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Make the most out of your rail travel in Germany

Make the most out of your rail travel in Germany

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German rail passes information: http://www.germanrailpasses.com/pass...FYJ8fgodMR8B5Q



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Old Jan 14, 08, 3:55 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2005
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Make the most out of your rail travel in Germany

DB DEUTSCHE BAHN AG

German Railways, or die Bahn (or for us older once "Bundesbahn"), as we call them, has become a constant topic in this formum. I tried to put together a general thread on Bahn and its the offers. It deals with rail travel in Germany and tickets on offer in Germany. It does not deal with any rail passes only available abroad.

This thread will always be work in progress, so I kindly ask for comments and ideas. Pls. add your specific railway questions in this thread. This will allow to make additions and alterations and to constantly update this thread as a source of information. I will include critics, ideas and proposals into the story, so pls. feel free to post, your comments are very much appreciated.

German Railways

German Railways (Bahn) is owned by the Federal Republic of Germany and owns the rolling stock, the stations and the network as such. Most (90%) of the trains are operated by German Railways, 99.9% of the long distance trains are either operated by German Railsways or by the state "carriers" of France, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Poland, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands on German tracks. Quite a few of the suburban trains are operated by other carriers due to political reasons: The suburban transit is subsidized by the German states and they gave contracts to third parties.

Verkehrsverbünde

Trains operated in sururban transit (all the red ones) are frequently operated under the fare authority of so called "Verkehrsverbünde" (public transit fare areas) in several parts of Germany. All "normal" long distance Bahn tickets are valid on these trains too, however, these "Verkehrsverbünde" allow for one ticket for all public transit in their areas. The largest ones are:

Rhein-Ruhr (Düsseldorf and the Ruhr area).
www.vrr.de
Rhein-Sieg (Cologne and Bonn).
www.vrs.de
Rhein-Main (Frankfurt, Wiesbaden).
www.rmv.de
Berlin-Brandenburg (Berlin, Potsdam, Frankfurt/Oder).
www.vbb.de
München
www.mvv-muenchen.de
Hamburg
www.hvv.de
Rhein-Neckar:
www.vrn.de

You will find a full list (in German) here:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_d...sverb%C3%BCnde

If you hold a Ticket issued by one of the members (Bahn, bus operators, tram operators, ferry operators, whatsoever) of the relevant Verkehrsverbund, you are allowed to use all public transit within the regional reach of your ticket. EG: Buy a Verkehrsverbund-Ticket from Frankfurt to Main and take the tram in Frankfurt to the station, use a regional train to Wiesbaden and use a bus in Wiesbaden to your final destination. Tickets are in general available from vending machines, in general from bus drivers and certain other outlets. All Verkehrsverbünde are managed seperately so their ticket and fare policies slightly differ. You will need to check the website.

There are certain general rules:

NEVER board without a ticket (unless it is available from the driver, in general only on busses, sometimes on trams, never on trains)

NEVER use a long distance train with a Verkehrsverbund ticket (unless is es explicitly allowed and signposted). You ticket will not be accepted.

NEVER forget to validate (stamp) your ticket if it is not prevalidated. If you are not sure, ask somebody.

To make it easier: Most Verkehrsverbünde offer day passes which in genral offer very good value for mony. Check the websites.

Trains

Bahn offers several types of trains:

The high speed ICE trains (most expensive tickets) run at up to 300 km/h on certain routes (CGN-FRA, MUC-FRA, HAM-FRA). ICE trains are easily identified since they are not only snow-white with a red band but consist of a train-set. These trains were part of a big infrastructure project in Germany introducing the high speed trains to Germany. For train spectators: There a three generations of these trains running on German tracks. All of these have 1st and 2nd class, most have a bistro or restaurant. The French Thalys operates on German tracks too.

The IC (Intercity) and EC (Eurocity) trains
are sometimes a bit cheaper and sometimes slower. Intercity trains run between German cities, Eurocity trains cross borders. IC trains are in general snow-white with the same red band but are drawn (or pushed) by a locomotive. However, you will find quite a few of the EC trains being operated by foreign carriers. All of these have 1st and 2nd class. Most of them have restaurants (or similar facilities). The comfort is not always as good as on an ICE as the rolling stock is older and some of the foreign carriers use "so-la-la" stock.

