The Martin Luther University in the east German town of Halle (photo © Singhsomendra).
Last month, a one-way ticket on the regional train service from Halle to Kassel cost €38. But from the start of August, it can cost just €13. This is a new promotional fare valid on selected regional rail routes radiating out from the eastern German city of Halle. The new €13 ticket can be used on journeys that start after 09.00 on weekdays and anytime at weekends.
The €13 ticket is a pilot project that runs at first until the end of October. The massive growth in long-distance coach services over the last 18 months in Germany has cut deeply into rail passenger numbers. And it is no surprise that Halle hosts this pilot low-cost rail initiative, for the city is the hub of a dense web of coach services.
The four pilot routes on which the cheap train tickets are available are:
Tickets may be purchased both from Halle and to Halle — or, indeed, for any intermediate journey on any of these four routes. Naturally the journey has to be of some length for the €13 ticket to undercut the normal fare. Breaking the journey is permitted. There is no need to book in advance.
The ticket is one of a raft of initiatives as Deutsche Bahn (DB) and other rail operator confront competition from long-distance coaches. One example, beyond the new €13 ticket, is a new low-cost rail service from Berlin to Hamburg which started in April. Another has been DB’s own entry into the long-distance coach market.