I need to get to Billund in Denmark for work in December, and as I’m trying to be green this year I’m going to take the train. I’m in Brussels the day before, so will leave from there, and I need to get to Vejle, the town closest to Billund that has a mainline railway. I have a whole day, a Thursday, in which to make my journey.
So then, how do I do it?
First of all the route. This is easy enough – east through Belgium, into Germany to Köln. From there to Hamburg. And from there north into Denmark to Velje.
Secondly the train connections. Bruxelles-Köln there are ICEs and Thalys. ICEs are compatible with cheaper Europa-Spezial tickets through to other German destinations, while Thalys tickets are not. In Germany it’s an IC (InterCity) to Hamburg, and a RE (RegionalExpress) to Padborg, the first station in Denmark. Then a Danish RE and finally a Danish IC to Velje.
Thirdly the tickets – and this is the complex and idiotic bit. What exactly should I book? If I search DB for Bruxelles Midi to Velje it cannot give me a price, and tries to put me on a Thalys. So I need to book two halves. But which two halves?
Bruxelles-Köln – €21.75 + Köln-Vejle – €100.35 = €122.10
Bruxelles-Hamburg – €51.75 + Hamburg-Vejle – €50.30 = €102.05
Bruxelles-Flensburg – €66.75 + Flensburg-Vejle – €30.00 = €96.75
As if that were not enough, I had to set the ‘Umsteigezeit’ (change trains time) to 30 minutes to even get it to give me those connections! Also note all these prices are with a BahnCard 25.
OK, I don’t know how many people have ever made a journey from Bruxelles to Vejle by train, and I would bet no reader of this blog ever has. But there are some serious points here. To get the best price on this journey I need to take trains only operated by DB. Put Thalys in the mix and the price shoots up. I also need to be really creative with the way I book the DB tickets, as the various options vary by €25, and working that out takes ages. If I were flying I would have had the Billund ticket booked in less time than it took to write this blog entry…