligations will apply to all Groups, the same as for our individual passengers.
Will it be possible to provide assistance for disabled passengers from 11 May?
From 11 May 2020 it will gradually be possible to book your assistance through Accès Plus within usual timeframes. This could be guaranteed for all journeys starting from 13 May 2020.
However, taking the reduced transport schedules and limited number of seats on board into account, customers are invited to postpone travelling. If you cannot postpone your journey, we recommend that you book assistance in advance in order to guarantee that it will be provided.
The assistance service terms for disabled and reduced mobility people are temporarily adapted. As such:
- Wearing a mask is obligatory: please note that if the passenger does not have a mask, the service will be refused
- Luggage carrying is suspended: the passenger must ensure their luggage is suitable for them to be able to carry it themselves.
Are night trains operating?
As night trains have to be organised into reduced compartments and journeys being very long, it is not currently possible to consider starting this service again with sufficient health and hygiene conditions in place. SNCF will keep watch on starting operations again as soon as travel conditions allow for it.
Are TGV Inoui from France to Europe or Europe to France operating again?
The TGV Europe offer is gradually starting again from 11 May in agreement with European partners:
- From France towards Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Italy
- From Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Italy to France
- TGV INOUI from or to Spain and France are not operating for now.
Is social distancing applied on board trains from or to International destinations?
Social distancing is applied to these operations until 2 June. Only 1 seat in 2 is being sold to ensure spacing on board.
Will the conditions to travel be the same as in France?
The specific conditions of the foreign country must be respected, in particular:
- Health and hygiene rules (masks, protective measures, temperature taking, etc.) of the countries in which customers are travelling.
- Passengers may be required to show a travel authorisation form when they arrive in the foreign country.
- If your customers are travelling from an international train station to France, a travel authorisation form may be requested to justify their travel to France.
- Some countries are putting quarantine procedures in place for passengers when they arrive.
To keep up to date with SNCF measures and all its French and cross-border rail services visit https://en.oui.sncf/en/help-en/coronavirus.
Deutsche Bahn (DB) - Germany
Everyone in the industry is looking forward to returning to regular business and DB is no exception: We would like to enable travellers to arrive at their destination in comfort while staying safe. To achieve this goal, we have started an initiative to raise standards in hygiene and cleanliness. DB has established a comprehensive catalogue of coordinated measures to protect customers and employees:
Long-distance trains are cleaned at maintenance facilities upon deployment and every two hours during regular operations. DB Regio trains are cleaned three times a day on average with shorter cleaning intervals on intensively-used routes. For cleaning procedures during regular operations, we put strong emphasis on keeping toilets and contact surfaces, such as grips and handrails at entrance areas, sanitary. We refill soap and disinfectant dispensers on a regular basis.
By July, we aim to double the number of employees cleaning IC and ICE trains during regular operations. Starting from a solid foundation of 500 mobile cleaners in July, DB intends to increase this number to 600 by September. In addition, DB employees at stations clean door handles, handrails, and consoles of ticket and snack vending machines at a high frequency.
At Germany’s 20 biggest stations, customers can wash their hands for free at local restrooms. Furthermore, 180 stations and 150 service stores will provide free disinfectant from dispensers. Markers on the ground at DB info points and travel centers help customers keep their appropriate safety distance.
Face masks / On-board bistro
Travellers and DB employees are obligated to wear face masks on long-distance and regional trains. We recommend our customers use masks also at stations, stops, and on platforms. Please note that it is important to wash hands thoroughly before putting on and taking off masks and to avoid touching anything but the straps. Customers can buy singleuse masks – which are subject to availability – at the on-board bistro of our long-distance trains for EUR 1.50. Our bistros on long-distance trains remain open and still sell the regular selection of food and drinks in single-use packaging. Use of contactless payment options is recommended.
Until further notice, train attendants will check tickets only at a safe distance. In addition, on-board announcements tell customers to use all the available doors for boarding and departure in order to optimize the adherence to safety distance regulations.
Return to regular operations
Cross Border City-to-City Services
Starting from the beginning of June and under constant re-evaluation, DB is slowly returning to the regular number of national and cross-border long-distance connections.
Domestically, we put a strong focus on city-to-city ICE connections depending on the increase in demand: Munich-Dortmund via Nuremberg, Frankfurt, and Cologne; Munich Dortmund via Stuttgart and Cologne; Basel-Dortmund via Karlsruhe and Cologne. ICE sprinter trains between Munich and Berlin will be returning as well.
Trains between Germany and Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Czech Republic are already operating. The number of daily return trips will be increased stepwise in June with traffic to resume to Poland as well.
