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Loco2/Trainline vs. the Bahn

There have recently been various submissions here about using the Loco2 website vs Trainline vs the Bahn website for tickets in Germany. Whereas these websites might give good results for long distance travel, across borders, for travel within Germany, nothing is as all encompassing, for schedules and fares, as the German Rail website.

Posted by
17936 posts

So far my analysis has been fairly superficial, limited to fares for travel I am already planning to make for a trip in two months to Germany.

Trip
I will arrive in Frankfurt (FRA) and go to a small town on the Main river near Würzburg. I will make a number of side trips from that town. Then I will go to my next base in a small town in the Oberallgäu, from which I will make a number of side trips, Next I will go to the MittelRhein for a few day, returning to FRA for the trip home.

FRA-Main town
I will arrive at FRA with enough time to get to the Regionalbf to catch the S-Bahn to Frankfurt Hbf at 12:02, then the RE towards Würzburg. The Bahn website shows that the regional fare from FRA to the Main is 42€. Trainline shows the trains I want and the regional fare for this trip. Loco2 shows the correct connections and fare for the hour before and after, but for 1200, only shows a connection at 12:11 with an ICE from FRA to the Frankfurt Hbf (9 minutes). The fare shown is for a train specific, non-refundable ticket for 38€. That's all I can buy from Loco2. If my plane is late, I will lose the long-distance part of the ticket. Under the Bahn's vor- und nachlauf provision, I can still use the RE from Frankfurt Hbf to my destination, but I would have to pay for the regional tickets to the Hbf, ~10€.

Now, for someone who is familiar with the Bahn website and uses it, they would know that I could have bought the 42€ for 11:02 and used it at 12:02 or 13:02, but then such a person wouldn't have used Loco2 or Trainline to start with.

Main town - Allgäu
Only with some manipulation of the input (via), which the casual user of Loco2 would not normally know how to do, can I get an all-regional connection, but Loco2 will still not show me a Bayern-Ticket fare for this trip. The regional fare from Loco2 is 177€, but they offer me a non-refundable, train-specific fare of 48€. The trip can actually be done with a 31€ Bayern-Ticket.

Using TrainLine, I can only get a non-refundable, train specific ticket for 48€. Somehow, both Loco2 and TrainLine don't seem to recognize Bayern-Tickets.

Allgäu - Bingen Stadt

To their credit, Loco2 gives the exact connection for the same price (48€) as the Bahn. TrainLine, on the other hand, doesn't ticket to Bingen Stadt, but to Bingen Hbf instead. Now, someone who uses the Bahn website would know that the specified RB from Mainz to Bingen Hbf stop earlier at Bingen Stadt, so a ticket to Bingen Hbf would work, but that person could buy the same ticket from the Bahn for the same price, so what is the point of TrainLine.

Bacharach - FRA

Loco2 sells this ticket for 39€. So does the Bahn. But, knowing a little about the RMV, I know I can use a 7,80€ ticket for two from St. Goar to Bacharach and then purchase an RMV ticket from Bacharach to FRA for 11.95 per person, for 31,70€ total, but to be honest the Bahn did not show this price either.

Loco2 didn't show any price for this segment, TrainLine showed the same price as the Bahn.

Sidetrips

Almost all of my sidetrips are within a transit district and neither the Bahn nor Loco2/TrainLines had ticket prices. I was planning on sidetrip outside of VVs.

Main town- Rothenburg OdT

Neither Loco2 nor TrainLines recognized the Bayern-Ticket (31€) for this trip. Both gave me a price of 102,40€, RT, all regional.

I don't know why neither website (Loco2/TrainLines) seems to recognize the Bayern-Ticket. They both recognize local passes (Regio-Ticket Main-Spessart and Regio-Ticket-Oberallgäu), but not the Bayern-Ticket.

