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Train from Cologne for a flight out of FRA

The last stop of my trip in Cologne, but for a better price and schedule I booked my homeward flight out of FRA. My transatlantic flight is scheduled to depart FRA at 10:55 am. Now I'm having a few doubts...

Can I depend on the plan to take the ICE from Cologne to arrive FRA at 07:08? Maybe the 07:33 arrival?

FWIW- This will be a weekday in late September. I'll be able to use priority check-in for my luggage, but don't know if I'd have access to a security fast track.

Posted by
18390 posts

Would you be starting your trip to FRA from the Köln Hbf or from the Deutz Bhf? If you are starting from the Hbf, how familiar are you with the Köln Deutz Bahnhof? You'd be coming into Deutz from the Hbf on track 1 and leaving from track 11. These tracks are on different levels of the Bahnhof. You'll have 10 minutes to make the change and they say the walk takes 7 minutes (probably less), but you'll need to know exactly where you are going so as not to miss the ICE to the airport. With a Saver Fare, the regional train or S-Bahn to get to Deutz is not specific. That is, you can take any regional train/S-Bahn on that route that day. I might suggest that you take a slightly earlier train just to give yourself time to find you way between the tracks.

Although there is always a chance of delay on any train, I think the chances on a direct train, particularly a high priority ICE, would be pretty good. I worry most about making connections.

In 2001, I came into the airport from Karlsruhe on a direct ICE (about an hour) without problem. Similarly, in 2004 I came in on a direct RE from Boppard (a little over an hour).

If you really want to be sure, come in the night before and stay near the airport. Downtown Frankfurt and Mainz are at either end of S-Bahn lines that go through the airport Regional Bf. I've stayed in Mainz three time before a morning departure. I like Mainz because it almost as convenient as from the Frankfurt Hbf, but I think it is a little less pricey. I stayed here the last time. It's a short walk across the Bahnhofsplatz to the S-Bahn to the airport.

Posted by
893 posts

Lee, I am VERY glad you asked that question, as I did not realize there were two stations! I looked at the DB/ICE ticket I've already bought, of course, that arrives at the station I didn't know about. What an embarrassing oversight on my part!

Well, now informed, I'll be sure to scope out the transit from my AirBnB to Deutz durring my 4.5 days in town, and arrive there well early for my ICE to FRA.

Posted by
16941 posts

Since you already bought the ticket, you are allowed to take an earlier regional train from Cologne Hbf to Koeln Messe/Deutz so you can have a little more time to make the transfer to the ICE train to Frankfurt Airport. At that time of day, there is a regional train or S-Bahn about every 5 minutes that will get you to Koeln Messe/Deutz.

Posted by
18390 posts

Sound like Scudder bought an ICE ticket from Köln to FRA without realizing that all the ICEs leave from Deutz, so if they had gone to Köln Hbf to start the trip they would have been at the wrong station.

Köln Messe/Deutz is right across the river from Köln Hbf; it's a 2 minute trip by regional train/S-Bahn. If they are coming from their BnB by taxi, they might be better off to just go to Deutz.

Posted by
893 posts

Sorry for the confusion—I have not yet bought the Cologne—FRA ticket. I have bought my ticket to Cologne from Amsterdam, which also arrives at Messe/Deutz (which I hadn't realized).

I'll go ahead and buy the Messe/Deutz—FRA ticket knowing that my departure station is a step further than I'd previusly assumed.

(A 6am train to FRA is still WAY easier than the 6am flight from CGN. And cheaper.)

Posted by
2153 posts

Would you just consider staying at one of the hotels actually located in the Frankfurt airport? I've done this twice, and it makes that last morning so much easier!
Safe travels!

Posted by
16941 posts

There is also a direct ICE from Cologne Hbf at 5:48 that gets to FRA at 6:50, and you still have back up with the 6:54 arriving at 7:49.

Posted by
893 posts

Pat- Staying in Frankfurt that night is on the table, but not the preferred option. I don't mind getting up for a 7am train, and the early start means a better chance of a decent nap on the 9-hour flight. (If I'm careful about my coffee intake!) I just wouldn't want the morning train if it presented risk and stress. But it sounds like I'm OK on that front.

Posted by
8189 posts

I live here and I would never, ever trust the train to get me to the airport on time from that far away. Never stay so far away that you wouldn't mind taking a taxi. All it takes is one small glitch to throw your whole plan off. A tree falling on the track, a person on the track, a break down.
Come to Frankfurt the night before, either to the city or to one of the airport hotels (Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Sheraton or Marriott) Staying in the city, you can catch an S-bahn that will get you to the airport in 13 min.

Posted by
18390 posts

I guess you already have you flight. Otherwise I'd suggest you look into flying from an airport closer to Köln. There is Cologne-Bonn or Düsseldorf (DUS). Ten years ago I flew home from Düsseldorf to Chicago. There are currently direct REs from Köln Hbf to DUS in 37 min.

But Jo has a point. Although it's unlikely, even the 13 min S-Bahn from the Frankfurt Hbf could be delayed. It looks like there are some pretty expensive hotels right at the airport (the only one I checked wanted $251/night), but there looks to be far less expensive hotels in nearby towns like Kelsterbach or Rüsselsheim. In particular you might find a "traditional" German hotel, not a big-box, cookie-cutter, In-ter-na-tion-al one right at the A/P. You could take a taxi from there to the airport. Rüsselsheim even has some within walking distance of the Rüsselsheim S-Bahn station, which is just one stop from the Regional Bhf at the airport.

It looks like there are also dedicated Lufthansa Express trains from Köln to FRA, with a guaranteed transfer if the train is late. No idea how much extra that might cost.

BTW. a few years ago, I took an ICE from the airport to Karlsruhe. The train was coming from Köln (and before that another country) and was almost an hour late arriving at the Fernbhf.

Posted by
4229 posts

I echo Ms. Jo's comment, I would NOT trust the Deutsche Bahn to get me to the airport in time from as far as Cologne these days. For a 10.55 am flight, a hotel in Frankfurt (does not have to be the airport!) feels muuuuch safer.

Posted by
268 posts

The risk is never zero. An accident can lead to a delay of several hours, both on the road and on a train. However, all "normal" delays are covered if you plan to arrive more than 3 1/2 hours before the plane departure (Frankfurt can be quite busy at the moment due to a staff shortage, but if you ask politely and give a reason, people will usually let you jump the queues - so even arriving with a 2 hour delay might still allow you to catch your plane. Not at all recommended as "Plan A", but an acceptable "Plan C"). For peace of mind, I would prefer the earlier departure.
Even if the track is closed for the 6:02 departure from Cologne, there is still the 6:53 departure (from Köln Hbf), which takes a different route. I would be willing to take that risk.

Posted by
2153 posts

There is also the stress factor.....
We stayed at one of the marriotts inside the airport, and used award points . So if price is an issue, try whatever points program you have, but I think the usual cost is around 150 Euros, probably with seasonal fluctuations.
Safe travels!

Posted by
893 posts

Thanks all. While I don't want to take foolish risks, too much "safe side" and we'd never leave the house. Besides, no stress on home-bound delays—I'll never complain about missing another day of work. I'm going to stick with the train that gets me to FRA 4 hours before the flight, knowing that there are still two trains after that which would be safe schedules. If the apocolypse comes I'll have concerns greater than the flight.