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Thalys Train + "ABS" question

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Pennsylvania
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Thalys Train + "ABS" question

I have been reading many TA forums and have found the information, advice, and support invaluable in planning our summer trip. I would appreciate any help that Brussels or Ghent locals or regular travelers can provide as we try to navigate rail travel for the first time.

My family and I (2 adults, 3 children) have just secured seats on the mid-day (11:25) Thalys train from Paris to Gent via Brussels on Tuesday July 15. The process was much smoother then I had anticipated. We had no issues booking once our date opened up this evening. We are planning on spending the afternoon in Brussels before going on to Ghent. We had read here at TA that we can take any other train on that day making it possible to spend 5-6 hours in Brussels - is that correct? If not, do we need to take the next available train on to Ghent?

As I understand it from the Thalys website, we can use our Thalys ticket to go from Brussels Midi station to Brussels Central at no extra cost. How do we do this? Do we change trains to get on a local train or do we stay on the Thalys train and it stops at multiple stops in Brussels? If we change trains, do we need to get a new ticket using our Thayls ticket or do we simply use the ticket that we used coming from Paris?

How do we get to Ghent from Brussels? Specifically, do we have to return to the Brussels Midi station to get our train to Ghent, or can we go directly from the Central station? We will be storing our luggage at one of the train stations (Central) and were hoping that we could catch a train to Ghent later in the evening directly from the Central station without paying to go back to Midi. Is that an option?

How will the ABS tickets work on the train to Ghent? We printed our Thalys tickets at home. The indicate ABS on the ticket. Do we take these to a ticket window at a Brussels station and change them for a local ticket for our last leg of the trip? or... Do we simply get on a train to Ghent with our Thalys ticket in hand for passage on that last part?

We are just not familiar with public transportation at all and this will be our first trip overseas. Traveling with children and luggage we would like to be as prepared as possible ahead of time for what to expect. We have already learned so much from everyone. Thank you for any and all advice that you can provide.

Brussels
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1. Re: Thalys Train + "ABS" question

<We had read here at TA that we can take any other train on that day making it possible to spend 5-6 hours in Brussels - is that correct?>

Yes.

<As I understand it from the Thalys website, we can use our Thalys ticket to go from Brussels Midi station to Brussels Central at no extra cost.>

Yes.

<Do we change trains to get on a local train or do we stay on the Thalys train and it stops at multiple stops in Brussels?>

You change trains to get on a local train. Thalys itself does not go beyond Brussels Midi. The journey between Midi and Central takes about 3 minutes. Trains run in a tunnel under the centre of Brussels. Midi (south) station is at the southern end; Nord (north) station is at the northern end; Central is in the middle of the tunnel. Platforms at Central are below ground, so you go up to reach the exit at street level.

<If we change trains, do we need to get a new ticket using our Thalys ticket or do we simply use the ticket that we used coming from Paris?>

You simply use the Thalys ticket from Paris. You don't need to get a new one.

<How do we get to Ghent from Brussels? Specifically, do we have to return to the Brussels Midi station to get our train to Ghent, or can we go directly from the Central station?>

You can go direct from Central station. All trains to Ghent stop there.

<We printed our Thalys tickets at home. They indicate ABS on the ticket. Do we take these to a ticket window at a Brussels station and change them for a local ticket for our last leg of the trip?>

No.

<Do we simply get on a train to Ghent with our Thalys ticket in hand for passage on that last part?>

Yes.

Brussels, Belgium
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2. Re: Thalys Train + "ABS" question

1. "We had read here at TA that we can take any other train on that day making it possible to spend 5-6 hours in Brussels - is that correct?"

Yes it is correct, in fact not only on that day but also on the following day as you can break your journey in Brussels overnight if you wanted to. Mind you, you are also reading this on TA so how do you know THIS is correct?! You can read it on the Thalys website also (although in incorrect English, for instance ALL Belgian stations is not correct): https:/…any-belgian-station-old (it's also not exactly correct that this is "for free": the trip is included in the ticket because you paid the ABS supplement!).

2. "As I understand it from the Thalys website, we can use our Thalys ticket to go from Brussels Midi station to Brussels Central at no extra cost. How do we do this? Do we change trains to get on a local train or do we stay on the Thalys train and it stops at multiple stops in Brussels? If we change trains, do we need to get a new ticket using our Thayls ticket or do we simply use the ticket that we used coming from Paris?"

If Thalys stopped at other stations in Brussels, instead of terminating at Midi, you would not need to use to be informed specifically that you can use your ticket between Midi and another station in Brussels, as you wouldn't get off at Midi! You just look on the departure board or monitors (or yellow timetable boards) for the next train to Central, go to the platform, and get on the train armed with your Thalys ticket, which you will present to an inspector on board the train if asked to do so (it's only 1 stop so don't be surprised if you aren't). You don't have to change that ticket for anything else.

3. "How do we get to Ghent from Brussels? Specifically, do we have to return to the Brussels Midi station to get our train to Ghent, or can we go directly from the Central station?"

Trains to Ghent stop in Brussels at Nord, Central and Midi in that order, therefore you can catch the train directly from Gare centrale, and it makes sense to store your luggage there.

4. "How will the ABS tickets work on the train to Ghent?"

In exactly the same way as your Paris-Brussels tickets work on the train from Midi to Central. You simply get on the train and present your Thalys ticket when the inspector comes round. No need to exchange it for anything else.

Pennsylvania
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3. Re: Thalys Train + "ABS" question

Thank you both qaminari and Colin for your responses. They are much appreciated and I have a much better understanding of the trains on this portion of our journey. The online ticket ordering was efficient and inexpensive - the Thalys website could not have been easier. This coupled with the apparent ease of use of these tickets has left me so impressed with the European train systems. Having never used public transportation in the USA, I have had much anxiety over the logistics of moving from place to place - especially with carry on bags and children. These were the last of my logistics questions and I appreciate the willingness of TA members to take the time to answer. I am looking forward to reporting back our trip reports so that I can help to contribute to others as they plan similar journeys.

Many thanks.

4. Re: Thalys Train + "ABS" question

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