There is a ticket that select people can buy to a station in London that doesn’t exist, for journeys that don’t end in London.

The station is called London International CIV, and it exists to support international journeys that require travel through London – mainly, although not exclusively, for Eurostar passengers. It’s also a destination you can only buy tickets for if you also have an international journey, and you’ll need to have your international tickets to hand when trying to buy a ticket to London International CIV.

A clue as to the reason the station exists is given by the last three letters in its name – CIV – this stands for Convention Internationale pour le transport des Voyageurs, and governs the rules handling delays and problems for cross-border travel in Europe. If, for example, you were heading to London to catch a Eurostar train and had normal UK train tickets for the trip to St Pancras International, and also if there were delays so you arrived late you would miss your international train and, in theory, be beholden to the whims of Eurostar or your travel insurance.

In practice, Eurostar will try to sort out a different train.

But, if you have a ticket with CIV on it, then the international travel protections also apply to the UK leg of your trip into London, with all the rights you have to require Eurostar to provide alternative travel.

Hence, the existence of London International CIV – a special type of train ticket that a person can buy for a journey from most UK railway stations for onward travel into destinations on the European mainland, and ensures they have the legal protections offered to all cross-border travellers.

Ideally, you would be able to buy a ticket from — for example, Woking to Strasbourg as a single fare, but that’s not possible at the moment. The benefit of splitting the tickets though is that you might be able to get a special price on the international travel, and then buy the UK ticket at a different time.

Tickets to London International CIV cannot be bought online — only in person at the ticket office, mainly as you need to show proof of your international travel when you buy the ticket. If you somehow buy a ticket to London International CIV and don’t have proof of international travel with you if stopped by a ticket inspector, then the ticket isn’t valid and you will be hit with a penalty fare.

If you want to check some sample fares, go here.

If you’re wondering, the CIV protections are unaffected by Brexit, and are governed by the Vilnius Protocol of June 1999.

More info at Railfuture and Seat61

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3 comments
  1. ChrisC says:

    Yes I have!

    2 years a go I bought, via the Eurostar website, a through ticket from Brighton to ‘Any Belgian Station’

    The ticket for the domestic legs were marked ‘CIV’

    I got two booking references one of which was to allow me to collect the BTN-CIV ticket(s) the other for the Eurostar leg

    IIRC the booking window for these tickets was much narrower than the point to point STP-Europe fares

  2. Tim says:

    The off peak CIV fare used to be valid in the peak which was an additional advantage. Do you know if that is still the case?

  3. Chris Wood says:

    Yes. Bought them a few years back when a group of us did Reading West to Barcelona Liceu by rail. Seven trains in total, including one each of the London, Paris and Barcelona metros. You can do it in six trains these days, with a through train from Paris to Barcelona, but we had to change between TGV and AVE at Figueres.

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