Nearly all other trains are in general red. They are called Regional Express or Regionalbahn (=Regional Train) and operate in suburban transit. However, suburban trains can without any problem run over destinations of several hundred kilometers. Some of them use two-storey carriages. Sitting upstairs is quite nice, you get a good view. Most of them have 1st and 2nd class (1st class to be identified by a yellow band over the windows at the outside of the carriage). Some offer bistros or food and drink service. The S-Bahn provides the "real" suburban service and stops every one to three kilometers.

The few exceptions: There are a few D-Züge, which used to be the old express trains, still operating. Mostly they run on strange routes, you will find quite a few in the east going to Russia. Furthermore you will find certain overnight services with hotel comfort, which we will deal with seperately.

Ticket vendors

Railway tickets are offered by several vendors and this is sometimes confusing: Bahn offers tickets for sale
  • at the station (from an agent, certain tickets require a surcharge),
  • at the station (from a vending machine),
  • via the internet (in general cheapest) and
  • via travel agents (in general with a service fee).
  • from the conductor (on ICE and IC trains, but in general not on regional trains)
The prices for flexible (unrestricted) tickets are are the same when buying them from an agent at the station, vending machine or the internet. However, since travel agents do not receive commission, so they in general charge a service fee to the customers. Be aware: Most young passengers prefer vending machines, so prepare for queuing (and these things are not really easy to use). The same can be true for the ticket counter at the station. However, there are special counters available for First Class tickets or top tiers of the Bahn FQTV programm. Queus tend to be shorter there. HOWEVER: Flexible Tickets and tickets with Bahn-Card-Discount (however no other discounted tickets) are always available from the conductor on ICE and IC/EC trains (but only on some regional/suburban trains) with a small surchage. As a rule of the thumb: Never ever board a regional/suburban train without a ticket in a town or city. You will most likely be treated as a fare avoider. Outside the cities is CAN be different and it will be explained somewhere on/in the station, just ask one of your fellow passengers.


Types of tickets

Bahn offers several types of tickets:

German Rail Pass can be a great offer, however only available for people outside Germany. I do not have any personal experience with this tool, however there is plenty of wisdom in this thread: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/germa...explained.html

Flexible tickets
in second or in first class are in general good for any train. First class requires a 50% surcharge. However, since there are different types of trains running on a single route the fare is not always identical. An IC train is cheaper compared to an ICE train on the same route. For the benefit of the greatest flexibility always buy a ticket allowing for the use of an ICE, for the the benefit of the lowest fare buy a ticket for suburban trains only.

Non Flexible tickets
are available for first and second class. When buying these, you are bound to the single train booked. No changes are allowed (other than for operational reasons) and refund is limited. There are currently three types of non flexible tickets: The Sparpreis 50 gives you a 50% discount compared to the unrestricted return fare (only). This is subject to a Sunday return rule and a purchase three days in advance and subject to availability. The Sparpreis 25 gives you 25% discount compared to the unrestricted return fare (only). It requires a purchase three days in advance and is subject to availability. Further information is to be found here: http://www.bahn.de/international/vie...parpreis.shtml. To get the Sparpreis50:
  • you need to book 3 days in advance
  • you need to book a roundtrip
  • there needs to be availability at their capacity-controlled rates
  • you need to either travel exclusively on Saturday and/or Sunday or have a Saturday night stay.

The Dauer-Special is a flat fare starting at 29 Euro for a single fare. I requires purchase three days in advance and is subject to availability (Capacity controlled). In general: The earlier you buy (at the earliest three month in advance) the better the price you can get. And the more you keep away from peak hours, the better the price you get. Be aware: You do not have any chance either to change your reservation or the use these tickets on a stand by basis. They are only good for the chosen specific train.

Cross Country Ticket (Das Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket): Starting August 1st, 20099, German Railways offers a Cross Country Ticket valid for all full day on all regional trains (S-Bahn, RB, IRE, RE and certain private operators). The ticket is valid Monday to Friday after 9am until 3am the following day or after midnight on public holidays. It costs 42 Euro plus 6 Euro of any extra person (up to four). Some of the regional express trains travel long distance and at pretty high speed. The ticket is good value if you are in a region bordering several states (where you would need more than one or two State tickets) Further information (in German): http://www.bahn.de/p/view/angebot/re...et_lid=4883770. The Cross Country Ticket can be bought online.

