These direct trains from Köln / Cologne to Heidelberg all take a highly scenic through The Rhine Gorge instead of using the high speed line.
So taking a combination of the ICE trains, which do use a high speed line + a local train can save around an hour.
However, the second train is typically a local S-Bahn train.
Also these direct trains tend to be the cheapest option.
When travelling between most cities by train there is only one logical option, though on other journeys there is a choice between different trains or alternative routes. If different options are available you can use the info to decide which is best for you.
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This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.