By train across the Black Forest

In the month of April I made a week-long trip with Michel, discovering German aviation history in Friedrichshafen, Danish railways history in Odense and navigating the sea to discover some Estonian history in Tallinn.

After our stay at the Hilton Frankfurt Airport we continued by train to our next stop in Friedrichshafen along Lake Constance (Bodensee), crossing the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) on the way.

Our original itinerary would make us travel on an ICE from Frankfurt Airport to Mannheim where we had to change to a different ICE taking us down to Baden-Baden where we would change onto a regional train until Singen where we had our final change to our regional train to Friedrichshafen.

As I was checking the train status of our trains before heading down to the platform I noticed that one of our trains was cancelled, as Michel’s ticket was fixed to using certain trains (Zugbindung) we had to quickly visit the ticket counter where they lifted the train restriction and gave us another ICE train which we could take to Offenburg where we could change onto our originally planned regional train to Singen.

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The ICE bound for Basel we were taking now was delayed for 20 minutes and thus effectively operating on the scheduled time for our original train.

It was composed of two ICE 3 units, with our front one still in its original un-refurbished version. As we did not have seat reservations on this train we walked all the way to the slightly calmer front where we still found plenty of free seats in the ‘silent’ cabin right behind the drivers cab.

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While there are no baggage racks in this mini cabin, there is a baggage storage area near the door.

Some drivers enable you to look over their shoulder by making the glass wall transparent, unfortunately our drivers elected not to do it and we were watching a frosted glass wall the entire time.

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The route took us along the Riedbahn from Frankfurt to Mannheim after which we followed a short stretch of the Mannheim to Stuttgart high speed line before joining the Rheintalbahn via Karlsruhe until Offenburg, passing by the infamous town of Rastatt where the line was blocked for about 2 months because of a collapsed tunnel back in 2017.

While the first part where mostly flat rural areas we could see the hills in the distance south of Mannheim.

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In Offenburg we had plenty of time to make the connection with the Karlsruhe to Konstanz RE (RegionalExpress) train we would be travelling on from Offenburg to Singen (Hohentwiel) as it was also delayed for a few minutes.

The train was composed of a type 146 (more commonly known as Bombardier Traxx which are also used on the Benelux train) electric locomotive hauling 4 air-conditioned double decker coaches, all with a low floor entrance, 1 with a 1st class compartment and another with a drivers cab for push-pull operations.

The train travels over the Baden Black Forest Railway (Badischer Schwarzwaldbahn), a fully double tracked and electrified line. Built between 1863 and 1873 it snakes across the Black Forest using 39 tunnels and 2 viaducts, a true engineering marvel at the time.

As the train was relatively busy we only found free seats on the left hand side, while the right hand side would have given us a slightly better view. Nonetheless we had some very nice views along the way and I’m sure the pictures speak for themselves.

Our final change was in Singen, where we had to change onto the IRE (InterRegionalExpress) from Basel to Aulendorf. Keeping in theme this train was also delayed, leaving Singen about 20 minutes later.

Even though this was a DB operated service the 2 tilting diesel units of the 612 series where painted in a white-black-yellow livery instead of the usual DB traffic red. This is because the region of Baden-Württemberg decided to operate all of their different train services under one common brand and coloursheme ‘Bwegt‘.

The route took us over the Bodenseegürtelbahn along the banks of Lake Constance. This is still a non-electrified and mostly single tracked line serving some tourist resorts like Ueberlingen.

The route constantly changes from a hillier inland routing to travelling right along the lake coast, thus offering different views on the way. The train stopped both at Friedrichshafen Stadt (the main station for Friedrichshafen) and Friedrichshafen Flughafen (where the airport and our hotel was located) so we just had to cross the street after getting off the train to reach our bed for the night.

Have you ever travelled on a train through the black forest and Lake Constance areas? And how do you like it there? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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