Train Review: ICE (First Class)
My train journeys in Germany have been unlucky in the last months. Anyway, I feel like it is interesting to write a review about the board product itself. The Inter City Express (ICE) is the fastest and most comfortable train in Germany. It is divided into two classes. This review features the First Class at an ICE train.
First of all, it is important to note that not every ICE-train is the same. Anyway, you can expect a comparable service and seating on all first class ICE-trains in Germany. The most important thing when travelling on an ICE is the seating. In first class, all seats are made out of leather and are pretty big (three seats in a row, in a 2-1 configuration).
Depending on which ICE series you are boarding, there may be different seating arrangements, but all offer a large seat pitch, a comfortable seat and a little privacy. Moreover, every seat has its own table and a plug. In my opinion, the seats at the ICE trains are very good for working, especially when you choose a seat on one of the big tables.
The first class snack at ICE trains
Booking a train trip is like booking a low-cost ticket for an airplane. You pay for the train ride and that’s what you get. In German trains, there are neither food nor drinks included. What is included is baggage and newspapers (only in First Class). Also, guests in First Class may be handed a little snack by the conductor.
Thinking of my approximately 20 trips on an ICE train, I got the snack 15 times. Sometimes I even got two, three or four snacks, so it’s depending on the motivation of the conductor and the length of your trip. If you are looking for more food, you may choose something offered at the so-called Bordrestaurant (sometimes Bordbistro).
In First Class, you’ll be offered food and drinks by table. Both is served in porcelain and with real cutlery. The food tastes solid, but is nothing special. The prices are too high for what is offered in my opinion (e.g. a bottle of water for 3 euro).
Very enjoyable ride with WiFi
The train ride aboard an ICE train is really enjoyable. The trains are really calm (way calmer than any airplane) and the guests in First Class (mainly businessmen) tend to work all the trip, so there is also nobody talking. What makes the trips on ICE trains even more enjoyable is the newly introduced WiFi service that I was able to test on different routes.
At the moment, it is priced at 5 Euro for a day pass (for First Class and for Second Class), but in 2015, it will be available for free when travelling First Class on an ICE train. The connection is stable and the speed is convenient.
In addition, the newspapers offered in First Class are of good quality (all major German newspapers, but no international ones). So overall, the board entertainment is very good.
Lounges at big stations and problems
Another very nice option when having a First Class ticket is the lounge access on several big stations in Germany. At some there is a so-called First Class lounge (e.g. Cologne, Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich), where you are offered drinks and food for free. At smaller train stations (e.g. Stuttgart, Nuremberg) there is only a “normal” lounge where you can enjoy a drink, free WiFi and newspapers.
When it comes to what is offered, I feel like riding First Class is really worth it and may be more chilled and even faster than taking a domestic airplane. But sadly, things tend to not work as good as they are in theory. In the last years, I suffered from heavy delay, didn’t get newspapers in First Class several times and was not served food due to problems in the Restaurant more than just once.
Would I recommend buying First Class tickets (starting at 49 euros for a one-way journey) anyway? Yes, because what is offered when everything works out is really nice. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!