On Tuesday 28th November – more than 2 months from now – I want to make a train trip from Geneva to Berlin. The connection is easy enough – two InterCity trains in Switzerland, via Biel/Bienne, to Basel SBB, and then the NightJet night train from there to Berlin. This is the route:
Then the question comes – how can I actually book that? And – importantly – book it for a reasonable price?
So then I need to resort to the national operators’ websites, in this case SBB (Swiss railways – where my trip starts), DB (German railways – where my trip ends), and ÖBB (Austrian railways – who operate the NightJet EN 470, even though the train does not run in Austria).
Each of these operators offers standard price, flexible tickets (Normalpreis), and also fixed price, have to use on that train (Sparpreis) tickets. Prices for all of those are compared here. I want a bed in a sleeping car (Schlafwagen) in a 3-person compartment. I also have a DB BahnCard 25 First Class reduction card, and no SBB or ÖBB reduction card. Where prices are in CHF they are converted at today’s rate – 1 CHF = 0.87767 EUR.
So what prices do I get for my Geneva – Berlin connection with each operator?
What if instead I split my tickets at Basel SBB – i.e. I book Geneve-Basel and Basel-Berlin separately?
|Not offered||Not offered||Not offered|
The best possible price – combining SBB for Geneve-Basel, and DB for Basel-Berlin, is €156.88, a saving of just €6.37 over the cheapest through ticket.
So what else can be done? Here I then turn to the trick I document in this post – booking Basel SBB to Freiburg (Breisgau), in order to get a DB Sparpreis (Schweiz). Here I put in my desired departure time in Geneve, with Freiburg as my destination, and with a Zwischenhaltestelle in Basel SBB lasting two hours. It gives me this connection, although I will not take the Basel-Freiburg part:
The cost – just €24.65 Sparpreis. That, together with the cheapest Deutsche Bahn Sparpreis for the Basel-Berlin part gives me a total price of €113.95, a saving of €42.93 over the split ticket option, and a saving of €49.30 over the best price booked all in one go.
The problems? First, it took me more than 15 searches across 5 different websites to find this. Second, were my train to Basel delayed of cancelled, meaning I missed the NightJet to Berlin, I’d have no passenger rights (same as with any ticket split).
Welcome to the joyous world of cross border rail. But now, having read this, if you are departing from a Swiss station, connecting onto a NightJet, you know how to do it!