Germany and Austria to increase cross-border train services

Cross-border train travel between Germany and Austria is up around 40 percent compared to five years ago, motivating the state railways of both countries to work together to increase travel offerings between the two countries.

An ICE long-distance train leaves Munich Hauptbahnhof.
An ICE long-distance train leaves Munich Hauptbahnhof. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

Germany’s Deutsche Bahn and Austria’s ÖBB said this year they expect around seven million passengers to travel between the two German-speaking countries.

To meet the rising demand, the firms said they are expanding their cross-border long-distance services.

A new timetable will come into force with some of these options from December.

The current Munich to Salzburg route will start running hourly between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, while trains between Innsbruck and Munich will run every two hours from 6:40 am to 9:40 pm.

READ ALSO: Could Germany’s newest and fastest ICE trains put an end to delays?

An additional ICE connection will run between Berlin and Vienna via Nuremberg, while the Hamburg to Vienna route will get another daily connection.

The current ICE connection between Frankfurt and Innsbruck via Stuttgart currently only runs on weekends. The two rail companies plan to make this trip daily from December.

Several routes will also get newer and more comfortable trains, with modern ICE 4 trains to run the route connecting Frankfurt, Munich, Salzburg, and Klagenfurt from December.

The two companies are also looking to increase night train options, with new connections from Berlin and Vienna to Paris and Brussels to initially run three times per week, increasing to daily trips by the end of 2024.

Both companies say they want to increase night traffic, with ÖBB having ordered 33 new Nightjet trains with top speeds of 230 km per hour to double its number of night passengers by 2030. By late 2024, DB believes the new connections will double the number of possible night trips that can be made from Berlin.

The companies plan to announce further connections to Italy in 2024.

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Why are German train stations among the ‘worst in Europe’?

Five German train stations have been listed as the "worst" in Europe in a new report, but what's the reason?

Why are German train stations among the 'worst in Europe'?

The report, ‘The European Railway Station Index 2023‘ by advocacy group the Consumer Choice Center looked at a combination of facility quality, ease of use and traffic management (including delays) when assigning a score.

This year, it has a German entrant in every position of their five ‘worst stations’. 

Bremen’s central train station takes the bottom slot, with thirty nine points. Despite the station’s gorgeous Neo-Gothic appearance, a lack of facilities and ease of use for passengers led to its low score, in comparison with other cities. 

Munich’s beleaguered München-Pasing S-Bahn station, which has been the subject of much criticism for its relatively slow pace of modernization since the 1970s, took the second-worst slot. It scored 52 points. 

The other three stations on the top five ‘worst’ list were all metropolitan stations located in Berlin: Zoologischer Garten, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen and Ostkreuz. Each scored 54 points.

Fortunately, Berlin’s central station also featured in the top five, taking the third slot at 94 points – the only German inclusion in the five ‘best’ stations. The only two stations to score higher were Vienna (94 points) and in top position, Zurich (104 points). 

Stuttgart’s train station, that has spent the last decade as a building site due to the controversial Stuttgart 21 project, placed in position 37 out of 50 – surprisingly high, considering the criticism that long temporary passenger walkways have generated. 

Interestingly, the report places the blame on commuter subsidies for the dismal placing of German train stations.

“The main culprit is Germany’s railway subsidy program. Authorities meant to encourage trains instead of cars with a nine-euro ticket for all regional transport in 2022. What the subsidy has managed to do thus far, however, is increase the rate of rural train journeys dramatically past the capacity of smaller train stations”, the report states. 

“The damage to smaller stations and local commuters has already been done. Far from a positive example, the subsidy has led to more congestion, longer waiting times, and mounting frustration from German consumers.” 

Earlier this year The Local reported on the results of an Alternative für Deutschland information request in the Bundestag, on how dangerous Germany’s train stations are. None of the stations included in the Consumer Choice Report featured among those named. Hamburg was found to be the most dangerous in the country, followed by Hanover and Nuremberg. 

Do you agree with the report? What are your ‘worst’ train stations in Germany? Share your views in the comments section below.