My Experience With German Rail So Far

Before I came to Germany, I had heard so much about German efficiency. It was almost like a phrase that could just roll off your tongue. People had given me high expectations of their public transport system. However, I can’t help but feel so disillusioned with what is supposedly one of the best train networks in the world. I’ve only been here for 4 days, and here are some disastrous stories already:


Nuremberg Hbf to Rothenburg ob der Tauber

I thought Rothenburg would be the perfect place for a day trip from Nuremberg, because it was just over an hour away. The connection goes like this: Nuremberg-Ansbach, Ansbach-Steinach, Steinach-Rothenburg. I was supposed to have 4 minutes of connection time between them. If Deutsche Bahn has given me this itinerary, I I would trust that this connection would be perfect.

However, somehow, my Nuremberg-Ansbach train stopped in the middle of nowhere for about 5 mins. It was supposed to get to Ansbach at 9.06, for a 9.10 train (Ansbach-Steinach) on the opposite side of the platform. We ended up getting there at 9.19, and I had to wait until 10.10 for the Ansbach-Steinach train.


I was so worried that I was going to miss my connection at Steinach, because that 10.10 train had come about 5 mins later than scheduled. Luckily at Steinach, the Steinach-Rothenburg train waited for us. This was probably because half the people on the train wanted to get on this train.

What surprised me though, was that on the way back, even though my Steinach-Ansbach train was delayed for about 7 minutes, my Ansbach-Nuremberg train had waited for us. Why didn’t trains wait for people all the time? Who decides on these things?



Nuremberg Gostenhof to Heidelberg Hbf

I was staying at Gostenhof, which was about 2.5km away from Nuremberg Hbf. I had to get an U-Bahn (underground train that is within the city network, the one that locals catch) to get to Nuremberg Hbf, but this was delayed by about 3 mins. My train trip was supposed to go like this: Nuremberg Gostenhof-Nuremberg Hbf, Nuremberg Hbf-Stuttgart, Stuttgart-Heidelberg Hbf. I was supposed to get to Heidelberg at 10.44. By the time I found my way out of the U-bahn and stepped onto the platform, my connection was leaving very slowly away from the platform. It had just left, but I wasn’t even late! It was 7.39 exactly!

After a lot of cursing, checking and rechecking the timetable, I went to the information desk, who had told me to get the 8am train to Frankfurt, and then Frankfurt-Heidelberg. Great, I CAME to Nuremberg from Frankfurt, so this meant that I had to re-trace my routes.

Despite the train being 3 mins delayed, we had made up the time and got to Frankfurt Hbf at 10.04, as planned. However, I soon found out that my Frankfurt-Heidelberg train (supposed to be at 10.20) had been delayed for 20 mins. It ended up coming at about 10.55, and on the train we got an announcement that we were 40 mins behind schedule. I was supposed to get to Heidelberg at 11.08, but I ended up arriving at 12.



I feel like all my time so far has been spent waiting for the next connection, running between platforms, and worrying about more connections. Have I just been REALLY unlucky with Deutsche Bahn? Who was the first person to come up with the phrase: ‘German efficiency’ anyway?


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