It is the nature of the Railroad for things to go wrong: weather, or wire breaks, or a cow on the tracks, or mechanical failures.  And although the railroads of Western Europe make a point of running on time, sometimes Reality gets in the way.

Case in point: Intercity train 90, which I rode from Nürnberg to Hamburg on the afternoon of August 31.  It was running on time.  The notice boards on the platform alerted that part of the formation was not in the order shown on the trackside posters (fixed-formation trains do make the creation of such posters easier), and the arriving rake was another of the two Electroliner successor trains coupled.  (I'm not sure if one of the sets was dropped somewhere for a different destination.)  Again, a seat reservation is useful, although a passenger boarding at Nürnberg had to move along when I showed up with a valid claim to a window seat.  Riders appear to take this in stride.  Leave Nürnberg 1732; Würzburg 1823 - 1833 (station dwell times are sometimes long), meet a longish train of covered hopper cars (unlike much of the UK, freight trains do get out on the main lines by day); excuse myself and head forward to the diner.  Grab a window seat at a 2+2 table, a few minutes later a couple from a forward car join me.  (No steward assigning seats, but everybody gets sharing.)  It transpires that they had once made a motor journey across Canada, and they had useful suggestions for a visitor to Hamburg.  During dinner, Fulda 1907 - 1909 and Kassel 1942 - 1944, 4 minutes down.

Dining car stock-outs aren't limited to Amtrak.  Despite a menu listing all sorts of German cuisine prepared under the tutelage of a highly regarded chef, all that remains are the Nürnberger bratwursts with a different kind of German potato salad.  And one of my table-mates had requested a starter, which the server never brought.  The dining car also appears to function as a kind of lounge, on the 1+1 table side of the car were  a few people nursing a drink and reading or working on their computers.  There was never enough traffic in the diner for the steward to rush people out, as can happen on Amtrak.  On the plus side, I didn't observe the train crew commandeering a 2+2 to use as their mobile office.

Thanks and good nights offered, and back to my coach.  Unexplained cross-over to the other main somewhere south of Hannover, no evidence of track-work or a train out my window.  Conductor makes an announcement setting our expected times back owing to delays; Hanover 2042 - 2044, Hamburg - Harburg (think Route 128 or Naperville) 2151 - 2153, arrive Hamburg Hauptbahnhof 2202, nine minutes down.  All credit to the good people at Royal Travel for setting up the hotels: the one at Nürnberg was an easy walk to the station (particularly once I figured out the pedestrian subways) and the one at Hamburg across the street from the main station entrance.

Some of this ride was on the central German high-speed line, with a lot of running in tunnels.  And I had the option of earlier, or later, departures from Nürnberg, something that's hard to come by in most of the Amtrak network.

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