The long-distance bus operator FlixBus now also sells trains. With FlixTrain, the German long-distance bus market leader is launching its rail distribution service in March 2018, thus entering the rail transport market in Germany. In doing so, FlixMobility, the company behind FlixBus, is relying on cooperation with traditional rail transport companies. The new FlixTrain has a special focus: low price. In contrast to Deutsche Bahn, FlixTrain offers journeys for as little as $9.99 each way. I took a closer look at the new rail competitor for you. Here I introduce you to FlixTrain, its train lines, and the associated routes. You will learn how to book a FlixTrain ticket, how to pay, and how to cancel a trip. I’ll also show you what comfort and service await you on the FlixTrain and more. Read on and get to know the new competitor of Deutsche Bahn!
What is FlixTrain?
FlixTrain is a long-distance train operator that started operations in March 2018. The first routes offered are those of the insolvent rail companies Hamburg-Köln-Express (HKX) and Locomore. They run between Cologne and Hamburg and Stuttgart and Berlin. FlixTrain only handles the distribution of the trains. The train operators are the Nuremberg-based company BahnTouristikExpress (BTE) and the Czech transport company LEO Express. FlixTrain is part of the FlixMobility company, which has created the largest long-distance bus network in Europe with its FlixBus brand. By linking bus and rail transport, FlixMobility is expanding its ecological transport concept. The combination of FlixBus and FlixTrain is intended to create the mobility of the future.
Which train lines are from FlixTrain?
When private rail companies Locomore and HKX filed for bankruptcy in 2017, leading bus company FlixBus seized the opportunity to usurp rail transport alongside long-distance bus transport. First, the company entered into a cooperation with Locomore and, a little later, with HKX as well. After a test phase lasting several months, during which Locomore and HKX trains ran their routes on behalf of FlixBus and the partnered transport companies LEO Express and BahnTouristikExpress, the green train provider entered rail transport in Germany in March 2018 with the FlixTrain brand. Since March 24, 2018, HKX trains have been running in green FlixTrain color and with new FlixTrain lettering on the rails. Since April 2018, the former orange Locomore trains have also been running in light green FlixTrain color and new lettering.
Flixtrain’s route network – what connections are there?
There are currently two lines on offer from the young mobility provider. Since March 2018, there has been the Cologne – Hamburg connection with stops in Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Münster and Osnabrück. This connection is operated by the Nuremberg-based company BahnTouristikExpress. From mid-April, FlixTrain trains will also be running on the Stuttgart – Berlin route with stops in Vaihingen, Heidelberg, Weinheim, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Hanau, Fulda, Kassel, Göttingen, Hanover and Wolfsburg. This connection is operated by the Czech company LEO Express. FlixTrain will take over distribution and thus connect a total of 28 destinations in five German states. The new, recognized rail transport company can now even apply independently for train paths from DB Netz AG and expand its route network. The Deutsche Bahn subsidiary grants the rights to use the rail network in Germany. FlixTrain’s plans include 140 new destinations in German-speaking countries alone.
How often do the FlixTrain trains commute?
The FlixTrain trains from Cologne to Hamburg run once a day from Thursday to Tuesday. This service is to be expanded in the future. For the Stuttgart – Berlin connection, there are already more trains running during the day. You can see the exact train schedules of FlixTrain on the website of the provider if you enter your desired dates there.
Journey time – how quickly does the FlixTrain reach its destination?
The FlixTrain takes around 4.5 hours for the route from Hamburg – to Cologne or back. This means that the green train is about as fast as the trains of Deutsche Bahn. The new FlixTrain route Stuttgart – Berlin is a longer one. The journey takes between 6.5 and 7 hours. The ICE can cover this distance in 5:39 hours at its speed, depending on the time of day. FlixTrain makes up for this disadvantage with its attractive price.
Connections with FlixBus and FlixTrain
The company FlixMobility operates according to the motto mobility of the future. For this reason, it offers flexible transfer connections from bus and train. On routes not yet served by the FlixTrain, the FlixBus operates instead. In addition, FlixBus cooperates with local public transport companies to ensure a smooth journey. For example, there is a cooperation between FlixBus and the Cologne public transport company (KVB), as the FlixBus no longer has its station at Cologne Central Station, but at Cologne/Bonn Airport. From there, you can easily get to the city center with the KVB trains. You can add the transfer connection when booking.
