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Old 17.04.2015, 16:29
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Berlin by train vs. plane

Have you taken a train from Zuerich to Berlin? How was it, and would you do it again?

I'm contemplating getting a Deutsche Bahnkarte 50 which would get me fares to Berlin at about 80 Euros each way. The trip is about 8 hours long. In comparison, airfare is about 150 each way with about 4 hour travel time, with check in and all. I intend to more trips there this year. Would an 8 hour train ride run me ragged?

I assume I can get a Bahnkarte 50 card without being a German resident.
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Old 17.04.2015, 16:39
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

I'd avoid Deutsche Bahn for long travel if I were you, especially if it requires changing trains (one or more).
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Old 17.04.2015, 16:39
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

Well, if you book as long in advance as it is possible(91 Days ahead), you can sometimes make a bargain (29 Euros in first class from basel or 39 Euros from Zurich), all you need is bahncard 25 first.
That one will cost around 125 euros.Because the duration of the trip will be around 7 hours from basel, i would go for first class (Wifi incl, more space, less travellers).
You can buy a bahncard, even when you are a swiss resident(you can print out your temporary bahncard, they will mail the plastic card.

Travel by air from zurich to berlin is a hassle(the tegel airport in berlin sucks, because it can't handle so much passengers, because it wasn't built for that)
Avoid the weekends, because you pay a lot of money starting at friday and returning on sunday, better start Monday Midday and return Thursday/Wednesday Midday.
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Old 17.04.2015, 16:52
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

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I'd avoid Deutsche Bahn for long travel if I were you, especially if it requires changing trains (one or more).
It seems it is 1 transit stop in Hannover to Berlin. I haven't actually done it, so I'm not sure if I would hate it.


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Well, if you book as long in advance as it is possible(91 Days ahead), you can sometimes make a bargain (29 Euros in first class from basel or 39 Euros from Zurich), all you need is bahncard 25 first.
The idea with the Bahncard was to afford some spontaneity. With those prices, I would go 1st class. I like long road trips, when I am driving. I don't recall ever taking such a long train ride recently. I don't know if I would end up hating it.
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Old 17.04.2015, 17:03
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

Never done this particular journey. But IMO Long train journeys are a lot nicer than long plane journeys. You can get up and move around, go to the restaurant, enjoy the view. The Deutschbahn ICE trains have quite comfy seats in 2nd class (comfier than Swiss trains). Most of them have wifi, though you must pay a small fee. Plug sockets and a small tables are also available so you can work or watch a film on your laptop. If going 2nd class make sure that you make a seat reservation esp during peak times.

The main thing is to bring something to entertain yourself. ie Book or computer or both. Like I said seats are comfy and recline so you can sleep too.

Depending on whether you live close to train station and if your destination is in Berlin center you will have an easier, if longer, journey since you long cab or bus journeys to/from airport.
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Old 17.04.2015, 17:08
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

Travelling with airberlin to TXL was not so bad at all. All I care on such a short flight (80 min) is my luggage being delivered promptly which it was. Customs and Tax Refund offices easy to find, hardly any people there, but maybe it was just our luck.
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Old 17.04.2015, 17:11
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

[QUOTE=Phos;2376251]It seems it is 1 transit stop in Hannover to Berlin. I haven't actually done it, so I'm not sure if I would hate it.

I'm not sure what about the others, but I can count my good experience with the ICE for the long trips. German punctuality seems to be a myth nowadays (I heard it's partly because of their efficient railway system though!). I even then feel nervous every time I have to make a long trip with the ICE, especially those that require changing trains (fearing that I'm not going to catch the next train, or the next connection would take some time, etc..etc..). I'd always inform before hand that I might arrive late.
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Old 17.04.2015, 17:16
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

I would recommend the night train. Get on in Zürich, sleep, get off in Berlin. Much less hassle than any airline. Plus with an early arrival you have all the day ahead of you to do stuff.

As for the Bahncard thing, if you have a Swiss GA or Halbtax, that is as good as a bahncard 25 for cross-border travel.

Bahncard 50 gives you additional savings, but only on the full price. If you're booking some special offer, those normally don't give you any extra reduction.

