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DB Sparpreis

We are looking at getting train tickets from Frankfurt Airport to our final destination in NW Germany. Regular price for the 3 of us would be EUR 300. Sparpreis tickets would be EUR 100 (I rounded up to make calculations easier).

However, I do know it's risky as you never know if our flight will land on time. From experience (and we've done these flights dozens of time) we know there is a 80% chance we can catch our preferred train connection and 20% risk to miss it. I am still unsure how to read the DB conditions to figure out what happens if we buy Sparpreis tickets and don't make it in time. German and English explanations do not quite match either ...

I'm reading the German text as saying, that if we miss the booked train we should go to the Reisezentrum, pay EUR 17.50 per ticket fee + EUR 200. So our total risk would be an extra EUR 52.50 on top of the normal price instead of loosing the total EUR 100 we paid for the Sparpreis tickets? The English text might be outdated (fee) and mistranslated (the last NOT does probably not belong there).

Any experts here?

Ab dem 1. Geltungstag ist eine Stornierung ausgeschlossen. Sollten sich Ihre Reisepläne ab dem 1. Geltungstag geändert haben, kann die Zugbindung am Reisetag gegen eine Gebühr von 17,50 Euro im Reisezentrum oder im Zug aufgehoben werden. Bitte beachten Sie, dass im Zug der Bordpreis erhoben wird. Zusätzlich ist die Differenz zwischen dem Sparpreis und dem Normalpreis zu zahlen.

Refund conditions:
Before the first day of validity: EUR 15.00
Sparpreis tickets cannot be exchanged and are non-refundable from the first day of validity. If your travel plans should have changed, the reservation of a specific train with a Sparpreis saver fare ticket can be cancelled for a fee of EUR 15.00. In addition, the difference between the Sparpreis saver fare and the standard fare does not have to be paid.

Posted by
20441 posts

Where are you going? There may be alternatives such as Laender or Quer durch Lands ticket. They would likely involve changes and longer travel time. Also, leave an extra hour for departure.
Here is how a poker player or mathematician would analyze it.
If, as you say, the plane will arrive on time 80% of the time, and you took 10 trips and bought the Sparpreis tickets each time, it would cost 1000 euro plus 600 euro for the 2 times you miss the train and buy full price tickets. Therefore, the average price would be 160 euro per trip. So it is worth risking with a good margin of error. But, as any poker player will tell you, your full house may have the odds in your favor, but if your opponent has four deuces, you still lose.

Posted by
6795 posts

What is your "final destination?" Is that from Frankfurt Hahn airport or FRA international? What's your travel date?

There are good ways to work "around" the saver fare rules.

Perhaps there's some other way to get there - like regional trains only. Or perhaps you can book the saver fare in such a way that it utilizes mostly regional trains (and maybe only one fast train for a short distance; you can use regional trains at any time of day during the validity of the ticket, so the fast train you might miss may not mean that big a loss. Or perhaps before your fast train you can arrange for a 2-3 hour stopover somewhere - have a meal? That would give you 2-3 hours wiggle room if your plane were quite late.

Posted by
2297 posts

I'm going from FRA international to Coesfeld (Westf), a small town in Westphalia. Even with the best ICE connection that train ride is well over 3 hours with a minimum of 2 or 3 connections. As soon as you take the ICE out and choose regional trains, it will add another 2 hours to the trip - more or less.

If I can get my daughter to do carry-on (she'll stay longer in Germany than my husband and myself) I'm pretty sure we can risk it. So far, I've seen mostly weather-related delays when arriving in FRA from Calgary - which should be less likely in July. On previous trips, I stayed in Frankfurt an extra night visiting with friends before moving on with a Sparpreis ticket. This is not an option this time around.

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

True, the last sentence in the German text is mistranslated, a contradiction.

I'll comment on which route to take as a possibility to reduce the number of transfers. I would take the ICE direct Frankfurt Hbf to Dortmund Hbf, then change to the regional train going to Coesfeld direct. Of course it depends on which departure but still better than changing at Münster/Westf. Hbf. Maybe that might work for you.

Posted by
321 posts

Hi Beatrix-

Maybe I can shed some light on the confusion.

The last paragraph describes the refund process. You give them 15 € per ticket and they refund the rest of the ticket price. The last sentence in the paragraph,
"In addition, the difference between the Sparpreis saver fare and the standard fare does not have to be paid."
appears to be superfluous. The only time the price difference comes into play is if you change the ticket. Anyway, this is how it worked when I canceled a Sparpreis ticket in 2013. And I did it all over the internet.

