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Traveling by train in Germany and some hints for getting the most out of your travel.
Traveling by train in Germany
By Jerrold VanNocker
I love Europe train travel; I particularly enjoy riding their high speed rail system (185+/- mph). Below is my expereince using the train system in Germany.
Some of the highlights of traveling by train in Germany.
A day prior to leaving Munich we decided we should get our train tickets. Entering the Munich main Train Station (the Hauptbahnhof) we immediately encountered two manned ticketing windows which were also advertised as information windows. To our amazement, the two ticketing windows were surprisingly absent of waiting lines. As all the paper schedules were missing from their boxes (new schedules had just been issued but not distributed) we scurried up to the train ticketing windows to ask for a schedule. In no time we had our train tickets with seat reservations in hand. We left the train station wondering how could these two ticketing windows serve all the travelers going in and out of the train station; was everyone booking their train travel on-line?
The next morning we arrived at the Munich train station several minutes early so I could take a few photos before our train departed. Soon, I stumbled on a large room full of people booking their train tickets and making seat reservation all through a computerized kiosk system.
The Germany kiosk system of ticket booking is fairly straight forward. Start by selecting your language. This computerized system has a number of languages in its system making it easy for those that are not fluent in German. You can use a credit card or debit card to make payment; I do not recall if cash is accept.
Germany Train Travel Essentials:
1 In our experience, seat reservations were not required for non-high speed trains but you are not guaranteed a seat on the train without making a seat reservation. Without reservations we once were able to take an earlier train then we had planned. Later, on a differant train, lacking seat reservations we found ourselves moving from seat to seat as the people with reservations boarded and took our place. Reservations mean less hassle; if the train you are planning to ride offers seat reservations they can be acquired through the train ticketing kiosk for a fee. You must make reservations for high-speed trains and night trains.
2 Some train stations do not have manned ticket or information windows, if you lack a train pass you will need to use a kiosk to buy a ticket.
3 German train travel is not cheap but is, for the most part, comfortable. Due to time constraints prior to leaving for Germany we did not buy a train pass for Germany but I suspect we would have save some money if we had. Non-EU citizens should buy their railpass before leaving home.
4 In some large cities the train stations are integrated into large city malls. The Main floors of the train station usually contain train booking kiosks, coffee shops and retail stores, top floors usually hold the restaurants and service areas. The very bottom of these large train stations are for train (and sometime Metro) passenger loading.
To our surprise, and confusion, reservations with our Tourist Class Tickets put us in this simi-private compartment.
The information on this page comes from our 2008 visit to Germany.