So, for 5 legs of travel, Loco2 gave me the correct schedule and fare once, TrainLine also was correct once. The Bahn had the right price 4 times. Unless I really knew what I was doing, I would avoid Loco2 and TrainLine. And then, if I knew what I was doing, I would definitely avoid them.

Posted by
1614 posts

Almost all of my sidetrips are within a transit district and neither the Bahn nor Loco2/TrainLines had ticket prices.

DB ist working on integrating Verkehssverbund tickets. In Bavaria, you can buy tickets within the Nürnberg VGN, the Munich MVV and the Augsburg AVV both via the Web site and the DB App. E.g., for the popular Nürnberg - Rothenburg o.d.T. connection it offers any type of VGN tickets while TrainLine does not.

Another disadvantage of TrainLine seems to be that it doesn't offer booking of saver fares with longer stopovers.

I found TrainLine useful for tickets to France and Italy. For tickets to Austria I use either the DB or the ÖBB website, for tickets to the Czech Republic almost always the best fares are offered by the Czech website.

Posted by
4521 posts

Third party sellers can only be as good as the feed they receive from the principal operator, in this case probably DB. They are likely to be at best where the information is freely licensable from an independent body.

The owner of Loco2 participates in various rail-orientated forums and could probably answer these questions directly. Although as is said up front this site is primarily aimed at making long distance multi-border travel simpler.

Posted by
17936 posts

What puzzles me is that Loco2 and Trainline seem to show Regionale Tickets, like the Regio-Ticket Main-Spessart and the Regio-Ticket Allgäu-Schwaben, but don't show any of the Länder-Tickets, like the Bayern-Ticket or the Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket. But then, I've never bought a Länder-Ticket ahead of time, so that's unimportant to me, but someone less knowledgeable about Bahn travel should at least be told it's available, which neither site does .

Another disadvantage of TrainLine seems to be that it doesn't offer
booking of saver fares with longer stopovers.

Actually, I don't think trainLine even allows you to put in a stopover, Loco2 does, but all it actually does is to divide the trip into two tickets, one from the start to the stopover, the other from the stopover to the end, with a higher price than straight through. I tried to use the stopover function on one of my connections to force a route with all regional trains (and hopefully show a Bayern-Ticket), but all I got were two full fare regional tickets. With the Bahn site you can specify a stopover and still get a single ticket.

Posted by
17936 posts

When I started looking at Loco and TrainLine as an alternative to the Bahn website for trips I will be making in two months, I was finding a lot of fares that did not agree with (were more expensive than) what I had already found on the Bahn, but I didn't know exactly why. Now that I have done some more analysis, it appears that the main weakness of both of these sites is that they don't offer Länder-Tickets (Schönes-Wochenende, Quer-durchs-Land, and regional passes like the Bayern-Ticket). For my upcoming trips that seemed to be the most common source of errors. In addition, Loco2 seemed determined to not offer flexible regional connections when there was a train specific, non-refundable alternative available. In one case, TrainLine only seemed to recognize the Hauptbahnhof in Bingen, which could be a problem for someone wanting to go to the KD dock in Bingen.

Another big deficiency in both of the websites is that they do not recognize bus connections. There are a lot of good places you can get to by bus. In 2013, we went from Oberammergau via Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Osterhofen. Specifically, I wanted to take the bus from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Bad Tölz along the Alpenstrasse past Walchensee and down into Kochelsee, a very scenic ride, but Loco and TrainLine only give you the option of taking the train via Munich.

The Bahn site is a lot more comprehensive than the other two sites. On the Bahn you can adjust your route by using stopover without generating multiple tickets at a higher cost. You can also specify the type of transport for each leg in the connection. They won't force you to use non-refundable tickets for long-distance trains if you don't want to.

Posted by
31271 posts

Lee,

Have you considered sending a note to Trainline regarding these issues? They can't correct the problems unless they know about them.

Posted by
18741 posts

Lee, thank you for posting in detail about what you found. I'll be looking for that post the next time I travel to Germany.

