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I want to take a train from Paris to Berlin at night. I'm trying to book via bahn.de, but I've also looked at thetrainline.com.

For next Wednesday, bahn.de offers me an option with connections in Frankfurt and Leipzig. So that's Paris → Frankfurt (TGV), Frankfurt → Leipzig (NJ), Leipzig → Berlin (ICE).

The Nightjet continues to Berlin. I would rather stay in and continue sleeping, rather than change to the Leipzig → Berlin train (even though that shaves an hour of the travel, as NJ is really slow on that section), especially as this change is really early.

I cannot play with the connection times, because the connection in Frankfurt is longer than in Leipzig.

I cannot filter by train type, because TGV and ICE fall under the same box.

I can book Frankfurt → Berlin (either via the NJ website, or via bahn.de, by looking at just that part of the trip), but that would be two separate tickets. I'd rather avoid that.

Is there an option that I've missed to explain to DB that I don't mind a longer trip and would like to be staying in that train?


As pointed out by Gilles' answer, this is not systematically the case. Both next Monday and Tuesday offer both the faster and the slower route. But for some days, like next Wednesday and next Saturday, only the fast route with a change in Leipzig is offered.

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  • It would help A LOT if you put the actual cities . Chances are, your are you are doing something wrong on bahn.de but without the actual cities that's really hard to reproduce and check. Generally bahn.de would NOT put you on a different train from C->D unless it's significantly faster. If it IS faster, you can unselect the train type (IC or ICE for example).
    – Hilmar
    Jan 21 at 20:02
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    There is a check box for prefer fast connections. Unchecking that should work but I can not remember whether it does.
    – Willeke
    Jan 21 at 21:58
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    Did you try unchecking "prefer fast connections"?
    – gerrit
    Jan 23 at 8:59
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    @gerrit My idea as well, but it didn't help. The lure of an entire hour is too strong. Jan 23 at 15:31
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    To be honest, there is nothing wrong with buying two tickets if you want to use a specific connection which you know exists. It may affect your ability to change your second leg if your first leg is delayed (of which there is a chance of about 50% these days). But in my experience the staff is quite accommodating these days. Just let them write a delay confirmation on the first ticket which makes clear you couldn't catch the connection. Jan 23 at 15:49

4 Answers 4

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I didn't find a way to tell DB to book a certain train. However, I found a solution to your specific journey, because it is indeed possible to select / deselect certain train types only for parts of the journey.

  1. After entering your origin, destination and date, select "Further options" next to the Search-Button.
  2. Open the "stopover" section, enter Frankfurt as Via 1. You don't have to specify a stopover duration.
  3. Open the "Types of Transport" section. This will now give you the option to deselect ICE trains only for the Frankfurt-Berlin section of your journey.
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  • 4
    Amazing, thank you very much! That indeed does the trick perfectly! I didn't realize it was possible to select train types per section! I'll wait a couple of days before marking this as answer, in case someone comes up with a way to select specific trains, but this looks like the best workaround
    – njzk2
    Jan 21 at 23:01
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    Alternatively, after entering Frankfurt as a stopover, you can also require a direct connection on the Frankfurt-Berlin section instead of selecting train types. There is a drop down for this under "Types of transport" right below all the check boxes, change it from "admit changes" to "direct connections" or even "direct connections with sleepers". Jan 22 at 8:13
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Sabine's answer is clever and seems to solve your problem, but, in general, if you're trying to book a train ticket and the website simply isn't doing what you want, you can also try calling Deutsche Bahn (or stopping by a train station if you are currently in Germany) and speaking to a human being who can help you.

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    I can confirm that. If you have a request above a certain complexity threshold the recommded way is usually to just physically go to a train station and buy you ticket from a human being.
    – quarague
    Jan 22 at 6:51
  • Can you actually buy tickets over the phone? You tell them your credit card number and they email you the ticket?
    – AndreKR
    Jan 22 at 22:12
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    @AndreKR it's been some years since I've done it, so practices may have changed, but a while ago I bought a ticket (for a slightly complicated international journey not available for purchase online at the time) over the phone from DB with a credit card and they posted it to me overseas, so I don't know what current practices are but the best way to find out is to call them and ask. They speak English! It's fine!
    – mlc
    Jan 23 at 1:41
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    @quarague Going to the train station and buying a ticket is an increasingly rare endeavour. For example, in Sweden, SJ closed the final two locations where this was possible; even people physically stranded in Stockholm are told to phone a call centre. Germany and France still have some ticket offices left, but I would not be surprised by the one in Paris would struggle to book the Nightjet, which is Austrian.
    – gerrit
    Jan 23 at 9:02
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    @gerrit In Germany even relatively small train stations frequently still have a ticket counter with a human being. DB seems to be aware that their website and the vending machines can handle most but not all ticket requests. I don't know whether that is because they don't know how to program good ticket buying software or whether it is because they insist on an unnecessarily complex ticket and priceing scheme but it is the reality on the ground.
    – quarague
    Jan 23 at 9:08
4

The DB website does offer the connection you're looking for, both in my general experience and for the specific journey Paris→Berlin leaving next Monday evening. More precisely, when I ask to leave after 19:00, the four proposals on the first batch of results are:

  1. From Paris, ICE 9557 to Mannheim, NJ 409 to Leipzig, IC 94 to Berlin.
  2. Actually the same trains, but with the Mannheim–Leipzig train given as IC 60409.
  3. From Paris, ICE 9557 to Mannheim, NJ 409 to Berlin.
  4. From Paris, TGV 2465 to Strasbourg, local train to Offenburg, IC 60470 to Heidelberg, ICE 698 to Berlin.

If you really want to change in Frankfurt rather than Heidelberg, you can request a stopover there (click “Further options” to make the stopover field appear). But that gives you less uninterrupted time in the night train so I think you'd prefer to change in Mannheim.

This is generally the case in my experience with journeys involving a night train: DB offers both the “sensible” connection with no or few changes as well as faster connections that have you start later on a high-speed train and catch up with the night train, or go ahead of the night train at the end of the journey.

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    Hi Gilles, thanks for your answer, and taking the time to go through the search! It seems I get different results because of different search days: when looking for next Monday or Tuesday, I see the same thing you're describing. However, for next Wednesday or next Saturday, I see what I'm describing in the question: Paris-Frankfurt or Mannheim-Leipzig-Berlin (NJ409 apparently skips Mannheim on Saturdays).
    – njzk2
    Jan 21 at 21:08
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You could also try the following: When you start the search, on the page there is a ticked box "Show fastest connections". If you clear this box, all possible connections are shown, even if they take more time.

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    Not always all possible connections, but more of them.
    – user24582
    Jan 25 at 8:02

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