GERMAN Rail (DB) has become the first rail operator to partner with the Star Alliance, which will enable its 26 member airlines to include ICE services in their booking systems and issue combined air and rail tickets with seat reservations.

DB says that it is the world's first intermodal partner of the Star Alliance, and that the new partnership effective from August 1 will increase the sustainability of the passenger transport sector by offering airline passengers the opportunity to “start or end their journey comfortably on the climate-friendly train.”

Members of the Star Alliance come together at 50 hubs worldwide to offer connections across a global airline network. Based in Frankfurt, Germany, and Singapore, Star Alliance coordinates projects and activities which include airport co-location, the integration of frequent flyer programmes and shared lounges for business travellers.

The new partnership builds on the Lufthansa Express Rail (LER) programme that DB operates with the German national airline, a founding member of the Star Alliance in 1997. DB says that LER bookings have more than doubled since this programme was set up in 2010.

In just one booking process, airline customers receive a combined ticket for the outward and return flight and the respective rail journeys. At check-in, passengers are issued with boarding passes for both the flight and the rail journey.

Customers can also enjoy priority baggage handling and other services in the AiRail check-in area at Frankfurt Airport.

For all bookings of combined train and air travel via LER or with the member airlines of the Star Alliance, customers can collect points or miles for the train journeys under the frequent flyer programmes of the respective airlines.

Business and first class customers of Star Alliance member airlines receive additional benefits such as access to the DB lounges with an LER ticket.

“From Freiburg to Singapore, you only need one ticket,” says Mr Michael Peterson, board member for long-distance passenger transport at DB. “With attractive German connections and simultaneous links to international travel chains, DB and Star Alliance are making a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector.”

“Today joins the forces of two different transport providers, opening the doors of Star Alliance beyond the airline world,” says Star Alliance CEO, Mr Jeffrey Goh. “Our new model for intermodal partnership creates the conditions for coordinated cooperation between different modes of transport in all Star Alliance markets.”