If you miss your connection due to a delay in the Flix vehicles, it’s no problem! In this case, FlixBus will rebook you for the next possible alternative connection free of charge. You will be informed about this by SMS or e-mail. If this does not happen automatically, you can leave a Facebook message via Messenger on the FlixBus Facebook profile or call customer service. In both cases, you will be helped as quickly as possible.
If, on the other hand, you miss a flight or an onward train that belongs to a company other than FlixMobility, FlixMobility will not assume any liability. Therefore, the company asks you to book an earlier train, because delays are often unpredictable, so there is no guarantee that you will arrive at your destination on time.
Comfort and service on FlixTrain trains
FlixTrain trains are designed for long-distance travel. Therefore, they offer you services on board. First and foremost, this includes WLAN on the train. So the train ride is guaranteed not to be boring. You can surf the Internet, answer your e-mails or write your homework for university. The batteries of your devices have also been taken care of. FlixTrain trains are equipped with power sockets. If you can’t find them right away, you can ask the train staff. In some trains, sockets are only being retrofitted gradually. To ensure that you can still be helped, you can ask the train staff for powerbanks with which you can charge your smartphones and other devices.
Another service is the comfortable and spacious seats. FlixTrain advertises a seat guarantee, although – except in exceptional cases – there is no seat reservation at all. It is possible that no more tickets are sold per train than there are seats. This would provide a seat guarantee. In addition to spacious seats, FlixTrains also offer plenty of room for your luggage. Whether on the cushions or under your seat, you will find enough storage space for your bags and suitcases.
The comfort of FlixTrain also includes a snack bar in one of the middle cars. Here you will find inexpensive drinks and something to eat. If you can’t find the snack bar right away, ask the train staff, who will help you. Toilets on board are also plentiful.
In addition to all the amenities, FlixTrain has a lost and found office. Have you accidentally left something on the train and are now missing it? Or have you found an abandoned item on your journey that someone else seems to have lost? Then fill out the FlixTrain form with your personal data and travel details and you will be helped. The form can be filled out in German or English. Unfortunately, forms in other languages cannot be considered at this time. Please note: The more detailed the information you provide, the better we can help you.
How much do trips with FlixTrain cost?
FlixTrain offers train journeys for as little as $9.99 each way. These offers actually exist, but they are booked up quickly. Moreover, this fare mostly applies to connections during the week. On weekends, the prices are higher, but still, according to FlixTrain, they should always be cheaper than the prices of the competitor Deutsche Bahn. This is the credo of FlixTrain. If you want to travel all the cheaper with the green train, it is a good idea to book your ticket as early as possible. The maximum price for a route with the FlixTrain is $39.90. Thus, the new mobility provider trumps especially with the low price and can become a serious competitor of the DB.
How do you book a FlixTrain ticket?
There are five ways to book a FlixTrain ticket. The easiest way is via the FlixBus app. This allows you to book your ticket conveniently on your smartphone or tablet. Your ticket is saved under “My Tickets” so that you always have it at hand. When the ticket inspector comes, you can show the ticket directly on your smartphone. You will also receive the booking confirmation by e-mail. The FlixBus app for IOS devices has another advantage. It allows you to see the exact position of your FlixTrain or FlixBus. If you are running a little late, you can find out more precisely whether you can still catch the train or bus.
The second free option is booking via the website. It is similar to the booking in the app. Your booking confirmation is sent by e-mail.
For a handling fee, you have two other options for booking a FlixTrain ticket. Tickets can be purchased in travel agencies as well as in ZOB stores. You can find out which FlixBus sales outlets there are on the FlixBus website.
The other alternative, which is associated with a handling fee, is the telephone booking. If you live in the EU, you can book your ticket by phone with customer service. You will need a credit card or you can pay by direct debit.
The last option, if there are still free allotments available, is to buy your ticket from the train attendant. This flexibility is great, but there are no savings, promotional prices, or group discounts with this last-minute booking. When booking on the train, you must make sure that you ask the conductor for a ticket immediately upon boarding and that you have enough cash with you. The payment is made in cash. If you are checked on a FlixTrain without a valid train ticket, you will be fined $60.
