Attempting to compete with the budget airlines and continental coach companies, one French rail operator has introduced an extremely affordable option for those looking to travel on an express train from Paris to Brussels or vice versa, with tickets costing as little as €10. That is, if sitting down on 2.5 hour journey is of no concern to you. In the first move of its kind, Izy – a sub-brand of Thalys, a high-speed operator that dominates the essential link between the French and Belgian capitals – have introduced a ‘fourth class’ fare in rail travel. The “Non-Guaranteed Seat” ticket offers space in an unused buffet car for standing passengers.
The announcement coincides with Izy’s third class fares which come in at just €15 but requires ticket-holders to put up with uncomfortable folding seats which “offer limited comfort,” and are “not recommended for people with reduced mobility, pregnant women, infirm passengers, children under 12 and elderly people.”
Similar to budget airlines that have had huge success in Europe, the low cost fares come with some fine print: passengers will have to pay extra if carrying more than one piece of luggage and dogs can accompany their owners for another fee. Like low-cost air travel, where most destination airports are not the respective cities’ main terminals, the Izy trains will also take a different route than the mother company’s express track: “The high-speed line from Paris as far as Lille is heavily used, by Eurostar and French domestic trains as well as Thalys. So Izy services will run on the “classic” tracks from Paris via Arras, picking up the lightly-used high-speed line to Brussels at the Belgian border,” reports The Independent. The normal Thalys services take 90 minutes between Paris and Brussels, as opposed to Izy’s 180.
The first Izy services are expected to run starting from April 3rd, 2016. The operator has also stated that, in case of no-shows or an under-booked train, standing passengers could get a free upgrade. There will only be 10 standing tickets available for each scheduled departure.