Booking seat reservations for passes

When you have an Interrail, Eurail, or Swiss Travel pass, you sometimes have to buy an additional seat reservation to travel on your preferred train. This seat reservation is also called a pass supplement or a passholder fare. Passholder fares are shown in search results on Rail Europe when you have selected one of the three rail passes mentioned above.

I have a rail pass but how do I know for which train I need to buy a passholder fare?

When you select your rail pass and then search for the journey you are planning to make, the search results will indicate:

  • if it is necessary to buy a passholder fare and if it can be purchased on Rail Europe
  • if the pass is not valid on this train, but a regular fare can be purchased on Rail Europe
  • if no passholder fare is required and you are free to travel just with your pass
  • if a passholder fare is required, but it cannot currently be purchased on Rail Europe but can be bought locally at the station

As a rule of thumb, countries in which passholder fares are required to board a fast or high-speed train are France, Spain, and Italy. Even in these countries, you will find plenty of slower trains which do not require the purchase of a passholder fare. A passholder fare is also mandatory for Eurostar services and a number of fast international services to and from Italy, Spain, and France.

At the other end of the scale are countries like Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Austria where holders of a rail pass generally do not have to purchase an additional passholder fare to travel by train.

The search results show that it's not possible to do a reservation for the whole journey and that I need to split my search. What does this mean?

When your journey involves one or more changes of trains, it is possible that you need to purchase a passholder fare just for one of the trains, but not the other(s). In this case, we suggest to split your search. Compare the following example where a passholder fare is required for the first train (Eurostar from London to Paris), but not the second one (TER from Paris to Chartres). If you redo the search with that knowledge but only search for London to Paris, you will be able to purchase the passholder fare for the selected train:

The results for my search all say that travel is "Free". What exactly does this mean?

It means that you do not need anything else but your pass to travel on the trains shown in the search results. Enjoy the freedom to explore Europe by train at no additional cost.

I have an Interrail pass that allows me to travel on Eurostar. However, the search indicates that my pass is not applicable. What does this mean?

Yes, Interrail and Eurail passes are valid on Eurostar but require the purchase of a passholder fare for travel. However, some passholder fares can sell out just like other fares. When this is the case, we show that the pass no longer applies and offer you to purchase a regular point-to-point ticket instead. Of course, you can adjust your travel time to see if for an earlier or later train a passholder fare is still available.

I don't yet have a rail pass. Can I still buy a passholder fare?

You can certainly select the pass you intend to buy and then do a search for the journey you are planning to make to see if a passholder fare is required and available. This way you can also check if it would be advantageous to buy a rail pass instead of individual point-to-point tickets.

When it comes to purchasing passholder fares, though, a valid pass number is required for Eurail and Interrail passes. These passes do not need to be activated, but they still need to be valid. On Rail Europe, we of course also sell Eurail, Interrail, and Swiss Travel passes.

Do I still need to travel with a rail pass when I have purchased a passholder fare?

Yes, you do. The pass is your ticket - the passholder fare is just an additional reservation required for some trains when you travel with a rail pass.

How is the passholder fare delivered to me?

The passholder fare is delivered just like any other ticket on Rail Europe. Depending on the operator, you can choose between a pdf version and a mobile version which is sent to your email address after checkout.

Is the passholder fare refundable or exchangeable?

Passholder fares have fare conditions, just like other fares. You see the refund and exchange conditions when selecting the passholder fare.

Can I purchase passholder fares via Rail Europe's mobile app?

It is currently only possible to buy passholder fares on the desktop version at However, any passholder fares purchased there are also accessible in the mobile app.

Note: You also need to add the trips to Eurail's Rail Planner mobile application. Only the seat reservation and QR code are not valid for your travel, you also need to add a trip in the app for the same train for which you have booked a seat reservation. You will need to add this trip to Eurail's Rail Planner mobile application so that a valid QR ticket can be generated to show when asked by the train manager or ticket inspector while travelling.