It’s full on fall, and it’s time I’m in Germany once again.
To continue my streak of visiting the country every year, I’m “home” for the 13th consecutive year with the following itinerary over three weeks in November and December (2014):
- Frankfurt am Main Airport to Köln (Cologne)
- Köln to Heidelberg
- Heidelberg to München (Munich)
- München to Bielefeld
- Bielefeld to Berlin
- Berlin to Leipzig
- Berlin to Frankfurt am Main
I’m very enthusiastic about the train, and my attachment to Deutsche Bahn’s cross-country trains remains. I’ve purchased a 2nd-class rail pass for ten days (within a one month interval) for USD $345, which includes a promotional 25% discount for this year’s 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall.
Am I saving money?
It’s a question everyone asks, and the following comparison will show that the answer is yes.
In the following table, I’ve listed point-to-point fares. I checked fares for the individual “legs” for specific dates on the Deutsche Bahn website, taking note of the lowest and highest 2nd-class fares in both “Sparangebote” (save offers) and “Normalpreis” (normal price) categories. The last farecheck occurred on 23 October (2014). I estimated distances using “Route” (road distances) values returned by the Luftlinie distance calculator (in German). “Hbf” is the abbreviation for “Hauptbahnhof” or “main train station”.
|Route, Nov-Dec 2014||Distance||Sparangebote||Normalpreis|
|1. Frankfurt(M) Flughafen – Köln Hbf||180 km||€ 19—45||€ 46—67|
|2. Köln Hbf – Heidelberg Hbf||250 km||€ 29—55||€ 54—82|
|3. Heidelberg Hbf – München Hbf||340 km||€ 29—65||€ 73—86|
|4. München Hbf – Bielefeld Hbf
|740 km||€ 81—111||€ 142|
|5. Bielefeld Hbf – Berlin Hbf||390 km||€ 29—49||€ 73—84|
|6. Berlin Hbf – Leipzig Hbf||180 km
|7. Leipzig Hbf – Berlin Hbf||180 km
|8. Berlin Hbf – Frankfurt(M) Hbf||540 km||€ 29—79||€ 110—123|
|9. Frankfurt (M), Hbf – Flughafen||10 km||€ 4.35||€ 4.35|
(€1 = USD $1.3)
|10-day German Rail Pass
(25% off promotion included)
|—||USD $345||USD $345|
|Money saved||—||< USD $274||USD $404—542|
The Rail Pass does not restrict the passholder to a specific train on a given date and time. To save the most money, purchasing individual Sparpreis fares ahead of time would be the way to go. I could save money by purchasing individual “Sparangebote” fares well in advance. Otherwise, there are generally available “Normalpreis” fares, which are less restrictive but more expensive. The price difference between Sparangebote and Normalpreis fares is much larger with long-distance rail journeys over 250 km; that’s always been the case whenever I’ve visited Germany and I’ve had to cross the country by train.
I want the schedule flexibility, and that’s why I purchase a Rail Pass in advance. If I decide to stay longer or leave early, I can’t change a “fixed” ticket without incurring extra fees. My 10-day Rail Pass allows me the freedom to take a train on any day at any time (up to the maximum of 10 days. My desire for this versatility will save me at least USD $350.
Deutsche Bahn lists the following conditions for their two categories.
Sparangebote: Preis für alle Reisenden. Bei Aktionsangeboten und regionalen Angeboten gelten besondere Konditionen. Zugbindung, d.h. Ihre Fahrkarte ist nur in den auf Ihrer Fahrkarte aufgedruckten Zügen gültig. Umtausch und Erstattung 15 EUR; ab 1. Geltungstag ausgeschlossen.
Normalpreis: Preis für alle Reisenden. Volle Flexibilität (keine Zugbindung/unabhängig von der angegebenen Verbindung auf der gewählten Strecke). Umtausch und Erstattung kostenlos, ab dem 1. Geltungstag 15 EUR.
My rough-and-ready translation is:
Savings offers: price for all travelers. Conditions apply to special and regional offers. Your ticket is valid only as printed for the specified train. 15 EUR charge for exchange or refund before the first valid day; no exchange or refund afterwards.
Normal price: price for all travelers. Full flexibility (no specific train / regardless of specific connection on the chosen route). No charge for exchange and refund before the first valid day; 15 EUR charge afterwards.
Previously, on German rail and rail passes
• German Rail Pass, July-August 2013
• German Rail Pass, late-2012 RTW
• Yet another trip with German Rail (2011)
• Across the country with German Rail
• Saving money with a German Rail Pass
• Flexibility with a German Rail Pass
The first two photos are from Wikipedia, and the last two are from Flickr. All photos are used with the generosity of the Creative Commons license. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com, and is part of the Sunday Traveler series.
Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein (cmp.ly/0).