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Germany's New Crowdfunded Train (citylab.com)
233 points by misnamed on Dec 17, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 155 comments

While I like the idea and will probably try it out in January, I think this article takes it bit too easy. The price of the cheapest ticket maybe €22, but by that measure, I was also able to do the same journey for €14.25 with Deutsche Bahn this year. They are mostly cheaper but not that much as the those tickets are for particular trains which are also cheaper on DB. And other admenities like Wifi will also finally come to ICE this year, there are already family zones. Besides maybe the seat gurantee, the other features sound more like gimmiks to me, nice on the first look but not really world changing. I like the croudfunding aspect though.


"A €22 ($23.50) one-way ticket is less than a quarter of DB’s €115.90 ($123) standard fare." is a bit misleading, given that DB's Standard fare is far from their cheapest. I have a BahnCard 25 (so a 25% discount), and always use Saver fares instead of Standard - meaning I have to take a particular train at a particular time... like with Locomore. A "Standard" DB fare, for those who don't know, means you can take any train(s) at any time on the date for your destination, and for some that flexibility is hugely valuable.

I am travelling between Christmas and New Year this year, and even though it is along Locomore's single serviced line, the price will actually be the same. Since Locomore only stops once a day in my city at an ungodly hour of the morning, it's not so convenient. So I'm going with DB in the evening.

Now, I am glad the city I live in and the one I visit my friends in are both on Locomore's line, as I am looking forward to trying it out, but as with you, I'll probably only try it out later, at a time when DB's fares aren't looking competitive. It really depends on how far you're going, what times are acceptable, and what discounts are available. Locomore's prices are roughly doubled during the festive period while DB has a mix of regular and high priced stuff.

All that said, seeing some actual competition in this area is great.

> DB's Standard fare is far from their cheapest. I have a BahnCard 25 (so a 25% discount)

Well the price of the bahncard should be added to the price you pay per trip, so the question is, how much is that card? Then people can figure out for themselves how often they'd commute and whether they'd save anything.

And still, 25% off of €116 vs. €22 doesn't sound too appealing.

Not criticizing the rest of your post, e.g. I agree that competition is good and available discounts should surely be included in comparisons!

We're talking 25% off a Saver fare, which can often be well under half the price of a Standard fare. Because Locomore has only one train for one line, virtually all Locomore customers are going to be long distance DB customers as well, for all their other travel needs. Hence, a huge portion are going to have a BahnCard of some kind already.

My BahnCard 25 maintains that discount for the local trams and buses in my city, so that's icing on the cake. For ~€60 a year, it's a no-brainer. The only people I know here without one are people who really do only take a train once or twice a year.

All in all, Locomore seems competitive. But that's all, it doesn't seem like much of a market disruptor yet. Of course, with their expansion plans already in the works, I am excited to see what comes next. It's going to be an uphill battle but I'm glad someone has taken it on.

I travel DB long-distance twice weekly for commutes. The 116€ "standard fare" is actually the maximum fare. It only gets cheaper if you buy in advance, buy saver tickets, or get a BahnCard.

I have a BahnCard 50 (50% discount on flexible fares). It paid for itself in about three weeks. It cost 255€ and I've never had to pay more than 47€ for a flexible ticket, even last-minute on high-speed lines.

Bahncard 25 is 60€ (so it pays itself as long as you take 2-3 long-distance trips a year)

The cheapest DB ticket may be as cheap as Locomore, but Locomore's maximum fare is half as much as DB's (~75 EUR).

Yeah, but the trains are half as good and half as fast.

Taking one hour longer on 5 hours trip (for the DB) does not equal "half as fast."

As to "half as good" — that's debatable, isn't it? For some, they may be nearly as good.

I dunno what "trains are half as good" is supposed to mean, but on the line from Berlin south we often have those old run down ICE 2, that really could use a makeover...

The article is misleading the price of travel via DB, but OTOH price of DB is rather complex (its variable, and there are also options for discounts).

It is important to note the price of travel by train in Germany varies a lot depending on variables. You can order your ticket months in advance and get a specific seat (in the ICE) at a specific fare (ie. a trainseat at a specific time & date). This allows for massive discounts. However you're inflexible in your schedule and spot. Consider the following hypothetical examples:

1) You order 3 months in advance and can get a discount of 75%. 2) You order 3 weeks in advance and can get a discount of only 25%-50%. 3) You want to order 2 days in advance and can't even get on the train anymore since its full (ICE). You think you can travel by ICE and buy your ticket on the spot and can't since its full. Grumbled you buy a ticket -at full price- for the RE/IC and have to swap trains all the time which also stop more often.

Note that right now its mid december so it is going to be difficult to book cheap for end of december.

Since Germany is a large country you'll practically end up travel by ICE if you travel through the country. For example, the full price of a one way ticket from Ruhr area to Berlin is ~115 EUR.

So, it is interesting how much time in advance one has to order with Locomore. Apparently one can only order online and not via DB sale points. But how does the ticket work then? Does one have to print it out or can it be shown on a smartphone?

I don't know how pricing works in other countries apart from The Netherlands. IC in The Netherlands have free WiFi, but it requires one to log in with a web browser. No cryptography is used in the connection either.

The article mentions the following:

> and a journey on a recycled (dare I say vintage) train that runs entirely on sustainably sourced green electricity.

I'd like to know which sustainably sourced green electricity. Because nuclear energy is also considered 'green' these days. Not sure if that is true in Germany.

> Europe’s railways have already seen substantial deregulation and privatization—often, as in Britain, with highly negative results.

Yeah, there's a national system akin to Oyster card in The Netherlands. Easy to log in and out and once they swapped from Mifare, more secure. Yet if you swap train of a different company (and they're more rampant here than in Germany, apparently) you need to log out and in. If you don't, you are considered free riding and get a fine of 35 EUR plus the fare price. If this ever happens to you in The Netherlands know that you can appeal a fine once a year by phone or the website. So you can get your money back.

> Because nuclear energy is also considered 'green' these days.

The Greens party, Greenpeace and other organizations certainly disagree in Germany and as a consequence nuclear power is considered one of the dirtiest forms of energy. The geographical proximity to Chernobyl certainly helps.

Economic liberals certainly have criticised the increased push for abandoning nuclear power after Fukushima but in the mainstream narrative coal and gas is cleaner than nuclear.

> I'd like to know which sustainably sourced green electricity.

They use dirty energy and buy some sort of "certificates" that are supposed to guarantee that somewhere, sometime, some sort of green electricity has been produced.


It's the same in Germany and many believe it to be a scam.

It's not a "scam". Electricity is fungible, there's no such thing as "dirty" electrons. Everything feeds into the same grid, and the math works out. Germany buys a ton of hydroelectric power from Norway, and generates its own wind and solar. What more do you want, exactly?

Could you please -- by way of the principle of charity -- assume that readers here know what electricity is?

1) It does not help the German people if green energy is generated in Norway or someone puts up a solar panel in the Sahara if they get to breathe emissions from coal power plants.

