Many years ago,  when Germany first had its ICE (Intercity Express) High Speed Trains, I was riding one to Frankfurt. As the train conductor walked through the carriage I was in, three German Businessmen yelled angrily at him “Drei Minuten”. Yes, our train was three minutes late. That image of the punctual German Railway has stayed with me so it was with a sense of disappointment that I discovered on arriving at Berlin’s brand new multi level Bahnhof (Central Station ), that my Hamburg bound train was 20 minutes late.

When the train finally rolled in over 25 minutes late, instead of a gleaming ICE, we had a group of old carriages. We left 45 minutes late on an old train with smelly lavatories. My seat reservation had vanished as the train carriages bore no resemblance to the original numbering. My German friends shrugged their shoulders and said “thats German trains today“. My experience is that Germans tend to rely extensively on trains but are highly critical of any defects as a result

My Hamburg host explained that on time performance on the Hamburg to Berlin line had dropped  to 96%  on time and that Hamburg station has the worst punctuality of any German rail line.  I would love it if we could get the Australian, New Zealand and US  train companies to imitate this travesty!

The Verdict

My rating: 52% (2.6 out of 5).

Positives: Booking System, we got there, good announcements at Berlin Station

Negatives: Run down train, poor lavatories, late departure, late arrival, lack of apology, no reservation honoured, scrambled boarding, lack of staff to help at Berlin to explain delay

Would I ride them again? Yes but I want a real ICE

 

Last trip Report: Virgin Atlantic to London in Premium


 

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