Coronavirus Train Travel – Western Europe

By Edward | Coronavirus

May 21
Empty LNER train
This photo shows an empty LNER Azuma and is courtesy of my LNER colleague, train manager Peter Strong. #railwayfamily. Thank you very much!

Coronavirus Train Disruptions - Western Europe

Almost all Western European trains are back to normal. The Russian Railways services from Moscow to Paris and Nice remain suspended. In Most countries you have to wear a mask on the trains.

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Great Britain - Coronavirus  train travel🇬🇧

Face masks are now mandatory on trains in the whole of the UK. Social distancing distance is 1 metre.

GB safe countries

Here you can see which border countries are on the "safe" list. On return from the riskier countries you have to go into self-quarantine for 14 days.

Safer
  • Ireland
Riskier
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands

Britain has eased its lockdown, though some local lockdowns remain in place. People can travel again just for the hell of it.

Eurostar

Face-masks are mandatory on Eurostar trains and at Eurostar stations. You won't be let onto the train without something covering your nose and mouth. 

France has eased its lockdown and is trying to get the tourists in again.

Eurostar is running five daily trains to Paris Nord, one to Disneyland and three to Brussels.

As borders have reopened, the romantic getaway or or the brie run are on the menu again - except that when you return to England, you have to self-isolate for 14 days.

On returning to England, you need to have the following form filled out and submitted.

Click here for Eurostar's corona page and timetable.

National Services

All franchises have been suspended, putting all railways under state control. Almost all trains are running normally.

Here is National Rail Enquiries' corona page, with links to all operators' timetables.

Updated: 20th August. Outlook: stable

The Netherlands - coronavirus train travel

🇳🇱

Face-masks (mondkapjes) are mandatory on all Dutch trains. Social distancing distance is 1.5 metres.

Netherlands safe countries

Here you can see which border countries are on the "safe" list. On return from the riskier countries you have to go into self-quarantine for 14 days.

Safer
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • France
  • England
Riskier
  • England (Leicester)
  • Belgium (Antwerp)

A negative coronavirus test won't help you either. Arriving from anywhere not safe you must self-quarantine.


International services

Thalys is increasing frequency. There are five daily services to Brussels and Paris Nord and back. Expected to increase to eight daily services 30th August.

IC Brussel has returned to its normal schedule between Amsterdam and Brussels.

ICEs to Germany are all running to their normal schedule. 

The Intercity to Berlin has been running to schedule since 2nd June.


Local cross border services

All local cross-border services are running.

National Services

All trains are running again. You are advised to

  • Avoid crowds and the rush hour.
  • wear your mondkapje.

Many thanks to Thierry and Gerben for writing in with all the details!


Updated: 20th August. Outlook: improving

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Belgium - coronavirus train travel

🇧🇪

Face-masks are mandatory on all trains. Social distancing distance: 1,5 m.

Belgium safe countries

Here you can see which countries Belgium considers safe. 

Safer
  • Great Britain
  • The Netherlands
  • France
  • Luxembourg
  • Germany

Riskier

  • Great Britain (Leicester)

Eurostar

There is three daily services from Brussels to London. 

Click here for Eurostar's corona page and timetable.

Cross border

  • There are seven daily Thalys services to Paris. .
  • ICEs to Germany are running to schedule.
  • IC Brussel is running to schedule
  • ICs from Tournai to Lille Flandres are mostly running
  • Hourly trains between Athus and Luxembourg
  • The Nightjet to Vienna is running.

National Services

National services are back to normal. During summer, travel to the coast on trains is restricted to prevent overcrowding.

Here is the message, verbatim:

Are you going to the coast this weekend?
For everyone's safety, the number of passengers on the trains to the coast will be limited. We therefore advise you to spread out your journeys during the day and leave early in the morning or return late in the evening.
Prepare your journey well by checking the timetable just before departure via the SNCB app or sncb.be.

Here is SNCB/NMBS's corona page.

The Belgian state is financing 12 free trips on SNCB within Belgium for Belgian residents. If you live in Belgium, you have 6 months in which you can take 2 free trips per month - 12 altogether. Nice.

Updated: 20th August. Outlook: stable

France - coronavirus train travel

🇫🇷

France has completely left lockdown. Train travel is encouraged again. No forms are needed anymore. However, coronavirus is raising its head again in some parts of France, so be vigilant, especially in Paris. Paris is a red zone, which means restrictions can quickly be introduced. 

Face-masks are mandatory on all French public transport. Social distancing distance is 1 m.  

