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A bloke frequently travelling Brussels-Paris with the Thalys told me there is a second hand market.

I can't find any such thing? Any idea? Would it be a French thing or a Thalys thing?

I am going from Brussels to south of France. (I am kind of thinking that there should be some cancellations after recent events).

  • (+1) Wouldn't people have even more reasons to leave Brussels now thus filling the trains instead of cancelling their trip? I actually have a friend from Brussels who did just that… – Relaxed Mar 24 '16 at 8:15
  • Probably a Thalys thing, there is a steep difference between tickets booked in advance and last minute fares so you might even make a profit by selling a ticket bought a long time ago for a lower fare than what is currently available through official channels. And tickets are kind of expensive so the amounts are not ridiculously small. The same is true of some French high-speed trains (at least to an extent) but I don't see it happening for other trains in France. I have personally witnessed the second-hand market for *Schönes-Wochenende Tickets” in Berlin, though. – Relaxed Mar 24 '16 at 8:21
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    Besides I think (all?) tickets mention the name of the passenger and I seem to recall that there is an ID check when boarding the train so I am not sure how it's supposed to work. I am also curious to know about this second-hand market but I would be very careful with it. – Relaxed Mar 24 '16 at 8:24
  • id-check when boarding is probably Eurostar, because you are leaving the Schengen area. – Olav Mar 24 '16 at 9:19
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    Given the current events, border control can be reinstated between Schengen states. That is, all Belgian borders. – Quora Feans Mar 24 '16 at 16:07
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A quick google turned up http://www.kelbillet.com/. Searching for Brussels-Paris gives a price comparison including train, bus, air, and car sharing. The train option includes tickets being privately resold by other site users ("billets d'occasion"), sometimes at quite attractive prices.

6

A word of warning: while regular train tickets in France are not nominative, some may have a name on them (and require an ID to be presented on board), or only be valid for specific groups of people (students, elderly, holders of specific discount cards etc). You'll be in trouble if you travel with such a ticket.

Online ticket markets are relatively safe (they don't allow such tickets to be traded), but double-check will never hurt, as realizing your ticket is invalid is much cheaper before you actually board the train. Needless to say, extra caution should be taken when buying tickets from individuals.

Also note that most second-hand tickets are non-refundable, so you'll be at loss if you're late or your travel plans change.

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    I am not sure this directly addresses the question, Thalys does not work like a regular French train, even a TGV. For starters, you won't board the train without a valid ticket, there is someone to check them at each door. – Relaxed Mar 24 '16 at 21:49
  • @Relaxed OK, but it's still possible to buy a ticket only to discover it's not valid and be denied boarding, right? – Dmitry Grigoryev Mar 26 '16 at 16:44
  • Yes, indeed, it's even more likely you would be found out I think. Which is why discussing Thalys specifically rather than generalising from French trains would be best. – Relaxed Apr 3 '16 at 13:51
  • @relaxed there are no longer any checks at the door at least in Brussels and Amsterdam. – jcaron Feb 9 at 9:33
  • @jcaron There are in Paris... and checks are always possible, there was one yesterday evening at Schiphol. – Relaxed Feb 11 at 7:39
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Trocdetrains is the best website for secondhand Thalys tickets. It's only in French, though. Tickets can't be sold for more than the original price paid by the seller.

Thalys officially requires an ID with the same name as on the ticket but, practically, they never check. Upon boarding the train, they check the date and time on your ticket; inside the train, they scan the bar code. They might, but typically don't, notice if you are travelling with a ticket in the name of obviously the opposite sex (e.g., female passenger with a secondhand ticket in a male name).

2

There are indeed a handful of those websites where people can sell their non-refundable tickets: TrocDesTrains, KelBillet, ZePass, PasseTonBillet and LeGuichet. If you are adventurous you can try to contact people on LeBonCoin (the French version of CraigsList) or maybe even eBay. When I needed a cheap ticket urgently I used to spend my days reloading pages on those websites (some tickets sell fast) but now I check them through another nice website called LeBonTrain at https://www.lebontrain.co which aggregates all of those tickets in on place. Pretty useful. But you'll still have to contact the sellers individually and potentially meet them face to face. Good luck anyway!

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