TGV in CDG station (Photo: Luc Citrinot) There is

a lot of talk about the bugs to book a ticket on the new SNCF application. But what about other European railway companies?

A quick look at some of the competitors is in order. Each one of them has its advantages but also its disadvantages. In any case, they share a common element: apps on a white background.

Of

course, this consumes more energy but it makes them more visible!

Deutsche Bahn (DB)

The application of the German Federal Railways is available in the Google play store, App Store and even in the Huawei Appgallery under the name DB Navigator

.

It offers a multitude of services, from the classic booking and purchase of digital tickets to real-time information on departure and arrival times.

By registering on the app, it is possible to register a credit card and retrieve all of its tickets online. It is also possible to integrate loyalty and discount cards. The application is user-friendly on a white background. You just have to enter your destination and arrival place, a date and a time to get the list of trains.

The only small drawback is when you enter a ticket request. Without precision if you just want to look at schedules, the application will automatically display the trains at the time of the request. You also have to specify after the display of the trains that you want to add a return trip (at the bottom of the screen). The final calculation of the fare is then done on a round trip.

  • Advantages: the app gives the composition of the train at the time of departure, which allows you to locate in advance the stop of your car on the platform. You can also do your own check-in like on a plane. This avoids the ticket control by the controller on board. You can also buy your ticket on the app. within ten minutes after the departure of the train. Very practical for latecomers.
  • The big “Plus” compared to SNCF Connect: the possibility to buy tickets on the public transport of the destination. Some DB fares include an extension ticket for public transport from the station. You can also buy a day ticket or other ticket under the “Transport Associations” section. 44 public transport companies are available there.
  • Weaknesses: the selection of timetables. On some routes that include a foreign route or a route of another operator, the app transfers to another DB International site with the obligation to re-enter all the traveler’s details. Another weak point is the impossibility of choosing the exact seat. You can only indicate “window”, “aisle”, “compartment”, etc.iment or “lounge”. Finally, there is no option to confirm a trip or not. You have to buy the ticket right away and refunds are complicated…
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Trenitalia

The application is becoming more important for the French with the opening of the Frecciarossa line between Paris, Lyon, Turin and Milan.

Whether for France or for a trip in Italy, the application is very simple. You enter the ticket mode, then you select your destinations. It is necessary to specify that you want a round trip when you display your journey. There is no function that allows you to add once you start the selection.

The selection is very easy to read. The list of prices and trains is displayed with all the offers. The Trenitalia application has recently been revised and improved. You can now see on the same display all the trains, including regional ones. They are cheaper than the high-speed Frecciarossa trains because they are much slower.

The application also offers a section to check the real time timetable of the trains or to see if there is any difficulty on a part of the network.

  • The advantages: the app allows you to immediately reserve your individual seat on the map in all classes. However, this reservation is not free of charge. This service is also available on the two daily Paris-Lyon trains operated by Trenitalia.
  • The big “plus” compared to SNCF Connect: the possibility to select “plus services” such as “Standard Area Silenzio” or “Premium”. These options can be found under the heading “See other offers”.
  • Weaknesses: For some specific tickets – regional offers – sold on the app, there is no explanation of the conditions of use. Moreover, the information is mostly given in Italian. The app only has a very simple function to buy tickets on the main lines. Many users also complain about payment difficulties, but it seems that Trenitalia has been working on solutions…
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SBB

The Federal Railways application has recently been updated. It is extremely user-friendly, indicating under the chosen route, the date, time and fare. However, it is necessary to specify that you do not benefit from the half-fare (a subscription that is in fact reserved for Swiss residents).

The mobile application is simpler than the website because it allows you to have an overview of all available fares. On the website, you have to specify each time that you don’t benefit from the half-fare and that you want a reduced fare ticket (Supersaver ticket). Passengers can also create their own personalized tactile timetable by recording the most frequented destinations.

  • The advantages: The price of train tickets in Switzerland is very expensive. But the advantage of buying a full price ticket is that it is valid for a given route and not for a specific train. You can thus combine several trips between departure and arrival (for example a Basel-Lausanne trip, stopping if necessary in Bern or Neuchâtel). Reservations on certain trains are possible for a supplement of CHF 5. It is also possible to integrate the public transport offer of a city on a single ticket. Finally, any delay or schedule change is immediately indicated on the app.
  • The big plus compared to SNCF Connect is that all trains show the average occupancy of the train. This allows you to know if you will find a seat or not without making a reservation…
  • Weaknesses: The call price displayed under the link always shows a half-fare (generally reserved for Swiss residents with a card). There is always the possibility of a supersaver fare, but with the obligation to take the train of the selected schedule. There are rarely any last minute supersaver tickets.

    SNCB

The app of the Belgian railroads is very simple. The first page displays all the details needed to book the train, including a section to immediately enter the Greenpoints loyalty program number. When you choose your departure date, you will already find the minimum price proposed on the model of low cost companies. The page then displays the prices in 1st and 2nd class for Belgian trains, the Thalys and the German ICE.

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On the practical side, the SNCB app is probably the most readable of the four railway applications because of its very simple design.

  • The advantages: By opening an account on the application, it is possible to book your train even faster, register companions and be able to set reservation options.
  • The big plus compared to SNCF Connect: the excellent readability of the train offer and of a reserved journey. The integration of the MoveSafe application that anticipates train occupancy.
  • Weaknesses: A “Stations” section shows maps of only five stations, all international. No possibility to enter the name of another station to consult the map.