Bonn/Berlin · With the December timetable change, Deutsche Bahn and its rival Flixtrain have expanded their services. New trains will also be introduced. But they will not be more punctual. There will be changes to the ICE connection between Bonn and Berlin.
Beuel station is becoming a hotspot for night travelers on their way to Berlin or Salzburg, from the ICE stop Siegburg/Bonn there's a direct connection to the North Sea on Saturdays, and there will be one more train from the Rhine-Sieg district to Stuttgart on Saturdays. On Sundays, there is no ICE train on the route between Cologne and Frankfurt with a stop in Siegburg. These are the most important changes to the Deutsche Bahn AG timetable from 10 December for long-distance services in and around Bonn. In detail:
■ Night-time connections: According to Deutsche Bahn, Bonn, Cologne and Aachen will benefit from the new Nightjet night trains between Berlin and Salzburg on the one hand and Brussels on the other. Three times a week, a train departs from Beuel at 10.26 pm via Erfurt and Halle to Berlin (arriving at 9.16 a.m.) and via Rosenheim to Salzburg (arriving at 7.26 a.m.) In the opposite direction things look like this: Three times a week there will be trains departing Berlin at 8.18 p.m. or Salzburg at 10.28 p.m. and arriving in Beuel at 6.29 a.m. From autumn 2024, Deutsche Bahn plans to offer these connections every night.
■ Train to the North Sea: On Saturdays, there is now a direct ICE service from Siegburg via Münster and Emden to Norddeich Mole to ferry terminal for Norderney. Departure: 8.31 am, arrival 12.59 p.m. On the return journey, the ICE leaves Norddeich Mole at 2.53 p.m. and arrives in Siegburg at 7.23 p.m.
■ Additional train to Stuttgart: Departure for the new connection is in Siegburg at 7.24 p.m., arrival in the Baden-Württemberg state capital at 10.22 p.m. The train also stops at Frankfurt Airport and Mannheim.
■ Train cancellation from Frankfurt: According to Deutsche Bahn, the Sunday connection ICE 814 from Frankfurt main station (5.16 p.m.) via Siegburg (6.17 p.m.) to Cologne-Deutz (6:40 p.m.) will no longer be offered. According to a railroad spokesperson, there will still be around 60 stops for long-distance trains at Siegburg ICE station each day. However, this also means that the worsening of services implemented by Deutsche Bahn, particularly in the past year, will continue. This is pointed out by CDU transport politician Oliver Krauß.
■ Long-distance trains via Bonn: According to Deutsche Bahn, there are still 60 long-distance stops in Bonn. The company is paying particular attention to a new through ICE service running six times a day in each direction between Bonn and Berlin. It replaces the route that was previously split into two trains or made up of two trains in Hamm. With around 4.40 hours, the journey time is around ten minutes shorter as there is no more splitting or coupling. The ICE Sprinters (which take just under four and a half hours) remain in service three times a day in each direction.
■ Flixtrain: The DB competitor FlixTrain is broadening its long-distance services with the timetable change in December. In particular, additional smaller stations such as Mühlheim (Ruhr), Bensheim between Frankfurt and Mannheim, Elsterwerda in Brandenburg and Müllheim in Baden-Württemberg will be served. FlixTrain is also making a return to some cities that Deutsche Bahn stopped serving. These include Bremen, Offenbach, Mainz, Hanau and Wolfsburg, which will be available again from spring 2024. The company is also planning to increase frequency on selected routes from summer 2024.
■ Punctuality: Deutsche Bahn does not believe that the new timetable will make it more punctual. The main reason cited is the overburdened and outdated rail network and the resulting numerous construction sites required. In the second half of 2024, the so-called Riedbahn between Frankfurt and Mannheim, one of the busiest routes in Europe, will be modernized. According to Deutsche Bahn, one of the consequences of the closure is that there will be no through trains from Siegburg to Stuttgart and Basel. Travellers will have to change trains at Frankfurt Central Station. Depending on the destination and connection, the journey will take around an hour longer, a DB spokesperson said.
■ Comfort: New trains should make traveling more comfortable. From December, more ICE 3neo trains will run between North Rhine-Westphalia, Frankfurt and cities in southern Germany. This means there will also be more space for bicycles on the ICE. Eight bicycles can be transported per train. Progress has also been made in terms of seating capacity. According to Deutsche Bahn, 20 percent more seats will be offered on the route between Berlin and the Rhine/Ruhr region.
■ More: In future, the ICE will run every half hour between Hanover and Berlin. Passengers will be able to travel from Berlin to Munich almost every hour. There will be twice as many trains as before. 14 Sprinters will complete the journey in less than four hours every day. It will also be faster to get from Berlin to Amsterdam. The journey time will be reduced by half an hour thanks to the use of new locomotives. Regional connections will also be improved. There will soon be more trains between Nuremberg and Leipzig, five a day instead of one. Magdeburg will have a new direct connection to Hamburg.
Original text: By Bernd Eyermann and Wolfgang Mulke
Translation: Jean Lennox