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Is there any strict luggage limit while travelling by train in West Europe? In Poland, for example, one can take as much luggage as one can carry, so 2 big suitcases and a rucksack and the backpack are allowed. Does the same rule apply for trains in Germany, France, Belgium etc.?

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4 Answers

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Limits as to the amount of luggage you can take is usually governed by two principles:

  • You must be able to carry your luggage by yourself.

  • Your luggage must not hinder other passengers or safe exits from the train.

Special rules exist for large luggage, such as bicycles. Those can normally only be taken if explicitly allowed. But simple suitcases and backpacks are only limited by the principles I listed above.

The rules in theory probably differ per country and even per train company, but in practice the above is true in all countries where I have travelled by train (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Austria). The only problematic situation I have encountered is when everybody in a small night-train compartment had a lot of luggage and people were forced to take luggage on their bed (but normally one can get away with simply storing luggage on the floor once everybody has gone to bed).

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you can add Czech Republic to the above list. You can travel with quite a lot of luggage. Some trains have bike+luggage service that costs aroun 2 EUR and your luggage will be placed in a special wagon by the train attendent. Similar rules apply to Slovakia AFAIK as well. –  tohecz Nov 11 '12 at 20:17
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The tightest official restrictions in Western Europe are probably Eurostar, which does not officially permit luggage larger than 85cm in the longest dimension, except that skis and snowboards longer than that are permitted.

Larger suitcases are officially banned, as is having more than two, but Eurostar will usually allow items slightly over the limit.

Note that carrying a couple of suitcases on a local commuter train in the rush hour might be officially permitted, but will certainly be unpopular with other passengers. If you're planning to cross London on the Underground or Paris on the Metro, try to avoid the commuter rush-hour with luggage. For most other long-distance journeys, you should not have to do cross-city transfers.

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In the Netherlands, rules state it should fit in the luggage racks or storage space between the seats. That's all that's stated, and is ambiguous as those aren't uniform in size between trains.
Just don't be an asshole and take so much you block seats and space to other passengers. One or two bags or suitcases is no problem, take several shipping trunks and you will likely get comments and be charged extra if there's a ticket check.

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in France, there is no limit either (the only rule is you should tag them all) on regular luggage according to the French company{fr}. It is really not enforced (I have never seen some train agent telling someone he had too much stuff). However, you might not be able to keep an eye on your luggage (luggage space is sometimes between the coaches) so you'd better not carry too valuable stuff. Bikes and animals can also be carried (for some fee).

For Germany, I didn't find a lot of information, I suppose it is quite the same (no actual limit and it is not enforced anyway) I know it's possible to travel with a bike for a fee too.

For Belgium, the limit is officially 3 pieces of luggage, and skis, kids' car :) ... are free to carry. But I have no idea whether it is strongly enforced.

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Never seen anything about a luggage limit on German trains. –  Cole Maclean Oct 24 '12 at 18:03
    
In Germany you are allowed to take as much luggage as you can carry by yourself but I've seen quite a lot of employees helping people with even more. –  neo Oct 24 '12 at 18:54
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