Thalys services are international high-speed rail links, operated by a joint venture between SNCF, SNCB and Deutsche Bahn. The service's original route ran between Paris and Brussels. It has since been extended considerably to reach main destinations that include Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Bruges and Cologne.
Interestingly, instead of flying between Paris and Brussels, Air France and jet Airways now book their passengers onto Thalys services between the two destinations rather than operate flights. A similar agreement is in place for services between Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and Antwerp and Brussels.
The service's passenger base is split fairly equally between the leisure and business sectors, with the largest proportion of journeys being those between Paris and Brussels.
Thalys services offer passengers a choice of First or Standard Class, although they are referred to as Comfort 1 and Comfort 2.
Comfort 1 gives passengers extra space in which to sit and relax. Complimentary newspapers are on offer, and all seats have individual power sockets. Free WiFi is available to all Comfort 1 passengers. If you are on a longer journey (over 50mins), you will receive a free meal to suit the time of day.
Travellers also have access to the First Class Lounges at Amsterdam, Amsterdam Schiphol, Rotterdam and Cologne stations. TheCard members benefit from access to the Grands voyageurs area at Paris, and the Thalys Lounge at Brussels.
Comfort 2 passengers have standard seats, each with individual electrical sockets. Passengers travelling on certain tickets (see below) receive complimentary internet access, while others can purchase access credits from the ThalysBar.
Luggage & Facilities
Passengers may travel with up to two suitcases and one item of hand luggage. Suitacases must be less than 85cm long on their largest dimension. Luggage should be stored on the racks above the seats, in the spaces at the end of the carriages or on the floor between the backs of some seats. All luggage must be labelled, and if you travel with too many items, or your suitcases are too large, you may be asked to pay a supplement of €30 per item.
Food & Drink
Comfort 1 passengers receive a complimentary meal on-board, provided their journey is over 50mins in length. The meal served depends on the time of day:
- Early Morning - savoury breakfast (fruit, juice, yoghurt, bread, sweet or savoury plate);
- Mid Morning - light meal (pastries, yoghurts etc);
- Lunch - starter, main course, desert;
- Afternoon - light meal (sandwiches, cakes, pastries etc); and
- Dinner - main course, cheese, dessert.
The food offered is based on Mediterranean cuisine, and the menus available to Comfort 1 passengers can be found here.
Comfort 2 passengers have access to the ThalysBar, which offers a selection of hot and cold dishes, sandwiches, snacks, hot and cold and alcoholic drinks. In addition to food products, the ThalysBar also sells internet access credits and ticket for onward travel on public transport. The ThalysBar menu can be found here.
Bicycles are not permitted on Thalys trains, unless they are disassembled and packed in suitable carrying cases. Folding bicycles are permitted as normal items of luggge.
Thalys services are fully wheelchair-accessible. Disabled passengers are automatically upgraded to Comfort 1 Class, for the same price as Comfort 2 tickets. The same upgrade is available for a passenger accompanying a disabled person. Comfort 1 offers disabled passengers more space, and even a freee meal. The areas on-board suitable for disabled passengers are located near to accessible toilets.
WiFi / Internet
An internet connection is available on every Thalys service. This secure access is subject to availability on the day, and may be affected by the surrounding landscape. When you first connect to the network, you will have access to a free portal displaying your current location.
Comfort 1 passengers receive internet access free of charge. Comfort 2 passengers travelling on Semi-Flex, B2B and Thalys ThePass tickets also receive free access. If you are travelling in Comfort 2 on any other ticket type, you may purchase internet access from the online portal, at the Thalys Bar or online in advance of your journey.
The price for access is €6.50 per hour. If you purchase 3 hours of credit, you will receive 4 hours worth of access, and 7 hours of credit gives you 10 hours of access.
The Salon is a semi-private area, available to Comfort 1 passengers, that seats four, found at the front of each train. The area's seats are arranged around a meeting table, and are designed as a conference space for business customers. The room has WiFi access, and customers can receive their free meals at their seats.
In order to book Le Salon, all four seats must be paid for. This can only be done on a one-way fare, up to two days before departure. This is a premium area, and is therefore more expensive than a standard Comfort 1 fare.
Travelling with Pets
Small dogs and domestic animals travel for free on Thalys services, provided they remain in a pet carrier no larger than 55x30x30cm. Dogs not in carriers may travel, provided they are kept on their owners' knees, or on a lead on the floor. If any other passenger is disturbed by your animal, you may be relocated to elsewhere on the train, or your animal may be kept in the baggage car.
Guide dogs travel free of charge on all Thalys services.