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Train Travel Question - Cologne to Heidelberg

Baltimore, Maryland
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Train Travel Question - Cologne to Heidelberg

My family (wife, daughter (15), son (16) and I ) will be traveling by train on July 20 from Cologne to Heidelberg. I am unfamiliar with the DB Bahn system and have several questions.

The DB Bahn offers several promotions including Sparpreis and Schones Wochenende; however, I am unable to determine how these programs would work for my family.

As an example, if we take the 8:55 ICE train, the rate posted on the DB Bahn website for 4 is 139 euros for 1st class. Is this a good deal? For an additional 16 euros we can select seats. Is it advisable to select seats so that we do not get separated as well will be carrying our luggage. If we select another train and opt for 2nd class, is this open seating, or can you also select seats? Is it advisable to select a seat? Is the storage for luggage above the seats?

Additionally, are there less expensive rail options using other DB Bahn offers?

I believe that the trip from Cologne to Heidelberg would be scenic along the Rhein - .

Any guidance would be much appreciated. Danke -

Boppard, Germany
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1. Re: Train Travel Question - Cologne to Heidelberg

ICE trains do not go along the Rhine but on a more direct route via Frankfurt airport. To travel along the Rhine, choose a train that goes via Koblenz. There are direct IC trains from Cologne to Heidelberg via Koblenz, e.g. at 9:18.

Long distance trains and most other trains have both 1st and 2nd class carriages. Seat reservations are not compulsary but during peak travel periods you may find that most seats are reserved. The Bahn website flags trains they think might be crowded.

Given that a fully flexible 2nd class ICE ticket for 4 is more than 300 €, 139 € for 1st class is certainly a good price.

Medium sized luggage can be stored above your seat. For larger pieces, there is usually a shelf in the middle of the car or near the exit.

A cheaper option would be to use local trains only and get a Schönes-Wochenende Ticket for €42. For schedules, select "local transport only" on bahn.de and expect the trip to take around 5 hours.

Germany
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2. Re: Train Travel Question - Cologne to Heidelberg

DB timetable

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

Start: Köln Hbf

Destination: Heidelberg Hbf

add for the scenic Rhine valley route Koblenz as a stopover

Via (1): Koblenz Hbf

Note that the 08:55 train takes the high speed railway from Cologne to Frankfurt bypassing the Rhine Valley.

The direct IC train dep at 09:18 would be a good connection.

Cheapest option would be to use regional trains. As this is on a Saturday you can use a Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket. EUR 42 for all of you together. Cheaper is not possible. This ticket covers furthermore all local public transport in Cologne and Heidelberg (S-Bahn, trams and buses) the whole day (till 3am on Sunday). Means however a few changes of trains and a longer travel time. Select as means of transport "only local transport" with the DB timetable to see only connections you can use with a Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket.

Baltimore, Maryland
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3. Re: Train Travel Question - Cologne to Heidelberg

Thank you both for your replies - they are most helpful as I did not realize that the ICE trains travel a different track route that is further away from the Rhein River.

A few additional questions -

1) If we take the 9:18 train (2nd class option) for 113 Euros (having more time in Heidelberg is more important than the Schones Wochenende price), in your opinion, would it better to update to 1st class for an additional 26 Euros? Is there a greater benefit from 1st class over 2nd class?

2) Can specific seat be reserved on these trains?

3) Will the train be heading toward Heidelberg to the left side of the Rhein River - so optimum train seats would be on the right side of the train?

Thanks.

Karlsruhe, Germany
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4. Re: Train Travel Question - Cologne to Heidelberg

The train travels on the Western bank of the river (which is actually the left bank of the river according to the current, but you are going in the opposite direction). So the answer is that seats on the left side of the train are best. This cannot be selected with 100% guarantee, though.

Seats can be reserved in 1st as well as in 2nd class.

To me 1st class is not worth the extra money. However, check if you really get hold of four Sparpreis tickets. You will not know for sure before the actual booking. These tickets are extremely limited in number and sell out quickly, so if you see them available, grab them. They may be gone tomorrow.

Hamburg, Germany
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5. Re: Train Travel Question - Cologne to Heidelberg

The actual train is usually an IC train from the Austrian train company OEBB, not the usual Deutsche Bahn trains.

The first class in these unlike the Deutsche Bahn IC's is really nice IMO. If you do not pay a lot more than standard class I'd get it.

Edited: 04 June 2013, 19:21
6. Re: Train Travel Question - Cologne to Heidelberg

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