Posted by
31271 posts

Lee,

I just happened to come across this post from the Man In Seat 61 on another forum......

"Trainline.eu does NOT mark-up. This is about different fare types which different sites have access to.
Eurostar.com can access certain through fares which trainline.eu can't access. Just as trainline.eu can access the London-Germany sparpreis fares from €59 which Eurostar can't, and which might or might not be cheaper than the special Eurostar+ICE fare that Eurostar has negotiated and which are ONLY sold at eurostar.com, nowhere else.
So the message should not be 'don't use trainline' but 'shop around as some sites can access different fare types and one can sometimes be cheaper than the other."

Perhaps this relates to the situation you were describing?

Posted by
17936 posts

Ken, I searched the TrainLine website for a way I could contact them about their problems, but there didn't seem to be anyway to do it without being an account holder, which I won't do.

I don't think Trainlines shortcomings have as much to do with what fares they can access as it does to what fares they are willing to offer and how much flexibility the are willing to offer through their website.

  1. Although they offer many of the regional day tickets, like the Regio-Ticket Main-Spessart and the Regio-Ticket Allgau-Schwaben), they don't offer many of the Tageskarten (Schönes-Wochenende-, Quer-durchs-Land-, and Länder-Tickets like the Bayern-Ticket) that are accessible from the Bahn website.

  2. You don't have the flexibility on TrainLine (or Loco2) to customize your route. They pick the route(s).

Case in point: in 2013, we (2 travelers) went on a Saturday from the Hohenzollern Castle town of Sigmaringen to Fischen, in the Illertal of the Oberallgäu. If you select a route between these two towns on the Bahn website, it will offer you a route from Sigmaringen to Aulendorf to Hergatz to Immenstadt to Fischen (even if you don't change trains there, all trains to Fischen stop at Immenstadt). The full fare price offered by the Bahn is 63,40€ per passenger. The same route is offered by TrainLine and Loco2 for the same price.

However, I wanted to stop in Friedrichshaven for three hours to see the Zeppelin Museum, then go on to Lindau, with a short stopover to show my partner the harbor there (she wants to go back this trip and spend a night in Lindau). With the Bahn website, it was easy, I just put in a 3 hr stopover in Friedrichshafen and a half hour stop in Lindau. The Bahn showed my a single trip ticket for this longer route for 76,20.

When I tried to change the route with TrainLine and Loco2, Loco2 would allow me to make a stopover in Friedrichshafen, but then my only option was two separate tickets, one from Sigmaringen to Friedrichshafen, for 39€ for two, the other one from Friedrichshafen to Fischen for 47,20€ for two, 86,20€ for two. With TrainLine my only option was two separate bookings, also for 86,20€, total.

However, when I first put Sigmaringen to Fischen into the Bahn website, it offered my a fare of 44€ with a Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket. Neither of the other websites offered me this option. With the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket, not only was my "fare" less (almost half of what was offered by the other two), but had I bought the ticket, I would not have been constrained to the purchased route.

For routes outside Germany, I would definitely say to "shop around", but so far, for travel in Germany, I have found no case where either TrainLine or Loco2 gives a greater choice of routes or a better fare than does the Bahn, and in many cases their offerings are worse.

Posted by
31271 posts

Lee,

I asked Trainline about the points you mentioned, as I was curious to know more about their routing and ticket choices. Their reply was detailed so I'll try summarize.....

"Neither Loco2 nor TrainLines recognized the Bayern-Ticket (31€) for this trip. Both gave me a price of 102,40€, RT, all regional."

Until now the DB reservation system for third parties would not allow Trainline (or others) to access Bayern-tickets. However they've received some good news in the last few days. They'll soon have the ability to sell all Länder-Tickets for DB, which also includes the Bayern-Ticket. They don't know exactly when this will be set up, but they're hoping "soon".

"Almost all of my sidetrips are within a transit district and neither the Bahn nor Loco2/TrainLines had ticket prices. I was planning on sidetrip outside of VVs"

This is because DB does not have access to the various public transport authorities' systems and therefore cannot display ticket prices. These transport authorities all have their own reservation system and do not provide tickets to be purchased online. Instead it is only possible to buy a public transport ticket if it's included in DB's "City-Ticket" offer, which is available for a variety of cities, yet limited to cardholders of the "BahnCard". You can read more about it here, however, the page is only available in German: https://www.bahn.de/p/view/bahncard/vorteile/cityticket.shtml

"Although they offer many of the regional day tickets, like the Regio-Ticket Main-Spessart and the Regio-Ticket Allgau-Schwaben), they don't offer many of the Tageskarten (Schönes-Wochenende-, Quer-durchs-Land, and Länder-Tickets like the Bayern-Ticket) that are accessible from DB."

Same as the "Bayern-Ticket". DB has not included the "Tageskarten" in their booking system for third parties, so unfortunately that means we also have no possibility to provide these tickets unless DB makes the necessary changes.

"You don't have the flexibility on TrainLine (or Loco2) to customize your route. They pick the route(s)."

That's true. DB's website allows you to customize your route to any extent that you wish. We have chosen to create our own internally built routing system that was created for optimizing prices, travel time and distance. So this is a huge benefit for many and for some, unfortunately a downside. It would be great if we could offer both the customization options that DB has plus our own routing combinations. However, we are not the huge rail conglomerate that DB is so for now we are continuing to improve and work on our own routing system.

"I searched the TrainLine website for a way I could contact them about their problems, but there didn't seem to be anyway to do it without being an account holder."

They've tried to make it as easy as possible to contact. On the landing-page (which non-account holders see), on the top right hand side there is a button which indicates "Help" (screen capture of this attached). Once this is clicked, the user is re-directed to: https://faq.trainline.eu/

From this page, there is another button, which displays "Contact". Once this is clicked, the user is directed to one of our FAQ pages, which outlines in detail all of the possible means one can have to contact us (via our contact form/email, Facebook, Twitter). This is the page: https://faq.trainline.eu/article/200-how-do-i-contact-trainline . So there's no need to be an account holder to contact us. Here's the contact form which also indicates this: https://trainline.eu/support

I'm sure this information will help me in future travels to. For my own information, I also asked them whether they now sell tickets for Switzerland and Austria. In a subsequent reply, they said "we do indeed sell these now. For me this is still a great "one stop shopping" website (especially since I have the App and can "buy on the fly".

Posted by
17936 posts

Same as the "Bayern-Ticket". DB has not included the "Tageskarten"
in their booking system for third parties
[my emphasis], so
unfortunately that means we also have no possibility to provide these
tickets unless DB makes the necessary changes.

What a lame excuse. Blame the Bahn. Just because the Bahn has not allowed them to sell Bayern-Tickets, et al, doesn't mean they should lie to their customers and tell them that what they offer is the lowest price, when the Länder tickets are available for purchase at the station for less, and they know it.

BTW, I've done a lot of traveling in Germany, but I have never bought a Bayern-Ticket online in advance. I always buy them at the time of departure at the station. There is no advantage to buying them in advance.

Whatever their lame excuses are, the fact remains, for whatever reason, they don't offer the lowest price tickets.

Posted by
31271 posts

Lee,

I'm not sure I would categorize their reply as a "lame excuse". There may have indeed been technical limitations on the access they were allowed to Bahn ticketing. The impression I got from their reply is that Trainline is working continuously to improve their services, but sometimes they're limited by the rail networks they're dealing with.

As far as "lying to their customers", perhaps it would be more accurate for them to specify that they're offering the lowest prices that they're able to, subject to whatever terms they're able to negotiate with the rail companies. In most cases the Trainline prices are the same as those offered by the rail networks. That certainly seems to be true in Italy, which is where most of my experience has been. I don't know anything about Loco2 as I've never used them.

