NOTE: due to the popularity of this blog post, and also possibly due to a reduction in the number of London Spezial tickets it now seems harder to find €49 tickets, but as of 3rd October 2012 the system outlined below still works. You just might have to try more than one stopover combination.

I’m a regular traveller on Eurostar, and I often travel onwards from Brussels to Germany by train, so much in fact that I am used to booking tickets of DB’s website. In the past I happened to discover that through tickets from Germany to London were cheaper than tickets booked from Belgium to London. It seems DB is muscling in on the Eurostar business before liberalisation of the channel tunnel is due in 2013.

Here then is a guide to how to get the cheapest Eurostar tickets on the London-Brussels route, using DB’s website rather than Eurostar.com. The standard price is €49.00 single, sometimes a saving of 50%.
NOTE: there’s a worked example at the end of the post.

  1. You need to book tickets from London to Germany, or Germany to London, on trains via Brussels. Your best bet is to look for connections to or from Aachen Hbf, the first main station after the border with Belgium.
  2. Start first by working out what Eurostar trains you want to take, at which times and on which dates. You can do this using Eurostar.com or DB Reiseauskunft (also available in English). Don’t worry about the prices of these tickets, just concern yourself with the times and dates. Keep these window(s) with the train times open. Note that the price of the Eurostar leg does not determine the price of the total ticket.
  3. Next work out the train connections between Bruxelles Midi (the Eurostar terminus) and Aachen Hbf, using DB Reiseauskunft. You need to look for ICE trains only (not Thalys), and you can break your journey for up to 48 hours in Brussels. In other words find an ICE that leaves from Brussels to Aachen less than 48 hours after your Eurostar will arrive, or an ICE that arrives in Brussels from Aachen less than 48 hours before your Eurostar leaves. You need to find ICE trains that offer you a price of €19.00 for this connection. If you’re offered higher prices your total price to/from London will also be higher. The price of the whole ticket is determined by the price of the Brussels-Aachen part, so seek out that €19.00 ticket! Keep these windows open as well.
  4. Then put the two parts together, booking using DB Reiseauskunft. Make your starting station London St Pancras International and your end station Aachen Hbf (or vice versa) and – the important part – click ‘enter stopovers’ (Zwischenhalte angeben) and enter Bruxelles Midi. Enter the total amount of hours and minutes needed between the two legs of the journey, making sure that your Eurostar will connect with an ICE and not with a Thalys (or ICE connect to a Eurostar).
  5. This should give you €49.00 as the price for a single ticket, plus a €2.50 charge. This can then be booked off the DB website with a credit card, with a PDF file produced that you can print at home. These tickets do not work in the automatic ticket gates for Eurostar – you have to go to the desk beside the gates to get a boarding ticket.
  6. Of course there is no need to actually take the Brussels-Aachen leg of the journey.

If you have a BahnCard25 you can save an additional €5, making the ticket €44.00, plus a €2.50 charge.

What are the downsides? First, if you’re booking really long in advance, Eurostar.com might be a fraction cheaper. This trick works best for trains booked a month or so in advance. Second, it works only for tickets that cannot be exchanged. Third, you don’t earn any Carte Blanche points. Fourth, you do not get to choose your seat in Eurostar (although you can probably ask the people nicely at the terminal!)

Anyway, as the explanation above is not too simple to follow, here is a worked example. Click each screenshot to view it at full size.


The train I want to take – the 0827 from London – is highlighted.


The next available ICE at €19.00 to Aachen leaves at 1425, a little over 2 hours after the Eurostar arrives.


When I click ‘Enter stopovers’ I then enter Bruxelles Midi and 02:10 in the stopover time, and hit search.


Bingo – a €49 single ticket on Eurostar.

These trains are more than a month away at the time of writing, but a single for the 0827 departure on Eurostar.com is already £56. I have managed to book €49.00 DB tickets when the price of a single on Eurostar.com was more than £100, hence saving more than 50%.

68 Comments

  1. Alex Bomphray

    Got 2 x 59 euro tickets from Aachen to London for 13 March. Same price also available from Koln but we have Inter City Hotel day passes which get us to Aachen anyway.

    £56 each was the Eurostar fare from any station in Belgium, plus approx. £9 single Aachen to Welkenraedt, so saving around £20.

    Our outward journey didn’t give us an option, but travelling first from Edinburgh gave us no options other than 1504 from St Pancras and only 20 minutes stopover time in Brussels.

    Cheers

    Alex Bomphray

    • Simon Maarfield

      The flaw with that is that your Intercity Hotel pass is only valid on regional trains, not the ICE to Aachen. So you’ll have to leave Köln at least half an hour earlier and change in Aachen

  2. Lindsay – there’s some bug with the reservations on DB’s system. When it asks you for your reservation preferences (window, aisle etc.) just leave those blank, and then it normally all works.

  3. Lindsay

    I’m trying to book London to Dusseldorf. It initially comes up with a 59euro option but as others said when you get to the end of the process and click pay now, it comes up with “reservation impossible” for the Eurostar segment. Why is this? Why show a ticket available at the start if there aren’t any?! Can anyone shed any light please? The Eurostar website option is £129, so rather more.

  4. Simon Field

    Still *from* 59 EUR according to DB website. The price varies according to demand and booking horizon…

  5. Antwan

    A little update on this, at the date of 03/12/2014, this still works, but the “London Spezial” tariff is now 69EUR.

  6. Thank you so much, it worked. Only one way though, for the other, I can’t find a ticket at 19 EUR.

  7. Thanks so much for this article… i’ve found my two fares and joined them up together, the DB website indeed promises a saving of over 50% from the Eurostar website.

    All amazing, but every time I reach the end of the booking process it tells me the tickets are unavailable. I’ve tried this again over several days now (after seeing your comment above) but no joy

    Is there any hope?

  8. @Miriam – it’s a PDF for you to print at home.

  9. @Miriam – it’s a PDF for you to print at home.

  10. Miriam

    If booked it like you suggested through to Aachen, where do I have to get the ticket at the Brussels station or in London? Is it easily marked???

  11. @Debs – I’ve encountered that a few times, but then tried a few hours later and it worked. Never worked out why it happens… (FWIW you get that with SNCF all the time, DB much less prone to it…)

  12. PS I managed to get right to the end of the booking process twice and it told me the option was no longer available… do yo uhave any tips? Is it normal for DB to show tickets and then not sell them?

  13. @Debs – I have never tried it getting off at Ashford or Ebbsfleet, but I’d be very surprised if it did not work as your ticket would be to travel further than you are going, and they cannot quibble with that. I can for definite confirm there is no problem if you do not use the Aachen – Brussels part, and I have indeed done this many times. I think there even is no way if Eurostar can even tell if you took that part of the trip or not as their system is not connected to DB’s.

    As for pros / cons of returns and singles – it doesn’t make much difference. A return is double the price of a single. Just might be worth bearing in mind that singles can be cancelled separately too, while if you cancel a return you have to cancel the whole lot.

    And yes, I can confirm this does all still work – I booked Berlin – London in April using this trick!

  14. Thanks so much for this – I was going to ask if it sill works but I see the comment abve was quite recent. Is there any advantage in booking a return ticket? Also I see I can’t book to Ashford/Ebbsfleet, but the Eurostar seems to suggest that I can board/disembark in Kent, as long as I have booked through to London, and the train stops there of course. Do you know if this is correct? I assume nothing is cancelled if the first leg from Aachen isn’t used… unlike flights. I’d like to give a go, as my first search saved almost £100!

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