Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Trip Report 3 - Part 2 - DB Köln Hbf - Frankfurt Flughafen Fernbahnof

I quite often travel by train in Germany, but it's usually S-Bahn or Regional Express trains.

However, because of a requirement to be back for a meeting, I had to fly back from the hated Frankfurt rather than Düsseldorf and I took the opportunity to go on an ICE as the service takes only 51 minutes for about 170km.

This one is made up of two ICE sets, one of which starts at Köln Hbf and one of which starts from Hamburg and then joins it. This involves a bit of shunting, so if you are in the section that starts at Köln (which I was) you have to wait to board. 

On boarding, I found a lovely clean train with a seat with decent leg room, audio ports, a small fold down table and best of all it was warm. Whilst I found the seating slightly inferior to a Pendolino, I certainly had no complaints for the price I paid (with my BahnCard 25).

We pulled off 4 minutes late and were soon racing towards the only intermediate stop at Bonn/Siegburg. Whilst we were on this short run, I had a look at the travel guide at each seat detailing the route and the connections that can be made and then at the on-board menu for service at your seat. The on-board staff offered a selection of newspapers (German only) to travellers. I had a copy of the FAZ, although it is quite a stretch for my German skills, I should really get Bild.

After Bonn, first the Grippenführer came around to check tickets and then, they came around to ask if people wanted drinks or sandwiches from the on-board menu. Other items were available from the BordBistro two coaches down. I had a coffee and a cheese baguette - the coffee came in a very smart mug and was decent and the cheese baguette was tasty and much needed. The prices were reasonable and I thought the food was of better quality than the free food in say, Vermin "FIrst Class".

By this time we were rolling along at about 180 km/h into poorer weather, the visibility started to drop, there was more snow on the ground (rather than the small toe-covering we had in Köln), by the time we had rattled through Montabaur we were up to 240km/h with a very smooth ride, however, by the time we were at Limburg Süd, we had slowed up a little possibly due to the decreasing visibility as a fine, wet snow was falling.

With one halt at a red, we ended up at Frankfurt Flughafen Fernbahnhof some 8 minutes late, with my coach happily ending up right outside a smoking area. I hoisted my bags, said Auf Wiedersehen  to the train crew and got off for a fag to gird myself for the horrors of Frankfurt in snow.

Looking at the ICE versus a Vermin Pendolino, the ICE wins. It's cleaner, the ride is better, the staff are charming and it feels more spacious and has proper luggage racks. I'd give Vermin the win on the actual seat and on providing free food, although I felt my paid food was of a higher standard. On price, DB wins hands down when comparing to Birmingham-London (which is slightly longer), being 69€ (with BahnCard) to £130 over a similar distance.

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