Locomore: Get the Inside Track on Germany’s New Train
What’s green and orange, and sells fair-trade coffee? If you are planning to travel by train in Germany this year the answer could be waiting at a station near you.
The Berlin start-up was originally supported by a crowd funding campaign and has since raised over half a million Euros on German crowd funding site StartNext. Using modernised inter-city compartment coaches with free passenger Wi-Fi and power sockets, Locomore is powered by electricity from German green energy company Naturstrom. It is the first time that a long-distance train travels with certified green electricity from an independent eco-energy provider, while the train itself returns energy generated by braking back to the grid.
Currently offering one journey per day, Locomore departs in the morning from Stuttgart on the 360 mile-long track to Berlin, travelling via Frankfurt and Hanover, and returns in the afternoon. Travelling at a top speed of 200 km/h, Locomore takes around 6h 45min to travel from Stuttgart to Berlin Main Train Station compared with 5h 35min by an ICE train operated by Deutsche Bahn, and aims to carry 700 passengers every day on 12 of the bright orange coaches. Further stops are planned on the way, including Heidelberg, Darmstadt, Kassel and Göttingen. There are also planned routes from Berlin via Greifswald to Binz on Rügen and from Bonn via Hannover to Berlin.
Tickets are priced around one-third to one-half that of trains run by Deutsche Bahn, and are available for purchase online, via a smartphone app, by phone and are also available for purchase on the train. Locomore charges €22 – €65 for a single ticket from Stuttgart to Berlin depending on the day of the week, compared with Deutsche Bahn’s lowest second-class fare €115.90 or €72.50 with a Bahncard 50 discount card and it offers prices as low as €29 for travellers willing to change trains once or twice.
The service bills itself as an ecological, low-priced service-oriented and child-friendly alternative. Locomore is however more about lifestyle choices and community as it is about commuter transit. The eco-friendly, vintage train, promises an experience for travellers as much as a journey.
As well as travelling by a train run on sustainably sourced green electricity, Locomore passengers get to enjoy organic, free-range refreshments in special areas or zones designed to attract passengers with similar interests. Current themes (and the plan is to change them over time) include photography, sport, comics, knitting, board games, quiet zones and, for those who just want to chat, Kaffeeklatsch (which loosely translates as “chit chat”). A special family zone is laid out to allow a little more space for children, while there are private compartments for work and meetings. Put all this together, and the train sounds more like some sort of alternative community than a daily train service.
The Locomore train was originally part of the Deutsche Bahn fleet, serving German travellers way back in the 1970s. While being renovated and provided with such amenities as in-train wi-fi, the train’s retro orange colour is a nod to its proud history and certainly stands out from the majority of other trains seen in Germany today. Only time will tell if it manages to fully compete with Deutsche Bahn, but in the meantime sit back and relax, have a coffee, make new friends and get knitting a wooly jumper or two.