2) Any overly complex scheme is likely to be gamed. Any German household can order "Öko-Strom". I don't believe for a second that enough real "Öko-Strom" is available to fulfil that demand in a legitimate manner.

In (1) you assume that people buy green energy mainly or to a large extent to reduce the emissions they personally suffer from. Have you considered that a big reason for many people to buy green energy might just be to provide incentives for green energy production in order to combat emissions globally without regard for whether they personally benefit from it? If everyone consumes energy "covered" by certificates, this increases viability of producing green energy.

In (2) you say that the scheme is likely to be gamed. Can you elaborate on how that would look like? Does this "Occam's razor" necessarily mean that only simple laws are effective?

Also in (2) you claim that there is not enough real green energy available to satisfy the demand. This is obviously true but this means that the demand creates an incentive for companies to produce green energy wherever possible.

Overall what this system really provides is an option for consumers to optionally subsidize green energy producing companies and so far I have not really heard of any concrete case in which this system has been gamed. Do you know any?

I don't feel like discussing this any further after the usual stupid down-voting and rationalizations.

Go and continue to believe that the world is just, no gaming of the system occurs, as clueless and highly paid A12-A16 civil servants [1] have told you in school.

[1] German teachers are paid well in return for their indoctrination.

So, basically you believe that people are gaming the system but you have no examples of how this happens or which companies might be doing this?

Well, if the down-voters are unable to operate Google-search (as expected), here is one of the first links:


So now after 3 layers of us trying to coax you into giving us a little bit more concrete detail on your argument, you link an article in German which a lot of people here cannot read?

Anyway, the article's argument is that the certificates for renewable energy are created in e.g. Norway and Switzerland where it is easy to produce cheap hydropower which cannot be transported to Germany. Meanwhile the Norwegian and Swiss do not buy energy with certificates because they "know" that their energy is clean.

This is indeed true and a valid argument. However Norway and Switzerland produce only a finite amount of these certificates. If demand for certified green energy does not exceed this supply then this is simply a sign that not enough people are willing to pay extra for certified green energy which is regrettable but not a fault of this system.

Many teachers here on HN who think they are programmers while they're only "Lehramt".

I'm not surprised by the low quality of discussion.

I don't think it is scammed in a way you suggest in (2). However, there is indeed the issue that buying green energy doesn't necessarily change anything. Existing green energy will simply be sold as green rather than normal energy. That's why you have several utilities (e.g., Greenpeace's own) that guarantee to build new green plants in line with their own demand

It's not as dubious as you may think. Unless they are actively running their own power plants they have to source the energy from somewhere and they're naturally limited by whatever suppliers feed into the grid. As long as they offset the energy they consume with renewable energy being produced, they're net neutral.

That's quite a big if. Okay, under the assumption that the energy industry is always honest and never games the system, we have true green energy.

I don't understand why people here try to explain very basic things that just don't work out in the real world as they would in a 9th grade math textbook.

I was arguing based on the assumption that they are indeed doing what you described. RECs would be regulated and "not being honest" in that case would constitute actual fraud.

If it's just a public promise, sure, I wouldn't trust them either, but even then German consumer protection laws would at least require them to either keep that promise or drop that claim (and pay a fine for anti-competitive practices).

> I don't understand why people here try to explain very basic things that just don't work out in the real world as they would in a 9th grade math textbook.

Then please explain to us, what they taught you in 9th grade. Also, why are you hiding behind a throwaway if you are so sure of your points?

They taught me that there's an extraneous comma in your first sentence.

Way more interesting than this is the upcoming plan to liberalize rail transport across the entire EU. This should allow effectively anybody (meeting certain standards) to operate services on common infrastructure, introducing actual competition to the passenger rail market.


Are there any good studies on countries where this has already been done? Looking at the situation in Sweden where there has been rail liberalization, it seems like it mostly leads to underinvestment in the infrastructure because you can always just blame the passenger train companies... I haven't heard any happy stories from the UK either.

I'm for it in principal (especially harmonization - any train border crossing in Europe can be a nightmare) but the incentives need to be engineered just right

Shifting the blame between the various railway companies also happened in The Netherlands. On top of that, swapping train between different corporations doesn't work in a user friendly way (you need to log out and in, or be considered a free rider) because nobody in IT has figured out to fairly calculate and share the profit fairly. Since the government doesn't stimulate or punish this behaviour there's no incentive of corporations to fix this. They've been saying since forever that they'd fix it.

In germany, the maintainenance/repair costs for rails and bridges are mostly paid by Deutsche Bahn according to some 50:50 key - but if a complete replacement is due, they get a much higher costpart taken over by the tax-payers. So they drive them into the dust and shrink the railways to death.

Goes to show, that company's can be well-fare queens too. And of course, for the radicals that is just a proof that the market is not free enough. Okay, in free enough markets, those guys take the public hostage and demand money for their getaway. Privatizing the DB was a mistake. Public services, with large enough infrastructure decay in private hands. Look at the US. Look at Londons water supply. To be fair, state can screw up too, but not in this way. "Niemand hat die Absicht einen Flughafen zu bauen"

I got shown a graph recently, when arguing for renationalisation of passenger train services in Scotland, that passenger use of the rail network started climbing significantly higher when the current franchise system came into play.

Though the franchise system isn't "liberalisation" - it's just granting near-monopolies over certain routes in most cases. As a result, we have Virgin/Stagecoach providing the only reasonable routes from Scotland to London.

And, of course, the network in England only ever seems to receive investment where it affects Londoners. But we tried to privatise the rail network itself once, and that went very, very badly.

>use of the rail network started climbing significantly higher when the current franchise system came into play

I know more people who have long train commutes these days than I used to. That's not a function of how much better run the network is though, it's a function of rising house prices (which has been going on since the 90s) driving people further and further out.

With a nationalized rail system the same thing would have happened.

Or did the privatised rail system allow people to more reasonably travel long distances for work, allowing people to move further out, allowing cities to grow and require more workers and thus raising house prices further out with increased demand?

Personally, I'm not really in favour of the franchise system - a concession system a la London Overground would work better in many places (inc Scotland) IMO - but I don't think it's as simple as "the franchises are doing exactly what British Rail would've done".

>Or did the privatised rail system allow people to more reasonably travel long distances for work, allowing people to move further out, allowing cities to grow and require more workers and thus raising house prices further out with increased demand?

No. The increase in house prices was both staggering and coincidental with investors buying up properties an leaving them empty.

>don't think it's as simple as "the franchises are doing exactly what British Rail would've done

British Rail was neglected and lacking investment. This is part of the privatization handbook - intentionally underfund and then use that as a pretext for pushing privatization.

I think if it was well funded we'd have a cheaper, better system.

A number of things all happened around the time that the railways were privatised, and one can argue no end as to what caused the rising passenger numbers.

As crdoconnor says, rising house-prices will play a part in it. But in the ScotRail case, there's also the obvious contrast in the age of the rolling stock: the Glasgow suburban lines had plenty of 1950s-era DMUs and EMUs until ~2000 being replaced by stock from ~1990 and some new build stock, and the main intercity routes moved to brand new DMUs. (I believe the only pre-1979 stock that remained with ScotRail were a number of the sleeper coaches.)

