GERMANY: Deutsche Bahn and open access operator Hamburg-Köln-Express have announced the end of their ticket acceptance agreement with effect from August 31, although DB tickets bought up that date will be valid on HKX services until November 30. Negotiations are still ongoing with regard to Interrail and Eurail tickets.
HKX has accepted DB tickets since February 2015, but on August 4 the two companies said in a joint statement that their 1½ years of co-operation had 'not achieved its objectives' and 'a number of practical problems' had arisen.
In particular, DB does not require seat reservations, which are always included with a HKX ticket. This has led to problems at peak times when HKX passengers found all seats were occupied.
'We regret that ticket co-operation has not paid off for HKX and the systems were not in practice compatible', said Mario Theis, head of marketing at DB Regio.
Separately, HKX has announced that it is to cease serving Bonn, Koblenz, Bingen and Frankfurt from September 1, to concentrate on its core Hamburg – Köln route. Services had been extended from Köln to Frankfurt in December 2015, but HKX found ridership was low with passengers preferring the significantly faster DB services via the Köln – Frankfurt high speed line.
There will also be adjustments to HKX’s core Hamburg – Köln service, which currently comprises one train in each direction Thursday to Monday. The Thursday service is to cease, and the timings of the Friday and Saturday trains adjusted. CEO Carsten Carstensen said HKX would focus on being 'an attractive provider of cheap train travel in the core market between the Rheinland and Hamburg.'
Following the timetable changes 'we expect more passengers with HKX tickets on our trains,’ said Carstensen. 'It is therefore particularly important to us that we can deliver on our service promise, with a guaranteed seat and at-seat catering'.