Please sign in to post.

Germany: Rail pass or point-to-point tickets?

Hello Helpliners - I am trying to determine the most economical way to purchase train tickets for our upcoming trip to Germany. I am weighing the cost of a 2nd class twin pass versus point-to-point tickets.

My husband and I will need train tickets from Frankfurt to Dresden, then Dresden to Cochem and finally from Cochem to Frankfurt. We will also of course be using local trains to travel around the Mosel during our stay in Cochem.

Would the 2nd class twin pass be the most cost effective route to go? I know that pass will cover all of our travels from Frankfurt to Dresden to Cochem and back to Frankfurt, but will it cover the local trains we'll use while in Cochem? We will spend 10 days on the ground if that helps.

The options are a bit overwhelming for me to sort out and I want to make the best decision for our budget. All replies are appreciated!

Posted by
18296 posts

A railpass will almost certainly not be your most economical way.

A rail pass will cover all of your rail transportation, including local trains around Cochem, but there are less expensive alternatives.

If you are willing to commit to a specific day and a specific time, you can get advance purchase Saving Fare tickets from Frankfurt Hbf to Dresden Hbf and from Dresden to Cochem (or at least to Mainz) for as little as 49€ for both of you.

For unllimited travel for a day around Cochem, you can use a Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket for 26€ (for 2) for the entire Rheinland-Pfalz or, in just the Rhein-Mosel area, a VRM Minigruppenkarte (for 2) for 21,20€.

Posted by
16723 posts

You should be able to get two ICE tickets Frankfurt-Dresden for 49 euro total. These will be advance purchase nonrefundable, nonchangeable. Buy 90 days in advance. Dresden-Cochem same 49 euro (with changes). While in Cochem, you can buy a family Rhein-Mosel ticket for 3 days for 40 euro. Travel up the Mosel to Bulay, down to Koblenz, up the Rhine to St Goar and St Goarshausen, and down the Rhine to Remagen, and more. Unlimited travel on trains and busses.

Posted by
12040 posts

Go to the Deutsche Bahn website and price your long distance rail trips. You didn't say when you will travel, but if it's in the summer, enter a date about 90 days from now. Summer fares are not published yet, but they won't differ much from those you see posted now. If you can commit to riding a specific train at a specific time up to 90 days in advanced, that will be your cheapest option by far.

For regional trains, they do not offer advanced purchase discounts (for the most part), but tickets are relatively cheap. Deutsche Bahn also sells various regional passes. Others on this website know more about these than I, so I defer to their expertise.

In general, 3rd party rail passes are one of the most expensive options for rail travel in Europe. Even buying second class tickets at full price is often cheaper.

Posted by
27 posts

Thank you all for the helpful replies. I'm so glad I asked because I was definitely on the wrong track with my thinking! Danke schoen!

Posted by
18296 posts

I assumed that you will already be in Frankfurt the day you want to go to Dresden so catching a specific train will not be iffy. The Saving Fare tickets from the Bahn are train specific, non-refundable, non-exchangeable, so they would not be appropriate to book soon after arrival at FRA by a long distance flight, which could arrive after your train departed.

If you are flying into Frankfurt and not spending some time there, I might suggest that you do the trip in the opposite direction. Getting from from Frankfurt airport to Cochem would involve only a local ticket from the airport to Mainz Hbf and a 26€ Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket from there to Cochem. You can buy those tickets after your arrival for the same price. Then, after a few days in Cochem, you can use a train specific ticket to Dresden with confidence you can make the trains.

Posted by
5552 posts

Jennifer: Sparpreis tickets may or may NOT be the best option in your case - it depends on your DAY 1 situation. I've used the Sparpreis (advance-sale savings fare) tickets on several occasions. Great deal. You ride the same trains as you would with a railpass but you pay much less. Some comments...

