Monday, December 26, 2011

DB Bahn Train Travel Basics What I learned

If you are use to using trains then rail travel should be pretty simple for you.  In Phoenix we are starting to get the Light rail.  You have to be in the right part of town to ride on that and I don't live where it goes.  Or to get to a pick up station I'm almost half way to downtown so I don't much see the point.

The think I'm saying is that I'm not use to traveling on trains.  Just to compound that fact I had a pretty bad experience when I was younger and I tend to avoid trains when ever possible.

I knew when I went to Germany I'd be riding on the train.  I know some basic German and the train schedules aren't that bad.  You'll need to learn a couple words to get an idea of what it will cost you to ride the train.

The first thing I learned is that when you choose a route you'll see a lot of info for each train that leaves.  There is an arrow on the left side of the list, if you click on that arrow you will see all the particular information for that train.
As you read across you'll see Where you'll be leaving from, the date the train leaves, the time the train leaves, how much time it will take to get to your destination and the track the train departs from.  The German term for changing trains is Umsteigen, shortened to umst.  If you have to change trains the info will tell you where you get off and where you get back on and how much time you have to get to the next gate.

Towards the center of the page you'll see some other buttons if you click on Karte Anzeigen a map of your route will appear.  This is helpful so that you have a better idea of where you need to change trains.

Terms to know:
ICE in English we'd say Ice, in German it is pronounced E Say Ah and these are typically non stop trains.
U-Bahn are underground trains
S-Bahn are commuter trains the 'S' stands for Schnell or fast and they can travel above ground or underground.  Usually they go underground near city centers.
Hin und Rückfahrt is a round trip ticket. If you ask for Rundfahrt / round trip ticket you'll get a funny look because in German that translates to a round ride, meaning you don't intend to get off the train.

You can purchase weekly passes if you are staying that long in a city.  It is cheaper to purchase tickets for as many days as possible.

If you are going to be traveling long distances it is wise to purchase the tickets a couple days in advance and save a lot of money.  I bought two tickets from München to Frankfurt and saved 80 Euro by paying for them two days in advance.

In transfer centers the some ticket people speak English so if you run into difficulty then you can ask.  Small local train stations you may not find someone the speaks another language.

When you are waiting for you train and are looking at the board of arriving trains you will sometimes see the letters A, B, C beside the arrival time.  These are locators that are painted on the ground so you know where the train is going to stop.

If you are staying in one place for a few days check the train route.  There are sometimes two different trains that will go where you want to go but they terminate at different cities.  The train will be called the end city.  If your destination is not past the end destination then you can board either train if you choose.

Tickets are good for four hours in one direction.  You need to stamp the ticket before you get on the train.  If you need to change to a bus to get to your destination then your ticket is good for that also.  The police will board en mass to check to see if you have a ticket.  It is a 45 Euro fine on the spot for not having a stamped ticket or ticket.

Hope this helps.
Be well take care, travel smart travel safe.

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