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>>Timetable information and booking

3 juin 2007
Practical infos you need before travelling in France : searching timetables in internet, existing paper or CD-ROM documents, booking your ticket.

In this page you will find :
- Web servers : timetable and search engines
- Booking on line or by telephone.
-  Documents : paper and CD ROM. 
-  At the ticket office or on board.

>> Version française de cette page

Zoom : click on a picture to enlarge it, then click on "return to previous page" of your browser —do not close the image page !— to come back to this page.

Web servers : timetable information

Even for a journey in France, the FUBicy advises you to get information on timetable from the Swiss Federal Railways CFF / SBB / FFS or German DB sites (see URL below) :

  • much quicker loading of pages and results
  • more powerful and convienient search engine
  • CFF and DB can give you many connections that SNCF search engine is not able to find, or is designed not to display (yes !).

Deutsche Bahn

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Freiburg i.B. Hauptbahnhof. Gare centrale de Fribourg en Brisgau.

Main page in german, timetable available in 9 languages. Probably the most exhaustive data base for trains, from Dublin to Vladivostok, with a powerful and efficient search engine.

To find times of trains accepting cycles : click on
Reiseauskunft / Travelservice / Horaires / Ricerca collegamento
and then tick the option carriage of bicycle.

The search engine will select trains accepting bikes. Note : for non-german trains, the result relies on data provided by SNCF or other foreign companies, so that some possible trains (for example some TGV which accept bikes) may not be found.

Swiss Federal Railways

4 different language sections. Timetable search engine is particularly convienient and fast, but the "carriage of bicycle" option is active only for swiss trains, and international database is less complete as you go further from Switzerland. The swiss server is more convienient for regional trains.

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A Swiss Intercity train. Un train inter-régional suisse.

Note : in the CFF pages, "VN" or a cycle struck through, means that the train does not accept cycles, as most of them do. You must purchase a bike ticket (valid all day), but overall the service/price ratio is good.

To find swiss trains accepting bikes : click on
Travel Reise / Voyage / Viaggi , then Timetable / Fahrplan / Horaires / Orario
then click on Advanced search and tick the option carriage of bicycle.

The sub-menu Eventail des Offres > Services, you will find information on the carriage and delivery of cycles in Switzerland. You may also find rental bikes in some train stations ; it is possible to take a bike in a station and give it back in another station.

www.velo.sncf.com

This portal gives you an easier access to informations about bike & train than SNCF main site. But the lists of trains accepting bikes is updated less frequently than trains, and some trains are missing. Data about cycle parkings and velostations are obsolete or far from complete. If you find discrepancies between SNCF web portal and our site, let us know, but it is not necessarily SNCF web pages which are right...

Some regional TER trains are not included in the national database, and some mong-distance trains are not included in the TER web site. To find all connections, you may have to search on both voyages-sncf.com and ter-sncf.com .

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Booking online

voyages-sncf.com , for booking online

The menu "Recherche rapide" (fast search) does not amways work for MacOS browsers like Safari, but it is fully compatible with Firefox . Click either on the "train" pictogram, or on the flag corresponding to you language lower in the page.

Note :
- Impossible to make a bike+train reservation by internet, although bike reservation is compulsory in all trains where bike carriage is not free.
- Sometimes, trains accepting bikes are not indicated as trains accepting bikes.

For journeys to, from or through Switzerland or Germany, you may buy your ticket online by CFF > ticket online or Deutsche Bahn > services

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Telephone : timetable information and booking

You may get information on trains and services by calling 3635 (0,34 €/minute). From abroad, dial + 33 - 892 35 35 35. There is no Train+bike option in the menu, dial choice 3 Achat et réservation de billets (reservation and ticket sale) for connection to a SNCF employee.

Other useful phone numbers :
From foreign coutries : country code +33, remove the first 0.

