New routes to Prague
When is a train not a train? Take a peek at page 685 of the 2011 edition of Europe by Rail and you’ll see what we mean. There are some places in Europe where a rail operator offers transport by bus rather than by train. Such bus links are fully integrated into the railway tariff system and rail passes are accepted.
Here are some examples of such routes:
Venice to Villach (ERT 888)
Klagenfurt to Graz (ERT 980a)
Nuremberg to Prague (ERT 76)
Effective 11 December 2011, Deutsche Bahn will introduce another such link to Prague. This new bus service will run from Munich. It will be faster than the competing rail service, which is run not by Deutsche Bahn (DB) but by the private operator Vogtlandbahn. The same company already operates Nuremberg to Prague rail services, so the company has experience of competing with DB bus services. Vogtlandbahn trains to Prague run under the ALEX brand. Even though the trains are run by a private company, InterRail and Eurail passes are accepted.
Our feeling is that the rail route from Munich to Prague knocks spots off the bus journey in terms of scenery. So our advice to readers of Europe by Rail is to use the train if you possibly can. And the same applies to the rail route from Nuremberg to Prague which features in Route 47 in the 2011 edition of Europe by Rail.
The Nuremberg to Prague bus service has until now operated a two-class system, reflecting normal Deutsche Bahn practice on its long-distance train services. Oddly, first class is on the lower deck, meaning that second-class passengers had much the better view of the passing landscape. From December, the express buses to Prague change to being one class only. That applies to the existing route from Nuremberg as also to the new link from Munich.
NOTE: Where we use the abbreviation ERT on this website, as indeed throughout the book Europe by Rail, it refers to table numbers in the monthly Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable.
Text by Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries