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Travel News Changes to German rail travel - a new DB website and more

Changes to German rail travel - a new DB website and more

German operator DB has revamped its website, changed some key ticketing terms - and announced some speeded up and new journeys for 2024!

| Last Updated: 3 months ago

The European rail timetables, including those in Germany, have a major annual update on the second Sunday in December, so in 2023 it will occur on December 10th.
So in effect the 2024 timetable comes into effect on December 10th - presumably to give those travelling before and after the Christmas holidays, access to the benefits of any timetable improvements

DB has now placed on sale tickets for travel after December 10th and they can be booked on a new look DB website, that has recently been re-launched - hence a complete refresh of the guide to using the DB website.

Though it's not solely a new look and a changed booking path, because DB has also made some significant changes to its ticketing terms.
The most notable of these is that seat reservations are now not complimentary when booking any type of 1st class ticket.
Seat reservations now have to be proactively added to the booking and paid for, when booking the discounted Super Sparpreis and Sparpreis tickets - they also have to be added and paid for when booking 2nd class Flexpreis tickets.
Plus the cost of adding a seat reservation per per person has been raised to €5.90 for 1st class and €4.90 for 2nd class.
These and other changes have been included in the updated guide on booking tickets for German rail travel.

New and enhanced routes

DB has been able to place tickets on sale for travel after December 10th, because it has confirmed the key changes to its timetable - most of which are to do with improved services to and from Berlin.

1: The stand-out service addition is the launch of direct Berlin ↔ Paris services, which will be overnight by Nightjet.
Initially, from December 10th, trains will operate in each direction on three nights per week, but will be departing nightly from Autumn 2024.

2: Since its inception the Berlin ↔ Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region service of hourly ICE trains has involved two trains being joined together on the part of the journey between Berlin and Hamm.
Then at Hamm, the trains are split and joined with one train travelling to and from Koln/Cologne via Wuppertal; and the other train travelling to and from Dusseldorf via Dortmund and Essen.

But from December 10th this pattern will be completely changed as four separate services will use the Berlin ↔ Hannover route, which will double the service between these cities:
In summary:
In even hours the trains available will be on these routes;

  • Berlin - Hannover - Bielefeld - Hamm - Dortmund - Essen - Dusseldorf
  • Berlin - Hannover - Bielefeld - Wuppertal - Koln/Cologne - Bonn (10 minutes faster between Berlin and Koln/Cologne)
    In odd hours the trains available will be on these routes;
  • Berlin - Hannover - Osnabruck - Munster / alternating with Berlin - Hannover - Bielefeld - Hamm - Dortmund - Essen - Dusseldorf - Koln/Cologne - Aachen
  • a service which still splits at Hamm and serves both Dusseldorf via Essen and Koln/Cologne via Wuppertal.

There will also be still be three 'Sprinter' services per day in each direction calling only at Berlin* - Koln/Cologne - Bonn.
*= multiple stations in Berlin.

3: More and faster trains will be introduced to the Berlin to München / Munich and München / Munich to Berlin route.
The number of the faster 'Sprinter' limited-stop services on the direct route is to be doubled - and three of these Sprinter services will be non-stop in each direction between Berlin and Nürnberg / Nuremberg - in a fastest ever journey time between the two cities of 2hr 44min!

4: The Berlin to Amsterdam / Amsterdam to Berlin trains will be 30 minutes faster!

5: One of the daily trains on the Berlin - Frankfurt (Main) - Stuttgart - München / Munich route is to have its journey extended to and from Innsbruck via Worgl.

New trains

From December 10th onwards three routes will begin to benefit from having newer trains using them:

1: The latest generation of the ICE 3 trains, the ICE neo will begin to operate over longer-distances including on the Dortmund - Essen - Koln/Cologne - Stuttgart - Munchen/Munich route.
Later in 2024 these trains should also be on the Amsterdam - Frankfurt and Bruxelles - Frankfurt routes

2: All services between Germany and Wien/Vienna via Linz are currently operated by ICE-T trains, but ICE-4 trains will also begin to be used on these services to and from the Austrian capital.
This will more than double the availability of 1st class seats, with a significant increase in the 2nd class seating too.

3: Smart Railjet trains will be introduced to the Munchen/Munich - Innsbruck - Bolzano - Verona - Bologna / Venezia route.

Construction between Frankfurt and Mannheim

What those enhanced services have in common is that they don't travel between Frankfurt (Main) and Mannheim because the major railway construction project in Germany during 2024 is the enhancement of the Riedbahn.
This railway between Frankfurt (Main) / Frankfurt Flughafen and Mannheim isn't a high speed line, but it is used by more ICE trains than any other route in Germany.
So the construction work will impact on these routes typically used by these ICE trains:

  • Dortmund - Essen - Koln/Cologne Messe/Deutz - Frankfurt Flughafen - Mannheim - Stuttgart - Munchen/Munich
  • Hamburg Dortmund - Essen - Koln/Cologne hbf - Frankfurt Flughafen - Mannheim - Stuttgart - Munchen/Munich
  • Hamburg - Koln/Cologne - Frankfurt Flughafen - Mannheim - Karlsruhe - Basel
  • Frankfurt (Main) - Mannheim - Paris
  • Hamburg - Hannover - Frankfurt (Main) - Mannheim - Karlsruhe - Basel - Zurich
  • Berlin - Kassel Frankfurt (Main) - Mannheim - Karlsruhe - Basel - Interlaken
  • Berlin - Leipzig - Frankfurt (Main) - Mannheim - Stuttgart - Ulm - Munchen/Munich
  • Hamburg - Hannover - Kassel - Frankfurt (Main) - Frankfurt Flughafen - Mannheim - Stuttgart.

The next phase of the work will commence from July 15th and continue until Dec 9th.


Simon Harper

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