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…

Photo: Johannesen “Green Washing – DSB” September 30, 2009 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

4 Comments

  1. @Kathleen – almost certainly the cheapest would be to book with Deutsche Bahn, in two parts. Either London – Hamburg, and Hamburg – Herning (I assume you mean Herning?), or London – Flensburg, and Flensburg – Herning. Journey is doable, just, in a day, with changes in Brussels, Köln, Hamburg, Flensburg and Fredericia…

  2. Kathleen Christie

    We want to get from London to herring in Denmark by train and don’t know if it is going to cost alot and how to plan it

  3. Boerge Rahbech Jensen

    I have made journeys between Randers, Denmark and Manchester, GB by train several times. The latest one was from Manchester with a stop-over in Cologne on 21st and 22nd of May 2014.

    Thalys has some cheap tickets, too, by the way. Their cheapest fare is €19 on Comfort 2.

    The Cologne – Vejle or Hamburg – Vejle section might be even worse. If you are supposed to change trains in Middelfart, you can only buy Europa-Spezial to Middelfart. If so, it might be a bit cheaper buying a DB Sparpreis to Flensburg and then an ordinary or Orange ticket from DSB’ webshop at dsb.dk. You might use your passport as ID.
    Unfortunately, I can’t give you a proper price for my latest trip as I travelled First Class.
    Bruxelles – Cologne with Thalys costed €79 for a flexible ticket. Cologne – Randers costed the equivalent of €110,25 and was bought from a callcenter of Danish DSB.
    It looks like flexible tickets is the only option with Thalys for the trains with connection from Eurostar.

  4. Evil European

    Ive made that journey! A return from Viborg to Brussels, via Aarhus, Padborg, Hamburg-Antolia, Colonge then on to Brussels. Took around 11 hours there, ten back…caught a direct train from Hamburg to Aarhus (Praha-Aarhus). This was back in 2004, I was actually in Hamburg when I booke dhte ticket, took around half an hour for the very helpful DB agent to sort out all the details. Dont know if things have improved but always found the DB website the most useful for booking long trips.

    Always enjoyed train travel…..longest jounery was a return from London to Athens (3 days).

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