State tickets: State tickets, or Länder-Tickets as they are called in German, are valid on suburban trains and all public transit in a German state. They offer very good value for money, are valid for all full day during off-peak time (after 9 am) and for up to five persons. For certain states, tickets for a single person are on offer too. The fare is in the range of 20 to 30 EUR. Make sure that you stick to your state (which can be complicated in the FRA area). Further information is here: http://www.bahn.de/international/vie..._tickets.shtml

Weekend Ticket (Schönes Wochenende): This is bummer of German transit. A ticket valid for up to five persons for a full day on more or less all public transit (not on IC and ICE trains) for 39 Euro. Valid for up to 5 persons travelling together and for parents travelling with their children aged 14 or younger on Saturdays or Sundays between midnight until 3 a.m. of the following (Sun- or Mon-) day for only 39 EUR if you buy your ticket online. Information is here: http://www.bahn.de/international/vie...many/swt.shtml. In theory you can take your group of five from Flensburg in the far north to Salzburg on the Austrian border.


Regional Ticket offers:

There are several regional ticket offers valid on Bahn too. This is a result of the fact, that Germany has a (a) federal system and the states subsidize the suburban traffic and (b) the fare authority for suburban traffic rests frequently with the Verkehrsverbünde (and there are more than one in a single state). However, the system is similar all over Germany and once you understood the system in one state or region, you will easily understand the system at your final destination.

Let's take the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen as an example. This is one of the biggest states and it includes well known destinations like Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn but places like Essen, Dortmund, Münster and Duisburg, too. It is the home of nine (!) Verkehrverbünde, however, most likely you will get in touch with two of them, VRS (for Cologne and Bonn) and VRR (for Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Dortmund). Given that, you have to understand the following:
  • The Weekend ticket is issued by BAHN and is valid on all suburban traffic in Nordrhein-Westfalen too (due to agreements between Bahn and the regional providers) but as the name suggests, only on weekends.
  • There are equivalent tickets (issued under authority of the state governement) valid only within the state. These are called "SchönerTagTicket NRW 5 Personen" and "SchönerTagTicket NRW Single" and are good for a full day of travel every day for a group of five or a single traveller within the state. They are sold for EUR 35,00, resp. EUR 25,00 online (http://www.nahverkehr.nrw.de/) or at vending machines and ticket outlets state-wide.
  • There are equivalent tickets (issued under authority of the Verkehrsverbünde) valid only within the Verkehrsverbund. Let's take the VRR (www.vrr.de) as the most prominent one as an example. They offer day tickets valid every day and good for unlimited travel again for a group of up to five and for singles valid in one city (for EUR 5,30 / 11,70), for one city and all cities surrounding (EUR 10,50 / 17,30) and for the full VRR - Region (EUR 24,20 / 33,40). (http://www.vrr.de/imperia/md/content/en/abc_e.pdf)
Similar systems are in place in other state and areas of Germany. In Bayern you will find eg. a "Bayern Ticket" valid statewide and for Munich you will find three types of group tickets with veerrrry German names: When arriving at the airport you will need a "Partner-Tageskarte-Gesamtnetz" (better do some exercise to pronounce that properly ) taking you into town and good for travel for up to five for a full day for 18.00 Euro. The day (group) ticket offers in general great value for money and they free you from getting a ticket for every single journey and from understanding the different types of vending machines.

A real life example: Just let's assume that you, your wife and your offspring arrive in Düsseldorf from the US (on NW, LH or AB) and your hotel is in the heart of Düsseldorf and you plan to to more than one journey on public transit. You buy yoursself a VRR ticket on price level "A" valid for Düsseldorf for EUR 11,70 and enjoy a full day of travel for you and your family to your hotel and in Düsseldorf. The next day you want to see the the cathedral in Cologne. Cologne is within the state but outside the VRR region. You buy yourself a "SchönerTagTicket NRW 5 Personen" for EUR 35,00 and this is good for all travel in Düsseldorf, in Cologne and whereever you want to go within the state. The next day you want to make a harbor tour in Duisburg. You are by far more familiar with the system and you are now aware that you need a VRR ticket on price level "B" valid for Düsseldorf and Duisburg (and Mülheim, Ratingen and several other places you don't want to go). For the weekend you plan a daytrip to Frankfurt. This is neither within the state nor within the VRR region, so you need a Weekend ticket for EUR 39,00.

