Fiendishly complicated: that was the verdict of many travellers on the new pricing structure introduced a few months ago by German Railways (Deutsche Bahn, 0870 243 5363, www.deutsche-bahn.co.uk). It appears that so many users were baffled by the complex arrangement of discounts that it has been modified. There are now just three price levels: full fare, Sparprice 25 and Sparprice 50. For the latter two, you need to book at least three days in advance. The allocation of the cheapest seats, at 50 per cent off, are sold first; the discount then becomes 25 per cent.

Perhaps predictably, there is a further level of complication for frequent users. Anyone who spends more than €200 (£140) in a year will save money by investing €50 (£35) in a BahnCard 25, which gives one-quarter off full fares without the need to book in advance.

German Railways has also done a U-turn on the old BahnCard, which gave half-price rail travel to anyone who invested in it. The "new" BahnCard 50, price €200 (£140), pays dividends for anyone who usually spends more than €600 (£420) on rail travel within Germany in a year.

Finally, for anyone who can't get enough of railways in Germany, the new BahnCard 100 provides completely unlimited travel on the DB network for a year, at a price of €3,000 (£2,100). For first-class travel, and those entitled to discounted BahnCards, things get really complicated.


"Cars go free" is the promise of DFDS Seaways (08705 333 111, www.dfdsseaways.co.uk). This tactical promotion applies to all its North Sea sailings except for Newcastle-Amsterdam from 10 August to 20 December (and excluding travel on all routes on 24 and 25 August, and some peak sailings on other dates).

The routes available are Newcastle to Kristiansand in Norway and Gothenburg in Sweden, and Harwich to Esbjerg in Denmark and Cuxhaven in Germany.

A family of four, travelling in August with good-quality accommodation on board between Harwich and Esbjerg would pay around £700 return.


The number of special deals on scheduled flights this summer is remarkable; fares normally go through the roof, but this year there appears to be plenty of availability at "distressed" prices. For example, if you book by midnight tomorrow, FlyBE (08705 676 676, www.flybe.com) will take you from Luton to Jersey or Southampton to Ibiza for £58 return (though availability is patchy). These are for travel this month or next; fares in September and October are even lower.