German Railways - Deutsche Bahn How easy is it to use?
I'll get it out there straight away - I have always been a bit of a fan of Deutsche Bahn (DB, for short) but in recent years, and despite Germany's reputation for precision and accuracy, the country's main rail company has been plagued by delays and breakdowns. Earlier this year, the German Government and DB announced a €86.2 billion investment over the next decade that, it is hoped, will provide a modernised facility and a "foundation for active climate protection".
There are a number of reasons why I like DB including:
1. Their trains.
There are three main types of DB train in operation:
1. ICE (Intercity Express), Germany’s iconic high-speed train service.
Able to reach speeds of over 300 km/h, DB’s ICE trains cover the hugely popular long-distance routes across the country, serving major cities like Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt. You can also take the ICE train to neighbouring countries such as France and Austria, making it a great option if you’d like to city (or even country) hop!
Onboard, you can expect to find WiFi on most trains, as well as quiet zones, family carriages and much more. ICE trains feature two seating classes, both of which are incredibly comfortable. In First Class, passengers are treated to free newspapers, complimentary hot/cold drinks & snacks, and unlimited WiFi. These are the type of trains Australia is crying out for as part of our VFT (Very Fast Train) network.
2. IC (InterCity) trains, meanwhile, conveniently connect many of the major cities across the country. Providing a similar service to the ICE trains,Intercity services also ferry passengers between Germany’s major cities– just at a slower speed. You’ll get many of the same comforts on these trains, including the spacious seats. In fact, some Intercity trains also feature double-decker carriages, enabling them to carry more passengers per journey than ICE trains.
3. Regional Express and Regional Bahn services, which connect quieter towns and villages to nearby cities and provide some of the most important commuting routes in Germany. So try to avoid travelling on these trains during peak hours, as they can be quite busy. On the other hand, if you’d like to explore some slightly different areas away from the beaten path, then regional trains are incredibly useful. Much like the Intercity trains, some of these services also feature double-decker carriages for extra space.
2. Ease of use
The booking of tickets and using the trains is really quite simple. DB has a very good website, 8 language options and the ability to link your online ticket purchases to their App (see below for more info on the App).
The booking process is quite intuitive but you do need to be a bit careful about the from/to stations to ensure you are getting tickets to where you want to go.
Some other things to keep in mind when looking/booking?
1.Tickets can be booked up to 6 months ahead of the travel date
2.The further ahead you can book, the greater the savings to be made
3.Seat reservations are automatically included when booking First Class tickets for journeys by express trains.
4.When purchasing Second class tickets for journeys by express train, seat reservations are optional, so need to be added when booking (@ €4).
5.Tickets are specific to the different train services, so for example, you can't book a ticket for a journey by a Regio, regional train service, and then hop on an IC/ICE express train.
A step-by-step guide to booking tickets can be found here:
One aspect of travelling with DB that takes a lot of the stress out of finding your carriage/seat is that each platform is equipped with a number of signs indicating where specific trains/carriages will line up on the station. This makes it so easy to get on board the right carriage and find your seat.
3. DB Navigator App
With the DB Navigator you always have all information about your journey with you.
My Trip: Get real-time information and up-to-date departure and arrival times.
Booking: Book tickets for ICE, IC/ EC trains including S-Bahn, U-Bahn, bus and tram.
Quick booking: Book your ticket in only a few steps.
Mobile phone tickets: Book and manage tickets in the app.
Coach sequence: Find out before the train arrives in which platform section your coach will stop.
Languages: German and English.
Available free from Google PlayStore
As part of having mobile tickets, you can also make use of "Komfort Check-in" with the DB Navigator App. Komfort Check-in allows you to validate your ticket(s) once onboard and in your seat, notifies DB that you are seated and that DB staff do not need to check your ticket.
4. Europe-wide network/access
If travelling in Europe, either via or through Germany, we prefer to make our rail bookings via DB for the reasons above. DB can make bookings for travel in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France,Hungary, Italy, UK (London), Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden & Switzerland.
5. The people
This should be the first reason, but we have generally found the DB staff to be so friendly and helpful. That they speak beautiful English is a bonus. Time after time, DB staff have gone above and beyond simply providing information about the trains etc - they have made hotel accommodation inquiries, provided transport options/advice and have been totally professional and courteous at all times.
The Government's investment in DB is also an investment in their people and is a very welcome step.