Tips on rail travel

Save time and money when booking rail travel this spring with our tips

When booking travel, the options can be mind-boggling, so follow our suggestions to smooth out the process.

Be an early bird

Eurostar tickets can be booked up to six months in advance for intercapital routes – London to Paris, Brussels and Lille. The Avignon Direct and Disney Direct Services can be booked now for travel in summer 2014 and you can book services within France a maximum of 90 days in advance.

Look for cheap fares

When booking French journeys, always look out for Prem fares, which are the cheapest ones, available when sales open. A one-way Prem fare from Paris to Nice starts at £22.50 or from £13.50 for a Paris-to-Reims ticket. Limited in availability, Prem fares sell out quickly so the sooner you book the better.

Tickets together

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It’s best to book the full journey at the same time – eg London to Nantes and return – rather than booking the Eurostar and French leg at different times, in case of any issues that might prevent the onward services running as anticipated. If you do book the Eurostar before the French journey, it’s best to get flexible tickets in case they need to be changed.

Senior seat

There are special senior fares on Eurostar and high-speed services, although they are subject to availability. An SNCF Senior + Card is available for frequent travellers in France. Valid for a year, it entitles the holder to as much as 50 per cent off rail tickets for high-speed, overnight and local rail services. Passes cost from £58.50.

Pass up Paris

If you’d rather not change stations in Paris, don’t forget Eurostar trains serve Lille, which might be a more convenient connection stop. There are direct services from Lille to towns throughout France, so check to see if it serves your destination.

Go underground

If you are changing stations in Paris, reduce your transfer time by purchasing métro tickets at the same time as your mainline train tickets on the website www.voyages-sncf.com.

Rail around

If you intend to travel around France, consider an InterRail France pass, which starts at £185 for an adult standard class pass, valid for three days of travel in a one-month period. Passes are also available for four, six and eight days of travel in a one-month period.

Rail Europe is now known as Voyages-sncf.com.

Tel: 0844 848 5848

The UK call centre and the London Travel Centre are still at 193 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EU to help customers with information and bookings.

www.voyages-sncf.com