DB have introduced a new passenger capacity display on www.bahn.com and within the DB Navigator app. Trains with reservations exceeding 50% seating capacity will be highlighted. Reservations will be limited with an option to restrict bookings for certain trains expected to be in high demand.
find all tips and regular updates on https://www.bahn.de/en/view/home/help/corona.shtml . We would like to wish all of us a secure journey towards normality
Thalys – Belgium
Everyone at Thalys is mobilized to support you and respond to your requests during this period.
- In order to follow the directives given by the Belgian authorities, Thalys imposes from May 4 the wearing of masks ("general public" masks) on all travellers who board our trains.
- We authorize for 1 year the postponement without charge of any trip planned on a deleted train between March 10 and August 29, 2020
- The frequency and the service of our trains are adapted to meet the new travel conditions between the different countries we serve.
After several weeks of reduced activity, we are happy to announce the gradual increase in the circulation of our trains from June 9 in France, Belgium and the Netherlands and from June 15 in Germany. We will then increase frequency to reach 20% of the usual capacity of our service. This will then be revised upwards from July 12, to reach 50% of our capacity.
As an international carrier, we wanted to make three commitments to you:
- maximum security at all stages of your trip , including the wearing of a mandatory mask and compliance with barrier gestures;
- improved hygiene , thanks to an even more regular cleaning of our trains;
- the mobilization of all our employees, to support and protect you.
These commitments, deployed on all our trains and for all our destinations, translate into "Responsible Together "
- Responsible - you can count on us to do everything for your health security
- Together – everyone - customer and collaborator – must respect and adapt to the rules to overcome this unprecedented crisis.
For more information visit https://www.thalys.com/be/fr/situation-sanitaire-coronavirus-mesures-commerciales-exceptionnelles
Trenitalia - Italy
Italian Ministry of Health Update
We inform you hereby that, according to a new Order of the Italian Ministry of Health (dated 7th October), further urgent safety measures have been taken in order to contain the spread of Covid-19 virus.
These measures apply to all people willing to enter Italy coming from Belgium, France, The Netherlands, UK, Northern Ireland, Czech Republic and Spain and also to people who have transit through the above mentioned countries in the 14 days before entering Italy.
People included in these categories, wishing to enter Italy will have to:
1) Provide documents proving that they have undertaken molecular or antigenic swab test within 72 hours prior to arrival in Italy and got a negative result.
2) Undertake molecular or antigenic swab test either when arriving in Italy (airport, port, border) or within 48 hours of entering the Italian Country at the local health department.
We will keep you posted about possible future updates.
At the following link you can find the provision of Italian Ministry of Health, available in Italian language:
Travelling on Trains in Italy
As from 1st August 2020, social distancing on Trenitalia long haul trains Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca, Intercity and Intercity Night (seats only) will be gradually removed and all seats on board will become available for sale again. In this new scenario and in compliance with the provisions set out by the Italian Government for the containment of the spread of Covid-19 on public transport, it will be mandatory for clients to accept the new transportation rules of our Company.
In particular, by purchasing a ticket to travel in Italy on long haul trains, clients make the following declaration: In accordance with the provisions set out in the Guidelines for thecontainment of the spread of Covid-19 on public transport, I confirm:
- That I am not suffering from Covid-19 or that I have not been subjected to a mandatory quarantine period of at least 14 days;
- That I am not experiencing symptoms attributable to Covid-19 such as, for example, a body temperature above 37.5°C, cough or cold, and that I have not had contact with a person suffering from Covid-19 in the last 14 days;
- That I agree to cancel my journey and inform the competent Health Authority in the event that any of the aforementioned symptoms emerge before my planned journey or if they occur within eight days of the train services used for this journey arriving at their destination
Agents purchasing tickets on behalf of travellers will be required to flag a specific information message that will appear, confirming that the client accepts the above declaration. If the flag is missing, it won’t be possible to issue any ticket.
All passengers on journeys on board Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains will be given a free health & safety kit, consisting of mask, hand sanitizer gel, latex gloves and single use headrest. Inside the kit customers will also find some water to make their journey more comfortable.
Trenitalia is asking clients to give contribute to our health and safety measures by removing the disposable headrest at the end of their journey and disposing of the them respectfully – with the environment in mind.
Trenitalia apologizes for the temporary interruption of the catering service as well as the welcome drink on board trains due to current regulations and is ready to reactivate them as soon as it will be possible.
Trenitalia has introduced a new Self Check-in tool via its App. The service means customers, who have purchased tickets online for travel on domestic trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca, Intercity and Intercity Night) can avoid physical ticket checks on board and enjoy a more relaxed journey. It provides a safer way to travel during the current health crisis.