Anybody can buy a Bahncard but do your math carefully before committing.

And one more thing. In contrast to Halbtax, which you need to actively request, once you have a bahncard they send you another as soon as it expires (and bill you) so you need to remember to actively cancel your subscription. So I wouldn't go down that road unless it absolutely makes sense.
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Old 17.04.2015, 17:19
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

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I would recommend the night train. Get on in Zürich, sleep, get off in Berlin. Much less hassle than any airline. Plus with an early arrival you have all the day ahead of you to do stuff.
I once tried that from Florence. The guy in the bunk above me smelled of the worse b.o. humanly imaginable. The conductors just laughed at me when I tried to move. I spent a sleepless 16 hours on it. I don't think I would ever do that again.
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Old 17.04.2015, 17:22
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

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I once tried that from Florence. The guy in the bunk above me smelled of the worse b.o. humanly imaginable. The conductors just laughed at me when I tried to move. I spent a sleepless 16 hours on it. I don't think I would ever do that again.
They have single compartments too. Sometimes you can get very good deals at competitive prices.

The bunks are not sleepers, they are couchettes. a sleeper is something with a softer bed and proper sheets, blankets etc and a door you can lock. A couchette is a youth hostel on wheels filled with drunk teenagers (although that has its "charms" too, I must admit). The train has both so make sure you book the right thing.
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Old 17.04.2015, 17:23
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

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I once tried that from Florence. The guy in the bunk above me smelled of the worse b.o. humanly imaginable. The conductors just laughed at me when I tried to move. I spent a sleepless 16 hours on it. I don't think I would ever do that again.
Overnight travel by train is great if you get your own compartment (with your wife or family).

I absolutely love it but I've always enjoyed the travelling part of any trip.
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Old 17.04.2015, 17:27
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

One way sleeper in a single cabin is 156,00 EUR in about a month, not too bad if it's saving an overnight accommodation but no idea what the DB sleepers are like?

(Price found on http://bahn.rail.cc/ - for a Saturday 1942-Sunday 0719 trip, unfortunately can't link direct to the search)

I used to do the Edinburgh-London sleeper journey regularly and it was great to be woken up in London at 7am and be handed a bacon roll and a coffee - until the time I woke up at 8am without a bacon roll and found we were still in Preston
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Old 17.04.2015, 17:32
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

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One way sleeper in a single cabin is 156,00 EUR in about a month, not too bad if it's saving an overnight accommodation but no idea what the DB sleepers are like?

(Price found on http://bahn.rail.cc/ - for a Saturday 1942-Sunday 0719 trip, unfortunately can't link direct to the search)

I used to do the Edinburgh-London sleeper journey regularly and it was great to be woken up in London at 7am and be handed a bacon roll and a coffee - until the time I woke up at 8am without a bacon roll and found we were still in Preston
I love the British sleeper trains.

The German ones are a bit more modern than that and slightly more spacious.

I think, similarly to the British one, that breakfast is included but it's not all that exciting, German-style coffee, German-style croissant and I think some butter and jam served on a cardboard tray.

They've discontinued the dining cars (sadly) but there is a mini bistro where you can sometimes socialize with fellow travelers in the evening if so inclined.
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Old 17.04.2015, 17:37
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Re: Berlin by train vs. plane

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I'm not sure what about the others, but I can count my good experience with the ICE for the long trips. German punctuality seems to be a myth nowadays (I heard it's partly because of their efficient railway system though!). I even then feel nervous every time I have to make a long trip with the ICE, especially those that require changing trains (fearing that I'm not going to catch the next train, or the next connection would take some time, etc..etc..). I'd always inform before hand that I might arrive late.
Timed connections usually wait, and if they don't the train conductor should inform you of the next available connection. I'm very relaxed about German trains. Even when things go wrong they tend to not to go catastrophically wrong.

I don't know if its a cool design in the software or that I've just been lucky, but I've often noticed that when changing trains to another train on the same platform or across the platform that the car with my reserved seat stops in exactly or close to the place where I got off. So I hardly ever need to drag bags the full length of the platform.
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