For all trips you have to be aware: You must avoid ICE and IC trains with these tickets (travel time to Frankfurt on suburban train doubles, 3:50 hours from Düsseldorf with one change in Koblenz, however the flexible return fare on an ICE train for a group of three is EUR 420,00) and most tickets have to be validated on your day of travel. If you are not sure, just get your ticket stamped in one of the little boxes either on a bus/tram or on or before a platform, it won't harm.

Seat Reservations

Bahn offers seat reservations for a small surcharge for all long distance trains. Coaches are numbered, and somewhere on the platform you will find the Wagenstandsanzeiger showing each train and the position of the relavent coach on the platform. Above the platform you will find big blue boards with white letters - A, B, C, D etc. The same letters are to be found on the Wagenstandsanzeiger , so just check where your coach will stop on the platform. Seat reservation can be made for "Grossraum" (coaches without compartments) or "Abteil" (coaches with six-seat or somestimes five or four-seatcompartments). Long-distance trains usually have both types. Your reservations will show "Wagen" or "WG" (coach) and "Sitz" (seat). Most likely coach Number 11 will be at the head of the train. Certain ICE trains with two units have coaches from 11 into the range of 30. In the coach you will find the seat number above the seat (Grossraum) or in front of the compartment (Abteil) and most likely you will find your specific reservation on display (eg. Frankfurt - München).

However: You can take every non-reserved seat you want. Above the seats on the wall or on the overhead compartment you will see small displays. The display will show the name of the stops where the seat is reserved. In your case it should say Hamburg-Berlin. If nothing is shown on the display the seat is not reserved. You are under no obligation to take the seat reserved, your ticket is good for any non-reserved seat in the relevant class of travel.


Luggage

Luggage can in general not be checked in. You need to schlepp it. There is no baggage service on ICE trains (the only exception I know is the AirRail codeshare service with Lufthansa from Stuttgart to Frankfurt Airport). However, IATA size carry-on fits perfectly in the racks above the seats. Even larger suitecases can be fitted up there but it is a little bit tricky depending how heavy it is. You can also store your large suitcases between the seats. There are some seats that face back to back and you can put your luggage there with no issue.

Tipping on a DB (night) train

Do not laugh, this is serious. There is no statutory need to tip a conductor on any train or any steward on a night train (some would call him/her night train conductor). I have tipped stewards in the restaurant/lounge cars (round up to next Euro + 1 or 2 Euros, depending on size of bill), but only for table service, never at the bar. If the conductor serves drinks and food at your seat in F/C or you buy anything from the trolley I would round it up to the next Euro or half Euro depending on what coins you have saving him or her and yourself the burden of looking for change.


Bahn Card

The BahnCard is a discount card available online or at Bahn ticket offices. You will need a passport-size photo; you will get a temporary card immediately from the ticket agent and the plastic card will be mailed to you. The BahnCard25 provides for a 25% discount on DB fares, including those sold at the SparPreis fares menitoned before. Theoretically this adds up to a 65% discount. For 2nd class, it costs 55EUR. BahnCard50 gives you 50% off on all standard DB fares, giving you full flexibility (interrupting your journey--domestically you must complete travel within two days, refunding your ticket, choosing your trains, etc.). For 2nd class, it costs 220 EUR. Prices are double for First Class. Students at an age of 26 or under pay half price for the card. Bahn Card gives no discount on State Tickets, Weekend Tickets or Dauer Spezial Tickets. Tickets bought with Bahn Card Discount gives you a free ride on public transit at your destination, a nice perk since you do not have to fight with the fare system at your destination.


Bahn Bonus and Bahn Comfort

Bahn Bonus and Bahn Comfort are the "frequent flyer programs" of Bahn. Bahn Bonus is available to any customer holding at least a "BonusCard Business" or any Bahn Card. Bahn Bonus gives you "Award Miles" whereas "Bahn Comfort" (only available if you hold a Bahn Card) gives you "Tier Points". If you do not plan to spend at least 1000 Euro on Bahn Tickets within the next three years, simply forget about it.

www.bahn.de

Bahn operates a sophisticated booking engine on the internet in English at http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en allowing
  • to book tickets online
  • to make reservations
  • and to print online tickets
for most national and certain international destinations. It is a several step process but normally it works without any problems. If you are used to buying airline tickets online you will not have any problems. The booking engine is similar, offers (there are certainly more stations than airports) more choice.