I wouldn't hesitate to use Trainline for tickets in Germany (or other countries). I'm never too concerned about a few Euro here or there as that's not going to "break the bank".

Posted by
1614 posts

Until now the DB reservation system for third parties would not allow Trainline (or others) to access Bayern-tickets.

OK, but regional transport authorities usually refer to the respective Laender ticket(s) and have a link to the DB system.

This is because DB does not have access to the various public transport authorities' systems and therefore cannot display ticket prices.

I don't know of any Verkehrsverbund of which the DB is not a member. So it certainly has access to those systems. Moreover, major Verkehrsverbuende do sell their tickets via the DB system. In Bavaria, MVV, AVV, and VGN (München, Augsburg, Nürnberg) do. The only one which does not is the VVM (Würzburg), which is small and poor and doesn't want to pay for feeding its data into the DB system.

Instead it is only possible to buy a public transport ticket if it's included in DB's "City-Ticket" offer, which is available for a variety of cities, yet limited to cardholders of the "BahnCard".

This is misleading since it has nothing to do with regional tickets at all. The so called city ticket is a benefit for BahnCard holders, which compensates for the disadvantage that, unlike Laender tickets, long distance tickets are not valid for local transport.

DB's website allows you to customize your route to any extent that you wish. We have chosen to create our own internally built routing system that was created for optimizing prices

So, please make a comparative test booking, say, Munich to Berlin with an 8 hours break in Hamburg. »optimizing prices«? Not for the customer.

I wouldn't hesitate to use Trainline for tickets in Germany (or other countries). I'm never too concerned about a few Euro here or there as that's not going to "break the bank".

Ok - but first of all, it's not necessarily a matter of a »a few euros«, the difference can be huge. Secondly, there is not the slightest benefit for a customer when buying national tickets through a reseller. Quite another thing is buying international tickets, which for some countries (France, Italy) is way more conventient via trainline.

Posted by
17936 posts

I'm never too concerned about a few Euro here or there

For my trip from the little town on the Main river to the Illertal, I'm using a Bayern-Ticket for 31,-€ for two.

TrainLine would only sell me a non-refundable Savings Fare ticket for 48,-€. The train they used would only get to my destination 10 min earlier. True, it's only 17€, but that's 55% more.

For this trip, I have 15 days with some rail travel.

-Tickets for 5 of the days are not available from TL or DB. I will be getting them locally.
-The ticket for one day is available from TL and DB, but I'm using my guest pass from where I am staying, for less.
-Tickets for 2 days are available from TL and DB, but I can travel cheaper using local tickets.
-Of the remaining 8 days, the most expensive day I'm doing with an advance purchase, Savings Fare ticket at 58,90€. I purchased that ticket from the Bahn for Fischen im Allgäu to Bingen Hbf to Bingen Stadtbahnhof. If I purchased the ticket from TL, it would be only to Bingen Hbf. I would have to pay for tickets from Bingen Hbf to Bingen Stadt extra (1,70€/P), but that part is included with the Bahn ticket.
-Six of the remaining 7 day's tickets can be purchased in advance from either DB or TL for the same price, but they can easily be purchased from the Bahn on the morning of travel. There is no price advantage for advance purchase, and in most cases, the advance purchase tickets are non-refundable, non-exchangeable.
-The 7th day's ticket is the one described above, where I'm using a 31€ Bayern-Ticket instead of TL's 48€ non-refundable ticket.

Posted by
31271 posts

Lee,

I don't have the same degree of knowledge as you do with the various types of tickets in Germany, so find the choices on Trainline quite adequate for the few trips I make there. I'm more familiar with the tickets and rail systems in Italy.

I suppose the bottom line is that each of us finds the system that works best for them in terms of routes and prices. I like Trainline as it works well for me, but that may not be the same for everyone. The Man in Seat 61 suggests shopping around, and that's probably the best way to get the best prices.