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.
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).
My previous posts about German Rail:
- train stations and route maps in Germany
- InterCity Express cross-country, Berlin to Frankfurt am Main, 20 March 2011
(*) – I checked all fares on 2011 September 14. The two photos above were made in Frankfurt Central Station on 10 October 2009.
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. This post is published originally on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.