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Old Jan 14, 10, 10:39 am   #1
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Reliability/punctuality of German night trains?

My partner and I are thinking of taking a night train (DBB City Night Line) that originates in Rome and terminates in Munich. Scheduled arrival time in Munich is 630a (or 630) and the flight (Schengen connecting to non-Schengen at AMS) out of MUC is just over 4 hrs later. Plenty of time if the train is on time (or even up to 2 hours late) but how can one check the punctuality/reliability of these trains? We are on award BC tickets so are a bit concerned.

I was in a situation in 2000 where a DBB train along the Moselle (not a regional/local but not IC or ICE) just abruptly stopped in Koblenz and everyone was asked to detrain, and following train headed up to Cologne didn't show up (I've also been on badly-delayed JR Shinkansens so I've lost trust in the punctuality of DBB and JR).
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Old Jan 15, 10, 2:41 am   #2
 
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My partner and I are thinking of taking a night train (DBB City Night Line) that originates in Rome and terminates in Munich. Scheduled arrival time in Munich is 630a (or 630) and the flight (Schengen connecting to non-Schengen at AMS) out of MUC is just over 4 hrs later. Plenty of time if the train is on time (or even up to 2 hours late) but how can one check the punctuality/reliability of these trains? We are on award BC tickets so are a bit concerned.

I was in a situation in 2000 where a DBB train along the Moselle (not a regional/local but not IC or ICE) just abruptly stopped in Koblenz and everyone was asked to detrain, and following train headed up to Cologne didn't show up (I've also been on badly-delayed JR Shinkansens so I've lost trust in the punctuality of DBB and JR).
I have no particular insight into this train's on-time performance but the words 'eggs' and 'basket' come to mind.

This train journey involves the rail networks of three countries over a distance of about 1,000 km so the potential for SNAFUs is significant. Why not take it the night before and relax in Munich over a leisurely breakfast?
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Old Jan 15, 10, 3:13 am   #3
 
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There is some padding built into the timetable, but you should be aware that at Verona, a portion from Venice to Munich is added to the train.

So even if your train is on time at Verona, if the Venice portion is late, you will be delayed.

I took this train in the other direction recently, and it arrived in Rome almost dead on schedule.
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Old Jan 15, 10, 2:18 pm   #4
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The OW fares (or even a "cheap" R/T) from FLR to MUC are quite high (right now) so the discounted night train seems nice to travel as well as sleep. Can one look up online arrivals for German trains? Don't think it can be 1,000 km if the train does the trip in 10 hours? Didn't think they were that fast.

At any rate, a 2 hour delay is acceptable to us. Would still give us plenty of time to get the S-Bahn to MUC from Muenchen Hbf.
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Old Jan 15, 10, 3:14 pm   #5
 
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At any rate, a 2 hour delay is acceptable to us. Would still give us plenty of time to get the S-Bahn to MUC from Muenchen Hbf.
If Italy weren't involved, I'd say you'd have absolutely no problem.

However, given, for example, the alarming regularity of strikes in Italy, there is a risk, if only small.
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Old Jan 15, 10, 3:23 pm   #6
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If Italy weren't involved, I'd say you'd have absolutely no problem.

However, given, for example, the alarming regularity of strikes in Italy, there is a risk, if only small.
Do the Italians give plenty of warning about strike action? I guess what we should do is make rather expensive contingency plans to fly if a strike is announced?
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Old Jan 15, 10, 3:45 pm   #7
 
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Do the Italians give plenty of warning about strike action? I guess what we should do is make rather expensive contingency plans to fly if a strike is announced?
This might help. There is also an official strike website somewhere in Italian, but it will only put you off because it lists every single regional and national strike (of which there are many), in every industrial sector, without giving any indication of their likely impact (if any).
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Old Jan 16, 10, 8:08 am   #8
 
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
The OW fares (or even a "cheap" R/T) from FLR to MUC are quite high (right now) so the discounted night train seems nice to travel as well as sleep. Can one look up online arrivals for German trains? Don't think it can be 1,000 km if the train does the trip in 10 hours? Didn't think they were that fast.

At any rate, a 2 hour delay is acceptable to us. Would still give us plenty of time to get the S-Bahn to MUC from Muenchen Hbf.
The S Bahn (S1 or S8) Hauptbahnhof to Airport takes ALWAYS ! close to an hour, plus allow 15min to get to counter.
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Old Jan 17, 10, 5:07 am   #9
 
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Don't think it can be 1,000 km if the train does the trip in 10 hours? Didn't think they were that fast.
...the train starts in Rome = 1.000km
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Old Jan 17, 10, 1:33 pm   #10
 
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Don't think it can be 1,000 km if the train does the trip in 10 hours? Didn't think they were that fast.
The ICE trains go 250-300/km per hour over the fast track lines. I'm not sure if any of this trip is on a fast track.

