I have a 2nd class Eurail pass. I am looking for a train from Interlaken to Paris. And in the Eurail site, part of the journey is Reservation optional and another part is Reservation mandatory. I know it seems obvious, but I want to confirm. In the reservation optional part of the journey, do I just go and sit on any seat in the train?


The reservation optional train is IC 1058 INTERCITY from Interlaken to Basel SBB

  • The answer for this will likely vary depending on the country and type of service you are considering.
    – CMaster
    Jun 6 '19 at 15:19
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    @CMaster Added the train information Jun 6 '19 at 15:22
  • I hope you aven’t bought the Eurail Pass yet. You are far better off just buying a Interlaken - Paris ticket from SBB. Jun 9 '19 at 18:06

Yes, for a reservation-optional train you can sit anywhere that

  • is in the right class, and
  • has not been reserved by someone else.

It varies from railway to railway how easy it is to tell whether a seat has been reserved, or for which part of the route of the train. Sometimes that are little paper reservation markers you can look for. Others have electronic reservation displays for each seat, which may be of varying helpfulness (for example, in Danish IC trains the displays appear to default to MIGHT BE RESERVED for all seats that are not definitely reserved, but at least one can avoid the ones that do show a reservation).

In general the worst that can happen is that someone who has a reservation for the seat you've chosen shows up, at which point you'll have to give it up (and might have to stand if all the other seats are taken by then).

  • Awesome! And, how do we know if the whole train is reserved? And there are no unreserved seats available? Jun 6 '19 at 16:00
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    @ParthapratimNeog: I don't think there's a reliable way to check other than to attempt to reserve a seat. Most trains have plenty of space, and "reservation optional" just means "we have a system in place that will let you reserve if you want to". Reservations are usually fairly cheap, so you might like to make one for peace of mind if you know when you'll be going. But if not, don't sweat it. if you're boarding at Interlaken Ost (where the train starts) it's very unlikely that you wouldn't be able to find a seat. Jun 6 '19 at 16:06
  • Some countries have a three-tier system - "reservations optional", "reservations recommended", and "reservations compulsory". The recommended ones are where you don't have to reserve a seat but where you're quite likely not to get one if you don't, because it's usually a busy train. On reservation optional (or recommended) trains, standing is usually allowed, so if it's not too long a journey you can take this as a last resort (at least until someone gets off at a station and you can take their seat).
    – Muzer
    Jun 6 '19 at 16:15
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    For trains in Switzerland you can look up the train on the SBB website and it will show you how full it is in each class.
    – jcaron
    Jun 6 '19 at 21:04
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    In Switzerland the probability that all seats in a train have been reserved is nil. If you were to reserve seats on a Basel - Interlaken IC in most cases yours will be the only reserved seats on the train. Swiss trains are mass transit. Most people on those trains are locals, commuters, people who would riot if they had to reserve seats to go about their daily business. Jun 9 '19 at 18:02

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