Southampton to Aarhus, booking a train

I just discovered the Deutsche Bahn train booking website. So far it seems really cool!

I’d just been whinging on Twitter about how European governments need to open up their railway data so that companies can set up better pan-European rail booking websites so that it’s easier and cheaper to book journeys that cross multiple countries. And @pete_v replied that he’d used Deusche Bahn:

Tweet-deutschbahne

So I gave it a go. I typed in Southampton Airport Parkway (UK) as the starting point and Aarhus (Denmark) as the destination. Not only had it heard of both stations but it even did text completion on their names! I made up some dates, clicked Search, and within less than a second it had returned a list of possible trains:

DB-results

And at the click of a button, the full itinerary:

DB-searchresultdetails

It also provides a comparison with travelling the same distance by car (includes full route planning details and a map – not shown here):

DB-mobilitycheck

And an environmental report comparing, among other things (not all shown here), carbon emissions from flying or going by car, which is something I think is really useful too:

DB-environmentalcheck

So, in summary, I think this is a rather cool site! I’ve not yet tried booking anything and you can’t do that online (or at least, not for such a complex journey) but you can book the complete journey by phoning up. You also can’t here see the price (though I have a fair idea of what it’s likely to be based on having played around with individual sites like Eurostar and the Danish railway bookings site) so that would have to be kept as a surprise for when talking to the agent. Presumably, also, it’s not checking actual availability (it’s so quick I don’t think it could be doing) so there are potentially several more steps to go.

But it’s still loads better from a user experience perspective so far than using Rail Europe, or even Eurostar, which throws errors a lot more often than it should. Those two sites, while slow, do at least provide online booking. So Deutsche Bahn still has something to prove. If I do end up going to Aarhus (or elsewhere), I’ll give it a go and report back!

P.S. I also haven’t tried taking a detour through Copenhagen so that I can do a The Killing tour…that should be a real test of it…

3 thoughts on “Southampton to Aarhus, booking a train

  1. For finding train routes, The Man in Seat Sixty-One is really quite helpful: http://www.seat61.com/

    You don’t get comprehensive route discovery, but he’ll tell you how to get to pretty much anywhere from the UK, what the likely routes are, and what the best booking sequence (and where to do so) is. You also get reviews of the trains — service, timekeeping, scenery on the route, quality of upholstery, and of food (if it applies)…

  2. @Hugo: Thanks, someone else recommended seat61 too. In fact, Google kept throwing it up in search results but the server seemed to be down the evening I was looking. I’ll definitely take a look at it though as it looked like it would be really useful.

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