From next weekend, German passengers will have new offers - but also higher prices. With the timetable change, journeys on ICE and Intercity trains will cost an average of 1.9 percent more from Sunday next week (December 12), as announced by Deutsche Bahn in the fall. It will be easier and, in many cases, probably cheaper to take children under 15 with you: In the future, the necessary accompanying person can be anyone, not just parents or grandparents. New in the timetable are additional Sprinter connections. They are also intended to attract people to the railroads who would otherwise use domestic flights.
On eight of the ten strongest domestic German routes, additional ICE trains are to run with fewer intermediate stops, the so-called Sprinters. One of these is the Berlin-Cologne route. There, ICE trains will run three times a day in less than four hours - up to half an hour faster than before. Faster travel is also planned on the Düsseldorf-Cologne-Munich, Hamburg-Frankfurt Airport and Berlin-Munich routes.
Long-distance trains are now running again on the Frankfurt-Siegen-Dortmund-Münster route after a long time. Vacationers can continue their journey once a day to Norddeich Mole on the North Sea. The direct train from Dresden via Berlin to Westerland on the island of Sylt, on the other hand, has been dropped - a mistake, according to the Pro Bahn passenger association.
"We need significantly more direct connections in tourist traffic," said honorary chairman Karl-Peter Naumann. Vacations in Germany are in vogue, he said, and should not be taken only by car. "On the way to the other East Frisian islands, they have to change trains forever." In the east, too, only Rügen is really well connected, he said.
For Germany to achieve its climate targets, significantly more people are to travel by rail instead of taking the car or plane. In their coalition agreement, the SPD, the Greens, and the FDP have stated that transport performance is to be doubled - a much more ambitious goal than before. The previous government wanted to double the number of passengers; this can be achieved in part by running fuller trains.
In line with its growth strategy, Deutsche Bahn has been buying new trains for years; every three weeks, it takes delivery of an ICE4 with 13 cars and 918 seats. The new trains will also provide 50,000 more seats during the Christmas season than in the previous year when there were a good 500,000 seats a day.
Additional trains will also make the new Sprinter connections possible. ICE trains are also gradually replacing Intercity trains, as is now the case on the Frankfurt/Karlsruhe-Stuttgart-Ulm-Munich route. For passengers, this means more comfort, but also more expensive tickets. There are still routes on which IC and ICE trains alternate - confusing for customers, as Pro Bahn criticizes.
Anyone who still jumps on a train at short notice has to prepare for an important change: Paper tickets are no longer available from the conductor. Spontaneous first-timers will have to book their tickets quickly on a laptop or cell phone in the future, with ten minutes to do so.
There are more options for people who like to travel at night. After 14 years, a night train is once again running between Paris, Munich and Vienna, and there is also a night connection between Zurich, Cologne and Amsterdam. The train is operated by Austrian Federal Railways.Rail competitor Flixtrain is also expanding its services and will in the future also run between Frankfurt and Cologne. Further destinations are planned for the spring. The green trains will then stop in a total of 70 towns. However, the night connection between Berlin and Munich will be cancelled next weekend.
Image by Erich Westendarp