why is it so difficult to get a night train reservation from Frankfurt to Copenhagen?

I am finding the Frankfurt - Copenhagen part of my trip difficult. I want a night train, but the prices are much more than the Copenhagen back to Germany (actually Switzerland) portion. Is there some event causing this? The Museum Riverbank fest is that weekend, but this is the week before. Or is this just a very popular route?

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10274 posts

What website are you using? I'm seeing a Europa-Spezial price on Deustche Bahn for €84,50 on the 26th for a "day couch", whatever that is. There's more expensive options available for couchettes, but the sleepers are either sold out or not available. The prices are the same in both directions.

I'm actually surprised this route exists on a night train.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
3847 posts

I'm looking at the FRA-COP CNL train for Aug 26, and Europa Special prices are actually less than the return a week later by 10%.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
6912 posts

This route may be discontinued in December, but that does not affect August travel. A day couch is seat, which may not recline; I would prefer to pay for a couchette or sleeper, which is a flat bunk bed in a compartment with 6, 4, or 2 beds. See also http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/night-trains. For Frankfurt-Copenhagen on Aug. 27, DB shows all four of those options available. If you are booking a reservation with a rail pass, you can do that through DB too, and on the page where you select the type of sleeper, you check the box for "Book only extra charge."

Posted by robinsegg
7 posts

Laura,

When I followed your advice on DB, I get this:
"It is not possible to make a reservation for international connections at www.bahn.de without the purchase of a ticket. Please remove the check mark from the field "Reservation for seat only", if you would like to buy a ticket for this connection. "

I will have a Select Railpass with me when traveling, that includes both Denmark & Germany.

And I am definitely interested in a couchette (or sleeper if necessary); I cannot sleep in a seat. :)

Posted by robinsegg
7 posts

Dick,

I found the options you sent. The only problem is that as I'll have a railpass, I'd rather not have to purchase an actual ticket, just the reservation. Is there a way to do this?

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10274 posts

Railpasses- caveat emptor personified. Search this website and you'll find countless threads on the reasons why.

Posted by robinsegg
7 posts

I haven't purchased the railpass yet. I was interested in the convenience of not having to buy tix as I go, but with the reservations required so often, maybe it's not the best option. If you were traveling for 9 days, predominantly in Germany and Switzerland, would you go with the Ger & Swi country passes, or none at all? Many thanks to all for your assistance.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
3847 posts

Germany no, too many other deals that will save more than a railpass, like regional day tickets and Quer durch Lands tickets, or advance purchase nonrefundable Sparpreis tickets.
Switzerland yes, but only if your are making more than 240 chf worth of trips, then a buy a Half Fare Card for 120 chf.
Check out www.seat61.com for the lowdown on railpasses.
Edit- I was able to quickly go to the DB page to get prices for the FRA-COP night train. Click on the block in the lower right hand corner "Book only extra charges". Next page click on "Interail, Eurail, or other"
next page shows 13 euro for a seat, 32.50 in a 6 person couchette, 42.50 in a 4 person couchette, etc.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10274 posts

In Germany, no. For the long rides between major cities, I would book the tickets in advanced to get the big discounts. For trains to smaller cities and towns, Länder tickets (like a regional pass), or just buying the tickets as needed. The self-service ticket machines at every train station are simple to use, and once you know what to do, it takes about as long to buy your tickets as it does to withdraw money from an ATM.

I don't know the rail systems in Switzerland or Denmark well enough to comment, but I doubt rail passes are the best options there either.

And I would fly from Frankfurt to Copenhagen. Most of us can't get a minute's sleep on night trains.

Posted by robinsegg
7 posts

Sam,

Thank you very much! Learning to navigate the DB page is a crucial skill that I am grateful to be gaining.

Posted by robinsegg
7 posts

Thanks Tom. I actually enjoy sleeping on trains (in a couchette or sleeper). The hassle of flights gives me more of a headache.

Since I've received very valuable input here thus far, I'll toss out my plans and if anyone has additional advice I heartily welcome it. I have traveled to Europe many times, but not in recent years, so my planning skills are rusty. I have spent days trying to get up to speed with RS Guidebooks, websites, etc., but this forum's direct responses to my specific queries floors me by its efficiency. Here goes:

What I'd like to cover in a 9 day trip:
-2 days (1 night) in Copenhagen (one leg originating/ending in Basel, the other originating/ending in Frankfurt (or vicinity of Frankfurt), arrive & depart via night train with couchette or sleeper
-3 days (3 nights) scenic rail excursions in various parts of Switzerland, based in Bern 2 days and possibly Luzerne the 3rd
-2 days in Rhine area with side trip to Luxembourg City
-1 day in Frankfurt (departure day)
-1 day: make-up day; extra day in Cop. if possible

Though after typing all this, I'm realizing that I'd like to have as much flexibility as possible, in case I change my mind at times.
A Swiss pass seems like a good idea, as I'll be taking several rail trips daily there. Germany, could use specials instead of card. And could buy Copenhagen overnight tix in advance without a pass discount.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3057 posts

Robin - If you haven't traveled in Europe in awhile, then you might be thinking of the good old days when you bought a cheap railpass and used it to just hope trains whenever you wanted. Those days are over. Passes almost never make financial sense anymore, especially if you are over 26. And even if you want the flexibility, you'll still pay less buying tickets there then using a pass and still having to buy the seat supplement.

And I'm another vote for just flying to Copenhagen. I do love the romance and ease of train travel, and the chance to meet people. But I've taken enough overnights to have learned my vacation time is far more important and that I'm wiped out all the next day.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10274 posts

"2 days in Rhine area with side trip to Luxembourg City
-1 day in Frankfurt (departure day)"

If you're hopping on and off trains to visit the various towns along the Mittelrhein, I think the Rheinland-Pfaltz ticket is probably your best option... but I don't know the details. Two other long-time posters, Lee and Russ, have answered this question countless times, but they usually only linger in the Germany subforum. If you post a question specifically about the Rheinland-Pfaltz ticket there, I'm sure they'll jump on it immediately.

For traveling back to Frankfurt (assuming your base is somewhere along the Rhine), just buy your ticket at the station before you hop on the next train.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7780 posts

I wouldn't train between Copenhagen and Frankfurt. The train ride is long, inconvenient, and very expensive. Take a one hour flight. The Copenhagen airport is 15 minutes by metro from Kongens Nytorv or 20 minutes by train from downtown. The airport is small and easy to navigate. Frankfurt's airport is big but logical and has a train station inside. You can catch a train and start your touring from there.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7780 posts

A rail pass is only a good deal for really long legs. I've found that long rail legs eat up too much valuable travel time so I don't do them anymore. I buy point to point tickets or German Rail day passes (whenever a day pass works for my itinerary).