Posts tagged ‘Deutsche Bahn’

Saving money with German Rail Pass, Nov-Dec 2014

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.

Bahnhofshalle Fernbahnhof, Flughafen Frankfurt : by Martinroell (Wikipedia)

Long-distance train station, Frankfurt Airport : photo by Martinroell (Wikipedia)

Wartehalle Fernbahnhof, Flughafen Frankfurt am Main : by Heidas (Wikipedia)

Departures hall, long-distance train station, Flughafen Frankfurt am Main Airport : photo by Heidas (Wikipedia)

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
(via Hannover)
740 km € 81—111 € 142
5. Bielefeld Hbf – Berlin Hbf 390 km € 29—49 € 73—84
6. Berlin Hbf – Leipzig Hbf 180 km
€ 19—39
€ 40-47
7. Leipzig Hbf – Berlin Hbf 180 km
€ 19—29
€ 34-47
8. Berlin Hbf – Frankfurt(M) Hbf 540 km € 29—79 € 110—123
9. Frankfurt (M), Hbf – Flughafen 10 km € 4.35 € 4.35
TOTALS
(€1 = USD $1.3)
2810 km
€ 258—476
USD $335—619
€ 576—682
USD $749—887
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.

Koeln Hauptbahnhof, by Remon Rijper

Photo by Remon Rijper on Flickr

Berlin Hauptbahnhof #XII, Alexander Rentsch

Photo by Alexander Rentsch on Flickr

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.

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions 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).

Instants in tempo: Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Welcome to Berlin, signage, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin Central Station

“Willkommen in Berlin” | Welcome to Berlin (Instagram)

I love Berlin.

I love train stations.

These two preoccupations always converge at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (central train station). Looming overhead is the large glass roof, like the temple of transport hanging over scurrying passengers; trains pass overhead as the shops reside below; tempting scents from baked goods and grilled bratwurst waft from neighbouring stands; calm measured station announcements and excited conversations in the air is punctuated by screeching brakes of trains entering the station.

I’ve always had a love of transport infrastructure and fascination with transport logistics. I’ll always set aside some time to hang out at the central train station. I’ll come here to observe and, even surrounded by noise, to meditate. I’ll wander through each floor, across the platforms, up and down on the escalators between levels. I’ll watch residents head out to work, going shopping, meeting friends, returning home to their families; it’s easy to pick out new visitors to the city, as they step out into the grand hall towering over the tracks, eyes wide and shiny in anticipation of their visit to the German capital.

From around the city, region, and the country, there are S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains; regional trains; and Eurocity, InterCity, and InterCity Express trains. Converging at this Hauptbahnhof focal point are trains from all corners of the country and beyond.

And if you’ve just arrived on a train and stepped out onto the platform, you might see the overhead sign that greets you: “willkommen in Berlin”.

You might wonder why your welcome is sponsored by Bombardier – they produce trains for Berlin’s S-Bahn urban rail network.

Above all, this place represents my kind of hope: a hope for people from the outside to see what an energetic place this is, and a hope for residents to accept and embrace new ideas from the outside.

Up and down, Gleis 14, Platform 14, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin Central Station

Auf Gleis 14 | On platform 14 (Instagram)

Mr. Pink, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin Central Station

Mr. Pink, under the S-Bahn trains (Instagram)

Platform 3, Platform 4, Section E, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin Central Station

“3E and 4E” (Instagram)

2nd floor above ground, 2nd floor below ground, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin Central Station

2. Obergeschoss & 2. Untergeschoss | 2nd floor above & 2nd floor below ground (Instagram)

Up and up, escalators, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin Central Station

“Folks on the up and up” (Instagram)

Golden light, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin Central Station

“das Sonnenlicht vergoldet die Hauptstadt …” | golden light blankets the German capital (Instagram)

DAS ist Berlin, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin Central Station

“DAS ist Berlin” | THIS is Berlin (Instagram)

I made all of the photos above with a 4th-generation iPodTouch in 2012 and 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Inside out: ICE599, Berlin to Frankfurt

It’s only been thirty minutes since leaving the nation’s capital. I can’t sit still and chill for the four hours on the I-C-E.