- Thalys : 0892 35 35 36
- Eurostar : 0892 35 35 39 or 01 55 31 54 54

For international trains, if part of your journey is through Switzerland or Germany, you may call :
- Swiss CFF +41-900 300 300 ( 1,19 CHF/min)
- Deutsche Bahn +49 -11861 ( 0,39 €/min) or
- Deutsche Bahn UK +44 - 8702 43 53 63
It is possible to order your ticket by phone, pay with your credit card, and receive the ticket at home, provided you call at least 5-6 days in advance. You may also buy tickets on the web.

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Printed documents and CD-ROM

Single page timetables and regional guides are freely available at stations, and often (but not always, it may vary from region to region) show trains accepting cycles with a cycle pictogram.

Free brochures will not always show connections when there is less than 10-15 minutes between trains. Ask patiently at the ticket office for more information, or work it out for yourself using and comparing several different brochures.

The SNCF published a relatively complete guide, the "indicateur", but it shall no longer be edited after 2009. And since timetables are implemented every year, we don’t recommend you use an "indicateur" from the year(s) before.

CD ROM SNCF timetable

The SNCF provides a CD-ROM with all train shedules for 8 € (price in 2005). Until 2007, the search engine sncf.exe was compatible only for PC + Windows, so that Linux or MacOS users (almost 1/6 of computers) could not get anything out of it. We have been told that there is now a Mac-compatible version of this CD-ROM. 

You may sometimes have to divide your journey in several parts for finding connections that SNCF search engine would not give you.

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At the ticket office or on board

There may be contradictory information in the various sources. Generally, the ticket office will provide more complete and up-to-date information. There have been progress for several years, but SNCF staff does not always know it : you may tell him/her that the "VEP" code should be used to find trains where bicycle carriage is allowed but not free of charge.

However, even the ticket office might not have the relevant information for some international trains, like some of the trains Bruxelles - Basel via Strasbourg, or Lille - Antwerpen, which accept bikes for a fee.

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For regional tickets, use TER machines, much faster than the SNCF "Grandes lignes" machines. Pour les billets TER, utilisez les machines TER, nettement plus rapides que les distributeurs SNCF Grandes lignes.

All SNCF tickets machines accept credit cards (at least, credit cards with chip) ; TER tickets machines also accept coins. They are convienient, but sometimes the machine will not display a train because it is considered full, while you may still get a few places at the ticket office. It is impossible to get a bike ticket from SNCF ticket machines.

Train tickets are usually valid 2 months - except special offers. However, in France you must stamp your ticket in an automatic ticket puncher just before getting on board. Once stamped, your ticket is valid 1 day. A reservation is usually valid only for one train, and if you need to change it, refund is submitted to conditions, be careful about options when you buy your ticket.

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In a SNCF regional train "TER". Dans un train régional TER SNCF.

On board, the inspector will go by the big indicateur . In case of contradictions, you should be able to get the service that suits you best, but it will not always work.

If you get on a train that accepts cycles, and the inspector says no and wants to put you off :

  • keep the document (original or a copy) showing that cycles are allowed on that train.
  • keep calm and polite, it makes things easier. Tell the inspector where you got your information. The inspector should not forbid you to get on board for the only reason that the train has no cycle space or luggage van if it should have had one.
  • if you are unconvinced, but he insists, you can always obey, get off the train, and (shh !) get on again at the other end. Or you can ask him to write out the fine, and get it canceled later if you are within your rights. It’s a bit chancy. Inspectors have been known to delay a train to throw cyclists off, even from trains allowed to cycles !

If you are on board of a train which is late, the inspector may find new connections for you before your arrive to the station. But he will not always have reliable information for your bike, and may tell you the train does not accept bikes, wheras it does. If you have time, check at the ticket office, and if not, try to catch the train and you will find out...


Other "Train+bike" pages of this site
(english version)

- how carrying your bike on a train
- different types of trains  : regional, inter-regional, high speed,...
- other intermodal solutions  : velostations, parking, hiring, delivery
- complaints

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