It is a useful, optional tool but not compulsory and the check-in is valid from the point of departure until the scheduled time of arrival - once Self Check-in has been carried out, it cannot be cancelled. It is available to all customers, through the Trenitalia App. Those already registered on the App can access the service via their reserved area in the "My Trips" section and non-registered customers can enter the "My Trips" section of the App and select the “recover” button to insert the PNR, email address and reservation code.
Self-Check-in must be carried out for each train and tickets for multiple passengers must be done for each passenger. Self-Check-in is notified through the App to Trenitalia staff on board directly. In the event of a ticket which requires passengers to insert details (e.g. a child's fare or named ticket) the on-board staff can ask customers to show credentials, even if the Self-Check-in has already been carried out by the client
For more information visit Trenitalia's website
Renfe – Spain
To Make Your Trip Safer
In order to avoid contact and crowds and guarantee your safety, we have established new mandatory measures.
These measures, as well as the disinfection and cleaning procedures of the trains, have earned the recognition of the AENOR certificate against the COVID-19 for the transport of passengers.
The protocols, certified by AENOR through exhaustive face-to-face and documentary evaluations, cover all the moments in which a traveler comes into contact with the company's services before, during and after the end of their trip, including check-in and access to trains, the distribution of passengers, the cleaning and disinfection of the interior of the trains, as well as the protection measures for passengers and employees, among others.
This certification process against the contagion of COVID-19 is one more step in the Safe Train Objective program , designed by Renfe to offer all its travelers maximum confidence when traveling and successfully face a return to normality.
New Mandatory Measures
- Access to the boarding area can only be done within the hour prior to the train departure. If you arrive with more time you can wait in the station lobby.
- The boarding process (check-in) will close 5 minutes before the train departs.
- Boarding will take place in an organized way, with preferential access for the elderly, families, people traveling with children or with baby carriages and people with reduced mobility.
- Interpersonal distance is ensured by marking or markings on the ground and issuing reminder messages.
In this way, you will have more time to access the train, you will be able to carry out the process in an orderly manner, we will avoid crowds and we will respect the safety distance.
We also modify the processes of disembarking or unloading the train, which will be carried out progressively upon arrival at the destination station, always starting at the rows closest to the door and continuing in an orderly manner.
- We recommend paying at the ticket offices of the stations with telematic means (card or mobile), to avoid contacts with cash.
- We facilitate the commuting of doctors, ATS and nursing or laboratory personnel, offering them free access to our trains.
This is what you must do to protect yourself and others
- Wear a mask whenever you travel, both in transit through the station, as well as inside the train and throughout the journey. Its use is mandatory, for your safety and that of everyone.
- Use public transportation responsibly - don't travel if you have symptoms consistent with the disease.
- Remember that the maximum weight of your luggage cannot exceed 25 kilos.
- Make sure you get to the station early enough. It is recommended that you arrive 30 minutes in advance.
- Pay attention to signaling, public address announcements, and staff directions.
- Try not to talk to other passengers or on the phone.
- When the train stops upon arrival, remain seated in your seat until the passengers seated in the rows closest to the exit have disembarked.
- Avoid crowds during your trip, especially on the platform of the exit door.
- At all times maintain the recommended hygiene standards and respect the safety distance from other travelers.
Respecting these simple rules, we will avoid crowds and unnecessary contact with others.
SNCB - Belgium
SNCB is closely monitoring the situation regarding the spread of Covid-19 in Belgium and in Europe.
Belgium closed its borders to non-essential international journeys (only essential professional trips are allowed). International leisure travel to/from Belgium resumed on Sunday 7 June. It’s campaign has been named #MoveSafe.
Wearing a mask
Wearing a mask is compulsory on public transport for the travellers from 12 years. It must be worn as soon as you enter the station, on the platforms and on the trainsas will all SNCB staff members on site.
Take care of yourself while respecting others. Regular spot checks will be carried out by the police.
Respect for social distancing
Since May 4, a reduced train offering has been applied to meet both the demands of social distancing and the travel needs of travellers. Passengers are advised to spread out their trips as much as possible and to travel during off-peak hours (after 9 a.m. for example, and, at the end of the day, before 4 p.m. or after 6 p.m.).
How and where can you buy your tickets?
In order to continue to ensure sales, reception and advice to travellers, SNCB has taken certain measures regarding the opening of its counters since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
From June 1, 107 counters were opened during usual weekday hours (except Brussels National Airport and Brussels-Midi) Other stations are temporarily closed.
All other modes of purchasing tickets including via vending machines, the SNCB website or app are available. Purchase by electronic payment only . It is temporarily impossible to buy a ticket from the train attendant.
Regular updates are available here https://www.belgiantrain.be/fr/news/coronavirus