Thalys, the international high-speed train firm, will change its onboard product with effect from December 10.
Currently Thalys operates between Paris Nord and Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne and Dortmund.
Its TGV-style trains currently adopt a conventional two-class layout with Comfort (first class) and Standard. Complimentary catering is provided for Comfort passengers.
But from December 10 these two will become three classes.
There will be Standard, Comfort (the existing first class seating but without complimentary catering) and Premium (first class with complimentary catering).
Thalys adopts airline-style pricing. It means that fares and their restrictions will vary in Standard and Comfort but there will be more flexibility (at higher prices, of course) for those who book Premium.
In recent times Thalys has faced competition from car-sharing and the newly deregulated bus companies. But air competition (except for the Paris CDG-Amsterdam route) is limited.
Since last year Thalys faces a further challenge on the busy Paris-Brussels sector because it introduced its own low-cost competitor Izy (“easy”).
Its refreshed onboard products and tariff structures can be viewed as Thalys’ attempts to adopt to the changing marketplace.
Thalys has now posted details of its new tariffs from December 10. Taking the popular Paris-Brussels route as an example, a one-way non-flexible Standard fares costs from €29 with a quasi-flexible ticket priced from €52. Quasi-flexible Comfort costs from €55 while flexible (the only tariff on offer) with Premium is charged at €115.
Thalys’ Standard fares aim to better compete with Izy but they are still higher. For the same journey Izy charges from €19 with XL (essentially first class) priced from €29.
But Izy also has a limited number of €10 or €15 tickets for those passengers who are prepared to travel with a non-guaranteed or folding seat.
Note that Thalys has a three month advance booking period while for Izy it is two months.
And these are lead-in fares so prices will rise closer to departure.