Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Riding the German Rails

 If you travel around the Rhine valley area, there are three basic railway vehicles.

First, there is the regional train, as you on the right (in red).  These are mostly new and bought in the past dozen years.  You can push bikes on board, as well as baby carriages.  No compartments.

There are some limited first-class sections although there's nothing special about these sections and it's not worth on a regional train to pay for first class.

The AC unit on these regional trains....for some odd reason....typically always works well.

Note, there's no drink machines, pubs, or cafes on these regional trains.  These regional trains never have toilets.....so it's something that you might want to plan around if using.  

They typically run from one significant town to another (example: Wiesbaden to Darmstadt, or Wiesbaden to Frankfurt).

The second example shown in the shiny white is the ICE, which runs long-runs and typically has a cafe or restaurant onboard.  Yes, ICE trains all have toilets.

These have a first-class section is slightly worth the price, if you are traveling several hours. There are state-of-the art and look almost like some aircraft.

The AC unit on the ICE trains isn't anything worth bragging about and if you are traveling in July with ICE and the heat is expected to be mid-90s.....get off prior to mid-day.  The heat will exhaust you if you try to stay for a all-afternoon long trip.

The food on the cafe operation?  Decent but nothing to brag about.  I might buy a coffee or Coke.

Please note that ICE doesn't stop much.  So you might do a trip from Frankfurt to Berlin and only stop six times.  On a regional train, you stop every five to ten kilometers.

Finally, we come to the local trains.

This is my local train, which runs from Wiesbaden to Niedernhausen.  Note, it's two cars and can handle a hundred passengers.  It does have a toilet, which is a plus...but I should note that the toilets are down for maintenance about fifty-percent of the time.

These local trains, between 7AM and 8 AM are crammed full of kids going to school and adults going to work, so don't ever hope on getting a seat on board these trains.  The positive is that you rarely will be on the train for more than 20 minutes.

I should also note that the local trains will stop at some points where there are no stations....just a covering and ticket sales machine.  So you wait till it pulls up....hit the button and some step or two will pop out and you step up into the train.  The driver for the local trains?  They are contracted out, and typically make ten-percent less on pay.  No one explains this deal or reasoning.

Sleek and modern?  Yes.  But you had to be around in the 1980s and have ridden the old trains.....to appreciate these modern vehicles.

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