I take the train a lot for work. I’m not daft, but I’ve been trying for a while to work out how “ticketless” DB Bahn, the German train company, are in this day and age of mobile technology. And I’ve finally cracked it!!
It’s not what you might imagine. It says online that you need a paper copy. But do you?
German trains are generally awfully efficient (except the night train from France which has been an hour or so late every time I’ve taken it – bear this in mind if you have an onward connection). But their policy on paper/online ticketing is anything but efficient.
IN FIRST CLASS you can show your mobile screen (tablet etc, in my case an IPad), which has the QR code (that bar code cube in the corner) and your journey/ID details, as evidence of your ticket. All with a “thank you madam”, a smile and not even the batting of an eyelid.
IN SECOND CLASS, with the same evidence of your ticket, on the same day, with the same company, just in a different class, you are bombarded by the dual efforts of the DB Bahn and the SNCF ticket inspector (it was a cross border train), telling you that a screen copy to scan, rather than a paper copy, is not enough. Tough, you’ll have to buy another ticket. And no smile.
Luckily, this was just an experiment. I had a paper copy as well.
The reason for the experiment? I’ve been trying forever to work out the rule, which is applied on and off, it seems, at the whim of whoever checks your ticket. Sometimes it’s kinda difficult to find a printer if you make your booking after leaving home.
The whole idea of the QR code and an online ticket, is surely MOBILITY? Mobility is somewhat restricted if you are obliged to carry a printer in your pocket.
So, when travelling on the DB Bahn rail network, if you are in Second class, make sure you have a paper copy of your ticket unless you want to face a battle with a ticket inspector lacking basic customer service skills. When travelling in First class, don’t worry, there are special rules for you.
I forgot. The other difference between First and Second class was this delicious sweetie. Unfortunately nothing useful, like free wifi (you have to have a contract already with Dbahn’s partner, Telekom, for that). And, admittedly, the seats are a tiny winy bit further apart.
Have you had any weird ticketing experiences with DB Bahn?