Good to know!
Since you can currently only book FlixTrain tickets via the FlixBus platform and the FlixBus app, you will also be shown bus connections when you enter a route on which there is not yet a FlixTrain. You can tell when it is a bus connection and when it is a train connection by the small train icon that is displayed when it is a train connection. If no train icon is displayed, the connection is with FlixBus.
Create a FlixBus customer account – this is how it works and these are the advantages
You have two options to create a FlixBus customer account. Either you do this while booking a ticket by checking the appropriate box, or you register directly via the registration page on the FlixBus website. In both cases, you will receive a registration confirmation by e-mail. Alternatively, you can use your Facebook account to register with FlixBus. To do this, simply click on “Connect with Facebook” in the registration process and enter your Facebook log-in data.
Creating a customer account with FlixBus has several advantages. First, you can save your payment methods in the customer account. This makes each subsequent booking even faster. In addition, you can view all bookings in your account at any time. In the “My bookings” section, you can see all the tickets you have booked since you registered. If you have a customer account with FlixBus, you can also book a ticket for family members or friends here. Please make sure that you spell the names of the respective persons correctly so that there are no misunderstandings.
What are the payment methods at FlixTrain?
With the different booking types of your FlixTrain ticket, there are also different payment methods. In the following, I will give you an overview of the different payment options at FlixTrain.
- Online booking/app: direct debit, credit card payment (VISA/MasterCard/Amex/Diners Club/JCB/Discover), PayPal, and instant bank transfer.
- Sales agencies/travel agencies: all means of payment offered by the agency, but in any case cash payment
- At the train attendant: only cash payment against a payment voucher; this payment voucher is at the same time as the train ticket (Attention: at the train attendant there are only tickets at the normal price!)
- On the FlixTrain route Hamburg – Cologne, FlixTrain even offers card payments via VISA, MasterCard, or EC card.
- Phone/customer service: credit card (Mastercard/Visa/Amex/Diners Club/JCB/Discover) and direct debit for customers residing in the EU
Note that some payment methods are subject to third-party processing fees. This is the case when purchasing tickets at a sales agency, in FlixBus stores and when booking by phone with customer service. There are generally no fees when booking via the FlixBus app or website.
Does the FlixTrain ticket have to be printed out?
The FlixTrain ticket is sent to you by e-mail and is stored in the FlixBus app if you have it installed on your smartphone. You do not need to print the ticket. It is sufficient if you show it on your mobile device as a PDF, which you have received by e-mail, or in the app. It is important that the QR code of your ticket is clearly legible. If you wish, you can of course also print out the ticket and show it in paper form. However, this is not required. At this point, FlixBus refers to the environment and thus prefers not to print out the tickets.
Traveling with a child on the FlixTrain and child discounts
Traveling with a child is no problem at all on the FlixTrain. Children and young people up to and including 14 years of age even receive a discount on their FlixTrain ticket. Children up to and including 9 years of age may only travel on the FlixTrain when accompanied by a person of full age. Children between 10 and 14 years of age may travel alone with a declaration of consent from their legal guardians. This must be provided in the booking process. This rule only applies to domestic journeys without a change of train and in the period from 06:00-22:00. Please also note that the train staff cannot supervise your child. Therefore, you should only allow your child to travel independently if you trust them to be able to be on their own. There are no restrictions on young people over the age of 15 traveling alone. Just make sure that your teenagers have all the necessary identification and documents with them.
Traveling as a mobility-impaired passenger – what do you have to consider?
If you are wheelchair-bound, you should contact FlixTrain’s customer service no earlier than 14 days and no later than 36 hours before the start of your journey. They will check whether there is room for people with restricted mobility on your desired route. If you can take a regular seat on the FlixTrain despite your limitation, you book your ticket independently, but you must register your walker, wheelchair, or other orthopedic aids with the customer service up to 36 hours before the planned departure. It is also best to let Customer Service know if you need assistance boarding the train.
A wheelchair must meet the following requirements in order to be transported on a FlixTrain:
- maximum dimensions: 60 cm wide x 120 cm long.
