Train Confusion

When life gets busy my memory gets hazy, or so it seems sometimes. I remember writing this post. I thought I remembered posting it. But it turns out I didn’t, which may be a good thing: by now the statute of limitations on my crime has probably expired.

And by the way, if you haven’t yet had a chance to answer my six-question mini-survey, you can do so by clicking here. I’m looking forward to your feedback. And now to our scheduled post… 

I had to run a quick errand in Basel, and the train seemed the best option. It’s 45 minutes by car, and I wasn’t quite sure about parking. Still, taking the train on my own was a first for me, at least on this route. I’ve been to Basel before, but there was always a car involved. And I’ve taken the train before, but always in the other direction.

It didn’t start out well. I figured I would be proactive and buy my tickets online. That didn’t work. I couldn’t get Deutsch Bahn’s webpage to move to the payment section.

So instead of taking the bus to the nearest train station, Heitersheim, I took a slightly longer trip to Müllheim. Heitersheim only has an automated ticket machine, at Müllheim there is actually a ticket wicket with a real person behind it. I figured that would be my backup, just in case.

I tried the machine in Müllheim first, but couldn’t get it to give me a ticket to Basel. At least not to the main train station. All it would offer was the suburbs, one stop before my destination. So I went inside to deal with a person.

Except there was no person. The ticket counter was closed for lunch. My train was scheduled to come long before they re-opened. (The train turned out to be late, as dB seems always to be these days, but they still weren’t open when I left.)

So it was back outside, and I bought a ticket to the suburban station in Basel, figuring I would buy a ticket downtown when I got there. Seemed like a reasonable plan. But reasonable plans don’t work when I’m traveling.

At the Basel Bad station I went to buy a ticket to the main station. There at least I figured out what I had done wring in Müllheim: I hadn’t selected international travel . Basel Bad is considered to be in Germany, despite its location in Switzerland. If I had known (or remembered) I might have caught that earlier.

There were only five minutes between connections. Plenty of time to buy a ticket and make it to the next platform for the tram into town. Except the machine wouldn’t sell me a ticket. The only thing I can think of is that it thought it was too close to departure time.

Not wanting to wait around an extra half hour while I found a human, I just hopped on the train. There are rarely ticket takers, and I figured I had a good explanation. The six minute ride was uneventful. At the main Basel station the first thing I did was buy my return ticket to the Basel Bad station.

For the return trip I had another dilemma. On adjoining tracks were the train to Basel Bad, and the train I would be taking to Müllheim.  I knew I couldn’t join the Müllheim train before Basel Bad – that is what my ticket read. My ticket to Basel Bad was with the local transit company, not Deutsch Bahn. But who would know if I hopped on board and saved myself having to walk a hundred metres to transfer trains? What were the odds of there being a ticket collector on board who would reach me in the six minutes?

I’m essentially a rule follower (which makes me very German), so I took the tram one stop and walked over a couple of platforms to meet the train I hadn’t hopped on in Basel. The rest of the trip was uneventful.

At least next time I will know how to buy my ticket.


  1. Brad Darbyson · · Reply

    Suggested Survey Question: Is spell-check effective?

    “There at least I figured out what I had done wring in Müllheim” – No, spell-check is not effective.

    1. Who uses spell check? And is it politically correct to make fun of my finger dyslexia?

  2. Reading the title, I was hoping for something more akin to John Cleese in “Clockwise.”
    Toward the end, I kept waiting for the “My bad” pun.

    1. Gotta confess, I haven’t seen “Clockwise” so I couldn’t emulate it.

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