On the first page you enter your Start and Destination. The system "understands" the English names for German cities, so no problem. There is a nice little feature called "via". This allows you to enter intermediate stations to "force" the system to sell you a specific routing. Entering for example "Mainz" as an intermediate station on an itinery from Frankfurt to Cologne forces the system to sell you a ticket via the scenic Rhine-Line; entering "Frankfurt" as an intermediate station on an itinery from Berlin to Cologne gives you a detour to Frankfurt (which can be an overnight) on a trip from the capital to the cathedrale. With "means of transportation" you can include or exclude ICE and/or even all long distance trains to get cheaper fares. "Travellers" allows you to enter up to five travellers, child or adult. Under "Class" you select second or first class carriage.

On the second page you select your outbound journey. If you book at least three days in advance the system offers a normal (unrestricted) fare and a restricted (savings) fare, if not, it shows only unrestrcted fares. At this stage you do not know that a restricted fare is actually available, the system does not perform a general availability check. To check, whether or not a restricted fare is available for your itinery or any other train proposed you either click on the box "Check Availability" or more easy on the link "Check Availability for all". You can either carry on with your booking or add the outbound to your shopping cart and continue with the inbound journey.

On the third page the system asks for the dates/times for the inbound journey (if not entered earlier) and proposes adaequate connections on the fourth page. The fare offered now is for the entire journey and the system will propose (if booked three days in advance) not only the unrestricted fare but the restricted (saving) fares too. At this stage you will find a number of proposals subject to availability. In general the system will propose Spar-Preis, Dauer-Spezial and unrestricted fares. You might find special fares for First Class too. If a special fare is no longer available for the itinary chosen you still have the opportunity to change your itinery. Sometimes special fares are available in First Class and no longer available in Second Class since there is a seperate capacity controll.

On the fifth page you can make a seat reservation which is highly recommanded if you travel early in the morning or at other peak times. A seat reservations does not convert a flexible fare into a restricted fare. You may use your reservation, you are not forced to do so. Vice versa, a restricted fare does not become unrestricted if you do not make a seat reservation - you may only end up without any seat. Whenever offered you should select "Online Ticket for self printing" as the type of your ticket.

The sixth page reconfirms your itinery and asks for your preferences for the seat reservation and is self explanatory. On the seventh page you can enter your password to get your personal data on sceen. I you do not have a profile registered you should in general proceed with "Booking without registering". If you plan to travel more frequently you might wish to register for a (free) user account. The next page asks for payment and credit card details. Most important: You are asked to enter your (a) credit card numbers twice. One card is for payment, the other one is for "Online-Ticket ID number". You may, but do not need to use the same card. However: You MUST carry the card used as "Online-Ticket ID number:" on your journey, if not, your ticket is not valid and you need (at the best and on long distance trains and certain regional trains) to buy another one or (even worse) will be treated as fare avoider (on other regional trains). At the end of the process the system will produce a PDF which is your ticket and receipt. Important again: You MUST carry a printout. It is not sufficient to present the ticket on the sceen of a notebook computer.

The booking engine offers several other features (like booking a hotel or a car) - just explore it. The booking engine does - however - not allow for State Tickets or Weekend Tickets to be printed online. These can be ordered but will be dispatched by mail (so better book these at the station).

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; Dec 13, 10 at 6:34 am
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Old Jan 14, 08, 4:23 pm
  #2  
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: DUS (and somewhere in transit)
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Posts: 9,578
Hotels close to Munich station:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=609771

Frankfurt train station questions:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=326461

Geneva to Berlin by rail:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=637459

Connections between DUS and CGN by rail:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=641666

Train from Cologne to The Hague:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=673999

What to to between Frankfurt and Dortmund:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=703442

Train from Frankfurt Airport to Munich:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=719686

FRA - CGN on ICE train:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=717506

Help booking ICE Munich - Florence
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=719970

1st class on ICE trains
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=719620

Frankfurt to Düsseldorf:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=720422

Transfer time FRA to train:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=724073