I go between Uppsala and Stockholm regularly (it's roughly 70km, so a 38m ride) with SJ and I have to say though, most of the time I do blame SJ. The amount of times my train gets cancelled because their locomotives crap out is far larger than whenever it's because of infrastructure related reasons. Considering their latest price hike I'm not very happy with them.

MTR does provide a nice alternative to SJ though when you want to get to Göteborg, Malmö or Köpenhamn.

For a country as big as Sweden though there's a notable lack of high-speed rail to anything north of Stockholm and there doesn't seem to be any interest or incentive to improve that situation.

There are probably regional differences - most of my experience is in Skåne where ridership has increased a lot in the past 10 years but there has been little infrastructure investment in the chokepoints outside of the big Citytunneln project. The local train company (Skånetrafiken) has tried hard to work around the deficiencies by doing things like keeping spare trains on standby in case of delays but it doesn't help when there is ripped catenary or "signaling errors" due to lack of maintenance.

The real problems seem to be on the national lines (SJ2000) where the lack of maintenance compounds with the lack of any redundancy to cause cascading delays

As a counterpoint, freight is already deregulated, and that has been massively successful in much of the EU: especially for container traffic, the market is far more competitive with road than it was twenty years ago.

Well, Poland may be a case study, and there the privatization of rail is an utter, ugly mess - and now you never even know who to complain to if someone screws up.

Please not. The problem is that railway cars, track fees etc. are the same for all operators (buying/renting railway cars may actually be more expensive for smaller operators due to lack of volume), so the only way to save costs (and thus be able to operate at a lower price than incumbents) is saving on employees (aka wage dumping) or safety/maintenance.

Neither is good for society.

Yup, which is why airplane safety has gone down the toilet and prices have skyrocketed since that market was liberalised... oh wait, they haven't.

Trains are admittedly more complicated because tracks need maintenance, and it's easy to screw up the operating model (see: UK), but if we can solve this for air traffic control and airports, it shouldn't be too hard for track either

I was thinking about this for a second. Specifically about saving on employees.

I guess it is safe to assume on-board jobs don't have a bright future. Those are up for automation.

So maintenance staff remains? But can't that be a separate entity? Just like with cars? That might solve the safety issue too. One has a bad rep? You go to another.

It's just that one public operator doesn't seem to work well either (lots of issues in countries with those too).

Track and signal maintenance is a separate, public entity in the UK ("Network Rail"), with trains owned by the banks, and leased to companies that run services, like Virgin (yes, that Virgin) or Southern.

In the 1990s, the track and signals were maintained by Railtrack, a private company, but that caused several bad accidents. Since Network Rail took over, the British railway network has become one of the safest in the world -- I don't think a passenger on a train has been killed for a decade, and only a very small number (2?) of maintenance staff.

Yes, it sounds hard to create competition for track and signal maintenance.

But the parent was talking about the companies that run the trains. I meant the maintenance those trains need (repairs/safety/cleaning/...). On that level competition might make more sense (like with cars). So they wouldn't do that in-house. Maybe it already works like this?

In Britain, that's all done privately.

I think the only exception is the maintenance of London Underground trains, and possibly cleaning. eVen the other publicly owned railways in London contract out cleaning and maintenance.

>I guess it is safe to assume on-board jobs don't have a bright future. Those are up for automation.

If neoliberals really believed the "magic robots are coming to steal everybody's job" story they're pushing they'd not have a problem with raising public spending. Automation is inherently deflationary and the more of a 'danger' it is to jobs the larger the deflationary impact it will have.

You'll notice that they're still scaremongering about inflation, recommending against increasing infrastructure spending and blaming the lack of jobs on magic robots rather than austerity.

See how well that went in the UK… We've had this in Italy for high speed trains for a while, and so far the only private competitor is close to bankruptcy.

As someone living in the UK, I hope that never, ever, happens.

I'd been reading about the mess of privatized rail in the UK for a while, but what really shocked me when I was traveling around Manchester were all the diesel trains. In Germany nearly everything is electric, especially in and around cities.

As other posters have mentioned it is not that clear. Lots of people are using the problems with one rail franchise ('Southern' which is key when our media is so London centric) to justify their ideological opposition to private ownership. For me rail pre-privatisation was terrible. By the end of WW2 the railways were worn out and the the response was to close half of the network! Outside of London Underground, trains were in massive decline. this has been largely reversed. Virgin trains for example are by far the best on the network due to their significant investment in the best rolling stock and pushing for improved tracks. However there are massive problems in the way the franchises are awarded and where profits and subsidies go, but these are not problems of ownership. The government controls the infrastructure and awards the franchises....and regulates the ticket prices (which are a joke not least in their variability). However, now there is a huge increase in passenger numbers on UK rail. This is a success story. Yes bad operators should lose their franchise, but lets not punish the operators who are dong well!

New trains are about the only thing operators can spend money on -- that's where the high ticket prices in the UK go.

I'd rather have older trains, and pay less.

In and around London, trains suffered from the same lack of investment. It was Livingstone bringing in the takeover and upgrade of the orbital lines ("London Overground"), and the overwhelming success they've been since they've been run by the government, that has prompted the whole debate about renationalisation. Londoners on other lines want the same.

The problem with older trains (or indeed older lots of types of infrastructure) and paying less is that what tends to be happening with that combination is that maintenance is being unsustainably deferred. You can't easily hide the cost of a new train but you often can hide deferred maintenance for long enough for it to be someone else's problem.

Operators, when they receive a net subsidy, can't just order new trains: it has to be approved by the Department for Transport.

The majority of orders for new trains in the UK are done when the franchise agreement requires new trains.

See also the nationalised of East Coast.

>For me rail pre-privatisation was terrible. By the end of WW2 the railways were worn out and the the response was to close half of the network!

Did you really just try to blame WW2's effect on the rail network on nationalization?

>However, now there is a huge increase in passenger numbers on UK rail. This is a success story.

The housing crisis caused people to move further out and commute leading to a huge increase in passenger numbers. The housing crisis is not something I'd characterize as a "success" - unless you happened to own inner city property, in which case, congratulations on your unearned payday.

>Did you really just try to blame WW2's effect on the rail network on nationalization?

No. I think you are stretching that a bit. The response too the post war disrepair by the nationalized BR was to close the network rather than make investment needed to put it right. Britain is criss-crossed by closed railway lines. The attitude of 'lets close stuff until we can afford the upkeep' was not reversed until privatisation.

>The housing crisis....

The housing crisis may be part of the issue. Another part is London centric planning. Why do so many of the workforce have to travel to the centre of London to sit at a computer screen and answer the phone? I recently had to pay £200 to catch a train to London to meet an ERP consultancy who had moved into The Shard for prestige...but practically they could have been anywhere with decent internet...The same point to the poster who mentioned London Overground. Yes loads of money is thrown at London transport, and because of that public ownership has been successful, I just can't see it happening the same way in the midlands. You mention Livingstone, didn't his transport czar try and sell private bonds in London underground? It was blocked by Blair/Brown if you remember. Again this was ideological rather than practical.

