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I arrived to Hamburg this morning 5:31, and I was planning on continuing my journey to Cologne at 6:11. I used the DB website to look up trains:

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However, I discover on the station that there is also a 5:46 train going to Cologne (final destination Munich - ICE 515). I happily took that train as I want to be in Cologne asap, but this questioned my faith in my search abilities: how can I view all the trains to Cologne? If I understand why the Cologne train doesn't show up on the website, I might be able to search in a way which does make it show up.


Additional info I gathered

The DB Navigator app agrees with website:

Enter image description here

whereas the train I've boarded is definitely going to Cologne:

Enter image description here

Interestingly, this ICE 515 does show up if I try to plan a route from Bremen (which is between Hamburg and Cologne) to Cologne:

Enter image description here

And after a few clicks, the itinerary for this train is:

Enter image description here

I.e., the DB website does indeed agree that there is an ICE 515 from Hamburg to Cologne. Having to find it through a Bremen - Cologne search is painful, and I am looking for an easier way.


A possible solution

The reason why ICE 515 does not show up in the original Hamburg Hbf - Cologne search might be because (in theory) ICE 1031 gets there earlier despite leaving later. It stops at much fewer stops:

Enter image description here

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  • Is the "05:49" in your image a timestamp? I'd offer that perhaps the DB site server clock was fast, but if it's not showing past trains, then the 04:37 train shouldn't show either.
    – shoover
    Jul 18, 2022 at 4:12
  • Yeah. I did the screenshot when asking the question, but I got the same result around ~5:40, when I was trying to find out what the 5:46 train was.
    – zabop
    Jul 18, 2022 at 4:17
  • Yep the reason it does not show up is most likely because your original train should get there earlier (3 minutes earlier) despite leaving later.
    – jcaron
    Jul 18, 2022 at 6:26
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    As to the "in theory" you added: DB train does not care about probabilites or "typical" delays. About 10 to 15 years ago, going from Frankfurt to my parents' place, DB would suggest I go via Ulm, 1 stop, 6 minutes (!) connection time, walking distance between platforms roughly 5 minutes. Going back home on Friday nights, trains would often run 5-10 minutes late, I would have never made that connection. Instead, I chose a connection with 2 stops, 15 resp. 10 minutes connection time, walking distance roughly 1 minute on both connections (other track at same platform)....
    – Sabine
    Jul 18, 2022 at 16:22
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    @shoover There is no reason to assume that a 4:37 train of DB has already arrived at 05:49 :) Jul 18, 2022 at 18:36

1 Answer 1

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jcaron is correct with his comment. The train you are missing leaves Hamburg earlier and arrives later in Cologne than another train, so with the default search options, the travel planner does not show it in the search results.

Such 'overlapping' train connections are quite common in Germany, not just because trains stop at a different number of stations, but because trains are often not going the shortest route from their origin to the final destination. The ICE515 you mention is for example departing from Hamburg 5:48, takes a long detour through the westernmost parts of Germany before heading east again and finally arrives in Munich 14:27. It does not make sense to use that train if you are actually going from Hamburg to Munich, as you could also take the ICE1003 departing Hamburg 5:52, which travels a much more direct route and arrives in Munich 12:01.

When you open DB's travel planner, the 'show fastest connections' option is pre-selected. If you uncheck this option, you will at least see more, but perhaps still not all of the trains, which are going the route you are searching for:

search mask

Another possibility, if you know that you want to travel via Bremen (but not necessarily stay there), you can also under 'further options' add a stopover in Bremen with a duration of 0:00. This will only find trains though, which are travelling via Bremen.

stopover entry

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  • 4
    "It does not make sense to use that train". It could, for example, if the alternative is to wait 2 hours in a deserted station late at night, and to then wait another 2 hours in another station, with dirty toilets, expensive brezels and water. In the train, you can at least rest safely, watch movies or look at the landscape. Jul 19, 2022 at 7:34
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    @EricDuminil In this case, the alternative was to leave Hamburg 4 minutes later and arrive 2.5 hours earlier in Munich in the middle of the day, where you, even if you were to continue from Munich with another train later, could use that time to take a walk around the city. Where do you get from this to waiting in deserted stations for several hours in the middle of the night? Jul 19, 2022 at 8:51
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    For me, 5:31 is "the middle of the night". Depending on how many luggage I have, it also might not be convenient or even feasible to take a walk around the city. Your answer is pretty good BTW, I just wanted to mention that not everybody wants to always optimize for time travel. Because let's face it, they wouldn't ride with D-Bahn in the first place. :D Jul 19, 2022 at 10:19
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    @EricDuminil For me, 5:31 is "the middle of the night". Unfortuntately either your definition of middle of or night is different than the common accepted definition of middle of or night in Germany. Feel free to fight them, Martin Luther gathered a large support discussing much more untangible things ...
    – EarlGrey
    Jul 19, 2022 at 14:01
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    Some more reasons for taking the slower train: a) there may still be cheaper tickets left for it b) You may have fewer changes => longer chunks of working time, easier with big luggage... (I have this situation commonly) Aug 1, 2022 at 18:59

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