I’m on board the ICE train, InterCity Express route 599 from Berlin to Frankfurt1. The information monitor is helpfully providing friendly reminders and relevant details, including the next station and the train’s present speed. The train glides at 200 kilometres per hour with the landscape whizzing by to say “look, you’re moving quickly!” But it feels like I’m standing still.

The features outside approach quickly along a straight stretch of track, and what’s closest rushes by in bunches and blurs, filled with sinuous streaks of colour. My eyes sweep across the landscape, further beyond to the horizon. Leaning against the window, I bring my camera up then down, with intermittent presses of the shutter button. As soon as I’ve figured something out in the distance, it’s gone in an instant. I can only spare a moment to mourn the “loss”, because there’s something new to come along around the next bend.

The constant gentle “clickety-clack” accompanies the regularity of the scenery: green pastures and fields, gentle rolling hills, forested valleys. Maybe I’ll freeze something of value, another memory solid enough to take away with me when I fly out from Frankfurt to the North American side of the big eastern pond.

This I-C-E route passes close to the geographical heart of the country. But I’m afraid it’s my own heart that’s getting cold. Every moment takes me farther away from her, missing her with intensity that grows with increasing distance.

This is my place, she is my home. I’m going to come back; I promise.

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1Deutsche Bahn’s InterCity Express (ICE) route number 599 is a high-speed train service from Berlin to Munich via Frankfurt. The train begins in Berlin, with stops at Braunschweig, Hildesheim, Göttingen, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe, Fulda, Hanau, Frankfurt am Main, and beyond to München. The stretch between Berlin and Frankfurt lasts just over four hours for a distance of about 580 kilometres.

I made the photos above in March and September 2011. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

How I’m using my German Rail Pass, July-Aug 2013

Photo on Flickr, by Holly Hayes

I’m participating in a week-long writing-course in Praha at the end of July 2013, and I’m taking the opportunity to return to Germany and visit some friends. Since 2002, traveling within Germany has always been about riding the rails with Deutsche Bahn. My short-itinerary consists of

  • Frankfurt am Main Airport to Köln (Cologne)
  • Köln to Bielefeld
  • Bielefeld to Berlin
  • Berlin to Frankfurt am Main

From the German Rail Passes website, I purchased a four-day 2nd-class rail pass (within 1-month) for an equivalent of €202. I checked fares on the Deutsche Bahn website, and I took note of the lowest and highest 2nd-class fares in both “Sparpreis” (cheapest) and “Normalpreis” price categories. I estimated the distances using “Strecke” values returned by the Luftlinie distance calculator (in German). The German abbreviation “Hbf” is short for “Hauptbahnhof” or central station.


Route, July-August 2013 Distance Sparpreis Normalpreis
Frankfurt(M) Flughafen – Köln Hbf 180 km € 25—59 € 45—66
Köln Hbf – Bielefeld Hbf 190 km € 19—29 € 37—48
Bielefeld Hbf – Berlin Hbf 390 km € 45—55 € 84
Berlin Hbf – Frankfurt(M) Hbf 545 km € 49—69 € 105—120
Total 1305 km € 138—212 € 271—318
4-day German Rail Pass € 202 € 202
Money saved, in € € 10 € 69—116
Money saved, in USD (€ 1 = $1.30 USD) $ 13 $ 90—151

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 don’t save a lot of money with the 4-day Rail Pass if I purchase “Sparpreis” fares (more than 3 days before the travel date). If I’m less than 72 hours to the travel date, I would purchase “Normalpreis” fares, in which case the Rail Pass saves me about $100 USD. The price-difference between Sparpreis and Normalpreis fares is much larger with long-distance rail-journeys beyond 250 km, which is consistent with my findings here and with past trips to Germany.

