After the recent Deutsche Bahn (DB) strike and the pains I’ve suffered from train travel in Germany over the years, I just can’t help but recount a few stories about my experiences with DB.
I’ve been traveling with Deutsche Bahn for quite some time now, within Germany and also across Europe. Sometimes because I had to and other times because I had no other choice. Everything from planning the trip to ticket buying to traveling to contacting customer support is so unpredictable that it’s an adventure in its own.
Ticket buying experience
It was my first international travel by train and since DB has monopoly in rail ticket reservation in Germany, I logged in to bahn.de. Navigating the website was not so difficult and I easily found my connection to Budapest. DB itself has no direct service to Budapest, it was in partnership with ÖBB. I own a Bahn Card so, thought I could get some discount. First shock, I can’t use my Bahn Card. Then I found somewhere in the fine prints that the Bahn Cards are only valid for travel with DB within Germany. Alright.
Ticket price seemed expensive but I moved on to the next page, after creating an account, I was asked if I wanted to make a reservation. Of course and there is a 4.5€ extra charge for it. Cool. I haven’t seen this in any other European country I’ve travelled in.
I also had to book a night train; similar procedure to find the connection, added ticket to the card, no benefit of bahn card, but I was not asked to reserve a seat this time. I thought wow, that’s amazing. But wait, how can DB think pro-customer? I moved on to the next page and wanted to print the ticket I just booked online. It’s not possible! DB forces you to receive tickets by post.
So, beyond logic and beyond my comprehension, I had to select the option to receive my online booked ticket by post. Add 3.5€.
Over time I’ve found ways to avoid dealing with DB ticket systems, but I feel sorry for those that are trapped and have no other option. I hope EU and German businesses put more pressure on regulators to deregulate rail ticketing in Germany and challenge DB monopoly, bring some relief of ordinary commuters.