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For an upcoming trip, I've booked some TGV tickets through Rail Europe. They wanted a surprising amount of money for postage, so I opted instead for the free option of "Ticket On Departure", that is, collecting the ticket from a ticket machine.

Last year I did a similar trip, except then I booked the TGV tickets from Eurostar. For that trip, I was able to collect the TGV tickets from the Eurostar ticket machines at St Pancras before I left. Unfortunately, the Eurostar website wouldn't let me book TGV tickets this year, so I had to go with Rail Europe.

What I'd like to do is to pick up these TGV tickets in advance again, so I don't have to worry about queues in Paris when picking them up (even if I've now got hints on getting the metro tickets and getting across Paris, thanks all!).

Rail Europe provide fairly detailed instructions on using the French ticket machines to pick up Ticket On Departure tickets, but they don't say anything about how you might be able to pick the tickets up from anything other than a SNCF ticket machine in France.

I had a go at picking up the tickets from a SNCB ticket machine in Brussels, but it didn't recognise the booking reference I've got. I also tried the Eurostar machines at St Pancras, but this year they also claimed to not know about the booking reference. This makes me think it may no longer be possible.

So, is it now the case that SNCF ticket on departure tickets can only be collected from ticket machines in France, or is it still possible to get them outside of France?

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If you buy tickets via the SNCF website you can print them at home. That's by far the most simple option. voyages-sncf.com –  PERSONA NON GRATA Jun 23 '13 at 13:36
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3 Answers 3

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I would be very surprised if a non-SNCF machine would let you pick up the tickets, and I would doubt that there are any SNCF machines outside of France (apart from perhaps a few exceptions like the SNCF station in Basel).

Unless you are really short of time you shouldn't find yourself queueing for long or at all. At the larger stations there are a number of these machines - as an example at Lille Europe (which I use frequently) I would think that there are at least 10, let alone at a Parisian terminus station.

It is not like on the métro where there are hardly any machines.

(For reference, the machines are bright yellow, and work with a not-very-good touch screen (I find tapping repeatedly is best)).

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One might hope that the ticket machine of one RailTeam member (eg Eurostar, Thalys) would let you pick up tickets for another (eg SNCF TGV), but the answers so far seem to indicate they've taken this away rather than adding it... –  Gagravarr Jul 11 '11 at 14:37
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Gagravarr, I routinely use those machines to withdraw, sometimes even book tickets, last minute (as in, five minutes before the train leaves), and I've never missed a train because of it. You really don't have to worry about this, I promise: the machines are fast, they're plenty, and the line is never too long. Give yourself 20 minutes to do this at the most, and you should have time to go get a croissant and dunk it in coffee (or get a cinnamon roll at Starbucks!). –  Jérémie Jul 11 '11 at 22:56
    
I've just tried this, and the yellow machine was happy to issue my ticket, took about 2 minutes all-in. However, before I tried the yellow one I tried a purple TGV one, and that wouldn't issue them (said we had to go to a ticket desk). So, as advised, yellow it is! –  Gagravarr Jul 22 '11 at 10:37
    
Purple are TGV Pro - for frequent travellers with expensive, highly flexible tickets. Blue are regional, yellow are national :) –  Rich Jul 28 '11 at 18:56
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There used to be a sncf boutique in Brussels. It is now named Rail europe. You can find them at: Rail Europe, Avenue Henri Jaspar 113, 1060 Bruxelles

But can't you print your tickets at home? I haven't been travelling with the sncf for a while, but I used to travel to Paris a lot some years back, where I always downloaded and printed my tickets at home.

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It looks like some kinds of tickets can be printed at home, but the ones I have don't offer that - they're only "ticket on departure" –  Gagravarr Jul 10 '11 at 21:49
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Ouch! There's apparently a €8 fee for collecting tickets at a Rail Europe Boutique, and I thought the postage fee they suggested was bad... –  Gagravarr Jul 10 '11 at 22:10
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I can see this is an old thread but I stumbled across it and wanted to explain why I think you were able to print both tickets before, but not this time.

It sounds as though you previously purchased what's called a "French Connection" fare. These are combined Eurostar+TGV tickets that are bundled together by Eurostar (Eurostar is part-owned by SNCF and consequently permitted to bundle tickets).

French Connection tickets use the same ticket collection reference (and PNR) for both portions of your journey so it is possible to print them all out from a Eurostar machine. French Connection fares are still available for sale from Eurostar among others and sometimes offer a discount on point to point tickets.

However, if you purchase a Eurostar and TGV ticket separately it will only ever be possible to print the Eurostar from one machine, and the TGV from the other. If you have two collection references then this is usually the case. As far as I am aware there are only Ticket on departure (TOD) machines in France. But I have heard that some friendly ticket office staff elsewhere in Europe have printed tickets using the PNR number as reference.

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