Buying international train tickets at the HBF:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=745007

Deutsche Bahn ticket office open on Sunday:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=740176

Train ticket purchase between FRA and Hagen:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=748165

Ground transport FRA to Landstuhl Area:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=754311

How far in advance do I have to buy Bahn train tickets to get "special" price:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=769015

German Railpass explained:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=666637

Munich single day transport pass:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=766646

Frankfurt Airport to Strasbourg question about train station
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=767448

bahn.bonus, BahnCard 25 and 50 - can someone explain how these work?
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=777351

Euro train ticket purchasing (and discounts)?
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=775547

Deutschland-Pass - 299 EUR
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=840924

FRA to Kirn rail conx
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=840561

1st class on ICE Trains
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=719620

Reservations for a Munich to Prague train:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/germa...rail-pass.html

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; Dec 13, 08 at 4:10 am
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Old Jan 14, 08, 4:24 pm
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Frankfurt Airport Station

Frankfurt Airport is conveniently linked to Bahn's network. Frankfurt Airport has two railway stations. The long-distance railway station (for ICE and IC/EC trains) or Fernbahnhof in German is at the AIRail Terminal, right next to Terminal 1. Trains arrive at and depart from platforms 4 to 7. Upon arrival at long-distance train station, passengers of certain airlines can even drop off their flight baggage immediately at the “Baggage check-in at the AIRail Terminal”. In addition, there is a local railway station, called Regionalbahnhof in German, for S-Bahn, regional and suburban trains at Terminal 1, Level 1. Trains arrive at and depart from platforms 1 to 3. Both railway stations are linked to Terminal 2 via buses and the Sky Line. This is how you get there from Terminal 2: From the platform (Level 0, Area B) go one floor higher up, following signs to Terminal 2. When in Area B or C, get on a free Shuttle Bus to Terminal 2. The service runs between 05:00 and 00:30 hrs (5am to 12:30am). Alternatively, follow signs to the Sky Line in Hall B. This service to Terminal 2 runs at 2-minute intervals. Please note: You are not permitted to take trolleys onto a Sky Line train.

From Fernbahnhof you will have in general hourly services on ICE trains to Munich (via Mannheim, Stuttgart, Ulm, Augsburg), to Wiesbaden (via Mainz), to Dresden (via Frankfurt Central, Fulda, Eisenach, Gotha, Erfurt, Weimar, Leipzig), to Dortmund (via Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, Bochum), to Stuttgart (via Mannheim), to Essen (via Cologne Fairground, Düsseldorf, Duisburg), to Hamburg (via Kassel, Göttingen, Hannover), to Basel (via Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Offenburg, Freiburg). Certain services continue to Amsterdam and Brussels. For services to Berlin you have to change either at Frankfurt Central, at Hannover or at Leipzig. For services to Hagen and Wuppertal you will have to change at Cologne.

From Regionalbahnhof you have the S-Bahn to Central Frankfurt (via Taunusanlage, Hauptwache, Konstablerwache), further S-Bahn connections to Mainz, Wiesbaden, Offenbach and Hanau, a regional train line going to Koblenz (via Rüsselsheim, Mainz, Ingelheim and Bingen), a regional train line going to Saarbrücken (via Rüsselsheim, Mainz, Ingelheim, Neuenkirchen), a regional train lines to Frankfurt Central and to Hanau.

From the luggage reclaims area you will need about 5 minutes to Regionalbahnhof (trains to Central Frankfurt depart most likely from platform 1, very few from Platform 2, check the indicators). You MUST buy a ticket before boarding the train. From the luggage reclaims area you will need about 10 minutes to Fernbahnhof. Southbound trains (incl. Frankfurt Central) depart from platforms 4 and 5, Northbound trains depart from platforms 6 and 7. You may buy a ticket on the train (however, you can only unrestricted tickets and have to pay a small surcharge). Conductors accept credit cards.

To get to Frankfurt hotels: Take the S-Bahn local train (lines S8/S9) from FRA into the centre and get off at Konstablerwache for the Westin Grand. Its a two minutes walk. Get of at Hauptbahnhof for the Steigenberger, InterConti, Le Meridien and several others. They are in two to five minutes distance. Get of at Hauptwache for the Hilton. Take the Schillerstrasse exit from the station and walk straight up that street to the end, cross the road and the Hilton is down to your left. For the Mariott and the Hessischer Hof you need to get of at Hauptwache and take the subway (I do no recollect the line) to the fairgrounds. One way price €3.60 each adult.


