GERMAN Rail (DB) is set to introduce new faster Sprinter services between key German cities in the 2022 timetable, which commences on December 12.

DB Long Distance is seeking to improve competition with air on eight of the 10 busiest domestic flight routes in Germany. Among the highlights is the introduction of three daily direct Sprinter trains between Berlin and Cologne, which will reduce the current 4h 30min journey time by up to 30 minutes. The trains will continue to Bonn, offering reduced journey times between the city and the German capital.

Revised Sprinter services will also cut the current four-hour journey time on the Düsseldorf - Cologne - Munich route by up to 30 minutes while 10 minutes will be shaved off the Hamburg - Hannover - Frankfurt Airport journey, which currently takes 4h 8min. In addition, DB says new peak time services will improve connectivity for business travellers at the beginning and the end of the day.

DB is also set to introduce a new long-distance service between Dortmund, Münster, Siegen and Frankfurt am Main, which will reduce current journey times by up to 20 minutes. The double-deck trains will operate every two hours and will serve 16 stations, offering numerous connections for passengers. One train per day will extend from Münster to Norrdeich Mole and local tickets that use the North Rhine-Westphalia and Westphalia tariff will now be valid on Letmathe - Dillenburg inter-city service.

Among the other highlights of the new timetable:

  • new direct connections to Bremerhaven from Rhineland and the Ruhr
  • an extension of the two-hourly Munich - Stuttgart - Frankfurt Airport - Cologne - Dortmund service to Hamburg, providing passengers from Münster, Osnabrück and Bremen a direct connection to Frankfurt Airport, reducing current journey times by around an hour
  • a new late evening Cologne - Stuttgart - Munich ICE service, and
  • an extension of the Cologne - Hamburg Sprinter to Lübeck, reducing journey times by 20 minutes.

DB says that it will increasingly use 13-car XXL-ICE 4 trains to cope with the growing number of passengers on the Munich - Stuttgart - Frankfurt Airport - Cologne - Dortmund - Hamburg route. The 374m-long trains have capacity for 918 passengers, five times as many people as a medium haul aircraft, and DB says it is currently introducing one of the new trains into service every three weeks. In addition, it is replacing older inter-city trains with ICEs on routes such as Frankfurt/Karlsruhe - Stuttgart - Ulm - Munich.

International services

DB and its partner railways are set to improve cross-border connections at the start of the new timetable. For example, journey times on half of the trains operating on the Munich - Zürich route are set to fall by 30 minutes to around 3h 30min from December due to the use of ETCS on Swiss trains. The remaining trains on the route will meet the revised journey time in April.

A new daily Railjet service is set to be introduced on the Frankfurt - Lake Constance - Vorarlberg - Vienna route via the newly electrified Ulm - Ravensburg - Friedrichshafen line. Cross-border services to Denmark will increase to eight in summer 2022 from seven in 2021. Five trains will continue to operate during the winter months. Two new Nightjet trains are also set to enter service, running from Vienna to Munich and Paris, and from Zürich to Basel, Cologne and Amsterdam.