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As an official partner of 400 train, bus, plane, and carpooling companies, Kombo allows you to compare all the major companies: SNCF, Ouigo, Trenitalia, Flixbus, BlaBlaCar, Air France, and more. This way, you can be sure to always find the best itinerary for all your journeys.
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With the liberalization of transportation, the number of train companies in Europe has greatly increased: SNCF, Ouigo, Trenitalia, Renfe, Thalys, Eurostar. These companies are not always well known, not to mention those that regularly arrive. To not miss out on a good deal, the best thing is to compare on Kombo.
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Our best advices for buying train tickets
When should you buy your train tickets to pay less?
Train ticket prices vary much less than plane tickets or hotels. But they still very a lot depending on the purchase period and the departure date. This is called Yield management. Understanding it better allows you to anticipate it better and therefore find the most advantageous tickets.
At Kombo, we study the routes of our 1 million monthly users to tell you when to buy your train tickets:
The most important thing is to buy your tickets in advance: it's at the sales opening the tickets are the cheapest. SNCF, for example, usually sells its tickets 4 months before the travel date. That's when you can find "prem's" tickets, which offer the best rates (starting at 15€).
Tickets are on average more expensive when purchased at the end of the month (+5 to +6% compared to the rest of the month).
The difference is not significant, but tickets are slightly cheaper when purchased on Tuesday (-4% vs the rest of the week) and more expensive on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday (+3%).
Regarding departure, it's better to leave in the middle of the week. The weekend is the period when tickets are the most expensive (+15% on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
Above all, ticket prices increase during school holidays: at Easter, Christmas etc but especially during summer holidays. We don't want to take sides in the war between July vacationers and August vacationers, but July is the most expensive month of the year (slightly) with prices 25% higher on average than the rest of the year.
How to find cheaper train tickets?
At Kombo, our algorithm is designed to allow you to find the cheapest train tickets, but not only that. Our real goal is to allow you to easily find the best compromise between price, travel time, number of connections, comfort, etc. So it's best to use Kombo for all your journey searches and to read our little guide on the best tips for finding cheap train tickets, which we made with love 💙.
Where to buy your train ticket?
You can buy your tickets:
At the station, in ticket offices or on self-service terminals. However, not all train companies are always available.
On the websites of train companies: SNCF connect, Eurostar,Trenitalia, the regional sites of each train companies.
On a comparator like Kombo, to be sure to find the best prices and to have better customer support in case of a problem: customer service available 7/7, automatic refund in case of delay, and many other features designed to make your life easier.
How much does a train ticket cost?
Several elements make up the price of a train ticket.
There are fixed costs that contribute to the minimum fares of each train
Distance: The distance traveled is one of the main determining factors of the train ticket price. Generally, the longer the distance, the more expensive the ticket.
Equipment: The price of a train and its maintenance are integral parts of the fare of the tickets sold. Some trains, such as high-speed trains, are more expensive than regional or local trains.
Rails: Part of the ticket cost goes towards paying a right of way on the rails. This generally corresponds to 35-40% of the ticket price.
VAT: A 10% value-added tax applies to train tickets.
Fuel / Electricity
Other factors can cause the ticket prices to vary, sometimes double for the same train:
Class: The choice of travel class also affects the price. First-class tickets are generally more expensive than second-class tickets.
Date and time of departure: Ticket prices can vary depending on the time of year, day of the week, and time of departure.
Availability: The higher the demand, the higher the prices. Likewise, prices may be lower when demand is low.
Is it worth choosing low-cost options for train travel?
Some companies now offer cheaper train journeys with lower quality service, similar to what is offered in air travel. In France, Ouigo is the low-cost offer from SNCF. Tickets are indeed cheaper, but with some restrictions:
Less popular travel times: very early in the morning, in the middle of the day or late at night.
Luggage constraints: Ouigo tickets limit the number of bags, with additional bags incurring an extra cost.
No bar carriage: to save space!
No default electrical outlets: if you want to charge your phone, you need to add the paid option.
