Taking the train – what an experience!

Welcome to the service world Deutsche Bahn! Once a year I am taking the train to go on holiday. It´s an 7,5 hour train ride one way to take my high up to the north. Usually I book my online train ticket quite early in advance to get a good price. I think it was back in February when I selected my prefered trains with the shortest time and the minimum of train changes on the journey as I am carrying heavy luggages with me.

A couple of days before my trip I got an travel alert email from Deutsche Bahn. I clicked on the links and couldnt see what the issue would be. My travel plan was still the same, no comments on the side, nothing in red …. so what´s the alert for? I was very busy the past days as I had to finish everything at work and get ready for my holiday so I couldnt follow up. The day before my trip I finally remembered the email and called the hotline.

They looked at my bookings and found the issue: The first train taking me to Hamburg was cancelled due to construction works on the route. (Just one thought on the side: Why does Deutsche Bahn start major construction works just a couple of weeks before the main summer and school breaks where majority of people go on holiday? Maybe Deutsche Bahn wants us to use the car or the airplane???)

So the lady on the phone told me what other options I would have to get to Hamburg. I could either start from the same train station as planned but 45 minutes earlier. Downside: I would have to exchange to another ICE in Fulda. Or I could start from a different train station at 7.51am so an hour earlier and but then stay on the train till Hamburg. I decided to take that one and asked her how to proceed as I would need the seat reservation also to be changed.

“Well, she said “you need a stamp on your ticket that you train got cancelled and that your ticket will be valid for the other route as well. Also only they can then change your seat reservation.”

Can you imagine??? I booked online and I have to go to an Deutsche Bahn Information Center to get physical confirmation that my train was cancelled??? Come on …. If I am going on a flight and my flight gets cancelled I get re-booked online to another flight – sometimes even automatically. Why could they not instead of sending me a very unprecise travel alert email sending me online into my personal Deutsche Bahn account and ask for my approval and then update my online ticket which I can either print or upload to my mobile device? Clearly not only the route of Deutsche Bahn is dilapidated and outdated – the IT systems of DB is also very odd. Rather then developing App´s where I can watch my OLD journey to go ahead it would be better to work on some of the online service processes!!

But this was not the end of my experience! I asked the poor lady (who constantly repeated thst she can understand my frustration but can´t do much) on the phone if the new train station would have an information desk as well so that I could go straight to the new departure station and get the stamp there. She looked in her computer and yes, good news: they have an information desk. But she read the instructions she was obviously looking at further and saw then that they will only open at 9am!!

That meant: I had to go first to the main train station, stand in line, wait, get stamp and change seat reservation, go to the next train station and get on the train …..

Which was then finally 5 minutes delayed, arrived at a different plattform then announced and had an unscheduled end at Hannover as (thats at least what they said) the ICE had some technical issues, so I had to get on another ICE before I made it finally to Hamburg!

Luckily the rest of my journey went then well and I could get some rest after that exciting first half of the day! 🙂

And for the future I need to think if travelling by train is that clever! What do you think? Did you make similiar experience? What´s your train story?

Ina T.

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