Fotoeins Fotopress

One photo at a time – one journey to last a lifetime

Posts tagged ‘Deutsche Bahn’

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 InterCity Express train from Berlin to Frankfurt. The information monitor is helpfully providing friendly reminders and relevant details, including the next station and the train’s present speed. I’m traveling at 200 kilometres per hour: “look, you’re moving quickly!” But it feels like I’m standing still.

The world outside approaches quickly along a straight stretch of track, and what appears closest rushes by in bunches and blurs, filled with sinuous streaks of colour. My eyes sweep across the landscape and 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 in the next minute.

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 intensely 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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Deutsche 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. The listing represents the most recent update for April 2014.

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).

Flexibility with a German Rail Pass

Change in plans? No problem!

I wrote about saving money with a German Rail Pass, and I drew up a table comparing individual and total city-to-city fares against the cost of a Rail Pass.

As fate would have it, plans changed significantly the day after I published that post. I’m sorry, Weimar (Goethe/Schiller), but I’ll visit you another time.

Fortunately, with my Rail Pass, I don’t have to rebook or reschedule the changes in my itinerary. All I have to do is look up train schedules on the Deutsche Bahn website, and I’ll simply hop onto the trains as needed.

The new table below accommodates my change in plans, and is identical in structure to the table in my previous post.

Route Distance 2nd class 1st class
Frankfurt(Main) Hbf – Köln Hbf 190 km € 19–64 € 49–104
Köln Hbf – Hamburg Hbf 430 km € 44–89 € 69–144
Hamburg Hbf – Frankfurt(M) Hbf 490 km € 59–109 € 79–177
Frankfurt(M) Hbf – München Hbf 400 km € 29–91 € 59–147
München Hbf – Frankfurt(M) Flughafen Fernbf 400 km € 44–91 € 69–147
Total 1910 km € 195–444 € 325–719
Total in USD (1 € = $1.3 USD) $ 254–577 $ 423–935
Total in USD (1 € = $1.4 USD) $ 273–622 $ 455–1007
Five-day German Rail Pass, in USD $297 $394

I (re)checked fares on 16 September, and the total distance traveled has been reduced by about 200 km. Although there’s little change in the numbers for first-class (no surprise), the total point-to-point fares have changed in second-class.

With careful planning, a traveler can find and purchase early-fares (Sparangebote). But the flexibility of the pass still has allowed me to change plans, and I don’t ever have to go back to a train station to ask for changes or purchase new tickets.

For an extra $20-$40, there’s more versatility for the second-class Rail Pass over the entirety of a two-week trip. The savings for a first-class Rail Pass remain the same as before.

My previous posts about German Rail:

Frankfurt(Main) Hbf

This post is published originally on Fotoeins Fotopress (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).

Saving money with a (German) Rail Pass

Between (2011) September 28 and October 11, I’m visiting friends in Germany, and I already have a German Rail Pass to travel around the country. However, somebody might ask:

  • Should I spend a chunk of money on a rail pass weeks or months before traveling?
  • Should I try instead to get individual city-to-city fares when I’m in-country?
  • How can I get some flexibility and/or better cost savings?

What follows is a price comparison between a German RailPass I purchased with RailEurope, and point-to-point fares one might expect in person at a counter or at a ticket-machine in a train station.

DB Reisezentrum, Frankfurt(M)

With an upcoming tour of Germany, I have five planned days of long-distance train travel. I’m referring to “long-distance” as a trip whose distance is over 200 kilometres (125 miles).

I made my way to the RailEurope website in early-June (2011), and thanks to their “buy-4-get-5″ promotion at the time, I purchased a four-day German rail pass, and received an extra and fortunate fifth day of travel.

A five-day German rail pass for one adult from RailEurope costs (*) $297 and $394 USD in second- and first-class, respectively. A similar pass from German Rail Passes costs $305 and $404 USD, respectively. Shipping and insurance costs are not included in these listed prices.

The following table lists point-to-point fares (*) in Euros from the Deutsche Bahn (DB) website. Total fares are listed in Euros and US dollars at the bottom of the table. Individual fares are dependent upon whether slower or faster trains are used; the InterCity Express is the most expensive option. Distances listed below are approximate. ‘Hbf’ is an abbreviation for Hauptbahnhof or ‘Central Station’.

Route Distance 2nd class 1st class
Frankfurt(Main) Hbf – Weimar (Thür) Hbf 270 km € 34–56 € 49–91
Weimar (Thür) Hbf – Hamburg Hbf 440 km € 34–82 € 59–132
Hamburg Hbf – Köln Hbf 430 km € 59–89 € 79–144
Köln Hbf – München Hbf 580 km € 59–129 € 69–209
München Hbf – Frankfurt(M) Flughafen Fernbf 400 km € 44–91 € 69–147
Total 2120 km € 230–447 € 325–723
Total in USD (1 € = $1.3 USD) $ 299–581 $ 423–940
Total in USD (1 € = $1.4 USD) $ 322–626 $ 455–1012
Five-day German Rail Pass, in USD $297 $394

I checked individual fares on both German- and English-versions of Deutsche Bahn’s website. All fares were obtained without the BahnCard option; a BahnCard is a frequent-travel savings card for residents. For means of transport, I chose all the available options. Finally, within each fare-class, I noted the range of prices in the “Sparangebote” (save offers or early-booking) category and in the “Normalpreis” (normal price) category.

To get both flexibility and cost-savings, my preferred choice is the rail pass in either fare-class, because

  • to get the “Sparangebote”, you have to know in advance the dates and destinations and order your tickets early;
  • you do not have to purchase each fare separately, either online or in-person at a train station;
  • and the traveler is not restricted to specific day, time, or train.

In addition to the websites above, Deutsche Bahn also provides a brief description of the German Rail Pass for customers in North America and the United Kingdom. The Bahn’s listed prices for the two five-day rail passes I described above are € 202 (2nd) and € 268 (1st).

To read more about other rail passes within Europe, Lily Leung wrote a detailed article about Eurail in her blog.

My previous posts about German Rail:

(*) – I checked all fares on 2011 September 14. The two photos above were made in Frankfurt Central Station on 10 October 2009.

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).

This post is published originally on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

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