Less flexible tickets: but on Kombo, we offer an exclusive cancellation guarantee.
Earlier boarding: it is recommended to arrive 30 minutes before departure and boarding closes 5 minutes before (instead of 2 minutes on most trains).
Departures and arrivals from more remote train stations: for example, Massy and Marne la Vallée in Paris.
How to find discounted train tickets?
Companies offering promo codes are rare in the train industry. But whether it's promo codes or special deals, as a commercial partner of these companies, we often know about them. We share everything on our newsletter (which you can sign up for at the bottom of the page) and our social media. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok for more information.
Is it better to travel by train or by plane?
Which is cheaper between train and plane?
It all depends on the route, departure day, company, options, etc. But it is true that planes can often seem cheaper than trains, especially for destinations that are more than 5 hours away by train. However, be sure to calculate the total cost of the trip: the main transport, all baggage options, the taxi/shuttle required to reach the airport and city center, etc. Often, trains are more economical when you take everything into account. As price differences between the two modes of transport vary and there may be many companies to compare, we recommend searching directly on Kombo. This way, you can see and book different transport options directly on one site.
What is safer, train or plane?
In terms of safety, both the plane and the train are among the safest modes of transportation. The train has 0.04 deaths per million transported passengers, while the plane has 0.05 deaths per million transported passengers. Although the plane is quite safe, it often causes fear due to the impressive nature of accidents.
What is faster, train or plane?
Similar to prices, it is important to calculate the total travel time. For example, for a Paris-Toulouse trip, the train takes just over 4 hours vs 1 hour 15 minutes for the plane. The plane may seem faster, but if you consider:
The time to travel from the center of Paris to the airport (1 hour)
The time for check-in, customs and waiting at the airport (1 hour)
The time to travel from the Toulouse airport to the city center (30 min)
The train and plane are actually comparable. This is the case for most trips in mainland France.
For European trips, the plane is of course the fastest option.
Is it better to travel by train or bus?
Which is cheaper, train or bus?
The bus is often cheaper than the train, but this is not always the case. Certain routes that benefit from low-cost offers (Ouigo) or competition with SNCF (Trenitalia), are very competitive by train.
In fact, it is mainly for last-minute tickets that the bus is cheaper. Indeed, bus tickets increase proportionally less than train tickets as the departure date approaches.
So, in summary, by booking several months in advance, both modes of transport are often comparable, but if you are looking for an economical way to travel at the last minute, the bus is your ally.
Which is safer, train or bus?
The train is safer than the coach. However, the coach is much safer than people think: often compared to the car which causes 64% of transport-related accidents each year, the coach is only responsible for 0.4% of these accidents.
Which is faster, train or bus?
The train is almost always faster than the bus. The only advantage of the bus is to offer more connections and therefore allow you to easily reach places that are not directly served by the train. On Kombo, to enjoy the best of both worlds, we offer combined trips: part of the journey is by train, the other by bus. This allows you to pay less without too much of an increase in travel time.
Is it better to travel by train or car?
Which is cheaper, train or car?
The question is not that simple. It all depends on what is taken into account in the calculation: immediately, the car often seems cheaper because the cost of the vehicle and its maintenance is not included. In general:
The train is often cheaper when traveling alone and/or on long distances and/or when buying tickets in advance.
The car is often cheaper when traveling with several people and on short/medium distances.
Which is safer, train or car?
With two accidents per million trips, the car is one of the least safe modes of transportation, far behind the train.
Which is faster, train or car?
The train is almost always faster than the car on the routes it covers. However, the car has advantages for all places poorly served by the train that require many connections and therefore a travel time by train that can become longer than that of the car.
What are the major train companies operating in Europe?
SNCF: SNCF operates all French national rail services, including the TGV network. More than 800 SNCF high-speed trains depart every day. SNCF's TGVs carry over 100 million passengers each year. You can find SNCF under different brands: Ouigo, Inoui, TER, intercités. The company is also a part-owner of Eurostar and Thalys.
