If you want to travel on 22nd May 2024 from Paris to Berlin (Germany), Verviers (Belgium) or Luzern (Switzerland), the app and website for SNCF ticketing, SNCF Connect, will show you prices and sell you a ticket. Try the same on 24th May 2024 and it will not. Here are the screenshots to prove it:





Even connections to towns just the other side of the border – like Mouscron (Belgium) or Rastatt (Germany) are no longer available for purchase:

What is going on here?

As this explanation page on the SNCF website outlines, from 23rd May only a very limited selection of international tickets are available for sale from SNCF. There’s also a map listing what is available that looks like it was made in MS Paint.

Let’s not play down the significance of this.

SNCF Connect could until now sell you a ticket to any station in Netherlands (now reduced to just Amsterdam, Schiphol and Rotterdam), any station in Belgium (now just Antwerpen, Bruxelles, Liège), any station in Germany (now just the few stations directly served by cross border ICEs and TGVs), any station in Switzerland (now just anything served by TGV Lyria), any station in Italy (now just Ventimiglia, Torino, Milano) and any high speed station in Spain (now just Barcelona, Girona, Figueres).

What the website of course does not say is why the change happened.

So I set about getting to the bottom of the issue.

On Monday 13th May I was travelling through Strasbourg so headed to the Grandes Lignes ticket office to ask. These conversations were in French, translated into English here.

Me: “I want to take a train from Strasbourg to Berlin in mid-June, but I cannot get a price in SNCF Connect, can you help me?
SNCF employee: “It’s not possible any more
Me: “Really? Why is that?
SNCF: “It’s the fault of Deutsche Bahn!
Me (somewhat surprised at this point): “But other railways manage to sell Deutsche Bahn tickets still.
SNCF: “It’s Deutsche Bahn

I tried again at Grandes Lignes at Paris Austerlitz on Friday 17 May.

Me: “I cannot manage to book a ticket on SNCF Connect from Paris to Berlin in June
SNCF: “It’s not possible any more. You will have to try with Deutsche Bahn or Trainline
(bit of a jaw drop here – Trainline, SNCF’s main ticket sales competitor?)
Me: “Sorry, but I would like to know why this is.
SNCF: “It’s Europe’s fault
Me: “So please tell me this. If Deutsche Bahn can still sell SNCB tickets, ÖBB can still sell Trenitalia, but SNCF cannot sell any of these any more, then how can it be Europe’s fault that SNCF cannot sell these tickets?
SNCF: “But it is international agreements!

And that was then I broke, and told the employee what the actual reason is. Because Le Figaro has the gist of it, and I have had this confirmed to me by sources in other rail firms. SNCF’s IT system for these sales – Résarail – is outdated and being closed down, and the new system is not yet available. And in the meantime sales of these tickets are simply not possible. Incompetence in other words. There is a financial consequence too – it is rumoured that railways receive a 10% commission on these sales amongst themselves. Bang goes that income for SNCF.

But the communication about why this is the case crosses over into malevolence. Rather than facing up to the problem, SNCF resorts to finger pointing – at Deutsche Bahn, Europe, and international agreements. None of which are the reason.

Also what SNCF is doing here is precisely the opposite of what it says it wants to do in its European Parliament election manifesto (full PDF here): “To attract more passengers, we are constantly seeking to improve the quality of our service and are investing heavily in all aspects of customer satisfaction. We have also made a joint commitment with our European partners to improve international ticketing“. If we are to believe the Community of European Railways – of which SNCF is a member – it is only a matter of time before state owned railway firms in Europe sort out these cross border ticketing headaches – while the actual behaviour of one of Europe’s largest railway companies is precisely the opposite.

The likes of Trainline, Omio, SNCB International and Deutsche Bahn will pick up most of the slack, but not all. Passengers unable to book online and who previous relied on purchasing these tickets at ticket offices in France will be left stuck.

None of this is clever or sensible, but sadly that is what you get from SNCF when it comes to anything international.


  1. Florent

    Some months ago, I wanted to buy a Strasbourg > Frankfurt (Germany) ticket with Trainline. I could find a way and pay, but 1 minute later, the German part (only!) was canceled. I couldn’t believe it so tried again several days later and got the same result. So it cannot be said other SNCF Connect is the only ticketing platform that has problems with international trips.

    • There is a big difference between “we want to sell it, and a bug crops up” (which is what you encountered) and “we used to sell this, and now we do not” (the story of the blog post).

      • Karl Napf

        I live in Germany. In October 2023 friends from France were not able to buy a ticket from Avigon to Überlingen (Germany). They could buy until Basel (Switzerland) though. I had to buy the German part then here. I went to a train station, official Deutsche Bahn counter, to ask. They confirmed that Deutsche Bahn was selling tickets only to a few major French destinations.
        So how can you be sure Florent encountered just a bug?

        • I’ve no idea what they can or cannot sell you at a station in Germany. I never do that. But consult international-bahn.de and you will get tickets to any French destination there.

  2. Ticketperson

    Résarail has been decommissioned since early this year for French domestic journeys. Now they’re precisely taking down the « HERMES » part that was in charge of these international journeys.

  3. To do a slight correction, last year around this time I also tried to book tickets via SNCF Connect from Zwolle (NL) to Latour de Carol, and could only get tickets from Amsterdam, Schiphol and Rotterdam as well

    • For the research here I checked Eindhoven to France and got prices. But I admit I did not go the whole way through to book it, so perhaps it would have failed later. So your failure last year is not a definitive answer, sorry.

  4. I have to agree with Chiel here: Buying tickets on SNCF Connect from other Spanish cities not directly served by SNCF trains was also not possible before the 23rd of May. Still, thanks for the deep-dive into the SNCF chaos!

    • I can find a price to Zaragoza – and that’s not served by a cross border SNCF train. So at least some Spanish cities could be sold. My understanding was it could sell you AVE trains – so only big cities.

  5. Contrôleur

    While I do not absolve SNCF of any guilt, the way they handled this situation is extremely subpar given their size and importance in international travel. I think the title should mention that only trips including a leg with another national carrier cannot be booked. Another issue that bothers me is that in the past, when booking France-Switzerland trips where a leg was served by CFF, the tickets for this leg could not be accessed on the phone and had to be printed in France; they couldn’t even be printed at a Swiss station.

  6. Yves-Laurent

    since long I found the SNCF website ridiculously un-efficient. Often switching to DB as soon as France wasn’t the only country involved in the travel.
    but I am in IT and I see… what is happening. Those companies suffer from years of slow move. Years of long transitions between systems with often extremely long dual-systems (if not many more). Now not only they cannot simply update on time, they also cannot follow. Because IT tech is versatile and needs often super fast decisions (1st) followed by action. The opposite of our great railways philosophy. Finally they count on experts hired outside, consultants, paid fortunes, but with very often no precise plan, because few people truly understand the tech aspects and political also destroys part of the possible rare competence in high positions…

  7. Thanks for the article Jon !
    I also understood this is related to the stop of Hermes.
    I think it’s also worth mentioning Kombo, the French website selling SNCF but also train tickets in Italy, Spain, Belgium or Switzerland.

  8. At least buses are still available, I do hope they promote them in the meanwhile to limit users frustration of finding nothing 😉

  9. Le Niçois errant

    A ticket booked on the SNCF website for a journey in Italy (eg Nice-Genoa return) is not valid and cannot be printed in Italy.

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