Düsseldorf Airport Station

Düsseldorf Airport is conveniently linked to Bahn's network. Düsseldorf Airport has two railway stations. The long-distance railway station (for ICE, IC/EC and regional trains) or Fernbahnhof in German is in a separate building linked with the terminal via the Skytrain. In addition, there is a local railway station ("Flughafen Terminal") only used for the S-Bahn to Düsseldorf Central Station and further on to Solingen.

From Fernbahnhof you have an hourly ICE train to Berlin (via Duisburg, Essen, Bochum, Dortmund, Hamm, Bielefeld, Hannover), an two-hourly ICE service to Cologne Airport and several regional trains covering the Ruhr area, Paderborn, Hamm and Minden (Eastbound) and Cologne, Bonn and Coblenz (Westbound). However, you can easily connect to all other long distance services either in Düsseldorf Central, Cologne or Duisburg. Remember: You MUST buy a ticket before boarding any regional train, tickets are not sold on regional trains in the region. You may buy a ticket on the ICE train (however, you can only buy unrestricted tickets and have to pay a small surcharge). Conductors accept credit cards. To get to the Fernbahnhof you need to follow the signs to the Skytrain. In general, you should calculate 15 minutes to get from the luggage reclaims area to the Fernbahnhof. Be aware: In principle you need a ticket for the Skytrain. Any valid Bahn, VRR or parking ticket will do the trick. In practice nobody ever checked my ticket.

From small S-Bahn "Terminal Station", which is located under the Terminal building, you have a comfortable, quick and easy connection into central Düsseldorf leaving at -03, -23 and -43 and arriving at the central station 12 minutes later. It should take you no more than five to seven minutes from the luggage reclaims area to the platform. Follow the signs S7. You have to buy a ticket from a vending machine on the platform. If you only want to get to Düsseldorf Central or continue your journey on any public transit within the city borders, you need a Ticket "A".


Cologne Airport Station

Cologne has a small and not too busy airport station. The most frequent train is the S13 departing to Cologne Central at -04 -24 and -44. It takes 15 minutes to Cologne Central. BEside that you have a few IC/ICE trains to Frankfurt, Munich, Essen, Wiesbaden, Berlin. You need to check the time tables, there is no real system in it. Local trains depart to Coblenz (via Bonn and Neuwied) at -50 and to Moenchengladbach (via Cologne Central) at -08. For the S-Bahn to Cologne you need to get a ticket from the vending machine at price level 1b (currently 1.2008) at 2.30 Euro.


Dresden Airport Station

Dresden Airpost has its own rail station taking you into Dresden Neustadt Station (good for the Westin), Dresden Internationales Handelszentrum (good for the Maritim) and Dresden Hbf (good for most other places). The ticket is bloddy cheap (1,80 Euro) and the train departs at -07 and -37 past the hour. The trains from, Hbf depart -48 and -18 past the hour, the trains from Neustadt at -52 and -22 past the hour. The train ticket is good for busses and trams too and there are plenty of trams providing excellent connections within Dresden. Check at http://www.vvo-online.de/en/index.aspx


Munich Airport Station

Munich has an airport station with to suburban lines (S1 and S8). Details can be found at http://www.mvv-muenchen.de/en/index.html. The S8 goes around Munich in the east and departs at -02, -22 and -42, the S1 goes around Munich in the west and departs at -11, -31 and -51. In general, S8 is the by far better train to all station between Ostbahnhof and Hauptbahnhof. The easiest hotel is the City Hilton build on Rosenheimer Platz Station. Tickets are in the range of 10 Euro. If you plan to do more than one journey, get a day ticket "Gesamtnetz". It is only one or two Euro more expensive than the single ticket. If there are at least two of you travelling the "Group Day Ticket Gesamtnetz" is a steal.

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; Dec 14, 08 at 12:58 pm
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Old Jan 15, 08, 12:49 pm
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Old Jan 15, 08, 1:07 pm
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Nice work, and it should be useful. I'd vote to sticky it, as this board seems to be getting more-and-more train related inquiries.