- weight: together with the person: maximum 350 kg
Not all stops served by the FlixTrain are already barrier-free. If you would like to find out whether your stop is barrier-free, please contact DB Stations and Services before your trip and ask about the current equipment of the station.
What are the costs for an accompanying person or dog?
An accompanying person or an accompanying dog for a mobility-impaired person travels on the FlixTrain completely free of charge. For this, the impaired person needs an official or specialist medical certificate proving the necessity of a permanent companion. When you book your FlixTrain ticket, you must contact FlixTrain customer service at least 36 hours before the scheduled departure. They will then book a seat for your companion or assistance dog. On the train, it is important that you can show the required proof. In Germany, this is the disabled person’s ID or a medical certificate.
Can you reserve a seat on the FlixTrain?
There is a free choice of seats on FlixTrain trains. Therefore, there is no regulated seat reservation. If you want to get a certain seat, we recommend that you arrive at the platform early and, if possible, be one of the first to board the train. There is one exception to seat reservations: for people with limited mobility and travelers with children. These are given priority when choosing a seat.
Cancellation of a FlixTrain ticket
If you want to cancel a booked ticket completely, this is possible for a fee. This fee will be displayed during the cancellation process. If you cancel a trip, you will receive a portion of the ticket price as a voucher for a new trip with FlixBus or FlixTrain by e-mail. For a cancellation, different fees apply depending on the cancellation period. It depends on how many days before the trip you cancel your booking. If you pay in Euro currency, the following cancellation fees apply:
- from 30 days before departure: free of charge
- 14-29 days before departure: $1
- 3-13 days before departure: $3
- less than 3 days before departure: $5.
This is how you make a cancellation in the FlixBus app:
- In the FlixBus app, go to “My tickets” in the menu bar at the bottom.
- Select “Upcoming journeys” at the top of the screen
- Click on the trip that you want to edit
- Select “Rebook
- Go to the trip in the FlixBus app and then follow the instructions
Rebooking a FlixTrain ticket
Rebooking is very simple with FlixTrain. If you are logged in with the FlixBus customer account, you can edit your booking there. The following booking components can be adjusted: the telephone number and the passenger name. If the booked trip has become more expensive at the time of the change, the changes are associated with a price difference.
This is how you make a rebooking in the FlixBus app:
Note that rebooking with FlixTrain means that you cancel the old trip and book a new one!
And this is how it works:
- First, check whether the new connection you want is still available.
- Cancel the old trip in exchange for a voucher, which you will receive by e-mail.
- Now book a new trip and use the voucher. In this case, you will receive a new booking confirmation with a new booking number. If the new trip is more expensive than the old one, you will have to pay the difference.
Good to know!
If you realize that you made a mistake when booking, you can make changes free of charge within the first 60 minutes. Journeys that have already been changed are excluded from this rule.
FlixTrain vouchers – how do you redeem them?
If you have purchased a FlixTrain voucher, you can easily redeem it when booking in the FlixBus app or on the website. Activate the “Redeem” button in the booking process and enter your voucher code there. The value of the voucher will then be offset against the ticket price. You can redeem one voucher per booking. You can also redeem your voucher when booking by phone or in the FlixBus sales outlets and ZOB stores if you have the voucher code to hand. Only the train attendant can not redeem the FlixTrain vouchers.
FlixTrain vouchers have a validity period. You should adhere to this because an extension is excluded. You should also note that a voucher code can only be used once. This means that if there was any remaining credit on the voucher because the voucher value was greater than the ticket price, the remaining credit will expire after the voucher code has been activated. In addition, the rule applies that vouchers cannot be paid out.
Luggage regulations with FlixTrain and special luggage
On your FlixTrain journey, you may take one piece of hand luggage and one piece of luggage with you free of charge. As a rule, you may only take luggage that you can load, unload or transfer yourself at once and that does not endanger or inconvenience the safety and order of the company or other passengers. You can use the luggage racks on the train and the space above and below your seat to store your luggage. If you have booked a transfer connection in combination with a FlixBus, the regulations of the bus connection apply. You can read about the luggage regulations for FlixBus in my FlixBus article. If you want to take more than the free checked luggage, you have to pay an additional $2 per additional piece of luggage.