France safe countries

You gotta love the French. It seems all neighbouring countries are on the French safe list.

Safer
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Great Britain
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • Italy
  • Spain
Riskier


International Services

  • TGV and ICE services from Paris to Germany are running
  • TGV Lyria services to Switzerland are running
  • There are five Eurostars to London
  • Here is the link to Eurostar's update
  • The Thalys goes to Brussels seven times a day, and to Amsterdam five times a day. There is also one IZY service at weekends (Fri-Mon)
  • Here is the link to Thalys's timetable updates.
  • The Paris-Moscow and Nice-Moscow trains remain cancelled.
  • The Thello to Venice remains cancelled.
  • Services to Spain are running.

National Services

Trains are running again and can be filled up to 100%.

Here is SNCF's Corona page. (French. English version is error 404)

RER and Transilien are running normally.

In some regions, you needed reservations or access cards. This was to prevent overcrowding. Europe by Rail has more on this. Paris: To use the Transilien services during the rush hour (Mo-Fri 06:30-09:30 and 16:00-19:00) you need a confirmation from your employer

I can't find any more on this. Perhaps this is no longer necessary.


French Covid safety

Those French Covid protection measures in full

Ticket flexibility

Currently you can reserve an optional train and pay later, or change or cancel your tickets and reservations at your discretion. You can mess around with SNCF to your heart's content up until 31st August 2020.

Those affected by OUIGO cancellations will get their money back automatically within three days.

TER tickets issued on paper can be returned to the SNCF boutiques up to 60 days after curfew has been lifted.

Updated: 20th August. Outlook: improving.

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Sweden - coronavirus train travel

🇸🇪

No face masks necessary. Social distancing distance is not defined. 

Sweden safe list

It is possible to enter Sweden from all neighbouring countries. Just not by train. Only the Öresund train is running between Malmö and Copenhagen.

Safe
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Germany
Riskier

Sweden has been getting lots of stick for its relatively low-key handling of the pandemic. Norway and Finland are watching their borders with Sweden closely.

My faithful reader Niklas has written in from Sweden. Thank you, Niklas, for sending me the Swedish situation.

International services

NO TRAINS to 

  • Germany
  • Norway.

There is an hourly service across the Öresund bridge. Denmark has closed its borders to all but Danish residents or people working in Denmark.

Norway quarantines ANYONE arriving in Norway for 14 days. All SJ trains to Norway remain cancelled.

National Services

The whole network is running, though SJ has reduced the frequency of its trains.

Here is SJ's corona page.

As of August 2020, SJ has limited seat reservations yet further, so that if you book a window seat, the aisle seat is definitely empty. 

MTRX's Stockholm-Göteborg service continues to run. MTRX guarantee all passengers an empty seat next to them to aid social distancing. MTRX also provide every passenger with a complementary mask.

Snälltåget is running about half its trains.

Ticket flexibility

All operators have relaxed their refund policies. Non-flexible tickets have been made more flexible.

MTRX and Snälltåget refund non-flexible tickets as vouchers.

Updated: 20th August. Outlook: stable

Norway 🇳🇴

Face-masks are not mandatory in Norway. Social distancing distance is 1 m. 

Norway safe list

Norway has a draconian safe list. Here it is in full

If you come from a red area it is 10 days quarantine for you.

Safer
Riskier
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Russia

Kristian has written in with the details for Norway and helped me immensely by putting it all in one place for me. Tusen takk!

International services

The international services to Sweden are suspended at least until the 6th September.

National Services

  • Some night trains are cancelled. The ones between Trondheim and Bodø and between Oslo and Trondheim are running
  • Some daytime domestic services are still affected by cancellations or closures
  • Here is Vy's coronavirus page.
  • And here is another useful Norway page: www.entur.no

Limited services on all long distance lines. 

Refund policies

Refund policies have been relaxed to a certain extent to allow extra flexibility.

Updated: 20th August. Outlook: stable

Now what?

Well, I'm going to update this page every week. Truth be told, I'm up for some distraction now.

  1. Why not have a look at my other posts and plan for better times
  2. Or look at my coronavirus page, where I have all my coronavirus-writing in one place
  3. Or join my free Rail Guide Europe club and get the password to my insider guides

FREE Access

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Sign up now and gain instant access to:


  • The password to my Insider Rail Guides
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About the Author

After crisscrossing Europe for 6 years as a train conductor, I guide intrepid travellers roaming Europe by rail.

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