Last month I took a train trip from London to Frankfurt, to book the train journey I searched a various website for purchasing the train ticket. Most of them are very expensive since I need to book four tickets I do not want to pay a lot of money for each ticket. So I decided to search the Eurostar and Bahn Rail sites to see whether I will get a better rate than the websites like raileurope.com.
Eurostar does not go to Germany, so I need to book two tickets one ticket in Eurostar going to Brussels or Paris and another ticket on German high-speed train ICE for going from Brussels or Paris to Frankfurt.
If I have to go to Paris, I will be spending additional 2 hours on the train, so I eliminated the trip to Germany through Paris and decided to go through Brussels.
Train ticket Search using Eurostar Website for London to Brussels Travel
I went to the Eurostar website and plugged in the details like the date of travel, the number of travelers to find out how much a one-way ticket to Brussels will cost.
I was planning to take the trip from Ebbsfleet International station instead of St Pancras station which is in central London. The advantage of catching the Eurostar from Ebbsfleet International station is it is outside of Central London with easy access as well as we do not have to carry our three check-in baggage and two carry on and take a long walk to catch the train.
The Eurostar stops only about 2 minutes in Ebbsfleet International, but it is enough time to catch the train, and the train starts only after all the passengers are boarded.
After entering the details, I got the list of available trains. Every day there are around nine trains goes from London to Brussels. We do not want to take an early morning or a late afternoon train. Our aim is to arrive in Frankfurt around 6:00 PM on the same day.
So I settled on catching the 9:15 AM train which priced out to $123 per passenger for adult and $117 per passenger for youth.
The total cost for all the four passengers for travel from London to Brussels worked out to $480.
Train ticket Search using BAHN Website for Brussels to Frankfurt trip
Now I headed to the German High-Speed train website BAHN to find out my connecting train from Brussels to Frankfurt Airport.
Since this is the first time I traveling by train from the UK to Germany, I needed a sufficient connection time in Brussels for catching my connecting train to Frankfurt
Just like the Eurostar website I plugged in all the information like the one-way ticket, the number of passengers and the desired date of travel.
The price for all the four passengers came out to approximately $220.18 (€209.07). The German High-Speed ICE train considers anyone below the age of 14 as a child and lets the child travel free of cost if an adult accompanies him or her.
Total cost of one-way ticket from London to Frankfurt
The Eurostar trip cost for four passengers works out to $480, and the ICE German high-speed trip cost for four passengers works out to $220. The cost of the entire one-way trip from London to Brussels for four passengers works out to $700, with roughly $175 per passenger.
What is the best Price I can get for the one-way trip from London to Frankfurt
It will cost me $700 to book the ticket through Eurostar and Bahn websites for my trip from London to Frankfurt. I was looking at other train booking sites to find out whether I will get a ticket cheaper than $700. Most of the websites are pricing out the ticket at a higher rate or giving me only a very tight connection at Brussels.
I was running a search on the internet to see whether I can get a good deal through any European train booking websites. I came across a European blog site “seat61“, this site is run by Mark Smith he has extensively traveled in Europe by train. He recommended a website called “loco2.com” for US or Candian residents for booking a train trip in Europe.
Searching the Best Deal through the LOCO2.com
Based on the recommendation, I went to the loco2 website and plugged in the travel details. I searched for a direct ticket from London (Ebbsfleet International) to Frankfurt Flughafen (airport) station.
I received the following train departure time from London as well as the number of connections I need to make for my entire trip. The cheapest fair I found was $458 (£366.50). Just I said before I do not want to take the early morning train or late night train, so narrowed in on the 11.15 AM departure train.
The cost of the 11.15 AM departure worked out to $754 (£611.50), which is around $54 more than the individual tickets purchased through Eurostar and Bahn websites. Also the 11.15 AM departure had a tight connection of only 20 minutes in Brussels.
The 20-minute connection is fine as long as I am just carrying only one baggage. But I am taking five pieces of luggage as well as this is the first time I will be traveling through Brussels Main train station, so I do not want to risk missing the connection.
One important aspect of the through ticket booked through third party websites, even if you miss your connecting train, you can board the next train and arrive at your destination. But the next train is scheduled to leave only around 4 PM I did not want to take a chance by booking a tight connection.
The “loco2” website has an option to check the travel through Paris, but the trip through Paris is longer and more expensive, so I did not book the train ticket through Paris.
Split the Trip into Two Segment
So I decided to check out what will be the price if I book the ticket as two segments with a longer stay in Brussels to have lunch and relax.
Ticket Price for London to Brussels Segment
Plugged in the trip details to pick a convenient London departure time neither early or too late with sufficient connection time in Brussels.
I choose the 9:15 departure so that I will have ample time to catch my connecting train in Brussels. The trip cost from London to Brussels worked out to $385 (£308) for four passengers.
added the first segment to the basket for booking the train ticket.
After selecting the first segment, I went back to the main screen and plugged in the details for Brussels to Frankfurt trip. Please note the train stops at Frankfurt Flughafen (airport) as well as Frankfurt Main HBF station. The cost for both the stops are same, and the train terminates at Frankfurt Main HBF station. We want to get down and stay close to the airport so that we can catch our flight back to the USA couple of days later.
Choose a preferred train connection departure time from Brussels the cost for four passengers was $231 (£185). Added the ticket to the basket. For the ICE train, you will get an option to choose your reserved seat for an additional cost. So I went ahead and paid the extra charge $10 (£8) and requested for a reserved seat.
During the travel, I found out you can sit anywhere in the train as long as you are not sitting in the reserved seat. I found out most of the European travelers do not pay the additional cost and get into any coach and sit wherever they like. So if you are booking the ticket for German high-speed ICE train, you can save the additional $10 by not requesting assigned seat.
The total price including the seat reservation came to $241.25 (£193), and I added the second segment to the checkout basket.
The total cost for the entire trip from London to Frankfurt with two separate segment ticket purchase and enough connection time in Brussels came to $642 (£513.85), which included the credit card processing fee of $16 (£12.85).
The $642 is $58 less than the ticket directly booked through Eurostar and Bahn websites. Also much cheaper than the straight ticket with tight connection purchased through the loco2 site.
I purchased the ticket using my Chase Sapphire Preferred card which comes with no foreign transaction fee. By using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, I earned 1284 Chase Ultimate Rewards point as well as saved between $10 and $20 on foreign transaction fee charges.
Why LOCO2 is the Best website for Booking European Train Ticket
It is a great website that gives a better price option if you are planning to book a multi-country rail trip through Europe. Even if you are planning to take a single country train trip, you will find a lower price compared to other third party websites as well as the websites operated by the rail service providers.
To get the best deal, I would suggest you try to book your ticket at least 21 days ahead of your trip. I found the same trip could have cost me around $450 if I have booked 21 days ahead of my journey. Due to various issues, I was not able to book my trip 21 days before my departure date.
I highly recommend you check out LOCO2 website when you want to purchase European train ticket.
Pros for using LOCO2 website
- Lowest train ticket price compared to other train ticket booking websites.
- Ability to book multi-country train trip.
Cons for using LOCO2 website
- Loco2 charges about 2.5%, credit card processing fee, the fee is waived if you book the ticket using the debit card. Even if you include the credit card processing fee the ticket prices comes out way cheaper than other sites.