I prefer schedule flexibility, and that’s why I go with the Rail Pass. For example, if I decide to stay longer in a city (e.g., for lunch or coffee with friends), I can’t change the “fixed” ticket without incurring extra fees. The Rail Pass allows me the freedom to take another train, if I’ve decided to stay longer or leave earlier than planned.

Previous posts about German rail and rail-passes:

•   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

Note added 22 July: I also used the GoEuro website for a quick and visual examination for travel within Germany. I compared different travel modes for intranational trips and a return-journey between Frankfurt or Cologne and Prague.

Photo on Flickr, by nicki-alex

This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions 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).

German Rail Pass, late-2012 RTW

Dom, cathedral, Hohenzollern Bridge, Koeln, Cologne, Germany

Dom, Hohenzollernbrücke (Cathedral, Hohenzollern Bridge): Köln, Germany – 1 Oct 2011 (HL)

In 2012, I spent the year traveling around the world. By October, I was making my way from the southern to the northern hemisphere, and a return to Europe. Spending a few weeks in Berlin, Germany in the fall meant that I had a number of friends to visit throughout Germany. Thus began the start of my “Germany tour”:

  • Berlin to Heidelberg
  • Heidelberg to Freiburg im Breisgau
  • Freiburg im Breisgau to Köln
  • Köln to Berlin
  • Berlin to Frankfurt am Main: for a wedding!
  • Frankfurt am Main to München
  • München to Passau (daytrip)
  • München to Berlin
  • Berlin to Dresden (daytrip)

From the German Rail Passes website, I found the 10-day (within 1-month) rail-pass in 2nd-class for $428 USD in mid-November. I purchased the rail-pass with a valid start-date of 22 November 2012. While I was already present in Germany, my transaction was successful, the ticket printed in Dublin, and sent by DHL-courier to where I was staying in Berlin.

I checked fares on the Deutsche Bahn website in early-2013 after fare prices were raised on average by 2.8 percent in early-December 2012. I searched fares for trains on an assumed time and date of “10am, 15 March 2013″, and took note of the highest and lowest 2nd-class fares in the “Sparpreis” category, which are the cheapest available fares. The “Normalpreis” fares were more expensive than “Sparpreis” fares by at least 10 to 20%; some “Normalpreis” fares were two times more expensive. The distances shown are approximate and estimated from “Strecke” values returned by the Luftlinie distance calculator (in German).


Route (Nov-Dec 2012) Distance 2nd class, Sparpreis
Berlin Hbf – Heidelberg Hbf 620 km € 69—129
Heidelberg Hbf – Freiburg (Breisgau) Hbf 180 km € 35—84
Freiburg (Breisgau) Hbf – Köln Hbf 430 km € 35—99
Köln Hbf – Berlin Hbf 560 km € 79—99
Berlin Hbf – Frankfurt am Main Hbf 540 km € 35—99
Frankfurt Hbf – München Hbf 400 km € 35—79
München Hbf – Passau Hbf, return 400 km € 38—44
München Hbf – Berlin Hbf 580 km € 69—109
Berlin Hbf – Dresden Hbf, return 400 km € 19—55
Total 4110 km € 414—797
Total in USD (1 € = $1.3 USD) $ 538—1036
Ten-day German Rail Pass, in USD $ 428
Minimum savings, in USD $ 100+

German rail pass, November 2012

The Rail Pass does not bind the passholder to a specific train on a given date and time; so, I gained the flexibility of choosing any Deutsche Bahn scheduled-train whenever I needed to travel. Even though I only used nine of the ten days in the Rail Pass, I still saved at least $100 USD. The savings increase with longer distances between destinations.

If a traveler knows they’ll be staying and traveling within a European country for some time, a European Rail Pass can be a good way to save money on intranational travel. Staying in Germany for up to 3 months meant that Rail Pass(es) represented good value for the money.

My previous posts about German Rail Passes:

•   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

Hauptbahnhof, Central Station, Berlin, Germany

Hauptbahnhof (Central Station), Berlin, Germany – 1 Oct 2009 (HL)

I made the two photos above with a Canon EOS450D (XSI) camera. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions 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).

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