Category Archives: Train Tips

InterCity-Express ICE Train

Germany, a country well known of its engineering, have the most complete and leading train system in the world. There are a few types of train available in Germany. This article outlines one of the most frequently used, high speed train type, namely ICE (InterCity-Express).

ICE is managed and operated by DB (Deutsche Bahn) and it operates on more than 40000km of railway networks. ICE has more than 30000 trips daily, with estimation of 40 millions passenger capacity. It connects all major cities in Germany, such as Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin. ICE is considered the fastest train in Germany, where the top speed can easily exceed 300km/h. It is also a deluxe class of transportation, ensuring comfortable and pleasant journey. ICE train is equipped with air conditioner, children play area, snack bar, toilets, luggage area, disable facilities and most importantly, WIFI! Free wifi is provided along the journey on train. This is really convenient for travelers, especially for those who need to plan their journey. Luggage areas are fitted with racks and locks. However, users need to pay to use the lock. It is like the trolley at supermarket or airport, where you need to insert a coin to release the lock. The train carriages can be categorized to first and second class. Trains carriages often labelled with the number “1” for first class and “2” for second class at the exterior of carriages. It is design in such a way so that passengers can easily identify the classes of carriage to avoid confusion and ensure smooth boarding.

InterCity-Express ICE Train
InterCity-Express ICE Train

ICE train also connects Germany to other Euro zones, including Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherland and France. Some example of ICE routes:
– Frankfurt to Munich, Hamburg and Cologne
– Berlin to Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt
I started my Europe trip at Austria (Vienna, Salzburg, Hallstatt), to Czech Republic (Prague), to Germany (Fussen, Blackforest) and my trip ended at Switzerland (Lucerne, Interlaken, Zurich). I traveled to all those countries and cities by train, except for Czech Republic. No train option was available, so I took a bus tour.

Welcome aboard ICE train, and have a pleasant journey 🙂

German Train Tips

1. Buy your ticket earliest possible to get the best deals

Buying train ticket on the exact day of travel cost you much more than when you buy it in advance. You can check at www.bahn.com for German train advance purchase. Plan your travel early, look into details of itinerary and pick the most suitable train ticket type. There are various promotional train tickets available, but the trick is buying it early. Example of promotional train tickets in Germany: Bavaria/Bayern ticket, Quer Durchs Land ticket, and Europa Spezial ticket. Click in to each of the promotional ticket link and get to know the detail terms and usage conditions.

2. Cost saving with transit ticket

1 single ticket can be used to stop by 2 cities apart from your final destination city. Buy transit ticket at www.bahn.com as long as one of below terms is met:
a.) start point in Germany, or
b.) end point in Germany, or
c.) traveling within Germany.
Set up to 2 via points (stop by a city with transit time less than 48 hours), it counted as 1 single ticket price. This works even if your route cross Germany neighboring countries, eg. Austria and Switzerland.

3. Cost saving with group ticket

Traveling in group provides you great saving. Promotional tickets mentioned above, comes with group ticket price. For example, Bayern ticket cost 27 Euros for 2 person, for additional travelers add only 4 Euros each, up to 5 person. Make sure you state the number of travelers when you purchase your ticket.

4. Buy the right train ticket, and board the right train

Make sure you buy the right train ticket and also board the right train. You are liable to pay penalty fares for below conditions:
a.) travels without a ticket
b.) travels with invalid ticket, not matching the terms and conditions stated in the ticket, including date, time, route, destination and train type.
c.) stays in first class area with standard ticket
Train conductor randomly picks passenger and checks their ticket on urban and suburban routes, which normally train stops frequently. Be sure to validate your ticket prior to or during train rides at ticket validation machine. For long distance trains, train conductor checks and validates all passenger’s ticket.

Ticket Validation Machine
Ticket Validation Machine

5. Bring along your hard copy ticket for validation

If you buy ticket online at www.bahn.com, be sure to bring along printed hard copy ticket to board the train, for validation by train conductor. Also, bring along credit card which you used to buy ticket online, it is needed for validation purpose as identification document/ID. Take note that passport is not a valid identification document/ID for train ticket validation. Refer to above mentioned promotional ticket links for validated train ticket photos.

6. Be at train station on time

Train is on time, so be early or at least on time at train station. Exceptional case is flood at small village area, replacement bus is provided. Prepare backup train schedule/itinerary, just in case you miss your train or unexpected train delay.

7. Take early train if possible

Start your train travel earliest possible, especially during weekend to avoid the crowd at tourist spots. For long distance travel, avoid arriving final train destination after 6pm, or at the very least, book hotel with receptionist available till late at night.