The transport of special luggage costs $9 per piece, regardless of the length and the fare. In any case, you must declare the special luggage before the departure of your train. Special luggage includes the following:
- two-wheeled, single-seater bicycles
- folded bicycle trailers
- portable small musical instruments (cello, violin, guitar, etc.)
- skis, snowboards, surfboards, and other sports equipment
Each passenger is allowed to take only one bicycle. Bicycles must be standard sizes without bodies and may only weigh a maximum of 25 kilograms. Tandems and bicycles with more than two wheels are not allowed. If you want to transport an e-bike, you must disconnect the battery from the drive system by removing it or switching it off. Due to the limited capacity, FlixTrain generally recommends that you book the bicycle parking spaces in good time. Bicycles are only transported in the designated multi-purpose compartments of the trains within the limits of the available capacity. Mopeds and mopeds as well as other vehicles and tools with combustion engines are generally not allowed to be transported on FlixTrains.
Are pets allowed on the FlixTrain?
Pets can only be carried on connections where the train is used exclusively and no part of the journey is made by bus. Smaller pets can be carried free of charge if they meet the following criteria:
- Smaller pets up to the size of a domestic cat may be brought on the FlixTrain if they are not dangerous for other passengers and are placed in suitable fixed containers.
- The containers for the pets must be such that the animals do not interfere with other persons or objects.
- A pet may not be brought to passenger seats.
For larger dogs that cannot be transported in a designated container, an additional ticket must be booked. Since there are no tickets for animals, when booking online you book a children’s ticket for children under 15 years, which you show to the train attendant as a ticket for your dog. Tickets for children under 15 are available at a cheaper rate when booking online than when booking last minute on the train. The following requirements apply to taking larger dogs on the train:
- The dog must be leashed and appropriately muzzled. (Guide dogs for the blind and companion dogs are exempt from the muzzle requirement as defined in § 145 Para. 2 No. 2 SGB IX. Please have a closer look at the general terms and conditions of FlixTrain).
- The dog may not be carried on passenger seats.
- The carriage of animals may be restricted to specially marked areas of the train.
- The dog must not interfere with other passengers and objects.
According to FlixTrain’s GTC, all other animals and animals with contagious diseases are excluded from the carriage.
Is eating and drinking allowed on the FlixTrain?
Eating and drinking are allowed on the FlixTrain. You can eat your own provisions as well as purchased food from the snack bar. However, you should also think about your seat neighbors. Therefore, it is considerate if you refrain from eating strong-smelling food and do not leave food scraps or crumbs on your seats. Waste containers are available for packaging waste. When consuming alcohol, be careful not to overdo it and misbehave when drunk. In case of misbehavior that harasses other passengers, the train conductor is allowed to exclude you from the ride.
FlixTrain advertises low-cost tickets and yet a high level of comfort – for example, in terms of the speed of the trains. What you can expect on your journey on the FlixTrain, which route network the new train provider has, and how you can purchase your train tickets, I have shown you above. On the whole, the new mobility provider in Germany turns out to be a good alternative to the train. For travelers who want to get from A to B cheaply, FlixTrain is an optimal option. This is because tickets are available here for as little as $9.99 per route. The maximum price for a ticket is currently $39.90 per leg. Whether this low fare will hold up when FlixTrain has become better known and expanded its route network cannot yet be said.
Bargain hunters can, however, benefit from the low-cost provider as long as the offer is valid! Those who were previously only accustomed to the comfort of Deutsche Bahn’s express trains will possibly be disappointed by FlixTrain at first glance. The level of equipment is not yet as high as on the ICE trains of Deutsche Bahn. Instead of an on-board restaurant, the FlixTrains only have a snack bar where you can buy drinks and small snacks. In addition, you sit in six-person compartments in the FlixTrain and not simply in rows of seats behind each other, as you know it from the trains of Deutsche Bahn. However, the extremely low price more than makes up for these small disadvantages! To get from Cologne to Hamburg in about 4.5 hours for only $9.99 is a super bargain! Since can be gladly renounced the exclusivities of the ICE – as I find! Bargain hunters, with the FlixTrain you have found the perfect train for you! Have fun on your travels!
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