My understanding of the Sparpreis ticket exchange process coincides with your interpretation,
" I'm reading the German text as saying, that if we miss the booked train we should go to the Reisezentrum, pay EUR 17.50 per ticket fee + EUR 200. So our total risk would be an extra EUR 52.50 on top of the normal price instead of loosing the total EUR 100 we paid for the Sparpreis tickets? "
However, I have no real experience in making an exchange.

Have a great trip!!!

Posted by
6795 posts

" So our total risk would be an extra EUR 52.50 on top of the normal price"

That is still a stunning blow altogether because of the high normal price (€300 you said, right?)

Suggest you build in a "late" cushion for your saver fare ticket. You can route yourselves via Frankfurt Main Hbf, 10 min from FRA by local train; as part of a saver fare itinerary, you can use local trains at any hour. And you can build in a stopover of a couple hours at the main station.

When you book the saver fare, schedule a stopover of 00:00 at Frankfurt-Niederrad. That will put you on a local train from FRA into Frankfurt. Schedule a second stopover of 2:00 (or whatever time you might like to have) at Frankfurt(Main) Hbf, the main station. You can drop your bags there, have a look around, have a meal - lots of places to hang out for a short while in the Bahnhofsviertel.

Your flight MAY be more than 2 hours late, of course. I was 2 days late once because of a mechanical problem. But 2 hours will definitely increase your chances of making your scheduled connections, of avoiding the hassles of a refund and of hanging onto the hundreds you saved with this saver fare purchase.

Posted by
2297 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions. That was very helpful to help me looking beyond my usual mode of travel. I am quite familiar with picking routes, but getting through the pricing maze of DB is a whole different story ...

I'll give you a little update. We've decided to take a risk as there were still the cheapest tickets available at 69 Euro total for the 3 of us. Those won't be available much longer (especially since it's a Friday during summer holiday season). The train leaves FRA airport 100 min after our scheduled arrival and gets us into Coesfeld before 2 pm. That means we still have a full afternoon in the sun to recover. My teenaged daughter would definitely prefer vegging out in the yard of our rental apartment with "Kaffee und Kuchen" over sightseeing in Frankfurt ;-)

It is risky but in this case the saving is substantial and the risk minimal. If indeed the flight is leaving VERY late in Calgary, we can cancel the Sparpreis ticket already at the airport in Calgary for a smaller fee than the one due on the day of travel.

btw I've done the routing through Dortmund before. Yes it does reduce the number of transfers but it also adds an additional hour to the total travelling time over the routing through Essen/Dorsten. It's an interesting example as to how reducing the number of transfers does not always result in quicker travel.

Posted by
19169 posts

The translation of the last sentence in German is "additionally the difference between the Sparpreis and the normal price (full fare) is to be paid."

This topic was discussed in detail a few month ago. I had always been of the opinion that as of the day of travel there was no refund, no exchange. If you missed the specified train you were just out of luck. The ticket was worthless and you had to purchase a new one for full fare. However, up to the day of travel, you could get a refund (less a 15€ penalty). You could apply this toward another ticket (Sparpreis, if available, or full fare).

What that discussion and a few linked references seemed to show was that:

1) The penalty has gone up to 17,50€,

2) The situation up to the day of travel is the same as before (exc for the penalty amount),

3) As of the day of travel, if you miss or don't want to take the specified train, you can't get a refund, but by paying the 17,50€ penalty and the difference between full fare and what you paid, you can receive a "document" allowing you to use a later train. I think you are restricted to the same train class and route.

In your case, look at the difference between the travel time for regional trains vs express (ICE). If you purchase a Sparpreis ticket with a big enough time buffer to allow for a late flight, would you be getting to you destination much earlier than if you just used regional trains and a Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket?

Posted by
6795 posts

"In your case, look at the difference between the travel time for regional trains vs express (ICE). If you purchase a Sparpreis ticket with a big enough time buffer to allow for a late flight, would you be getting to you destination much earlier than if you just used regional trains and a Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket?"

The "regional train only" option will be 6 hours and 4-6 different trains. To get the time cushion you need, it's probably simpler to just take a break somewhere (like Frankfurt) and take the 2-3-trains-over-3+-hours option. You might get there around the same time either way - but the fast-train trip will be less arduous and should reduce the chances of a missed connection somewhere.