Deutsche Bahn: The German national railway company is the largest in Europe, carrying about 2 billion passengers per year. Deutsche Bahn's Intercity-Express (ICE) high-speed trains connect major German cities as well as some international destinations in Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, France, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
Italo: Italo is a private high-speed train company that connects 16 stations in 13 Italian cities. Italo operates 3 high-speed train lines throughout Italy: from Verona to Naples (via Bologna, Florence, and Rome); from Venice to Salerno (via Padua, Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Naples); from Turin to Salerno (via Milan, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Naples).
Trenitalia: Owned by the Italian government, Trenitalia is the main Italian railway company. Trenitalia offers regional and long-distance connections within Italy as well as international connections to France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Renfe: Renfe Operadora is the Spanish national railway company. Renfe's AVE high-speed trains run up to 350 km/h and connect Madrid to other major Spanish cities such as Seville, Barcelona, Valencia, Toledo, Cordoba, and Malaga.
Flixtrain: Train company launched by Flixbus.
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How to validate a train ticket?
The way to validate your ticket depends on the type of ticket you have:
For printed tickets, which are e-tickets, there is no need to validate them.
For tickets on your phone, there is no need to validate them either.
For physical tickets purchased directly at the train station, you may need to validate them by stamping them. Machines to validate tickets are available at all train stations. Validating your ticket is particularly important for those that are not dated precisely. This is the case, for example, with many TER tickets, which are valid for an entire day or a specific period.
It is worth noting, however, that 96 to 99% of train tickets are digital and therefore do not need to be stamped.
What baggage can I bring on the train?
The rules regarding the baggage you can bring on the train may vary depending on the railway company and the type of train you are traveling on. However, here is some general information:
Carry-on baggage: You can bring a carry-on bag on the train, which must be small enough to be placed on the luggage shelves or under your seat. The dimensions and maximum weight allowed for carry-on baggage may vary depending on the railway company. However, this is much less controlled than for airplanes.
Checked baggage: If you are traveling with larger or heavier baggage, you may need to check it. The rules regarding checked baggage also vary depending on the railway company. The dimensions and maximum weight allowed for checked baggage may also vary.
Prohibited items: it is quite obvious, but some things are not allowed on trains, such as weapons, explosives, flammable substances, and dangerous chemicals. If in doubt, check with the railway company for restrictions on prohibited items.
How early should I arrive to catch the train?
At Kombo, we know that there are those who will arrive one hour early and those who will arrive just in time (or even miss their trains). We cannot change this, but if you don't want to take too many risks, we recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before departure.
In most train stations, trains are displayed 20 minutes before departure. This allows you to comfortably settle in and take advantage of your head start to watch panicked people running on the platform because, unlike you, they decided to arrive right on time.
However, we would like to warn you that for some trains, access to the platform is closed 5 minutes before departure.
How to cancel a train ticket?
Whether or not you can cancel/exchange a train ticket depends on the type of ticket you have chosen. These conditions are mentioned at the time of purchase. You can find them at any time in your after-sales space.
If you have purchased your tickets on Kombo, there is no problem: you can access your reservations at any time via your customer space or with your booking reference.
If you have a booking number
You can retrieve your ticket from your account after-sales using the email address you used to book and your Kombo booking number (7 digits preceded by a K). Click on "tickets" at the top left of the website to access this page.
If you have an account
You can retrieve your ticket by logging in with your email address (a login link will be sent to you). Click on "tickets" at the top left of the website to access this page.
Once you have found your tickets
Options available will be displayed on the reservation page. Depending on the company, the selected guarantee, and the time before departure, you may be able to cancel your trip, with or without fees.
Our bonus: you receive your refund directly into your account, no voucher involved.
How to exchange a train ticket?
The process to exchange your tickets is the same as for cancellations (see above).
What to do in case of delay/cancellation?
It is possible that trains may be delayed. Therefore, there are different compensations determined by companies and European laws:
For Inoui trains: you can request compensation beyond 30 minutes of delay using this form. You can receive:
Between 60 minutes and 119 minutes: 25% of the ticket price.