It's not true that Sparpreis tickets cannot be refunded. They are refundable for a fee - but not at all at the last moment. From the DB website:

"Exchange / Refund: Possible up to one day before travelling against a fee of EUR 15.00. From the first day of validity: No exchange and no refund possible... It is possible to purchase a DB special fare insurance from EUR 5.00 which will refund the ticket price in case of cancelation in specific cases."

So... as Lee points out, it could be unwise to buy the Sparpreis ticket for that first travel leg if you are traveling to Dresden immediately after a flight to FRA; flight delays, long lines at passport control, etc. may factor in, and you may lose the entire fare if you don't make it to your scheduled train. And then you'd need to buy full-fare tickets as well!

If indeed you're flying in to FRA and heading immediately to Dresden... Flexible-departure-time, full fare tickets for two, which you can buy at FRA, would cost either 178€ or 184€, depending on the train you catch; let's say about 180€. For the other two trips, Sparpreis tickets at the very best prices for Dresden-Cochem (49€/2) and Cochem-Frankfurt (29€) then bring your total to about 258€. How does the twinpass compare? Very favorably in this situation. A 3-days-in-30 twinpass from DB is 278€ - just 20€ more. But you get quite a bit more for that 20€...

1.) No need to purchase 3 separate tickets in advance.
2.) A price you can count on - there's no race to pre-purchase Sparpreis fares 92 days out before they go up (which would end up costing more than the pass.)
3.) You can buy a railpass at the last minute if you wish.
4.) The railpass allows for changes of schedule and routings and additional journeys on the day of travel (Let's say on your last day in Germany, you're traveling from Cochem to overnight at FRA... with the railpass, you could take a detour to Cologne, Remagen, and/or Linz north of Koblenz on the way.)
5.) The railpass offers free KD river cruises as a bonus (if you use this goodie on a railpass on one of your 3 train travel days.)

Lee's suggestion for changing your order of destinations (Cochem first), if that is a possibility for you, is a sound one that will allow you to get Sparpreis tickets for the other destinations and save more $.

The Sparpreis tickets are the clear winner provided you aren't heading from FRA airport to Dresden on Day 1.

Posted by
5552 posts

Lee writes, "Getting from from Frankfurt airport to Cochem would involve only a local ticket from the airport to Mainz Hbf and a 26€ Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket from there to Cochem."

Note that if you're doing this trip on a weekday, the train you use out of Mainz will need to depart after 9 am (weekday restriction on the use of the R-P ticket) to get this price. Also, the local ticket from FRA to Mainz costs 8.50€ for two.

Posted by
18296 posts

The Savings Fare insurance only covers the cost of the Saving Fare ticket (ie, not the replacement ticket cost) in case of "unexpected serious illness, a serious accident or the death of the insured person or a dependent of the insured person." So the insurance will not cover late arrival.

What about flying into Munich (in case you don't already have nonrefundable tickets)? The regional train trip from Freising (a 20 min bus ride from MUC) to Dresden will cost only 50€ with a Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket for 2 people. There is an ALX/IRE connection leaving Freising every 2 hours (9:09, 11:09, 13:09). It takes 5H47M to Dresden, only slightly longer than the FRA-Dresden ICE connection (although the flight to Munich will take a little longer).

As for going from FRA to Cochem on a work day, if your flight does not arrive before about 6:30, the first train connection you can make leaves the Regionalbahnhof at 7:59 and has a change of trains in Mainz at around 8:30. The train from Mainz to Koblenz goes through Bingen(Rhein) Hbf just after 9 AM, so the Rheinland-Pfalz ticket is valid from there. A local ticket to Bingen Hbf is 7,60€ per adult (vs 4,25€ to Mainz).

The next connection after 7:59 leaves at 9:24, so the RL-P ticket would be valid.

For any earlier arrival, the connections at 7:21 or earlier are so far along at 9 that using a RL-P ticket wouldn't be cost effective. Just bite the bullet and buy regular Bahn tickets to Cochem at about 30€ each, still less than a day of a rail pass.