Up here, a couple of hours out of London, the trains are much, much better since privatisation. I have no ideological view on either method of ownership, just my experience of riding on them. Yes the government keeps making a hash of awarding franchises. But if they can't award a franchise properly, how can you ask them to actually run it.

Now perhaps we can agree on one thing, can we cancel HS2 and get Hyperloop instead?

The biggest cause, historically, is the fact the railways were privatised when much of the rest of Europe was electrifying in the inter-war period and receiving little state money, and at the same time were struggling to make any money (a large part of that was the fact they had an obligation as a common carrier to accept any and all freight for a fixed price, from when they were the only way to quickly transport goods long-distances over land).

By the time they were nationalised in the 1950s the railways were still in heavy decline and more or less up until the early 2000s all the planning was about a managed decline of the railways, hence the lack of investment, justified by the falling passenger and freight numbers year-on-year.

Currently this is mostly the case in Germany. The rail network is accesible for anybody and the subsidary running this has to give all companies the same rates and treatment, whether it is another subsidary of the same corporation or a different private rail company.

For cargo this works quite well. There are many small companies doing transports. This goes from small companies which own one engine which you can hire to pull the cars you hire somewhere else over the network to large companies which work all over Europe. There is tough competition between those companies.

For regional services this works in a way where local administrations call for bids to run specific lines. This works okay'ish and the government-owned company looses more and more of the services (one could argue whether that's good ...) Some of these biding processes fail miserably, like the current round for the commuter trains (S-Bahn) at Nuremberg which went through different court cases already.

For long distance this is complicated as for long distance it is really hard to be profitable unless you are part of a bigger network. The national company operates long-distance without (direct) subventions (well, details of finances are complicated ...) thus there is little requirement to cooperate with private long distance companies. One typical example: Those Locomore tickets are only valid on their trains and there are no combination tickets from regional to locomore trains. The passenger not living close by a station where that private line goes has to get two independent tickets and has the risk that the second ticket is useless when the first train is late and he can't make the connection. Also train operation costs are high (you need an engine, cars and then the fees for the tracks) For a cargo train you can arrange with a customer to make sure you've got a full train etc. with a passenger train you need more than 50%, maybe even more, of the seats to be taken for being profitable this is extremely hard with a single connection ... and for multiple connections investment becomes very big.

upcoming plan to liberalize rail transport

neoliberalize, aka Freedom Markets™

I think there's a market for a one route alternative "experience" train where the train isn't only the means to get from A to B but the journey itself provides value. I still vividly remember travelling to a Chaos Communication Congress on a privately operated "hack train". Must have been around 2000. Not the fastest connection but loads of fun :)

I think this is more of a statement to how bad DB is. In Germany traveling with blablacar or mitfahrtgelegenheit is still very very popular, because trains are slow and incredibly expensive. Even if in my own country (Italy) people love to say that everything in Germany is better, but it's incredible to see how much worse trains are, and for 3x the price!

Imho DB is the best means of transportation in Germany, in my experience only people travelling with DB once every one or two years are complaining about it, because they don't understand how it works.

You cannot compare the standard DB fares with anything competitors offer, because they include an amount of flexibility no one else offers by a long shot.

Even if you only take 2-3 trips per year it already makes sense to get the 25% or 50% discount cards. A massive amount of germans have these cards (see https://infographic.statista.com/normal/infografik_3025_Besi..., over 3 million BC25, 1.4 million BC50 owners).

If you know when exactly you want to travel, which exact train and hour, then you can easily get a 62.5% discount and you are only at ~45 instead of 125€ for the trip, which given the comfort of DB vs all other means of transportation is well worth the price.

I myself prefer to be flexible and have a BC50 which includes 50% discount on every trip. But that means I can take any train on the date of my ticket or even up to 5 days later, leave at any station in between for as long as I want.

My sister had an accident with car share service, which kind of turns me off these services. She now often takes the bus that is much cheaper than DB. But then you have to have someone bring you with a car to the off site locations that bus often stop and it still takes several hours longer than DB for most destinations.

> Even if you only take 2-3 trips ...

Yeah, and better do not forget to cancel those because the friendly DB automatically prolongs these for another year.

In case you refuse to pay, they send a friendly debt collection service -- Infoscore, which conveniently also acts as a credit rating agency.

If you still refuse to pay, the "independent" law firm Haas & Kollegen, which magically resides in the same building as the "independent" debt collection agency and credit rating agency, will take you to court.

Did I mention that these three entities are totally independent, as required by law?

I always cancel immediately when I get a BC "BahnCard" (same day or week), these days usually the trial 25% version (3 months, automatic 1 year subscription if you don't cancel).

It used to be pretty bad but nowadays you can cancel a BahnCard online, I used that service at least three times already during the last two years:

https://fahrkarten.bahn.de/privatkunde/kontakt/kontakt_start... (Choose as subject "Kündigung Ihrer BahnCard [25|50]" - page is English, options text still is German)

How exactly did you communicate with them? My wife had a very nice experience with Bahncard re-subscriptions that she cancelled after the fact.

But even then, you know what you get into when ordering the service. Yes, it is a subscription.

I wish I had known about the this DB BC card earlier this year. I didn't see any mention of this at the DB office I went into.

Can I ask what you pay per year for the BC 50 card? Is it only available to German citizens?

BahnCard 50 is 255 € per year (second class), cheaper prices for students or if you are below 27 or over 60. I don't know if they send it abroad, but it shouldn't be limited to Germans (and you get a temporary one to print out yourself if you buy online).

> Even if you only take 2-3 trips per year it already makes sense to get the 25% or 50% discount cards.

I'm not sure how you're calculating that, but when my wife did the math she ended up ditching the 25% card because it would have only been profitable for her if she took at least one trip a week.

I guess you're thinking ICE (inter-city high speed trains) not RB (regional transport)? I guess at >€100 per ride the numbers work out but most "normal people" I know think of ICE as equivalent to travelling by plane, i.e. something you may do for vacations but very much out of the ordinary for regular travel.

> in my experience only people travelling with DB once every one or two years are complaining about it

I take a two and a half hour commute roughly twice a week (in addition to a daily tram commute of half an hour or so). There's no direct route and one of the two stations isn't serviced by ICE.

I could take an ICE to the interchange station but that would barely save me any time due to the long transfer wait, so instead I'm travelling by RB or RE.

The trains haven't been replaced in ages (I'd say on average at least one door is out of order on every train I've used). The RBs often don't even have working toilets. Outside periods with extremely light traffic there is generally not enough seating to accommodate all (2nd class) passengers (though 1st class is nearly empty because there's no practical difference between 1st and 2nd class service outside ICEs).

And of course trains are routinely late or delayed. Delayed trains often add insult to injury by being delayed further when they have to wait to be overtaken by an ICE. So because I know I have to switch trains I always plan for an hour longer in case I miss a connection or end up having to switch trains again.