More than 120 minutes : 50% of the ticket price.
For Ouigo trains: By default, Ouigo compensates you with a voucher. The conditions are as follows:
Less than 1 hour late upon arrival: unfortunately, you are not entitled to any compensation.
Between 1 hour and 1 hour 59 upon arrival: your compensation is 25% of the ticket price.
More than 2 hours upon arrival: your compensation is 50% of the ticket price.
For Trenitalia trains: You are entitled to compensation for delays exceeding 30 minutes. You must fill out an online form to benefit from it.
Less than 1 hour late upon arrival: 25% of the ticket price in voucher.
Between 1 hour and 1 hour 59 upon arrival: 25% of the ticket price in voucher or bank refund.
More than 2 hours upon arrival: 50% of the ticket price in voucher or bank refund.
For Eurostar trains: In case of a delay of more than 60 minutes, you can request:
A refund in voucher via this form.
Between 60-119 minutes: 30% of the fare.
Between 120-179 minutes: 60% of the fare.
180+ minutes: 75% of the fare.
A cash refund via this form.
Between 60-119 minutes: 25% of the fare.
More than 120 minutes: 50% of the fare.
How to find reliable information during strikes?
We know that strikes can be stressful. If you bought your ticket on Kombo, we automatically send you an email to keep you informed about the situation with your ticket. And to best assist you, we have prepared a guide to help you during SNCF strikes.
Some information about trains and their history
How was the train invented?
The train as we know it today is the result of numerous inventions, improvements, and innovations made by engineers and inventors over the centuries.
The first known rail vehicle was a wooden cart on wooden rails, used in Germany in the 16th century to transport coal wagons in mines. However, the development of the steam locomotive, which revolutionized railway transport, began in the late 18th century.
In 1784, British engineer William Murdoch built a small model of a steam locomotive for the Redruth coal mine in Cornwall, England. However, it was George Stephenson, another British engineer, who is widely considered the father of the railway.
Stephenson built his first steam locomotive, called "Blücher", in 1814. He then worked on a series of other locomotives and was tasked with building the first public railway line in 1821, the Stockton and Darlington Railway. His "Rocket" locomotive was used to pull the first passenger train on this line in 1825.
Railway development continued in the 19th century, with the construction of railway lines across Europe, North America, and Asia. Steam locomotives were replaced by electric and diesel locomotives in the second half of the 20th century.
Today, the train remains an essential mode of transport in many countries around the world and is used to transport passengers and goods over long distances quickly and efficiently.
Interesting fact: when the train began to become popular, many people believed that the human body would not be able to withstand such speed and that our organs would be crushed under its effect.
How does the train work?
The train is a railway transport that uses locomotives to pull wagons or cars on rails. The train operates using the principle of traction, which is the force required to move an object.
Here are the main components and operating principles of the train:
The locomotive: The locomotive is the engine of the train and contains the propulsion system that drives it forward. Modern locomotives are usually powered by electricity, diesel, or nuclear energy.
Wagons or cars: Wagons or cars are the vehicles that transport passengers or goods. They are attached to the locomotive and can be added or removed depending on transport needs.
Rails: Rails are the tracks on which the train runs. Rails are made of steel and are laid in parallel along the railway line.
Switches: Switches are mechanisms that allow trains to change tracks or direction.
Signaling system: The signaling system allows trains to communicate with light signals and sound signals to follow their route, avoid collisions, and stop in case of an emergency.
Overhead lines: Overhead lines are a system of cables and poles that supply electric locomotives with electrical energy during their journey.
In summary, the train is a railway transport system that uses a locomotive to pull wagons or cars on rails using traction and controls direction and speed using various components and signaling systems.
Where does the word "train" come from?
The word "train" comes from the Old French "trahin" which meant "path" or "way". This word is derived from the Latin "traginare", which means "to pull" or "to transport". The term "train" was first used to describe a line of carts or vehicles pulled by horses on paths or roads.