Getting a seat on InterCity Express trains

19 posts in this topic

I've been catching the IC for two months now, but I got to say, picking a seat is a pain the bum, You can't always seem to tell if the seat is reserved or not. I know above each seat there's a little digital screen that says some crap but I can't seem to pick any rhyme or reason behind it and have had the occasional embarassment of having to give my seat up to someone who has been booked. I assumed that the little digital screens would show up the citys that the seat is booked for but that doesn't seem to be it.

And what's the go with the food carriage? I'd much rather hang out in there do you have to buy food to hang there? It looks so cool.

Normally back home I would just go and try stuff like this out but I'm paranoid about getting hit up by angry germans for being out of Ordnung.

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If you want to be sure of a seat, you have to reserve it and it costs. Have a look here(sorry in German) Click onto "Preistabelle" for the cost.

 

€4.50 if you by it at the counter (from a human being!!!)

€2.50 if you reserve it online (at the same time you buy your ticket)

 

Then various other rates.

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Pity that the seats can't be marked as reserved with towels – that would be so much easier.

 

:lol:

 

Sometimes the reservation system is messed up and the screens don't work but usually they do and they will show the stretches of the route that a seat is reserved for. Do keep in mind that it will not show any reservations done last minute at the counter. Other than that RainyDays' advice is great.

 

I personally find that it is usually not necessary to make a reservation unless you travel at a time when commuters usually travel or the two days before Christmas. At least that has been my experience, mostly on the ICs/ECs between Heidelberg and Munich.

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So just a question guys, related to this thread.

Does the Deutsche Bahn stop selling train tickets for a particular journey if they know that the maximum number of people that can be accommodated on seats through that journey has been reached?

If so, then you can be almost certain that you will find some place to sit.

Otherwise, you might have to stand? Really? Never seen that happening on an ICE yet.

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Otherwise, you might have to stand? Really? Never seen that happening on an ICE yet.

 

Lucky you.

 

I stood in ICE trains many many many times unfortunately as I could / did not get any seat reservations.

 

But I would not complain. It would be much worse if I could not get onto the train without a seat reservation.

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Does the Deutsche Bahn stop selling train tickets for a particular journey if they know that the maximum number of people that can be accommodated on seats through that journey has been reached?

 

No. Unlike on TGVs for example, there is no obligation to reserve a seat. People with a Bahncard 100 or with a full-price flexible ticket can travel on any train they like, and passengers who buy their ticket in advance on a fixed train are not obliged to pay extra for a reservation. However, the length and frequency of trains obviously matches demand and so it is rare that there are not enough seats for all passengers.

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I agree it can be very confusing even if the paper card / digital display shows a seat as reserved. For a good 60% of my journeys, the person with the reservation never shows up at all - especially those with reservations koeln-duesselorf or vice versa. Between those stops, people pour on, and pour off again.

 

I guess that is because most of these types of reservations are probably commuter/business visitor, block-booked by large corporations months in advance. Those types of short distance reservations I've wised up to, so generally take with a pinch of salt and just sit down there. Of course, I immediately jump up and offer the seat if the person eventually turns up. After all, they've paid for the reservation, its only fair.

 

Tip: Don't be too quick to walk past a seat or dismiss it just because it is reserved. They are often displayed as reserved from Point A to Point B. If you know your train routes well, and depending on where you are travelling to, you may still sit there to journey between the station stops which occur before or after the reservation. There's usually a paper timetable near the seat pocket which shows the full train stop sequence. An abbreviated train stop sequence is also listed on the digital displays near the train doors.

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I think that maybe the screen switches off once the seat is presumably claimed. Eg. if someone has a seat between Heidelberg and Frankfurt, not long after train leaves Heidelberg the screen will switch off.

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I doubt that. They do not know it's the person with the reservation! I always assume the system is either not working or nobody bothered to set it up - it's usually just not working in my experience.

 

The importance of a reservation totally depends on demand, obviously. One thing is that a lot of express trains do incredibly long routes (often 10-12 hours) and so, yes, there is often high overall demand but it is "staggered" along the route. The last train I was on had a tortuous 18 hour schedule (Slovenia, Austria, then a tortuous slow route almost via Switzerland, to north Germany). I just did three hours of it. Nobody, but nobody, would do the whole 18 hour haul! And, coming back from Brussels, I know it gets quieter after Köln, and the bit from Aachen is usually busiest, say (so no need for a reservation because I catch it at the start).

 

I just never need one for my weirdy, off-peak schedules! For short peak ones (Darmstadt Frankfurt at 0800 etc, 16 mins, I'd not bother), But, I wanted a long peak inter-city journey, then I'd definitely get one.

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No, it's not like there's a sensor in the seat or anything. It just switches off after the seat should be either claimed by the person who booked it, or free for someone else to take according to the 15 minute rule that someone mentioned above.

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Reserved but non-taken seats need not always be corporates. Sometimes I reserve in advance to be on the safe side, but find out on the day that the train isn't full and decide I can't be arsed to walk the entire length of the platform to find the coach where my reservation is, yonder on the horizon (as always seems to be the case at Munich).

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Just my 2cents: If your don't get a seat reservation on a long distance train. Take your hard-top case and at least a pillow.

Better a hard-top case seat than having to stand for 3 hours.

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If the train is genuinly full (i.e. absolutely no seats and people standing) try asking the conductor if you can sit in first class. I have never been refused.

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I think that maybe the screen switches off once the seat is presumably claimed. Eg. if someone has a seat between Heidelberg and Frankfurt, not long after train leaves Heidelberg the screen will switch off.

 

 

 

I doubt that. They do not know it's the person with the reservation! I always assume the system is either not working or nobody bothered to set it up - it's usually just not working in my experience.

 

They do switch the screens off not long after the reservation is past due. Presumably it is the 15 minutes or so that you have to find your seat (which is why if you have a reservation, especially on a busy route, it is important to be standing at the right part of the platform to be near your carriage - it could easily take more than 15 minutes otherwise to get from one end to the other of a long, packed train). It's a pain in the neck (although now that I think about it there is absolutely no logical reason for me to find it annoying - but I do) and I don't really understand why they do it. I used to think it was just a system error as well but I've taken to checking every time I've reserved a seat and once I'm in my seat the sign never stays lit up as a reserved seat for long. And since I don't think the conductor is taking note of who is sitting where, I presume it's an automatic thing.

 

Berlin to Düsseldorf (think it goes on to Cologne as well) on a Sunday afternoon/evening is one of those trains you really want to get a reservation for. I used to have to switch onto it in Hannover coming back from Hamburg and if you didn't have a reservation well in advance you were probably going to be standing. Last year during the bad weather I was left standing on the platform because the train was already full when it arrived (they had removed some of the carriages for some reason) and nobody was let on. Just had to wait an hour or so for the next one.

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The online timetable tells you on which trains a reservation is recommended - the grey "R" sign means that at least one of the trains on your route is expected to be busy.

 

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"Bahn Comfort – gegebenenfalls freigeben" or "Expressreservierung – gegebenenfalls freigeben"

 

Just a tip for if you see the above sign in the train. Feel free to sit there as no one controls if you are really a Bahn Comfort passenger. If the train is full the conductor might ask you to move if a real Bahn Comfort passenger arrives and complains that there are no seats available but that hardly happens. Only once did I experience a passenger going through and asking everyone if they were Bahn Comfort and everyone said yes and he was really pissed off. I found it funny and I was a Bahn Comfort passenger.

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Also don't be afraid to ask everybody who has taken up a seat for their bag and coat if it's free. Usually people will admit that it is and move their shit.

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