Let's also not forget that unlike with long distance busses, "WiFi" doesn't mean "Free WiFi". There's only WiFi on the ICE and it's decidedly not free (nor significantly better than cellular) and requires you to jump through hoops if you're not already a Telekom customer (which seems anachronistic in the times of Freifunk & co).

I'm very happy that UK's National Express recently started servicing two lines in my region (RE7 and RB48). Their trains are brand new, they waste very little space on first-class seating (which is still enough for the few people travelling first-class on REs and RBs) and they provide wall outlets for charging laptops and mobile devices.

DB's ICE lines may be somewhat laudable (though still disappointing compared to the Thalys) but DB Regio's service is ripe for disruption.

Let's also not forget that DB has a track record of letting stations and infrastructure fall into disrepair to cut costs, especially the smaller stations not serviced by ICEs or ICs (which btw, look about as vintage as Locomore).

  I'm not sure how you're calculating that
DB regularly offers a trial BahnCard 25 special. Right now for 16 Euros. It is valid for three months - don't forget to cancel right away (right when you get it) or it's an automatically renewing subscription. You can order and also cancel online (cancellation URL: see my other comment here somewhere).

I take around 10-20 personal trips to family and friends every year, for around 1000-1500€ of "standard" fares, but pay only half with the BC50. I don't own a car. The card would cost me 250€/year so its quite a big saving. Its mostly long distance, so just for regional you are probably right it wouldn't matter.

I can't comment much on the regional experience, especially when living outside a large city. I have 3 train stations in distance of different trams. So you can be right. Although here the National Express won a contract as well and their trains are bad compared to the DB regional ones, so maybe DB is running the old trains in your region, where here in Bonn/Cologne they have very modern ones.

DB internet changed providers just some weeks ago, they now have a multi provider approach and Telekom isn't the only one anymore. Its also free for everyone even in second class on the Telekom served ones and ICs are supposed to get internet next year as well. They are even talking about adding it to regional ones.

Like with Deutsche Telekom who was government monopolist before, the competition will push the DB in a 10-20 year change cycle and after that it will be on top again with the best service and offer across the board. That kind of investment and change just takes a long time for this kind of big company.

For context: I travel between Cologne and a city near Gütersloh, which means switching trains in Hamm.

The National Express trains I'm talking about are the RB48 and RE7. There are two ways to get to Hamm besides the ICE: RE7 (National Express) and RE1 (DB Regio).

Although the RE1 is a double-decker, most of the extra space is wasted on first class seating. They do have toilets but they're tiny and usually extremely filthy. Maybe I'm particularly unlucky but as I said, the average train seems to have at least one door marked as out of order at any given time. I've actually seen an RE1 leave Hamm with an open door once (I was too surprised to take a picture though).

The main reason I prefer the RE7 is the ability to charge my laptop (allowing me to get actual work done). I also find the trains much nicer in general. The only exception was during Karneval because there is sadly no ban on drinking alcohol on regional trains (unlike trams in Cologne).

My worst experiences with DB Regio have been on RB and S trains though. I had a daily from Cologne commute to Neuss for a year and a half and none of the trains had toilets even though some of them still had signage directing you to non-existent toilets. Officially they were no longer offering toilets on S trains because travel times were short enough that passengers don't need them -- which certainly comforted me while routinely spending roughly an hour on those damn trains.

> (though 1st class is nearly empty because there's no practical difference between 1st and 2nd class service outside ICEs).

The practical difference is that the 1st class is nearly empty.

Which makes it even more appalling that in many cases it's not possible to upgrade from 2nd class to 1st class. You'd actually have to buy an entirely separate ticket for the full price.

Slow? Okay, we don't have as much high-speed rails as France, but e.g. Hamburg-Munich (775km, once across the whole country) is 5:40h, while traveling by car is ~8h.

Flight may be 1:15h pure flight time, but you have to add 1.5h of public transit time to get to/from the airports, plus ~1h for security and pre-boarding wait times, and luggage costs are enormous. Oh, and the security checks make you feel like a terrorist.

Buses are f...ing cheap, but take ~10-11h.

So, the train is still the fastest and most time-efficient way to travel across big distances. The only problem is that it's expensive as hell, because unlike the regional trains, the ICE trains don't get any public subsidies and have to be profitable on their own.

But that's the same pretty much everywhere. The Austrian Railjet Vienna - Salzburg, for example, isn't subsidized at all, but still much cheaper than DB. Or check out the prices of the Austrian operator "Westbahn". They are even using brand new Stadtler train sets, not decades old DB cars like Locomore.

I regularly travel with Westbahn, because they partner with Flixbus... their trains and the personnel are awesome (for what it's worth, they operate a smokers lounge on the train... a blessing for every smoker!).

The problem with Westbahn is that they're likely deep in debt and still not profitable (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westbahn_(Unternehmen)#Gesch.C...).

And for the Railjet: it's cheaper because the track fees are lower - here figures from 2011: http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/foren/read.php?3,5403272

> Slow? Okay, we don't have as much high-speed rails as France, but e.g. Hamburg-Munich (775km, once across the whole country) is 5:40h, while traveling by car is ~8h.

You don't have real high speed at all: 775km is more or less the same as Paris-Marseille and that's 3h20.

That seems kind of slow by train. Beijing to Shanghai is 1300km and takes less than 5 hours.


China has unique advantages over Europe:

1) it's a quasi-dictatorial regime. Which means, when the government wants something, like a high-speed train track, being built, then it's built, without many ways for affected people to impede/cancel the project or drive up its price (e.g. in Germany train projects are usually delayed or the cost driven up by environmental concerns or noise complaints).

2) Money. China doesn't care about printing money or raising debt to finance the expansion of infrastructure. In Europe, especially in Germany, this is not the case. Printing money is only acceptable to sustain banks. (A policy which I absolutely hate)

3) Local politicians. In Germany, many regional/local politicians want their village connected to the ICE network for their personal fame - one particularly wasteful example is Montabaur, it has regular ICE stops with only 12k inhabitants. Every stop creates a huge delay for trains and kills their average speed. Once again, not so much a problem in China.

You can't compare a trip just by length. The total speed of a train is limited by how many stops it needs to make, and the layout of the actual tracks. Having to do lots of curves to avoid populated areas for example can slow a train down considerably. However if you can go through empty land for hundreds of kilometers in a straight line, you can go full throttle for most of it.

One train on google maps for example has 7 stops between Beijing and Shanghai. Meanwhile Hamburg-Munich has 9 stops on a trip half the length.

It's less than half the speed in Germany. The extra stops do not account for the difference.

At any rate, yes I can compare the absolute times because that's what passengers will do when making choices on how to get from A to B. If the trip in Germany was an hour faster, more people would choose the train.

In the US, it's usually always faster to drive. Traffic congestion can make the train attractive in the northeast.

> It's less than half the speed in Germany. The extra stops do not account for the difference.

You sure about that?

The non-stop train takes 4 hours from beijing to shanghai. now they stop once and it takes 4hr48 (reduced max speed from 330 to 300km/h). At the same distance, DB stops roughly 14 or 15 times. if a stop costs you 10 minutes, you save an additional 2 1/2 hours just by not stopping.

