New 'ICE Sprinter' services will serve Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf and Munich
The German national rail operator DB is planning to introduce multiple new and improved routes when the new timetable commences on December 12th, services which seem as though they are intended to enhance the travel trends of enabling easier domestic holidays by train and encouraging the switch from plane to train.
DB evidently believes its fastest ‘Sprinter’ services of ICE trains have the potential to tempt travelers away from flying, hence the introduction of three new ‘Sprinter’ routes.
What stands out among these innovations is that on the Berlin ↔ Koln/Cologne route, the ‘Sprinter’ services are non-stop in both directions between Berlin and Koln in around 3hr 55min.
Despite that they’re less than 25 mins faster than the still existing, but now more conventional, hourly ICE services between these two cities, but the perception will no doubt be that journey is much quicker.
Which specific types of ICE train will be used for these ‘Sprinter’ services can’t yet be gleaned on the DB booking services, but whatever train is used it seems as though an on-board restaurant will be available; and the ICE 2 trains on the regular ICE departures don’t have them.
Heading west these Sprinter services will depart Berlin hbf daily at 05:33, 11:41 and 17:41.
In the other direction they will depart daily from Koln hbf at 06:17, 12: and 18:17.
It’s worth keeping these departures in mind if you will be travelling with Eurail or InterRail, as users of those passes can just hop on to these trains.
In addition to Berlin Hbf and Berlin Spandau, which are served by all of these ‘Sprinter’ services, the other trains call at various stations in the German capital.
Though what’s particularly noteworthy is that first service of the day from Berlin and the final service of the day from Koln, are the first ICE services in more than 10 years to call at Berlin Zoologischer Garten station, the main station in West Berlin.
Although what is a tad disappointing is that these new ‘Sprinter’ services don’t enhance any international rail travel opportunities.
Frustratingly the 11:41 service from Berlin will arrive in Koln hbf only two minutes after an ICE will have left for Brussels; and in the other direction, an ICE from Bruxelles will get into Koln, only 2 mins before the 12:17 ‘Sprinter’ will leave for Berlin.
The new services on the Dusseldorf - Koln/Cologne ↔ Nurnberg - Munchen/Munich via Frankfurt Flughafen will deliver the fastest ever services between the cities towards each end of the new route.
With journeys that are around 40 mins faster than the long-established services on the (Essen) – Dusseldorf – Koln – Seigburg/Bonn – Frankfurt Flughfaen – Frankfurt (Main) – Aschaffenburg – Wurzburg – Nurnberg – Munchen route 41, the ‘Sprinter’ journey times will be:
Dusseldorf ↔ Munchen = 4hr 12min
Dusseldorf ↔ Nurnberg = 3hr 7 min
Koln ↔ Munchen = 3hr 53min
Koln ↔ Nurnberg = 2hr 48min
In common with trains on that ICE route 41, these new ‘Sprinter’ services will call at Koln Messe/Deutz and not Koln hbf, but what will contribute to their fast journey times is that they skip the need to reverse in and out Frankfurt (Main) hbf.
Heading south they will depart Dusseldorf hbf at 06:08* and 16:08; and will call in Koln Messe/Deutz at 06:27* and16:27.
Heading north the departure times from Munchen hbf will be 05:34* and 17:35; and from Nurnberg Hbf at 06:39* and 18:39.
*= Mondays to Fridays
These timings are due to these services being primarily aimed at business travelers, but anyone can use them, InterRail and Eurail pass users can board them without the need to pay any additional fees.
Hamburg is to join the ‘ICE Sprinter’ network as a departure on Mon-Fri at 06:07 will race to Frankfurt (Main) hbf in only 3hr 21min, thanks to only one intermediate station call at Hannover (depart 07:19).
The train will go on terminate at Frankfurt Flughafen/Airport, where it will be due to arrive at 09:51.
Though there won’t be a ‘Sprinter’ service back in the other direction to Hamburg.
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