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I booked tickets on Trainline to travel from Paris Montparnasse to Poitiers and the realised that the train continues to Surgeres, rather than down to Bordeaux. I was going to get a lift from Poitiers but would rather extend the ticket to get me all the way to Surgeres. I can’t cancel and rebook as the tickets are not only available 1st class on the Paris to Poitiers leg, and for 3 of us it’s quite a lot more expensive. Can I just book a ticket now from Poitiers to Surgeres and stay on the train? Thanks anyone who can help!

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  • Are you considering buying a Poitiers-Surgères ticket now or approach the train guard once you are on the train? If you do the former, only issue is that you may have to change seats, at least in theory. The latter sounds a bit risky, it's not realy done but I don't know for a fact that it's completely impossible.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 23:01
  • Thank you - I was intending to buy the second leg now online, so we’d have them in advance Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 6:54
  • Then there is no reason to be concerned. Even getting stuck in the wrong trainset or sitting somewhere else than your seats (as long as nobody else booked them and you're not in a 1st class seat with a 2nd class ticket) wouldn't put you in trouble. Incidentally, it's also highly likely that tickets won't be checked again between Poitiers and Surgères. Train guards have to do it only once, they start in Paris, and if they have already been to your carriage, they won't come back to check for additional passengers.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 7:57
  • In case the Poitiers > Surgères TGV is fully booked, an alternative might be to take a TER from Poitiers to Surgères. The journey is longer but there are several of them daily and as there's no seat reservation, you can always jump on the train.
    – audionuma
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 9:22
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    Just for reference for future readers, officially you can no longer buy tickets on board in France, you’ll have to pay the same penalty as anyone else without a ticket.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 11:36

2 Answers 2

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SNCF introduced tickets checks at major stations, but once you have passed those in Paris Montparnasse you will have no issue getting to your new booked seats on taking a split tickets because they are operated on entry to the platform and not directly adjoining the train.

Now, it is really important that you pay very close attention to the train numbers on your two tickets.
A large part of the TGV services are operated using two discrete train-sets linked together in the middle (some can be single, but you never know).

If you are in the same train number for both tickets, you have all the time to switch seats, all cars being communicating and no need to leave the train on the platform.

If you have different train number, that will become way more complicated.

When boarding at Paris, check where the coupling is relative to your seat.
Near arrival in Poitiers (like a good 15 min), leave your seat and walk to the nearest car to the coupling and stay in the door area while waiting for arrival.
This is really important, if you don't, you will likely not make it in time, as most TGVs stop only for 3 minutes at a given, non-terminus, station.

Once the door opens, go to the other train, don't bother going on the platform and risk missing your train, and board the other train at the first door available, and walk your way down to your seat.

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    @gerrit I have first hand experience with it, if you are on the wrong train in a MU (multiple-units), usually, if you report yourself to the guard when they pass, you will have no issues, they understand that you may not have had the time to get to the right train. Just make sure to volunteer the fact before they ask you to show your tickets (they will, on TGV, usually do a dry passage along the train, and then come back for the tickets), you may have different milage if you don't Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 9:27
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    @Relaxed Ah, that makes sense, and I agree. I think that even in trains with mandatory seat reservations, there's never an obligation to sit in your assigned seat — but you might lose the exclusive right to your reserved seat if not taking it timely (in Germany one loses it indeed; don't know about France).
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 9:30
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    @gerrit France doesn't have such regulations, you have your reserved seat for the whole of the journey, and they can make your life a bit harder if you don't sit at the correct seat but in practice no one care, except if the train is full or near full where then you might be asked to go to your assigned seat. Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 9:34
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    Be careful: if the train is composed of a INOUI half (“premium” brand) and a OUIGO half (“economy” brand), it is typically impossible to transfer from the INOUI to the OUIGO. OUIGO trains usually have ticket checks on the platform, the rules state that you have to be there 5 minutes before departure, and this rule is typically enforced. By the time the train arrives, you can't get to the OUIGO half. A OUIGO ticket is not valid on the INOUI. Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 10:58
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    @NicolasFormichella Are they? I know there used to be split sets at least on some lines. Maybe there aren't now, but split sets could come back. Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 11:15
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You (and I) don't know if buying from the train guard is possible. And there may be no vacant seats available on the day you travel. Both these issues must be resolved in your favor on the day of travel in order to take that same TGV on to Surgères.

Thus, you should now buy new tickets for the same train from Poitiers > Surgères. Getting off in Poitiers (at the end of your first ticket) then getting right back on (to use your second ticket) is OK; step down onto the train platform, find the right car, and step back up onto the train. Doing that, you will have the three seats you need.

The three of you may end up in different cars. Being in different train cars could be a challenge if any of you is young or an inexperienced or elderly traveler. But you'll be on the train.

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  • Thank you. Yes I planned to buy the second tickets now - my concern was whether there’s a need to ‘tap in’ or check in or anything with TGV tickets that might make it risky to take this approach. Sitting in different seats would be ok for us - adult and teens travelling! Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 6:58
  • This issue is more fully explored in comments under Nicolas Formichella's answer. Commenters have more recent experience than I do. Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 17:14
  • Such helpful answers - thank you so much. I am going to book tickets now for the Poitiers to Surgeres leg and be aware of the caveats mentioned regarding two trains sets and different train numbers. Thanks all! Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 17:30

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