So I wanted to go to Tønder in October to stock up on Danish goodies, since I had found out that the regional German tariff is valid as far as Tønder (the first station on the other side of the border) and so a day return is fairly cheap.
I had inquired whether it’s possible to buy a ticket in advance; group tickets (which, inexplicably, cost only €0.60 more compared to a single day return ticket, at least for that distance: €34.60 compared to €34.00) are only valid after 9 o’clock and I wanted to take a train that leaves at 9:01 and didn’t want to have to hurry to buy a ticket from a machine on that day, and had been told that you could do that four weeks in advance.
That meant this week, so I went to the local train company’s travel office in the station and tried to buy a ticket to “Tondern” (the German name). This apparently got turned into “Tøndern st (TCV)”, and the system refused to sell me a ticket to there. A colleague whom the lady asked for advice suggested selling me a ticket to Süderlügum, the last station on the German side of the border, but I was worried that the conductor wouldn’t accept that, even though the fare was the same.
So I didn’t buy the ticket and walked outside. I decided to try the ticket machine to see what it said. It didn’t offer “Tondern” (when I entered “Ton”, the only option was “Tonndorf”), so I wondered whether it might be “Tönder”. After trying a bit more, I found that the magic word was “Toender (DK)”. That gave me the option to buy a group day return ticket, but only for today.
But armed with that knowledge, I went back inside the travel office and asked the lady to try “Toender”; that gave her the same two options the ticket machine had given me, “Toender (DK)” and “Toender Nord (DK)”. The second one is closer to the shops but the German tickets aren’t valid that far, so I asked her to select the first one.
This time, the machine seemed happy to calculate a ticket and sell me a group day return ticket at the fare I expected.
(And boo for the system for having the same station under two different names. Though I suppose it’s not German Rail’s fault: I imagine that one spelling comes from their system and the other from the local fare cooperation organisation, and those two should get their act together and settle on one spelling.)