Travel to Germany by high-speed train.
To book any of the services below visit www.bahn.com where you can book online. Look out for the “London Spezial” fares which are lower than other fares sold in the UK market. After you’ve booked, you can print off an online ticket with a barcode, which avoids any postage of tickets. If you prefer to book by phone, you can easily contact the Deutsche Bahn UK Call Centre on 08718 80 80 66.
Alternatively you can book trains through to Cologne and beyond with Rail Europe.
A. Travel from London to German Cities using high speed rail
B. Reach Berlin or Hannover by Sleeper Train
C. Access German Rail from the UK Regions
Travel to German Cities on Eurostar and ICE Trains
Accessibility to German cities like Cologne, Frankfurt and even Berlin has now dramatically improved since the new HSL3 line between Liege in Belgium and Aachen in Germany was opened in June 2009. The new stretch reduced travelling times from Brussels to Cologne by over 20 minutes, which brings faster access to the ever-improving German high speed rail network.
Passengers from London and the South-East of England can take the Eurostar from London St. Pancras or Ebbsfleet International to Brussels, where they simply change platforms to an ICE3 train (usually from platforms 4 or 5). Transfer takes no more than 5 minutes. Once on the ICE3, the next leg to Cologne will take around 1 hour and 45 minutes. At Cologne you can change platforms for onward trains as far as Berlin and other regional cities of Germany.
Along the way you’ll notice the super-modern new Liege Guillemins Rail Station which looks more like a football stadium. It was built at a cost of 312 Million Euro’s and handles 36,000 passengers a day. As development of the UK – Germany high speed train route expands, particularly from 2015 when you’ll be able to catch a train direct from London to Berlin, this station will become increasingly important as a gateway to Southern Belgium and Germany.
London to Berlin
The best connection from London to Berlin, Bielefeld or Hannover:
|London St. Pancras||10:57||14:05 (+1 Hour)|
|Berlin||06:49 (platform 13)||11:09 (platform 6)|
|Cologne||11:43 (platform 6)||13:35|
|Brussels – London||14:56||16:03|
The journey from Cologne to Berlin is on the slightly older ICE2 train whose interior is nevertheless brand new and very comfortable.
When things go wrong…
You have three trains to catch to reach your destination, so at some point owing to weather, technical problems and other reasons, you can miss your connection. In our experience information for stranded passengers is not that great, so head straight for the Railteam desk at Brussels, Cologne or Liege where you can get a seat reservation for the next Thalys or ICE train. You need to get authorisation on your ticket so don’t just assume you can jump onto the next train as you will be sent off again. The service is slow but be patient and you will reach your destination at no added cost. If you are travelling as far as Berlin it may result in a delay of up to three hours.
Reaching Hannover or Berlin by Night Train
The Citynightline is a sleeper train service jointly operated by the German, Swiss, Austrian, Danish and Dutch rail companies, allowing you travel between each of these countries overnight. On each train you have a choice of seats, couchettes, and a sleeping car. There is also a restaurant car.
To catch the Citynightline take the Eurostar from London (best 16:01) to arrive into Paris Gare du Nord. You then make the 5-minute walk around to Gare de l’Est from where you can take an overnight train direct to Berlin. The “Perseus” Train departs at 20:05 getting you into Hannover at 06:30 and Berlin at 08:26.
On the way back, the overnight train leaves Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 20:07, Hannover at 22:00 arriving in Paris Gare de l’Est at 09:24. You then simply catch the most convenenient Eurostar back to London.
You have a choice of sleeping compartments including Sleepers, Couchettes, and ordinary seats. The sleeper tickets come with breakfast included and have showers and toilets at the end of each carriage. Couchette compartments come in 4-berth or 6-berth arrangements which favour groups or families. The standard seats are a pretty uncomfortable means of travel as well as being less secure, usually used by those who have missed their day train.
German Rail Map. To help you plan your journey use this PDF map. It shows you all the connections you need to make to reach your desired destination in Germany.
Accessing German Rail travel from the UK Regions
Harwich to Hook of Holland
For those living in East Anglia and the East Midlands, an enjoyable and perhaps easier way to reach Germany is by using the Stena Line Harwich to Hook of Holland ferry. The route is served by two superb new ships, the Stena Hollandica and the Stena Brittanica, both of which are amongst the largest ferries in the world. No expense has been spared in providing passengers with a comfortable experience, which needn’t be costly.
Older passengers will see the advantage of parking their car at the Harwich ferry terminal car park which is literally right outside the front door, where there’s a lift to take them to the departure gate. From there, a short walk takes them right to the ship and its comfortable cabins. The car park is inexpensive at less than £5 per day. Alternatively, passengers arriving at Harwich rail station will be pleased the find the train stops right below the ferry terminal.
The ferry takes 6.5 hours with a choice of two departures a day, one at 09:00 (arrival 16:45 local time) and 23:15 (arrival 07:45 local time). The railway station at the Hook of Holland is right next to the ferry terminal. Important: Make sure you book a Rail and Sail ticket through Stena Line which is priced from £39 each way. If you haven’t bought a Rail and Sail ticket make sure you buy a train ticket from Hook of Holland to Rotterdam on board the boat. The Hook of Holland train station is unmanned with ticket machines taking Dutch credit cards only, your inability to pay for a ticket may leave you stranded there! If all goes well the Journey from Hook of Holland to Rotterdam takes 30 minutes.
Tickets from Rotterdam to your destination in Germany need to be booked online at www.bahn.com, making sure you choose an online ticket. Failing that you can try the call centre on 08718 80 80 66.
Ferries from the North of England and Scotland
If you are travelling from the north, by far the easiest and comfortable way to access to Germany by train is to take the ferry to Holland first. Here are the various options available to you:
Newcastle to Amsterdam – takes 15 hours and 30 minutes and operated by DFDS Seaways. Foot passengers can travel from £28pp each way, but alas, there is no Rail-inclusive fare available. This means you need to buy a ticket from Amsterdam right to your German destination.
Hull to Rotterdam or Hull to Zeebrugge – both operated by P&O Ferries taking 10-15 hours respectively depending on weather and tides.
Rosyth to Zeebrugge – Operated by Norfolk Line / DFDS Seaways