Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn: Take the train to long-haul flights

economy Express rail network

Extra-fast ICE – that’s behind the cuddle course from Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn

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Published on March 8th, 2021

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A Deutsche Bahn ICE train leaves the train station at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 24 November 2016. Lufthansa pilots have continued their strike. On the second day of the strike, around 912 flights will be cancelled nationwide. This is already the 14th strike within the ongoing pay dispute between the pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) and Lufthansa. Photo: Arne Dedert/dpa A Deutsche Bahn ICE train leaves the train station at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 24 November 2016. Lufthansa pilots have continued their strike. On the second day of the strike, around 912 flights will be cancelled nationwide. This is already the 14th strike within the ongoing pay dispute between the pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) and Lufthansa. Photo: Arne Dedert/dpa– – –

Feeder: A train journey from Munich to Frankfurt / Airport should take less than three hours in the future

Source: picture alliance / Arne Dedert / d

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Lufthansa has to save. That is why more passengers should travel by train for long-haul flights. For this purpose, Deutsche Bahn wants to use extra-fast ICE sprinters on routes to Germany’s largest airport, Frankfurt. But the cooperation also has a flaw.

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Dhe Lufthansa wants more passengers to travel to their flight by train in the future. The airline can completely cancel some domestic routes, thin out the flight schedule or use smaller aircraft. That saves costs and is good for the environmental balance.

In return, Deutsche Bahn intends to use extra-fast ICE Sprinter trains for the first time on some routes to Germany’s largest airport, Frankfurt am Main, from December, the two mobility groups have now announced.

In addition, the connection network to Frankfurt will be expanded. In general, trains that are faster due to fewer stops are also available to rail customers without connecting flights.

Without stopping to the airport

A train journey from Munich to Frankfurt / Airport should then take less than three hours, for example. There are direct flights from Munich and Nuremberg to the airport twice a day in just under three and two hours, respectively, and without any further stops. This is half an hour faster than currently.

Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister admitted that there was still a time disadvantage of around one and a half to two hours due to the train journey compared to a domestic feeder flight. Nevertheless, this is not so important for long-haul flights if, for example, other airlines still have to change trains in Dubai or Doha.

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Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn are moving closer together in a phase in which criticism of climate-damaging shorter flights is increasing and Lufthansa is urgently looking for ways to save after a record loss in 2020. Domestic Lufthansa flights from Cologne / Bonn, Dortmund and Paderborn have already been suspended.

Up to now, many domestic flights have practically been feeder flights to the major hubs for long-haul flights for the airline. There are initiatives around the world to shift air traffic to rail wherever possible.

More cities in the Express Rail network

134 feeder trains are already running daily from 17 German cities to Frankfurt Airport. It is said that almost 400,000 passengers have used this since 2019.

For many years, the Federal Ministry of Transport has been considering closer networking. Last year, the federal government took a 20 percent stake in the German airline, but declared that it would not interfere in business operations. “We have achieved more in the past 15 months than in the past 15 years,” said Lufthansa Executive Board member Hohmeister.

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Because of Corona, many planes are currently on the ground– – – – –

The Lufthansa Express Rail network is to be expanded by five cities in the future, and some particularly fast trains are to run. For the first time, it will be possible to travel from Hamburg and Munich from July. From December also from Berlin, Bremen and Münster.

Only the S-Bahn goes to Munich Airport

At a virtual press conference, neither Lufthansa board member Hohmeister nor Bahn board member Berthold Huber made specific statements about how many additional passengers are expected or what the economic calculation behind the offer looks like. For the passengers there are no fixed prices for the train ticket, but a demand-supply control.

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In 2020, 4230 long-distance trains were canceled without replacement in long-distance rail transport– –

Stops and trains canceled

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One of the flaws in the expanded cooperation is that Munich Airport is still not connected to the ICE network of the railways, although Munich is also an important hub for Lufthansa for long-haul flights. A S-Bahn journey from Munich city center to the airport alone takes between 34 and 44 minutes.

As before, when arriving by train, passengers with their suitcases first have to go through security and baggage control in Frankfurt, which would take place at the starting point if arriving by plane. When landing at Frankfurt Airport, the suitcases of Express Rail customers are given priority, it is said.

As before, the extended cooperation also speaks of a transfer guarantee, according to which the booking is automatically made to the next flight or train in the event of a delay.

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BERLIN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 20: Passengers board the DB or Deutsche Bahn ice train at Hauptbahnhof main railway station over the planned ticket price reduction by Deutsche Bahn on December 20, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Deutsche Bahn will reduce its passenger fare prices on average by 10% next year following a change in the sales tax category by the German government of the ticket sales from 19% to 7%. The government sees increasing travel by rail as an important part of its broader effort to bring down domestic greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)– – – – –

Deutsche Bahn board member Huber announced that he would gradually expand the cooperation with Lufthansa in order to “consistently develop the offer”. This also includes the connection to Munich Airport.

Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr had repeatedly criticized the slow passenger handling at Frankfurt Airport with long queues in the pre-Corona period. Due to the corona pandemic, the number of passengers has also dropped drastically in Frankfurt. In addition, the arriving passengers from the cooperation between Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn are to have access to the fast lane at the security checkpoint.

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