Berlin The fares for rail customers have not yet been lowered, for many customers they will even go up this weekend. At the same time, what’s on offer is growing. Even small towns are connected to the IC network.
A timetable change is in store for this Sunday, and this time it will not be accompanied by a fare increase for long-distance rail customers as usual. On New Year's Day, tickets could even become ten percent cheaper - provided the Bundestag and Bundesrat reduce the value-added tax before Christmas.
"We keep our word", at least one railway spokesman assured. In any case, Deutsche Bahn will lower the super savings price on January 1, which at 17,90 euros will be two euro less than previously. In local transport, however, fares will rise by an average of 1.7 percent starting this Sunday, with some group fares increasing even more sharply.
140 Deutsche Bahn employees have been working on the new timetable over the past few months, according to their boss Frank Hoffmann. "Of course, we'll be watching especially on Sunday to see how the new timetable starts out." For passengers, there are more seats on a number of routes or more frequent services, and a new Intercity route is also on offer. But there are also restrictions.
INTERCITY ROUTE ROSTOCK-DRESDEN
The railway is gradually upgrading the new long-distance route via Berlin, first with 10 journeys a day, and then beginning in March with 16. Then, double-decker trains will also run as Intercity, which the railway bought from the Austrian Westbahn and repainted.
In this way it wants to connect more cities to long-distance traffic more quickly. With Elsterwerda and Doberlug-Kirchhain, the train stops in communities with less than 10,000 inhabitants. Further stations are Oranienburg, Neustrelitz and Waren (Müritz), from May Warnemünde and Schönefeld, where the capital's airport BER will open in October.
MORE ICE TRAINS
More trains ensure an hourly cycle on the ICE routes Berlin-Erfurt-Munich and Berlin-Braunschweig-Frankfurt/Main. According to the rail company, the services will also be increased on the connections from Hamburg to the Ruhr area and to the Rhine as well as to Munich. This is made possible by the ICE4 train. One of these new trains is being delivered from the manufacturers to Deutsche Bahn every three weeks. The ICE4 fleet is to grow from 39 to 137 trains by 2025.
Also starting on Sunday, the only railway competitor in long-distance traffic also wants to collect passengers in Aachen, Leipzig, Halle (Saale), Erfurt, Gotha, Eisenach and Wittenberg. The company wants to transport passengers between Hamburg and Cologne in three and a half hours with an express connection. In spring, the green trains will also run on the new Hamburg-Stuttgart route.
This ICE line will be closed and generally overhauled from April 10 to October 31. After around 30 years, tracks and switches must be replaced. This has serious consequences, as one in six long-distance customers travels over this stretch - usually in around 40 minutes. During that period, the trains will be diverted, costing an additional 35 to 60 minutes. In addition, some journeys will be cancelled, also between Karlsruhe and Stuttgart.
AT THE BORDERS
The intercity of the so-called Vogelfluglinie via Fehmarn and the ferry from Puttgarden will be diverted for several years because Denmark is building a rail network; this is connected with the planned Baltic Sea tunnel between Denmark and Germany. There will be only half as many trains left running - but these will have double the capacity. Moreover, there will be no stop in Lübeck. The Railjet connection Berlin-Dresden-Prague-Vienna-Graz will be new from May. From summer onwards, Eurocity Berlin-Warsaw will be half an hour faster.
Deutsche Bahn operates several ICE and Intercity trains at night, now also between Berlin and Zurich as well as Hamburg and Zurich. But in 2016 it stopped providing sleeper cars. Since then, the Austrian Federal Railways have also been operating night trains through Germany. The nightjet connection Vienna-Brussels via Munich and Frankfurt is new from January 19. The trains will stop in twelve German cities on the way. Starting in May, the Austrian Railways ÖBB is planning another direct connection between Berlin and Vienna.
Orig. text: dpa
Translation: Carol Kloeppel