Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trip Report: Thayls Train, Brussels to Amsterdam (February 2017)

Trip Report: Thayls Train, Brussels to Amsterdam
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Continuing my journey through Europe, I was travelling from Brussels to Amsterdam.  No flights operate between these two cities, so the only options are train, bus, or car.  I decided to try the train as train travel in Europe is very good and connected to the metro systems.

When I looked online, the train that operated between these cities was the French train Thayls.  Booking a ticket online directly through Thayls was very easy and convenient.  The website showed me the various trains throughout the day as well as the different classes the train operates.  The train operates Comfort 1 or Comfort 2 - Comfort 1 is more like Business Class (free food, added services) whereas Comfort 2 is economy class.  Within Comfort 1 there are semi-flexible or flexible fares, and within Comfort 2 there are economy and semi-flexible rates.  The difference in fares between classes generally depends on the time of day you leave.  I had booked the last train of the evening, and so the difference between Comfort 2 semi-flex and Comfort 1 semi-flex was 30euro.
 had booked the last train out which departed Brussels Midi Station at 9:52p and arrived into Amsterdam at 11:42p.  The scheduled time for the train was 1h50 minutes, so given this short time I decided to book the 'Comfort 2 - semi-flex'.  The fare included free wifi, free power ports, and a pre-assigned seat at a 4-seater.  I had chosen to print the tickets at home, or I could store them on my mobile device. 

The day of departure, I went to train station to inquire about getting on an earlier train.  Because of the type of ticket I had booked, the ‘semi-flex’, it was going to cost more than what I paid for the ticket to change.  Given this, I decided to keep my scheduled train.

I got to the train station about an hour prior to departure, but apparently that was too early as there was no information on the screen regarding which track the train would depart.  There are waiting rooms available, but there are no screens to monitor and you cannot really hear well.  About 9:15p, people started gathering around track 4 so it seemed that is where the train would depart.  Around 9:30p, the screen was updated to show the train departure and track number.  The train pulled up a bit afterwards and as soon as the passengers got off, we got on.

There were train attendants outside each door ensuring you were entering the right cabin. I was in the second cabin so I entered, placed my luggage on the luggage rack, and went to my seat.  The train was laid out with 2 seats on each side.  The seats were already in a pre-recline, and they were generally comfortable enough.  The legroom was a bit tight, especially is someone were to push back their seat.  There was storage above your seat – for a small carryon and/or jackets. There were two ports located in the middle of the seat in front, which provided power to your electronic devices.  

Free wifi was also provided – when I logged on, it said the wifi was complimentary for cars 1 and 2.  It was easy to log on and the wifi speed was good for chats (slow for videos – especially passing through certain areas).  We pushed off right on time at 9:52p; however there was no announcement that the train was leaving; it just left.  Right after we left the attendants came by to check tickets.   

There were not that many people on the train and the ride was generally smooth and comfortable.  The train made a couple of stops, and the announcements for each stop were made frequently as well as scrolled in the front of the train.  The train became very crowded at the Schipol Airport station, where many people got on taking the train into the city centre.   I don’t know if there were no seat assignments, or they just go on wherever they felt like it, but they just sat at any open seat.  We pulled into Amsterdam on time and get off the train.

Overall, it was a nice experience on the train.  It was easy to book, generally inexpensive, and a nice experience with both power ports and free wifi.  

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