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Everything you need to know about Deutsche Bahn

Choosing Deutsche Bahn with Virail

When using Virail and Deutsche Bahn, you can join the over two billion passengers that travel across Germany and beyond every single year. No matter where you want to go, you can use the Virail platform to plan your Deutsche Bahn route. Offering more than 170 daily connections to 16 European countries and thousands of routes within Germany, you can get to wherever you need with Deutsche Bahn and Virail.

About Deutsche Bahn

Deutsche Bahn is Europe’s largest railway operator, headquartered in Berlin. It was created through a merger on 1st January 1994 between the historic state-run Deutsche Reichsbahn and Deutsche Bundesbahn, unifying the country’s existing rail services. In 1999, the long-distance passenger services and the operation of the stations were separated. More recently, Deutsche Bahn announced an investment of €1bn in trains in late 2019, with a further €500m earmarked for ICE maintenance depots. The result will be an increased capacity of at least 11,400 additional seats starting in 2022, effectively doubling passenger numbers.

Main routes and stations

With thousands of routes running daily and more than 33,000 km of track, it’s easy to get where you want with Deutsche Bahn. Some of the most popular German long-distance routes include:

  • Berlin to Munich (504 km) - The fastest route takes 3hours 52 mins and is served by 18 trains per day.
  • Frankfurt to Cologne (152 km) - The fastest route takes 1hour 3 mins and is served by 20 trains per day.
  • Dortmund to Munich (477 km) – The fastest route takes 5 hours 39 mins and is served by 14 trains per day.
  • Stuttgart to Berlin (510 km) – The fastest route takes 5 hours 23 mins and is served by 6 trains per day.

Ticket categories and pricing

Deutsche Bahn offers free travel for children between 0-14 years, group travel options, and a range of special offers. These discounts are usually based on the type of ticket you buy, which include:

  • Flexpreis: Totally flexible, you can use any train on a selected day. The company offers free refunds before the first day of validity, otherwise the flexible ticket cancellation has a fee.

  • Sparpreis: This is a cheaper option for long-distance journeys in particular which are bookable 180 days in advance. These Saver tickets can be exchanged for a fee should travel plans change.

*Super-Sparpreis: Even cheaper than the Sparpreis, this super-saver ticket cannot be refunded or exchanged.

Main transportation types used by Deutsche Bahn

Intercity-Express (ICE): Offering high-speed connections between major cities as well as cross-border services.

InterCity (IC): Facilitating travel to large and medium-sized cities, these trains stop more often than ICE services but can reach high speeds between stations.

EuroCity (EC): This is the cross-border IC service that connects Germany with other countries.

Regional Express (RE) and Regional (RB): These services are used for travel to smaller German towns, usually operating individually within a specific federal state.

Main amenities offered by Deutsche Bahn

  • Free Wi-Fi on all ICE trains in both first and second class carriages.
  • Food and drink are available to purchase onboard most long-distance routes.
  • Children under 15 years of age travel for free.
  • Toilet facilities on all trains.

Deutsche Bahn – Frequently Asked Questions

How do I book a ticket?

Once you have your rail journey planned, Virail will automatically redirect you to the Deutsche Bahn platform where you can finalize and pay for your ticket.

How do I choose my seat?

It is recommended that you reserve your seat if you are traveling at peak times or for long-distances, but reservations are not mandatory so you can sit wherever you like. First-class tickets include an automatic reservation.

How do I change a ticket?

Depending on the type of ticket you’ve purchased, changing a ticket might come with a charge. Super-Sparpreis (Super-Saver) tickets cannot be exchanged or canceled.

How do I get a refund for a ticket?

To claim a refund on unused tickets, log into your booking history via "My Bahn". Select "cancel and rebook" for refund options. Be sure to cancel up until 1 day before the date of travel to receive a refund. A cancellation fee of €10 is charged for saver fares, while flexible fares can be cancelled free of charge. Additional fees apply if you cancel on the day of travel.

Can my child travel alone?

Children can travel alone. However, service staff are not responsible for any solo-traveling children. As such, a supervision service — Kids on Tour — can be booked for children aged 6 to 14 years old.

How can I reach Deutsche Bahn’s customer service?

Deutsche Bahn has customer services in multiple languages. For information in English, you can call 0044 (0) 8718 80 80 66 from 09:00 to 20:00 Monday to Friday, and 09:00 to 13:00 on weekends. The cost of the call will depend on your provider.

What is Deutsche Bahn’s luggage policy?

All luggage is free with Deutsche Bahn and there’s no need to make a reservation. On ICE trains, smaller bags can be put in the storage areas above your seat while larger items should be placed in specified areas between the seats.

What is Deutsche Bahn’s pet policy?

Traveling with a dog is permitted and is free of charge if your pet fits in a carrier. If your pet is bigger, you will need to buy a ticket at the same cost as a child’s ticket – just enter the word ‘Hund’ (dog) instead of a passenger name at the time of purchase.

Does Deutsche Bahn offer reduced mobility support?

Yes. There is a dedicated Mobility Service Centre that will arrange for help with boarding, changing trains and other activities associated with travel. To ensure the right support is provided, contact Deutsche Bahn at least 48 hours before cross-border travel and at least 24 hours before if your journey is local.

Can I bring my bike?

Bicycles are allowed on Deutsche Bahn services with some restrictions. For long-distance trains, a bike reservation is required (free of charge) because space is limited. In this circumstance, you are limited to one standard-sized bike per traveler (specialist cycles like tandem bikes are not permitted). For local train services, you can book a day bike ticket for €6.50. It is advised that passengers traveling with bikes avoid rush hours.

Tips to travel cheaper with Deutsche Bahn

The easiest way to find Deutsche Bahn’s cheap fares is with Virail’s saver fare finder. All you need to do is enter the route you wish to take, the date of travel, then select the cheapest offer. Mondays, Fridays, and Sundays are busy days for traveling and the best value tickets sell out quickly. It is advisable to search for trips off-peak travel times. Saver fare tickets can be booked up to six months in advance of the journey.

Your journey with Deutsche Bahn

As the largest railway infrastructure operator in Europe with modern high-speed trains, Deutsche Bahn is an excellent way to travel through Germany and beyond. Using the Virail platform means that your next trip is just a few clicks away.

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