Took the info from wikipedia [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing%E2%80%93Shanghai_High-...

Does every stop cost 48 minutes? I don't have the answer but simply saying it's the number of stops without evidence is not factual.

At least a stop at a major hub will take that time. Basically, you don't only have the time spent stopped at the station, but you also have long period of acceleration and deceleration - an ICE3 takes 3km to stop from full speed in normal conditions according to a quick google search. Also, trains usually have to move extremely slow (40 km/h) in the surrounding area of a station... and the larger the station, the more switches.

average speed is slower due to regular stops. beijing to shanghai seems to stop 5 times. hamburg to munich stops 9 times despite being only 60% of the distance.

Well, yes and no.

As you know, the italian train system can be divided in two layers: "Le Frecce", fast trains that only stop in important cities and "Regionali", (relatively) slow trains that stop even in tiny towns. The former are fast, pleasant and reasonably priced (especially the Freccia Rossa, the fastest trains in Europe IIRC); while the latter are extremely cheap thanks to state subsides but the experience offered is awful: perpetually delayed, dirty and overcrowded.

People usually complain about the "Regionali", also because they are used on daily basis by commuters.

> perpetually delayed, dirty and overcrowded

The regional service deserves this reputation because it has been neglected for years as Trenitalia built the Frecce but I think if you return to Italy you'll be pleasantly surprised, as Trenitalia has been quietly upgrading the regional trains to newer, double-decked cars (almost 2x capacity) and from personal anecdotal experience the ontime service seems better than it used to be, as well.

Obviously YMMV depending on what region you're in, the time of day, etc. but there's definitely been improvement on the regional front.

Prices for long distance trains are mostly okay. It's very rare that you have to pay the incredibly high standard fee when you book in advance.

Prices for short distances are making me angry, though. Here blablacar et al are indeed preferable. I once had to travel a route that was about 80k long regularily. It took me almost 2 hours and I had to pay ~ 20 € when traveling with train. Offerings on blablacar gave me the same route for 5 € and a travel time half as long.

In France, for a 5:30 hours ride, I pay most of the time 75€, 40€ in off-season, as sometimes as much as 100€. The most painful experience is buying a ticket for Christmas season when everybody is trying to buy at the opening of the sales: a few seconds late and you lose 10€. I once lost dozen of euros when my card was refused. It feels like these riots-like black Friday I sometimes see on tv...

This, exactly. It takes me at least two and half hours, though generally more like three hours (if I don't miss a connection) to travel the same distance that would take me an hour and a half by car. ICE is great if you want to e.g. travel from Cologne to Berlin to Munich, but that's not what the majority of train trips in the nation look like.

Even Flixbus etc offer a better and cheaper experience.

From a brief look Trenitalia seems about the same as DB. The express train Milano - Roma is 89 EUR. I think DB would charge something like 100 EUR for that. The travel time (2h55 for ~420 km) is impressive, I'll give you that. I wonder how many stops there are on the way -- not too many I'd wager.

Just last week I bought return tickets from Rome to Milan for the days around Christmas on Italo (the only competitor for high speed trains) and I paid under 50 euros return. Also the distance is not 420 km, but closer to 600 (it's 480 km as the bird flies). And regarding stops, you can get one that doesn't stop at all and it's 2h40 IIRC.

That's insane. In Belgium I could buy a `railpass` which is a 76€ piece of paper on which I can write ten different trips from any station in Belgium to any station in Belgium. Which basically means that any train trip in Belgium would cost you a maximum of 7.60€.

Belgium is only as large as Italy's Lombardy plus Piedmont, two adjacent regions in the north west. There is no Italian equivalent of a two region pass, but Lombardy has an unlimited monthly pass for all public transportation, bus, metro, regional trains, at 107 Euro, plus an extra 40 Euro to access fast national trains (within Lombardy). Given that an unlimited monthly city pass in Milan is 35 Euro, it's about the same cost of your Belgium ticket. It's for half the area but it's unlimited. Anyway, if we had a region the size of Belgium probably the price wouldn't increase much: people tend to travel close to home.

And in the U.K. A a last moment train form London to say Newcastle can cost you 400£ w/ a return ticket.

For 100£ an hour we don't get a happy ending either.

> mitfahrtgelegenheit


For the non-Germans on this site (I'm Dutch, the word is close enough that I understand it).

In this case it refers to a specific website, well known to Germans but now taken over by a competitor, that pairs up carpoolers: www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de

If you take the ICE, definitely not slow. I commuted between Hannover and Berlin for the past weeks and it takes only 1h 40m for each trip. Driving would take close to 3 hours. I'm lucky enough to have a BahnCard 100 paid by my employer, though.

Except Hannover Berlin is more or less the same as Paris Lille. Paris Lille is under 1h and the price never exceeds 35 euros (which means you can sometimes find tickets under 20).

Now compare the prices with the price of everything else in France and Germany and you'll see why I say that trains in Germany are terribly overpriced.

Well, since pseudo-privatising we decided to stop subsidising the DB while the autobahn is still very heavily subsidised.

Depends. For commuting they aren't bad at all (I've been commuting for a decade now).

It's really nice to see a project like this crop up after the rail privatisation. In the EU countries that have gone through that transition the situation for the passenger hasn't improved much and since there usually still only is a single provider for most routes the prices tend to only go up without much for it in return. That's not to say it would necessarily have been better to keep it public, just that the promise of privatisation hasn't really delivered, in my experience.

This might not be groundbreaking, it might not even work but I'm really happy to see someone try something new(ish) in this arena.

Also, trains are the best. Choo-choo!

The only thing the privatisation originally did was eliminate DB's accountability and allow them to cut costs like infrastructure maintenance. I think the mistake was to turn a state monopoly into a private monopoly.

I'm still not convinced privatising infrastructure like rail passenger transport is better than socialising it and at least on the communal level I'm convinced socialised public transport would be a better approach (i.e. treat trams and roads equivalently). But DB only really cares about their high speed trains, so it's good to see someone try to improve the rest.

It vaguely reminds me of this planned cooperative British rail service: http://go-op.coop/

Go-Op aims to run passenger owned trains in competition with franchises granted by the government to conventional profit-distributing businesses.

As far as I know, its trains haven't yet started running, but I'm pleased to see that it hasn't been abandoned, especially in light of Southern Rail's troubles.

"speed or price? A new, crowdfunded entrant in Germany’s passenger rail scene is betting on the former, offering low-price but slightly slower than average"

Betting ON the former or Betting AGAINST the former?

Probably confused "former" with "latter" rather than "on" with "against" :)

Indeed! The article content is the important thing, but this is distracting given they missed the error right at the opening

It kind of baffles me that the only long distance trains that are still being done on European scale are prestigious high speed trains (usually connecting Brussels to X) that are much more expensive than plane tickets or anything else really.

I wouldn't mind to take a trip to Paris from Amsterdam in a slower train for 20-30 euro, but this is really impossible unless you spend almost a day piecing badly connecting trains together.

