I'm booking a train from Vienna to Graz on February, taking the Railjet train.

I have an option to reserve my seat via the site, and I was wondering what would happen if I do not do this: will there be an option in which I may not sit on the train? Or does this just guarantee me a seat I choose?

2 Answers 2


You might not have a seat.

In European trains, the seat reservation is independent from the train pass. Some trains require a seat reservation (TGVs in France) but not all. In German countries (at least Germany and Austria) it is possible to buy a train ticket and then a seat ticket. You can also buy it anytime (as long as there are seats left) and the price is always the same (apparently 3-3,5€ in Austria)

In practice, what will happen if you don't pay for the seat is that you're gonna go through the coaches and search for a free seat. In Austria, it apparently is written on the seat whether it is reserved. Most of the time you'll find a seat, since trains have hundreds of seats, but you might look for some time.

For long-distance trains (like ICEs across Germany) the seat will be used by several passengers throughout the trip so you might need to switch seat if it is reserved for a short part of the trip.

Another important parameter is peak hours. I suppose the train will be pretty full then. Especially on Railjet trains, that are apparently operating on the main lines of Austrian network.

For more details: http://www.oebb.at/en/Planning_your_trip/Travel_reservation/Seat_reservations/index.jsp

  • 3
    If the train is really busy and you don't have a reservation, you could have to stand. Aug 7, 2013 at 16:35

While Vince's answer is correct, it may also be that you are not allowed to enter the train at all.

This happens very rarely and only on days where really a lot of people travel (e. g. the last weekend before Christmas or the beginning of big holidays) in peak hours. See for example the newspaper article in German: https://derstandard.at/1308680291332/Wien-Westbahnhof-Polizei-muss-ueberfuellten-OeBB-Zug-raeumen In pratice though, you could (if you have a normal ticket) take simply the next train.

  • "Not allowed" is a bit misleading here, it wasn't a simple denial. ... First of all, note that this so is unlikely that the one time it happens it gets in the newspapers. What did happen: The availabe train (with a planned length that should be enough for 99.99% of the cases) got so full that the conductor wasn't able to walk in it anymore - including not reaching safety things in case of emergencies, which is a legal problem as well.
    – deviantfan
    Feb 15, 2019 at 0:05
  • ... So they didn't leave, but announced that some persons without reservations need to get off, can take one the next trains, get a fare compensation according to the EU rules, and can additionaly get compensation for any losses when they have evidence. ... As still too few people left, the police had to help so that the train can depart at all, but that's another issue.
    – deviantfan
    Feb 15, 2019 at 0:05

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