Chapter Wanderlust II: Flix Train Cologne to Hamburg

This is going to be a rather short post, but a unique one. I am sure the most of you have heard of Flixbus, the king and queen of interbus travels around Europe, especially for those who are on a budget. Flixtrain however seems to be rather unknown, it is a fairly new product and only started in 2018. I have taken way too many rail products around europe to share them here but seeing that this is rather special, I will just like to write a short post to talk about them! Flixtrain is another brainchild from the people behind flixbus. It offers rail products but at a fraction of the prices in comparison to the main rail products. The main competitor would be Deutsche Bahn! Seeing that now they only operate in Germany!

I was intrigued by the product and was keen to give it a try! Flixbus was an amazing thing for travellers and I hope that Flixtrain would live up to expectations as well. From what I can see, there are currently only 3 lines that Flixtrain operated, all in Germany! Stuttgart to Berlin, Koln to Hamburg as well as Berlin to Koln. It is still very limited and they are not even operating their own trains. Rather, they source from other companies and then paint them in the iconic green livery. For the consumer side, it is fairly easily, all sales and marketing cooped on the existing Flixbus interface and app so that is very easy enough! You still board right the usual way, unlike my OUIGO experience.

While I did not purposely went out of my way to travel on them. They turn out to be the cheapest option for me to get from Brussels to Hamburg! For the 4 hours ride from Cologne to Hamburg it cost me only 22 Euros. While in comparison a 2 hour ICE train earlier cost me 45 Euros. The pricing is really much more affordable. From the people that I met during the journey, it is also rather popular among the locals, at least to the places they serve. Frilless and fussless as well as a lighter burden on the wallet. A friend that I made onboard frequently travel from Cologne to Hamburg on it!

I am also glad that while it is attain to be a “budget” option, it did not enforce stupid rules like the Ouigo! No passport checks, free seating and no enforcements on baggage. They still applies. Thankfully they did not remove such bread and butter of train travels. I was not expecting a lot but was certainly given a shock when the train pulled up. Sadly, the lively green livery is the only good thing that happen from now onwards. The trains seems to be of the past decade, something like the older EC trains. I went into a cabin which seems to be a kind of a common compartments kind which can sit 6 people. There are no wifi onboard, outlets aren’t working! HOWEVER I WAS SHOCK THAT A TRANSPORTATION VEHICLE IN THE 21ST CENTURY CAN STILL BE WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING. OMGOODNESS! AND I WAS TRAVELLING ON THE HOTTEST DAY EVER IN EUROPE. OH MY!

Well, I didn’t have wifi and power or any other stuff! It is going to be a long ride of 4 hours with plenty of stops. I do have to say that the seats are alright, you can still bring your own snacks onboard. It is not different from what you will otherwise do it. Conductor still come around to check your tickets. I also get to travel the old fashion way. 4 hours was spend with my seatmate. I made a friend in Cologne and we spend the most of the time chatting and dozing off while sweating in sync. Thanks Lisa for the awesome company! There is a drink car onboard as well where you can get some snacks and drinks. Sadly the beer wasn’t cold at all given the 40 degrees weather.

I had my experience the hard way, a lesson that sometimes money is not that important. No I understand how nice an ICE train is. I think I might have a bad experience due to the weather. It might be totally different when in winter or spring. I am not against giving it another try next time. But not in summer. I see lots of improvement and ways that Flixtrains can be better. Hopefully one day there would be a nice competitor to bring down prices for us. But still, I enjoyed, spend the time chatting with my neighbour and all. Come on Flixtrain!

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