GERMANY: Non-stop inter-city trains linking Köln with München and Berlin in less than 4 h are to be introduced from the December 2021 timetable change, as part of an expansion of air-rail links announced by DB Fernverkehr and Lufthansa on March 8.

As part of proposals to reduce the number of flights in selected domestic corridors, the partners are planning to expand the Lufthansa Express Rail network to more destinations. The service currently provides 134 connections from 17 cities to the airline’s principal hub at Frankfurt Airport, with the trains carrying around 400 000 Lufthansa passengers by rail during 2019.


Another five routes are to be added, bringing the airline’s hubs at Berlin, Hamburg and München into the rail network for the first time. Lufthansa Express Rail services will connect Frankfurt Airport to Hamburg and München from July, to be followed in December by services to Berlin, Bremen and Münster. The trainsets will be branded to promote the DB/LH co-operation.

The expansion will see the launch of SuperSprinter services on three routes. Two limited-stop trains each way per day will link Düsseldorf, Köln-Deutz, Frankfurt Airport, Nürnberg and München, offering a journey time of 2 h from the airport to Nürnberg and 3 h to München, 30 min faster than DB’s regular-interval ICE services, and ‘precisely matching the departure and arrival times of the Lufthansa hub’. A daily SuperSprinter will connect Hamburg to Frankfurt Airport in 3 h 45 min via Hannover and Frankfurt Hbf, and there will be three non-stop Köln – Berlin trains each way per day.

Existing features of the Lufthansa Express Rail programme include reserved seats and guaranteed connections, with automatic rebooking of passengers on the next available flight or train in the event of any delays. Business and First Class passengers benefit from access to the DB lounges, as well as Premium Service and free at-seat catering, while earning airline loyalty credits for the rail leg. Planned improvements will include preferential ‘Fast Lane’ check-in for passengers connecting from rail to air at Frankfurt, as well as prioritised baggage claim on the return flight to compensate for any journey time disadvantages.

Environmental focus


The enhanced co-operation was announced at Frankfurt Airport on March 8 by DB board member Berthold Huber and his Lufthansa counterpart Harry Hohmeister. (Photos: DB AG/Volker Emersleben)

When the German government agreed to reduce VAT on rail tickets last year, it also began to introduce surcharges on air fares in order to discourage short-haul flights, and encourage more environmentally friendly travel habits. Announcing Lufthansa’s 2020 results on March 8, Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said the airline was looking to expand its co-operation with DB as part of its strategy to reduce its environmental impact.

‘With this joint initiative, we are strengthening the offer of mobility in Germany, thus bolstering the local economy’, said Lufthansa executive board member Harry Hohmeister. ‘By intelligently linking rail and air transport, we offer our customers a seamless and convenient travel network, benefitting consumers and the environment.’

‘A good co-operation is now turning into a comprehensive partnership, the likes of which have never been seen before’, added DB Board Member for Passengers Berthold Huber. ‘At the end of the year, DB will link Germany’s largest airport even more closely with the railway, thanks to the new Sprinter connections. Travel by rail will be faster and more comfortable.’