Dresdner Zug Frage
September 8, 2011 8:58 PM   Subscribe

What should I expect for a 4+ hour "RE" train ride in Germany? Nürnberg to Dresden.

I'm heading to Germany for several weeks at the end of this month. In my itinerary is a leg from Rothenburg o.d. Tauber to Dresden, and the only way to train this route is with what seems like a ridiculously long leg on a "Regional Express" from Nürnberg to Dresden. No IC or ICE options exist, according to the DB website.

I've been on "Regio" trains for short trips (Krefeld to Duisburg, for example) and they were fine but on the comfort level of an S-Bahn, maybe a little better, but that was for a trip of maybe 30 minutes. We're talking 4 hours and 15 minutes here. No reserved seats and I'll have a fairly big suitcase with me.

Has anybody had experience on this train specifically or on RE trains generally? Will there be a place to put my luggage or am I going to have to hold onto it like a cello case the whole 4+ hours? Do RE trains have toilets (please God say yes)? How about dining cars? As my itinerary now stands I have a 23 minute change in Nürnberg so I certainly pick up some food there but still wonder if there's food on board.
posted by ethnomethodologist to Travel & Transportation around Germany (8 answers total)
In 2008 I rode several RE trains between Berlin, Dresden, and Wolfsburg. All of them had storage for a carry-on bag, either overhead or under the seat. I was packing light (weekend trips) so I didn't have much with me, but I seem to recall cargo compartments under the train or at the front/rear for those with large suitcases. Can't definitively say all RE trains have restrooms, but I do remember using a toilet once or twice on those trips.

RE is a great, cheap way to get around Germany (albeit not the quickest). Also of note: If you've got some time, you can pick up a weekend pass (leave Fri/Sat, return Sun) that up to five people can use. I think it was around 35€ back then. Grab some friends and pick a spot on the map.
posted by bhayes82 at 9:26 PM on September 8, 2011

There are restrooms but no dining cars. Depending on the time of day, you'll probably find a good place for your luggage, there's usually a high turnover of passengers in REs at every station since people take other types of trains for longer distances. You'll be fine, just don't forget to bring some food and a good book.
posted by snownoid at 9:32 PM on September 8, 2011

(unsolicited bonus advice: Bamberg is just as nice as Rothenburg and less touristy)
posted by snownoid at 9:38 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Finally I can put my obsessive Deutsche Bahn knowledge to use! The actual train you'll get can be a tossup, as there are a few different types of rolling stock DB uses on their regional passenger routes. None have dining cars, all have toilets, and they vary wildly in comfort:

* Ancient single-level carriages with steep staircases to board and no air conditioning. Whether or not the toilets work depends on how lucky you are, in my experience. You'll have plenty of time to lug your luggage up these, but the staircases are typically divided in two and it's a terrible hassle. These are more commonly used on RB routes, but sometimes the mysterious employees of DB put them into service on RE routes. Cross your fingers and press your thumbs that you don't get one. If you do get one, head all the way to the back of the train and stick your suitcase next to the last door, where the stairs are. It's rare for people to wait so far down the platform at that end so it won't cause problems.

* Somewhat more modern carriages that are boarded approximately at platform level and have a second level on top of the train. Sometimes the AC works on these, sometimes not. Toilets usually work, but they're not very pleasant to use if the train hasn't been cleaned recently or -far worse- if you wound up with a train that a bunch of football fans are on. These trains usually have a guy pushing a cart with overpriced coffee, beer, and snacks along the way.

* New single-level carriages that are boarded at platform height, have excellent air conditioning, and excellent toilets. Make sure to check that the WC door locks, sometimes that bit fails and you might wind up accidentally giving other passengers a show. These are usually used on their shorter branded routes, like the "Franken-Express" which goes from Gräfenberg to Nürnberg, but you might get lucky. 4 hours in this type of carriage would actually be more comfortable than 4 hours in 2nd class on an ICE.

If you get one of the latter two types and your luggage is too large for the overhead rack, look for the bicycle carriage and sit there until cyclists need the space (depending on the time of day and popularity of the route, that might not be necessary). I haven't seen many RE trains with the sorts of luggage areas one finds on ICE trains except on runs much further south which often have areas for skis. So people will understand if you wind up having to keep your suitcase in the aisle.

It looks like you have a 7 minute stop in Kirchenlaibach, which IIRC has a place you can buy food and drinks in a pinch, but you can certainly stock up in Nürnberg. The self-service bakery on the middle level (from the main hall, take the stairs down halfway, where the Haribo store is) is the best in the station IMO, although the bakery next to the international newsagent has better pretzels. Your train departs from platform 20, which is quite far from the main hall, so give yourself enough time to make it over there.

Anyway, you'll be fine. I've ridden the Nürnberg-München RE (about 3 hours long) many times and it's never been a terribly uncomfortable experience.
posted by cmonkey at 12:50 AM on September 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

Oh, and I should also mention that it's quite common in Germany to dump your luggage in the bicycle carriage and sit somewhere else. The chances of it being stolen are very, very low, at least while you're traveling through Bavaria.
posted by cmonkey at 12:56 AM on September 9, 2011

I just remembered that there's a better place for you to grab food whilst in transit - after getting off the train in Nürnberg, head towards the "Südausgang", and (assuming it's still there, it's been a while since I used that exit) there'll be a bakery/cafe right before the exit. It's a lot closer to platform 20 than going into the main hall.
posted by cmonkey at 3:35 AM on September 9, 2011

This simulation of a part of the trip suggests you'll be using a BR610 train (wikipedia). Fwiw.
posted by Namlit at 5:03 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

cmonkey certainly has a near obsessive understanding of DB trains - nearly frightens me :-) We just came back from our European trip which included a few DB rides IC, ICE and the Regional trains. We rode on both 1st and 2nd class. All of our DB experiences were mostly pleasant and we found DB to be the best overall public transport experience during our stay. The regional train experience can be a bit of an unpredictable one. We were told there was no need to go first class on a regional train but it was only 10 euro (for all 4 of us so really 2.50 each) more so we booked it anyway - thank goodness we did or we would not have a place to put or bags or sit for the 3 hour train journey. The Regional trains are slow but pleasant enough. Someone does come through and offer you snacks and drinks but we always just went to a supermarket before boarding and made our own snacks. The trains are clean and all the stations are well sign posted. There is no comparison to the ICE trains though and I think you know that already based on your question. Germany was full of surprises for us. One of the nice things about the regional trains was how scenic the route was.

The toilet on our regional train was shocking - owing largely to a stag and doe party that was taking place - lots of singing, cheering, drinking and peeing all over the toilet - pretty sure none landed in the toilet - still it was an experience and we had a great vacation. Good luck
posted by YukonQuirm at 1:27 PM on September 9, 2011

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