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Random Bahn ticket prices

Hello there! I am trying to figure out why Bahn has such random prices for the exact same product. The ticket in question is for three first class fares from Köln Hansaring to München Hbf, leaving at 11:45am and arriving at 4:27pm with one change of trains at Köln Hbf. The date I want is June 18th, and since I started checking prices on this (since early January until today), the sparpreis has fluctuated between 359.70€ to 449.70€.

Here is what is weird to me - checking other dates for the same route and time reveals drastically different prices. Here are some examples:
April 3rd: 347.70€
April 24th: 299.70€
June 14th: 473.70€
June 18th: 269.70€

To my knowledge, sparpreis doesn’t really take effect until about 92 days before the journey, but that doesn’t seem to be affecting these ticket prices. It seems really random. I have contacted Bahn about this but I haven’t heard back yet. Does anyone have any insight?
- Adrienne

Posted by
20 posts

I don’t know which site you are using but the Bahn app has that ticket right now for EUR 79.90. For the prices you are quoting I would expect a chauffeur driven limo!

Posted by
527 posts

The original sparpreis may sell out and then the price is higher. I just checked and it was 89.90 per person. If that sells out, it might go to 99 or 109 or 119. All depends.

Posted by
1067 posts

Hi Adrienne. It isn't 'random'; it's the result of pricing strategy by the train company. For many trains, just like plane flights and hotel rooms, prices fluctuate based on supply and demand. Computers are programmed to adjust the prices daily (or more often) for each train, based on the number of sold / unsold seats. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
4325 posts

Because the lower fares are limited in number and have obviously sold out. The price then jumps. Friday’s, like June 14, will always be more popular. This is all totally normal.

If you really are concerned about prices, why are you buying first class?

Posted by
1618 posts

Here is what is weird to me - checking other dates for the same route and time reveals drastically different prices. Here are some examples:
April 3rd: 347.70€
April 24th: 299.70€
June 14th: 473.70€
June 18th: 269.70€

To my knowledge, sparpreis doesn’t really take effect until about 92 days before the journey

Sparpreises are available 180 days out. Replicating your search I get exactly the same result (for the direct ICE dep. Köln Hbf 11:55).
That price trend is quite regular (not zigzaggin like air tickets): prices decrease with longer advance booking, but are always higher on fridays (June 14th: weekend traffic).

Posted by
175 posts

Reply to Emily, who asked "If you really are concerned about prices, why are you buying first class?"
You may have mistaken my question. I stated that I was trying to figure out why something was happening. Further, one can be interested in buying something which is more expensive, but that does not mean that one does not care about the price of that thing. Nearly everyone is interested in getting a good deal and would prefer not to pay more than is necessary.

Posted by
16059 posts

I think your question has been answered. Variation in prices indicate how many people have already booked that particular train. As more people book, the cheap tickets are sold out, then only higher priced tickets are left for sale.

Posted by
17979 posts

For many trains, just like plane flights and hotel rooms, prices fluctuate based on supply and demand.
Computers are programmed to adjust the prices daily (or more often) for each train, based on the
number of sold / unsold seats.

That is true for airline ticket prices, but as far as I have ever been able to determine, the Bahn doesn't play those games. Sparpreis tickets go on sale at the beginning of the ~180 day period for about 29€, and go up as the less expensive tickets sell out. I don't think they ever go down (unless maybe if someone turns in some previously purchased, lower price tier tickets for exchange). So if you have picked a popular day, and you find that the price is already more than you want to pay, don't wait around for them to get less expensive as departure time approaches. It just ain't goin' to happen. If you absolutely have to travel on that day, get the tickets now, before they get even more expensive. Or, if you can, find a less popular day where the ticket prices are more to your liking, and next time purchase well in advance and avoid popular travel days.

Posted by
3525 posts

Adrienne, I'm now seeing 3 adult 1st class tickets for that journey at €233,70 including seat reservations. The 2nd class fare is €203,70. With so little difference between 1st and 2nd class and that price, I'd jump on the 1st class option soon.

It's about 9:45 PDT, Thursday, 3/21.

Posted by
175 posts

Lo, Are you sure that wasn't for the day right before I need? Tuesday, June 18th was always much lower in price for the exact same ticketed time and route, ever since I started checking in January. The day I need (Wednesday, June 19th) was always significantly higher, but the price did fluctuate up and down, then up and down again. That Tueday, June 18th ticket is €233.70 right now.

It doesn't matter. I purchased the tickets yesterday at an increase. I am disappointed because they were €359 on March 20, but
€389 yesterday, March 21st. So for all my diligent checking and rechecking, I still overpaid. I just couldn't (and still really don't) understand why a ticket could be so different between a Tuesday and a Wednesday, so I kept thinking that the price should eventually decrease.

Posted by
16059 posts

You must be very particular on your departure time, since I see a 9:35 departure on June 19 with a single connection at Koeln Messe to an ICE to Munich, 3 tickets 1st class for 257.70 EUR.

Posted by
175 posts

I am, Sam, I am. :o)

I do not want the train at nine.
I do not think that would be fine.
I really want the train at noon.
Anything else would be too soon.

Posted by
3525 posts

This is what you say in your post, "The date I want is June 18th..." Too bad that isn't the real date you wanted. I bet the concert caused the cheaper tickets to go really fast.