B-Europe is the online ticket booking service for international trains from and to Belgium, managed by the national rail operator, SNCB.
It guarantees matching the cheapest price on international train journeys from AND to Belgium by Eurostar, ICE, TGB (TGV trains from and To Belgium) and Thalys trains.
Also worth knowing is that as it sells tickets for journeys between Belgium and Germany by both ICE and Thalys services, the ticket prices and departure times can be directly compared (the main German ticket booking site, DB Bahn, does not sell tickets for the Thalys trains).
B-Europe is one of the simpler train ticket booking services to use, but first time users, can easily overlook some of the site's more useful, but less obvious features.
B-Europe offers versions of its service in French, Dutch, English and German - use the flag highlighted to select a language.
All of the pages below are taken from the English language version.
The five things worth paying attention to:
1. The 'Train' tab (above the destinations search boxes) is the default - and this setting needs to be used when looking up standard point-2-point journeys
2. The 'InterRail' tab (next to the 'Train' tab needs be selected if you have an InterRail or Eurail pass and want to book reservations on the Eurostar or Thalys trains - more information on this below.
3. Single' journeys is also the default - so select the 'Return' button if you want to book a return journey.
4. 2nd class is also the default (the blue boxes indicate the chosen option on B-Europe) - if you want to travel 1st class, you don't have to select it on the home page - though the 1st class tickets are also automatically included on the search results, so you can skip this
5. Also note that the 'Advanced Search' button has been highlighted and the reasons why SMTJ has drawn your attention to this feature have been explained below.
6. And there is a fare calendar.
The core benefit of using Advanced Search is the option to only include 'Direct Train's in the search results - though when looking up journeys between Bruxelles and most cities in France, you will have a much wider choice of journey options if you don't restrict the selection to Direct Trains.
If making the journey for the cheapest possible price is your main criteria, and you can be flexible with your travel dates - on the home page you can click on the green 'Fare Calendar' button (highlighted on screen one).
But the low fare calendar ONLY functions for Eurostar and Thalys trains,
You can click on each date to see which departures are available that day at the lowest possible price.
This is an example of the information you will see when you search for a journey.
Note the use of the Thalys and ICE logos to designate the specific train service - and that the Thalys and ICE trains are both listed for this journey.
Also note that the only choice of ticket at this stage, is between 1st and 2nd class tickets (so you don't have to have selected 1st class on the home page)
B-Europe has changed this page recently - it used to be also possible to choose the type of ticket (non-flex, mid-flex etc) from here - but this is now available at the next step (once you have clicked on the 1st or 2nd class ticket).
What also can't now be accessed from this page, is the terms and conditions of the ticket type - they used to be where the green circle has been drawn.
But the terms and conditions per ticket can be accessed from this next screen shown below...
...that you will see once you have clicked on the 1st or 2nd class ticket.
On this example it's worth noting the following;
(1) The price shown on the preceding screen for the Thalys departure is revealed to be the price of a 'Mid-Flex' ticket - and the core terms and conditions of a Mid-Flex ticket are shown.
(2) The empty yellow circles indicates the space where the 'Full-Flex' ticket option would USUALLY be shown - so that it can be selected as an alternative to the 'Mid - Flex' ticket.
'Full-Flex' tickets are more expensive than Mid-Flex tickets, but they can be fully refunded if you subsequently cancel your journey plans.
Though as can be seen, no Full-Flex ticket was being offered for this journey - and if it's not shown there is no means of accessing it.
(3) The cheapest 'No-Flex' tickets will ALSO only appear here IF they're available - so in this example they have either sold out, or weren't being offered for this departure.
(The icons highlighted in green)
The somewhat easy to miss information icons (circled in green) give access to additional information for the journey, click them and you will see something which resembles this...
... (or the equivalent per ticket type)
However, there will be another opportunity to access the refund conditions of the ticket pre-booking.
Checking the allocation of seat reservations
Note that the chosen journey above is by Thalys train.
Reservations are automatically when booking Thalys trains, so the price on the example screens includes the reservation.
You have the option of choosing where to sit and taking this up is recommended.
(Reservations and seat options are also presented in the same manner, when booking journeys on B-Europe by Eurostar and TGB (TGV) trains).
However, journeys by ICE train are an exception, as seen here, the ticket options page you will see...
...mirrors the ticketing information shown for the journey by the Thalys train, the seat reservation has been included and the ticket price shown includes the reservation
However, reservations are optional for the ICE train, so you don't have to include the reservation on these services.
Click on the green tick and you will see the information on the page change to...
...the seat isn't now reserved and the price has now dropped by €6 = the price charged by B-Europe for reserving a seat on the ICE train.
Seats aren't absolutely guaranteed on the ICE trains, but they're also only usually particularly busy on Friday and Sundays and in the evening business hours.
The final pre-checkout stage of the booking process on B-Europe is the selection of a ticket delivery option.
As can be seen the four significant aspects of this page worth paying attention to are:
(1) Clicking the (i) icon is a further (and final) opportunity pre-booking, to check the exchange and refund terms of the tickets you have chosen.
(2) Unlike the majority of other online train ticket services, B-Europe imposes an additional charge for collecting at a station.
(3) The postal charges are also comparatively expensive.
If you want to travel on an ICE train between Germany and Belgium and also want to receive your tickets in the post, it's worth comparing the total cost of the booking, including postage, with the total cost for the when booking with DB
If you want receive tickets by post for journeys between Belgium and The Netherlands, there is no point in looking up the journeys on the Dutch ticket site, NS International, as it does not offer the option to receive tickets by mail.
(4) If you book an E-Ticket and go on to register an account with B-Europe, you don't have to print the tickets. You can download the tickets to your mobile device and show your phone to the train conductor.
If you have an InterRail or Eurail pass, you can book the compulsory rail pass reservations online for journeys by Eurostar* or Thalys trains and now TGV trains; both to/from Belgium and journeys within France.
However, your pass needs to be valid in the both the countries you will be travelling to and from.
*Reservations for journeys by Eurostar between both Paris or Lille and the UK can also be booked on B-Europe - if your rail pass is valid in both France and the UK.
However, the compulsory rail pass reservations on the TGV trains to France can't be booked on B-Europe - the only option for booking these online is to pay the booking fees and use the Eurail or InterRail booking services.
The optional reservations on the ICE trains between Belgium and Germany also can't be booked on Europe, but they can be booked online on DB, the German railways booking service.
The first step for booking reservations for the Eurostar and Thalys trains, is to click the InterRail tab on the B-Europe home page...
...do that and you will see this option appear on the home page
...as will be seen you then need to click on 'Book your Pass fare'..
Do that and you will see..
What's particularly noteworthy on this page is the information that B-Europe DOES NOT ask for.
In particular you don't have to enter information re: your rail pass or your nationality - it's solely up to you to ensure the reservation you book will be valid with your rail pass.
However, B-Europe will let you book the rail pass reservation regardless of whether you can use it - though note that they can be exchanged to a different train or date if need be.
This particularly matters if you are Belgian, British, Dutch or French.
If you are; you can only use your rail pass to travel FROM your country on the first day that is valid for and TO your country on the final day that use your pass.
So, for example, if you are British and return to the UK with a few days left remaining on a monthly or consecutive days pass - you can't then use your pass for a day trip by Eurostar to France or Belgium.
Even if you wanted to make those journeys on the final day that your pass is valid for, neither your pass, or reservation, will be valid on the journey from the UK.
You can only make that journey on the first day that your pass is valid for.
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