Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn want to make it more attractive to travel within Germany by train instead of by plane to the two major airports in Frankfurt and Munich. Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister and DB board member Berthold Huber presented corresponding plans on Monday. Hohmeister said that there are still people who believe that Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn are competitors. “There is no either / or, only a together!”
To understand why the announced plans are not as revolutionary as the companies portray them, one has to take a look at the current state:
“Rail & Fly”: Flexible train ticket from all German train stations at a fixed price
Under the name “Rail & Fly”, Lufthansa is marketing the possibility for passengers to buy a flexible train ticket at a fixed price at the same time as booking a flight. However, this is only possible if you continue to fly internationally with Lufthansa. The train ticket costs 30 euros per person for one way, half for children. With the ticket you can use any Deutsche Bahn train on the day of the flight or one day before departure and one day after arrival at Frankfurt or Munich airports. However, if you consider that there are super saver prices for long-distance routes from 17.90 euros if you book early, the “Rail & Fly” ticket is only partially profitable.
“Express Rail”: Train connection, but transfer guarantee
In contrast, with the “Express Rail” tickets you are bound to certain trains. However, Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn also provide a transfer guarantee here. So if a train is delayed or canceled, Lufthansa rebooks the passengers onto another flight free of charge. Conversely, if the flight is delayed when returning to Germany, the train connection is canceled.
The two companies announced innovations for this model today. So far there have been 134 trains daily from 17 German cities to Frankfurt Airport under the label “Express Rail”. The three big metropolises Hamburg, Munich and Berlin have so far been missing. From July 2021, Hamburg and Munich are to be included in the “Express Rail” network; Berlin, Bremen and Münster are to follow from December this year.
Also new to the service: a joint design between Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn. It should make the airport trains easier to identify. Passengers who have booked business or first class can take a seat in 1st class. When the security check at Frankfurt Airport gets full again in summer, “Express Rail” customers should be allowed to use the faster Fast Lane. When returning to Frankfurt, the suitcases of customers who are traveling home by train should be given priority.
One service that some might have hoped for is still not being introduced: a better baggage process. Passengers still have to take care of their luggage independently until they reach the airport terminal; Checking in baggage at the departure station is complex and expensive, according to the railways. In some cases, however, trains with particularly large luggage areas are to be used as airport trains.
In addition to the improved services, Deutsche Bahn intends to cancel intermediate stops on certain ICE Sprinter connections and reduce travel times. The aim is to save ten minutes on the Hamburg-Hanover-Frankfurt Airport route; Travel time between Düsseldorf-Cologne-Frankfurt Airport-Nuremberg-Munich is reduced by half an hour.
Aviation wants to bring a fifth of domestic German passengers onto the rails
Even if Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn speak of a “product offensive”, the plans are not a great success in view of the goal that the Federal Association of the German Aviation Industry (BDL) presented a few weeks ago: around a fifth of the passengers flying within Germany are to be put on the rails become. Before Corona, that was around 23 million passengers a year – so the train would have to become more attractive for a good five million travelers. In April, BDL and Deutsche Bahn want to comment in more detail on how they want to achieve this goal.