17 September 2021
I have almost had to revise my positive opinion on DB because of dreaded gate changes but with a smattering of German and helpful English speakers, I am able to catch a later train.
Using Google Translate I discover “Störung. Eine Störung an einem Stellwerk in Zeil beeinträchtigt den Zugverkehr. Zur Zeit sind keine Zugfahrten im betroffenen Streckenabschnitt möglich. Die Züge aus Richtung Würzburg Hbf wenden vorzeitig in Haßfurt. Wir haben einen Ersatzverkehr mit Bussen zwischen Haßfurt und Bamberg für Sie eingerichtet.”
Which for this English speaker means:
“Disturbance. A fault at a signal box in Zeil affects train traffic. At the moment, no train journeys are possible in the affected section of the route. The trains from the direction of Würzburg Hbf turn early in Haßfurt. We have set up a replacement bus service between Haßfurt and Bamberg for you.“
Trying to figure a bus departure is a bit more challenging than trains. It just wasn’t clear how and where to do so. However, within a few minutes, trains were once again moving through the station so I reentered the lobby and found a convenient connection heading my way. Problem fixed!
The more humorous part of the story was my discussion with a German gentleman across the aisle. Confirming the train was indeed going my direction, he became slightly critical, expressing with frustration “ah, Deutsche Bahn!” I found myself defending DB. Trains seem to be working pretty well. But then, I have no fair comparison.
DB still beats the heck out of Amtrak!
A second experience with delays and missed connection came shortly after my first. I accept that mechanical problems and delays can occur; I suspect this is American reasoning for in the US it seems schedules are created to be broken. No one expects a train to arrive on time in the US.
DB messaged me with an offer to upgrade to 1st class. I know 2nd class is very clean and comfortable. The wifi on board is excellent. However, at less than 10€, it was an offer I didn’t refuse.
Because of DB efficiency, beginning an hour before planned departure, I began receiving notifications that my train would depart late along with suggestions for alternate connections. In fact, I received such notifications every few minutes all updating my departure times: the train would be 7 minutes later, now 19 minutes later, oops another 10 minutes later and so on. We departed about an hour late but during that time I was in constant touch with DB as per time, connections and ETA. One tap of their link and I could see my choices for an alternate connection. Quite efficient and reassuring.
A final challenge was when my ICE direct to Frankfurt Airport decided not to go that far but stop in Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof instead, a few miles short of my destination. No worries: the train master began announcing the time and platform for a connection that would take me to my original destination. Within 10 minutes I was boarded, seated, and on my way.
Seemed pretty efficient to me.