Above are screenshots taken within the last twenty minutes (i.e. between 0900 and 1000 on 18th November). The first is for prices for a ticket between Bruxelles Midi and London St Pancras, second class, non-flexible, for the morning of Saturday 4th December. The second is from the ticket I booked – Köln Hbf through to London, changing in Bruxelles Midi onto the very same Eurostar on the same day. DB prices are from their website, and Eurostar prices are from Eurostar.com. All this follows the complications of the outward journey that I’ve blogged about here.

The shocking thing is the price.

Köln-London is €66.50* and Bruxelles-London is £121 (€142.38). Even if the Eurostar ticket were part of a return journey it would still be £86.50 (€101.79). The inflexible through ticket from Köln is less than half the price, AND includes the extra journey from Köln to Bruxelles!

So if I want to book cheap single tickets from Bruxelles to London, should I at the same time consult DB to see if their options are cheaper, and simply disgard the Bruxelles-Köln part? Will that even work, as the barcode on the DB ticket is different to a regular Eurostar barcode? Whichever way something is very odd here, and I’ll report further once I’ve taken this trip in December.

* This price contains a BahnCard 25 reduction. Without BahnCard the price is €69.00 – i.e. BahnCard reduction seems to not apply to Eurostar.

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I sometimes use this trick on trains between Sweden and Denmark. Stockholm to Flensburg or Puttgarden is sometimes cheaper than Stockholm to Copenhagen, AND I also get a ticket for a long distance within Denmark. This is in particular useful if my destination isn’t Copenhagen but somewhere further into Denmark.

    Going to Odense? Fine, a ticket from Stockholm to Flensburg covers the entire distance.

    Going to Aalborg? Fine, I buy one ticket from Stockholm to Flensburg and another ticket from Flensburg to Aalborg. I don’t use the portion from Fredericia to Flensburg and back.

  2. Eoin Byrne

    Okay so I know this is an old article but the problems still exist…..

    Booking for a few months into the future, London to Aachen on eurostar.com is cheaper than just booking London to Brussels. No apparent reason either.

  3. We’re working on it! Examples like this one are always good fodder to prove that there is widespread demand, and ample evidence to support a drive for more clarity in European rail booking. Thanks for the info Jon.

  4. I also noticed that a ticket for one and the same train costs different on Thalys, NMBS and DB website. Or NMBS, DB and ÖBB for other connections.

    I wonder when the EU realises that they need to force train operators to make available their tariff information in a common “opendata” fromat in order to allow web apps like http://www.kayak.com to work also for trains. It must be for sure easier to do than harmonising technical rail standards, which seems already an ongoing effort since years.

  5. Oh, and Railteam shelved their plans for a ticket system – probably also due to the DB-SNCF fight. Story from BBC News.

  6. I seem to recall that a common ticketing system was one of the ideas from some EU rail liberalisation directive but the idea was dropped. The problem – like so much of this – is a DB vs. SNCF issue, where both of them have ploughed so much cash into their respective ticketing systems that they can’t start something new… The folks at loco2.com are trying to do some data scraping of rail websites.

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