I'd be very afraid about this itinerary, though, based on an experience I had in 2008 going from Munich to Salzburg. Someone decided to commit suicide by placing himself in front of the train. We were delayed for a very long time - 4 hours, I think. There was absolutely nothing we could do about it.
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Old Jan 17, 10, 2:44 pm   #11
 
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The next to real time data can be found at:
http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/bhftafel.exe

The arrival times shown here are similar to the times shown directly at the train station. But you have only a very limited time frame, where the real time information is displayed (around 20 minutes before the train arrives).
However I agree with all the posters above. It can easily happen that a minor problem can lead to a delay of 2 hours. And also the S-Bahn can easily be delayed by 20-30 minutes.
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Old Jan 18, 10, 6:42 pm   #12
 
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DB ICE delays expected this summer

I'm a relative newbie here so I'm not sure of the etiquette of linking to other forums. So I won't link, just summarize: a German recently reported on Rick Steves (don't yawn disparagingly just yet!) that German trains are attempting to privatize and are therefore stretching out maintenance schedules to save money. The German government, rightly unimpressed, is beefing up inspections and sidelining lots of rail cars. The scuttlebutt is that this is causing lots of delays. Copied from that post:

"Now we're experiencing the same with ICE bullet trains. At the moment only 50% of ICE trains operate at all and on most lines trains are shortened significantly due to lack of operable equipment. Result: A friend of mine just called from the 3.55pm Cologne to Frankfurt ICE telling me that even though he paid for a seat allocation the carriage his seat was supposed to be simply doesn't exist on that train. The train is packed with angry people who are all looking forward to standing in the aisle for their journey to Frankfurt, Stuttgart or even Munich...

It's expected that the situation with DB ICE trains is about to last until fall of 2010. Happy travels - in your rental cars ;-)"

A lot of chatter followed this post about whether the guy was right or wrong. I have no way to verify the reliability of it, but you might want to dig around a bit. May not happen to you, or it may just increase your probability enough to make you worry about your connection. But if the train originates in Italy, maybe it's Trenitalia rolling stock and this does not apply. Just more rumors to chase down...
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Old Jan 18, 10, 7:02 pm   #13
 
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I'm a relative newbie here so I'm not sure of the etiquette of linking to other forums. So I won't link, just summarize: a German recently reported on Rick Steves (don't yawn disparagingly just yet!) that German trains are attempting to privatize and are therefore stretching out maintenance schedules to save money. The German government, rightly unimpressed, is beefing up inspections and sidelining lots of rail cars. The scuttlebutt is that this is causing lots of delays. Copied from that post:

"Now we're experiencing the same with ICE bullet trains. At the moment only 50% of ICE trains operate at all and on most lines trains are shortened significantly due to lack of operable equipment. Result: A friend of mine just called from the 3.55pm Cologne to Frankfurt ICE telling me that even though he paid for a seat allocation the carriage his seat was supposed to be simply doesn't exist on that train. The train is packed with angry people who are all looking forward to standing in the aisle for their journey to Frankfurt, Stuttgart or even Munich...

It's expected that the situation with DB ICE trains is about to last until fall of 2010. Happy travels - in your rental cars ;-)"

A lot of chatter followed this post about whether the guy was right or wrong. I have no way to verify the reliability of it, but you might want to dig around a bit. May not happen to you, or it may just increase your probability enough to make you worry about your connection. But if the train originates in Italy, maybe it's Trenitalia rolling stock and this does not apply. Just more rumors to chase down...
The German railways have been having problems with the tilting mechanism in some series of regional trains; axles on the latest versions of the ICE trains; and wheels, axles and axle journals on the newest S-Bahn trains in Berlin. This has been going on for years, and once a problem is fixed (on all these trains) a new one - or the same one - pops up. The regional trains show no prospect of improvement, the ICE trains will take a long time for all axles to be replaced, and the S-Bahn trains are supposed (ha!) to be fixed later this year. Some commentators have claimed that the German government's requirement that the DB be sold off on the stock market has led it to scrimp on everything, including maintenance, in order to raise profitability. In fact the DB now requires suppliers to take on full responsibility for the running of cars and engines they supply without any time to break them in, as was the case in earlier years, and has also put the suppliers under great price pressure. Thus untested cars and components have gone into service - and promptly broken down. The DB has closed some shops in Berlin and initially lengthened the inspection intervals in the ICE trains. The German federal government doesn't seem to worry much about the trains' reliability, but some state governments, which finance local and regional trains, have started to curtail payments to DB because of the mess. In any case, the IPO has been indefinitely postponed, due to the stock-market collapse and lowered prospect of profitability of the DB. The DB has also agreed to reopen one S-Bahn shop in Berlin and to hire more mechanics, so maybe things will look up soon.
All standard train cars, including sleepers and all trains from Italy are not affected by these technical problems.

Last edited by Track; Jan 18, 10 at 7:12 pm.
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Old Jan 19, 10, 6:18 am   #14
 
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Don't think it can be 1,000 km if the train does the trip in 10 hours? Didn't think they were that fast.
This is an average of only 100km/h. How slow would you like them to go???
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Old Jan 19, 10, 1:03 pm   #15
 
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This is an average of only 100km/h. How slow would you like them to go???
In YVR (or in most places in North America), 100kph = roughly 62 mph is pretty fast for a train.
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