When buying a UK train ticket, if one of the allowed routes for it involves changing stations in London, then then the route on the ticket will be printed with a dagger (†; described in publications as a "Maltese cross"). The ticket will then allow you to (at no extra charge) use the London Underground to travel between the stations on your cross-London transfer.

In France, when buying a train ticket which requires a cross-Paris transfer, you are issued with one ticket from the origin to the first Paris station, then a second from the other Paris station to your destination. The ticket is not valid on the RER or metro, and you therefore have to buy an additional ticket on arrival to get you across Paris. (Or walk, but that's only practical in a handful of cases)

What is the reason why the UK system manages to include the cross-London transfer in its tickets, while the French one doesn't for cross-Paris ones?

  • "you therefore have to buy an additional ticket on arrival". For Thalys you can buy the ticket already on the train.
    – Bernhard
    Aug 31, 2014 at 17:40
  • @Bernhard And with Eurostar too, but it's still another ticket to buy, and isn't available on all trains arriving into Paris
    – Gagravarr
    Aug 31, 2014 at 18:17
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    It's because making a cross-paris-transfer, is so hideously horrible, that all of France sort of "pretends it doesn't exist" :) In contrast, Londoners sort of gloat about, thrive on, such hideous horribleness due to their stoic we-survive-air-raids nature. You've really hit on the key difference between the two channel nations :)
    – Fattie
    Sep 1, 2014 at 7:15
  • It's basically the UK railway system being more network orientated than the French one. In France the main purpose of the railways is transporting Parisians. The rest of the country hardly matters. For a while it was not even possible to book tickets on line that involved more than one transfer, making trips between some combinations of stations seemingly impossible. The whole planning and booking experience is definitely superior in the UK. There is no French equivalent for transportdirect.info for example. Sep 9, 2014 at 9:09
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    There is also a (physical) ticket problem. Even if for instance the RER D line is operated by the SNCF and allows you to go from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord (a pretty common train change), entering the RER network can't be done without a metro-like ticket (or a Navigo pass). Anyway most high-speed lines (Eurostar, Thalys, many TGVs) allow you to buy metro/RER tickets at the bar (you only need the 1.70€ one within paris). Oct 1, 2016 at 21:48

1 Answer 1


History. When the railways were first built in the 1840s parliament wouldn't allow them to build in the city center. The underground was the solution for how to get between one station and another (as well as how to commute in London).

So historically through tickets between different companies using different main London terminii included the connecting tube ticket. When the railway was nationalised this was continued. Since people expect it, it has survived the privatisation.

  • What happened differently in paree ?
    – Fattie
    Sep 1, 2014 at 7:16
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    @JoeBlow, in most european countries the government planned the railway network and had a 'Hauptbahnoff' as the center piece of the city. Ironically that the English separate unplanned and competing networks included the linking ticket and the centrally planned SNCF didn't ;-) Sep 1, 2014 at 17:03
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    @JoeBlow, in Paris, the metro was essentially a municipal project: the city built the network for its own use. Special design effort was done to impede as much as possible its being linked to the national rail network in case the national government decided to do so. It even runs on the right side while SNCF on the left! The London Underground, on the other hand, was built by the railway companies to promote their own services.
    – ach
    Sep 2, 2014 at 14:05
  • That seems to be the correct full answer, Andrew, thanks. the city, not the rail companies, built it.
    – Fattie
    Sep 2, 2014 at 15:28

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