Especially when it's slightly more entertaining with draft beer, coffee, wi-fi and such.

> It kind of baffles me that the only long distance trains that are still being done on European scale are prestigious high speed trains (usually connecting Brussels to X) that are much more expensive than plane tickets or anything else really.

> I wouldn't mind to take a trip to Paris from Amsterdam in a slower train for 20-30 euro, but this is really impossible unless you spend almost a day piecing badly connecting trains together.

Looking on the SNCF website, the cheapest Thalys (i.e., "prestigious high sped trains") tickets are 35 EUR each way, which seems to require booking about a month or two in advance to get. The cheapest flights are 34 EUR each way, which seemingly similarly requires booking about a month or two in advance. So, uh, it doesn't seem like they're much more expensive than plane tickets—and the cost of getting to/from airports is likely far more than 1 EUR (given travel to/from airports tends to be more expensive than travel to/from city centres).

Obviously dynamic pricing as practiced by both airlines and train operates makes it hard to tell what's generally cheaper, but the fact that on many routes high-speed rail has caused airlines to drop routes due to lack of custom tends to imply they are competitive: if they started yanking up the prices after the airlines had dropped their routes, one would expect the airlines to reintroduce them and take back marketshare.

From experience, I can say that even if it isn't cheaper than flying, it's definitely less convenient. Amsterdam and Paris are close and popular so the trains run well, but try Echt (NL) and Meckenheim (GER) by public transport. Or Echt to Modane (FR). As soon as you cross borders it's a nightmare.

The German trains website (db.de) does a surprisingly good job (after recently having a terrible experience with Belgian and, three years ago, French public transport websites) of piecing together connections, but that also means it'll happily tell you go take a bus, e.g.: bus-train-train-bus-train-train.

Cheapest option AMS - PAR - AMS 4th jan - 11th jan Thalys: 156 euro Transavia: 80 euro

Cheapest option AMS - PAR - AMS 15th mar - 22nd mar Thalys: 64 euro Transavia: 68 euro

I'm actually positively surprised about the second price for Thalys! I always got smacked with the very high prices like the first one and chose a plane every time.

It kind of baffles me that the only long distance trains that are still being done on European scale are prestigious high speed trains (usually connecting Brussels to X) that are much more expensive than plane tickets or anything else really.

When I travel for work within Germany or just to a neighboring country, I want to get to get from A (which happens to be near Stuttgart) to B as fast as possible. Taking a plane from Stuttgart is even faster, but since climate change is real, I am now trying to avoid flying as much as possible. Hence, Deutsche Bahn. Going by high-speed train is also very comfortable if you reserve seats and do not have to transfer often.

I should also point out that if you book timely, you can often get German train tickets very cheaply at the 'Sparpreis', which starts at 29 Euro. When we had less money, we would often reserve tickets in the minutes after the 'Sparpreis' became available.

tl;dr you can travel cheaply in German by high-speed train. You just have to plan your trip and book tickets timely.

one problem in germany is that we have many high-speed trains but not many high speed tracks. High speed trains are really competitive even when you want to travel from berlin to munich (Just look at the travelling times when VDE8 will be finished). Since pseudo-privatising we neglected our rail infrastructure quite a bit (just look at the frequent complete halts to VD8), the upside was that the DB was forced to run really efficient, but not sustainable.

>but since climate change is real, I am now trying to avoid flying as much as possible.

Can you go into more details about this?

Here's the IPCC's take: http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/sres/aviation/index.php?idp=6...

One interesting aspect is that for high altitude airplanes, water vapour emissions may be as problematic as CO2.

I'm not denying climate change you morons that downvoted me. I don't like flying either and if I could have actual data to solidify my decision that would be great!

I was wondering how they crowdfunded this and expected some sort of ticket prepurchase kickstarter. It seems that you can actually loan them money instead (over five years): 1500 Euro: 3,45% (6,9% if you take tickets not cash) 2500 Euro: 3,75% (7,3%) 5000 Euro: 4,15% (8,3%)

Max. of 100k

I think the bus vs train analysis is missing an important dimension: travelling on the bus is unpleasant. You can't stand, your kids feel sick. The same amount of time on a train is vastly preferable.

i regularly travel from karlsruhe to munich and i can't work on the bus, since there is not enough space for my laptop. Working inside the train is pleasant and after christmas every ICE has free wifi (wow, that took forever for them to decide to implement it! Rolling out was rather quick)

I do the Berlin-Stuttgart train journey regularly to visit my parents and quite like taking the train as it gives me a block of uninterupted time to read, work and just plain relax that I usually take for myself.

So this sounds like an excellent way of making this even more enjoyable. I think I will give this a try next time I'm travelling south.

The idea of having "zones" for people with different interests sounds good. Given the sort of amenities on offer and the unusual founding route, not to mention its Eastern endpoint, it would have been more accurate to refer to this as "zones for hipsters with different interests" though. :-)

Piss-taking aside, I think it's nicely representative of a certain "Germanness" trait which is perhaps not so well-known outside the country, where the stereotype of a population of humourless engineers still prevails.

"Runs entirely on green electricity" - so is Deutsche Bahn at times, as Germany has been reported to produce more renewable electricity than they can consume.

When the weather is nice...

See these graphs: https://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/news/news-2016/germanys-ele...

Why would Germany sell electricity to the Netherlands but buy it from France?

Because, when the weather is bad, Germany can't produce enough to cover its own needs.

So Germany is still involved in nuclear power.

The 'idea' is not new, it recalls me Polish trains: old and slow but so cheap that everybody can afford them. Few years ago you could travel 500km for 15€. Despite that, there were still massive discounts (50%) for students and elders. Who cares if the trains are the fast/most comfortable if you can't afford to use them regularly.

> Who cares if the trains are the fast/most comfortable if you can't afford to use them regularly.

People who don't need to travel 500km regularly.

More competition might help DB to address some of its problems, but as a commuter one of the most frustrating problems with public transport is the chaotic pricing.

Others have explained why DB's own pricing is a mess, but on a communal level public transport is even more of a mess[0]. You might think getting a "BahnCard 100" (a 100% discount card that costs ~€400/month) might be worth it if you travel a lot but if you routinely travel by train you'll also likely have to rely on public transport at your destination but bus and tram are often not part of the deal (i.e. no discount is applied whatsoever).

I live in Cologne in NRW. If I only moved around within Cologne, I could get a monthly ticket for all tram and bus transport (for ~€100/month) in Cologne from the KVB (the city's privatised transport agency). If I want to go beyond that, I could instead get a monthly ticket for the regional railway from the VRS (the regional privatised transport alliance that includes the KVB).

But although I generally stay within NRW I regularly commute to a city that's not within the boundaries of the VRS (or its parent alliance, the NVR). It's actually part of another alliance, the NWL. So I would need a ticket to move within the VRS region and then another to move within the NWL region.

But there are actually three such alliances in NRW and I need to cross the region of the third alliance to get from one to the other, which is the VRR. So I would need a ticket for the VRS, another for the VRR and then another for NWL.

