GERMAN Rail (DB) will increase the number of seats available on the high-demand Berlin - North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin - Munich routes by 25% from the start of its 2024 timetable, with the introduction of new ICE trains and longer trains.

DB will increase the number of Sprinter services between Berlin and Munich from seven to 14 a day, which together with existing services via Leipzig and Halle, will provide a half-hourly service between the two cities. Three Sprinter services will operate non-stop between Berlin and Nuremberg, reducing the journey time to 3h 45min.

The new timetable will come into effect on December 10. Journey-planning information and tickets for travel from this date were made available on October 11 on, in the DB Navigator app, at DB travel centres and agencies as well as from DB ticket vending machines.

To offer more seats between the German capital and North Rhine-Westphalia, a new two-hourly ICE service between Berlin, Wuppertal and Cologne will eliminate the need to split and couple trains at Hamm (Westphalia) every two hours. This will reduce the journey time by up to 10 minutes, while ICEs running via Dortmund and Düsseldorf will operate every two hours to double capacity. Together, these will create a half-hourly service between Hanover and Berlin.

The journey time between Berlin and Amsterdam will be reduced by around 30 minutes by using multi-system locomotives, which eliminate the need to change locomotives at the border, and the introduction of a new timetable on the line.

DB will increase the number of daily inter-city services between Nuremberg, Jena and Leipzig from one to five, with additional stops at Rudolstadt and Ludwigsstadt.

The states of Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania also benefit from additional inter-city connections including a new service between Magdeburg and Hamburg, calling at Stendal. An additional daily service will be introduced on the (Leipzig) - Magdeburg - Schwerin - Rostock and (Norddeich) - Magdeburg - Potsdam - Berlin routes.

ICE 4 expansion

ICE 4 high-speed trains will begin operating to Austria, replacing inter-city trains. ICE 3neo trains will be introduced between North Rhine-Westphalia, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich. Following regulatory approval, they will also be introduced on services to Amsterdam and Brussels. Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) Railjet trains will also replace EC trains on the Brenner route between Munich and Italy.

ÖBB and DB are expanding their cooperation on overnight services by introducing Nightjet trains from Berlin to Paris and Brussels. These services will initially run three times a week, increasing to daily from autumn 2024, doubling the number of Nightjet services from Berlin.

“We are now reaping the rewards of our fleet strategy of recent years,” says DB board member for long-distance passenger transport, Dr Michael Peterson. “We were right to stick to the expansion of our long-distance fleet despite the pandemic. This way, our passengers benefit twice: they experience the comfort of new vehicles and profit from new connections that we can offer additionally with more trains. With two trains per hour between Berlin and Hanover as well as Berlin and Munich, we are taking a further step towards the Deutschland Takt.”