One change you may wish to make:
For the Schönes Wochenende ticket, replace 12pm with midnight to make it clear that you can travel the entire day until 3am the next day. (I generally interpret 12pm to refer to noon, though I know others will argue that 12pm doesn't actually exist at all.)
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Old Jan 15, 08, 7:26 pm
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Thank you for your efforts. Lots of newbies going to Germany with the current low fares. I plan on using the train system for the first time in March.
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Old Jan 16, 08, 12:08 am
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Nice work Flying Lawyer Thanks for the effort!
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Old Jan 16, 08, 8:39 am
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Originally Posted by Flying Lawyer View Post
Ticket vendors

Railway tickets are offered by several vendors and this is sometimes confusing: Bahn offers tickets for sale
  • at the station (from an agent with a surcharge),
  • at the station (from a vending machine),
  • via the internet (in general cheapest) and
  • via travel agents (in general with a service fee).
As far as I remember the prices for flex-tix are are the same when buying them from an agent, vending machine or internet. Most young passengers prefer vending machines, so prepare for queuing.
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Old Jan 16, 08, 8:59 pm
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Sweet post

My parents are interested in learning the German train system for a future trip this summer. I'll be sending them here for sure. Great post and sticky.
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Old Jan 19, 08, 5:34 pm
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Flying Lawyer: fantastic info. Thank you very much!
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Old Jan 20, 08, 6:36 pm
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How Does One Buy The 50% Saver Fares Vs The 25% Saver Fares?
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Old Jan 20, 08, 6:39 pm
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Originally Posted by best View Post
How Does One Buy The 50% Saver Fares Vs The 25% Saver Fares?
The Sparpreis tickets? You can buy them online
http://www.bahn.de/international/vie...parpreis.shtml
They are only valid for roundtrips. The Sparpreis 50% off requires a Saturday night stay (if you make the outbound on Saturday or Sunday you can return that same day; if you leave on Sunday and don't come back the same day, you can return the following Saturday or later).
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Old May 2, 08, 3:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Flying Lawyer View Post
DB DEUTSCHE BAHN AG

On the first page you enter your Start and Destination. The system "understands" the English names for German cities, so no problem. There is a nice little feature called "via".
I'm almost done with planning my first trip to Germany. I decided to use point-to-point tickets instead of a railpass, so my train schedules are mostly fixed already.

I would just like to add to the "via" feature, that you could use it to for "free" stopovers --- for a maximum of 48 hours from what I've read somewhere.
Part of my itinerary involved Berlin-Dresden-Prague, with an overnight stay in Dresden.

Had I booked the two legs separately, it would've cost me 29 EUR + 19 EUR + reservation fee. Using the "via" option, it just cost me 29 EUR + reservation fee.
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Old May 17, 08, 10:42 am
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How to refund a ticket you bought online on DB

Sometimes travel plans change last minute and you can't use your ticket. Depending on the type of ticket and the time of your cancellation DB charges you different fees and has different refund policies

DB separates between cancellation/refund before the first day your ticket is valid and after the first day your ticket is valid.
  • Cancellation/Refund before the first day your ticket is valid:
    If you have created an account on during your purchase you can cancel your ticket online by logging in.
    If you haven't created an account you have to do the same as explained in the next section
    For "Normalpreis Tickets" the refund is free of charge. For "Sparpreis Tickets" the fee is €15. Seatreservations are not refundable.

  • Cancelation/Refund after the first day your ticket is valid:
    Important:"Sparpreis Tickets" are not refundable after the first day your ticket is valid.

    For all other tickets you will need to download the following form Refund Claim Website and send it to the following address.

    DB Vertrieb GmbH
    Fulfillment Center
    Postfach 60 05 04
    22205 Hamburg

    If you have ordered a paper ticket you need to attach the paper ticket.
    For all "Sparpreis" tickets the refund fee is €15. Seatreservations are not refundable

If you have questions you can contact DB by phone:
+ 49 1805 - 996633 or Email

Last edited by flyingfkb; Jul 11, 10 at 4:29 am Reason: Updated Contact Information
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Old Jun 24, 08, 7:55 pm
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a quick question..
If I'm traveling together with my friends we need to separately buying the online ticket?
Or i can online purchase a few ticket at the same time but with 1 online-ticket id?
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