But that's obviously silly, so there's also the NRW-ticket which covers the regions of all three alliances as a yearly subscription (which works out to ~€300/month).

But of course that's only for NRW (one of the sixteen states/counties in Germany) and only for busses, trams and regional rail. If you want to use the intercity or ICE trains, even within NRW, you still need an extra ticket at the full price. Likewise if you ever need to cross the borders of NRW.

As for the joys of actually using and validating the various tickets you might have to buy in addition to whichever subscription you end up with, that's what the article I linked to is about.

[0]: http://www.wiwo.de/unternehmen/dienstleister/werner-knallhar... (German)

> You might think getting a "BahnCard 100" (a 100% discount card that costs ~€400/month) might be worth it if you travel a lot but if you routinely travel by train you'll also likely have to rely on public transport at your destination but bus and tram are often not part of the deal (i.e. no discount is applied whatsoever).

What? BC100 gets you onto every DB train and also all public transportation in Germany.

"Bei der BahnCard 100 ist das City-Ticket automatisch integriert. Die BahnCard 100 gilt in den Geltungsbereichen der teilnehmenden City-Ticket Städten für beliebig viele Fahrten."[0]

[0] https://www.bahn.de/p/view/bahncard/vorteile/cityticket.shtm...

Interesting. The article I linked to suggested that the general conditions for the City Ticket also apply with the BC100 (i.e. only for the destination city when travelling more than 100km).

The page you linked to also is a bit ambiguous about whether the BC100 follows those restrictions of the City Ticket or not. If what you say is true, that's pretty awesome.

> The page you linked to also is a bit ambiguous about whether the BC100 follows those restrictions of the City Ticket or not.

Yes, and unfortunately I don't have a BC100 so I can't say anecdotally if it's true or not.

> If what you say is true, that's pretty awesome.

Since the BahnCard 100 is created for people who are traveling quite frequently, I don't see how it would make any sense unless it also included free local transit. However this is Bahn, so it may well be nonsense!

> I don't see how it would make any sense

> However this is Bahn, so it may well be nonsense!

Exactly. That's always the problem with using common sense to figure these things out.

And here I thought Americans were the only ones with a chaotic set of transit agencies serving the same region

In all seriousness though, I'm very curious about the structural incentives at each of these places. Presumably, the people who run them care to some degree about customer experience. How then have they built a system that clearly doesn't?

the ticketing system is completely decentralised and the alliances did for to improve customer service and ease of use. Without them you would have to buy a different tickets for tramway, underground and regional trains, since they are probably completely different operators.

EDIT: it's really complicated. One ticket for all is not that easy because there are massive pricing differences depending on the needed infrastructure and subsidies.

Fun fact: sometimes there are even different operators for the same mode of transport.

Cologne and Bonn have overlapping tram/metro grids, so some of the lines are serviced by both transport agencies (KVB and SWB).

Likewise the regional trains are sometimes operated by someone other than DB, like the Eurobahn. Because these organisations are part of the same infrastructure and the tickets are valid for both, they are treated like regular DB trains in station plans and connection finders.

I once tried to find out whether a ticket for regional trains (i.e. S, RB and RE lines) is valid for the Eurobahn trains (which are denoted as "ERB" in connection finders). Apparently DB service employees don't have to know these things. In the end I found out that they're indeed valid even if they're not listed explicitly -- but I literally had to wait for a conductor to check my ticket (which would have resulted in a fine if it hadn't been valid).

I don't know if this is still a thing in German trains in general, but the main selling point for me would be the fact that it looks like the train has coupes. A coupe is so much nice than a big open carriage.

I love the idea of having a car specifically for children to play. I'd pay extra for my kids (5 and 2) to have a place to play. Just a carpeted car with basic toys like many airports have.

Weird train rides in Germany?

I guess you could give this a try: http://www.un-verschaemt.de/

I own a Bahncard 100 which is a rail pass for the entire country. Unfortunately due to wtf, I cannot use it on this train. There's still a lot to be done.

Your BahnCard 100 is only for DB trains, and their partners like regional transport associations. Not sure why you suspect it to be valid for a competitor's service. And I doubt Locomore will ever partner with DB...

That's not how it works. There's the tariff union TBNE which covers almost every train in the country. I can use non DB trains without a problem (e.g. the HKX) - just not this one (and Thalys).

I suspect TBNE is pretty much what your parent comment meant by "...only for DB trains, and their partners like regional transport associations."

I.e. DB would only partner with regional operators on tracks where DB itself doesn't operate anymore.

no. it's up to locomore to join, they just don't want to. same with HKX, in the beginning they didn't want to join, eventually they did.

I thought HKX was also a competitor? What changed?

Crowd funding the new word for financed by shareholders.

Bondholders, according to a very interesting parent comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13200369

Aren't all trains crowdfunded? Isn't that what tax is?

AFAIK it is not just Germany trains that are a mess (regarding fares), it is the same all over the world.

What I really hate is that every time I take a train (in Italy) I can be sure that:

1) the lady in front of me payed 30% less than me (OK, she is elderly and some discount may be fine)

2) the guy on my right payed 25% less than me (OK, he is a student, and has one of those cards)

3) the girl on my left has payed 45% less than me (OK, she has a special discount as a woman and booked the ticket in large advance)

4) the guy in businessman suit on the seat on the other side of the aisle has paid anyething between 50%, 80% or 100% less than me (OK, because he is an employee of the railway or of the government)

5) etc.

Simplified, I am the only one that is paying the full fare.

> OK, she is elderly and some discount may be fine

And who reimburses the rail company for those discounts?

> the girl on my left has payed 45% less than me (OK, she has a special discount as a woman and booked the ticket in large advance)

"she has a special discount as a woman" - What? I call BS.

"booked the ticket in large advance" - better. And what's stopping you from doing the same?

> (OK, because he is an employee of the railway or of the government)

And how many of those there are?

> Simplified, I am the only one that is paying the full fare.

Simplified, you are someone who exaggerates to use as an excuse for whinging about non existent unfairness.

Thank you for responding. The parent comment has to be one of the worst HN comments I have ever read.

It is important that people who exaggerate and lie are held accountable for their words.

I am obviously (and intentionally) exaggerating it, but the general idea stands.

At least the routes on Amtrak that I take in the US don't seem to have huge variances based on booking ahead. Fares do vary and the prime slots for business travel tend to be pricier. (And the Acela carries a significant premium.)

But it doesn't seem to be like what I've both observed and been told is the case in the UK where last minute/flexible/etc. fares can easily be triple what they are if you book a month or even a couple of weeks ahead of time.

Yeah, let's waste energy operate trains from the 1970's (or buses) and pretend it's a good thing because "look it's cheaper and you get organic food inside".

What makes you think those carriages are significantly less efficient than those made today? The engines[1] are fairly modern. Plus, they only drive at a leisurely (and more efficient) 200 km/h.

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siemens_ES64U2

The locomotive is brand new. The only thing missing is regenerative braking in the carriages which DBs long distance carriages also don't have.

I doubt modern trains are much more efficient, electric engines have been very efficient for a long time.

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