Germany by Train and Tram
Getting around Germany by train, S-Bahn, U-Bahn and tram, including information about special offers, animals and bikes on trains and facilities for disabled people...
Germany has over 19,800 Km of rail track. Deutsche Bahn (DB) is the operating company for Germany's rail network. Tickets, information and pricing are available on their website.
- Deutsche Bahn
Tel: 11 861 (24-hour telephone hotline for train times and booking inquiries)
Deutsche Bahn operates a number of different services:
- Intercity express - High-speed train linking domestic and international cities
- EuroCity - International long distance service
- InterCity - Domestic long distance trains
- EuroNight - International night trains
- DB NachtZug - International and domestic night trains
- UrlaubsExpress - National night trains to the Alps in the south and the Baltic in the north during holiday periods
The high speed European network Thalys connects Aachen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Essen and Cologne with Paris and Brussels.
Train categories are denoted by their abbreviations:
- EC: Euro City
- ICE: Intercity Express
- IC: Intercity
- RE: Regional Express
- RB: Regional Bahn
Inter City and Inter City Express trains provide fast connections between major cities and towns, Regional Bahn and Regional Express trains cover more towns and cities but as a result of the increased number of stops tend to be slower. Euro City trains terminate in cities outside of Germany.
- For more details on the various types of train service: Click here
Most cities and towns have at least one railway station (Bahnhof). Main stations (Hauptbahnhof) are usually located in the centres of cities and larger town and act as hubs for the local transport services - regional and national trains, S-Bahn, U-Bahn, buses and trams.
- Train timetables are displayed in all stations and on each platform in yellow (for departures) and white (for arrivals). Main stations have electronic sign boards in the entrance halls showing arrivals and departures, and each platform at most stations have electronic displays of the next train due
- Delays are often announced and displayed on the electronic sign boards. Verbal announcements are usually in German and English at main stations
- Main stations generally have shops, cafés and newsstands, open from early in the morning until around 21:00, sometimes later. Coin operated vending machines are also located on the platforms of larger stations selling sweets, snacks, hot and cold drinks
- Public toilets are available at larger stations and are usually clean. A service charge may apply
- Main stations have luggage lockers for daily rent. Once the luggage is placed in a locker, insert the indicated fee into the slot to release the key. The locker muct be vacated within the time limit stated
Tickets are available from the following sources:
- Vending machines located in main stations
- Online from the Deutsche Bahn website
- In the service centres (Kunden Center) located in main stations
- By telephone, 0180 5996 633. Tickets booked by telephone can either be sent to any address or collected from ticket vending machines in major train stations
National train services are often quite expensive in Germany, so look out for special offers either online, at service centres in the main train terminals or through local media and television.
The "nice weekend ticket" (Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket) permits a group of up to five people to travel anywhere in the country on RB, IRE and RE services for a much-reduced price on a Saturday or Sunday. A detailed print-out of the journey can be obtained from the ticket salesperson or printed off directly from the website.
For frequent train travellers, DB offers a range of discount cards which allow up to 50 percent reduction on train fares for a year. These cards can be purchased online or from service centres in the main train terminals.
The Deutsch Bahn has exceptional services for the disabled on all train services as well as at all main train stations. For inquiries, the mobility service hotline (Mobilitätsservicezentrale) provides detailed information to make travelling with reduced mobility as easy as possible.
- Deutsch Bahn Mobility Service Hotline
Tel: 01805 512 512
Open: Monday-Friday 08:00-20:00 and Saturdays 08:00-16:00
Most railway stations (including local as well as intercity) in have facilities for physically disabled travellers to access the platforms (lifts or ramps). Some regional transport companies offer free or reduced rate transport to disabled passengers and their escorts.
Seriously disabled people may travel on public transport for free, provided they have a dual-coloured disability card (green and orange) and an additional page with a special token (Beiblatt mit Wertmarke). This can be obtained from the Pensions and Benefits Office, either against a small payment or for free, depending on the degree and nature of the disability.
Children under six travel for free and are not required to have a ticket. Children under the age of 15, accompanied by their parents or grandparents can travel for free on most journeys. Children travelling alone are eligible for a 50 percent discount.
Bicycles on Trains
Bicycles may be taken on all local trains. It is also possible to phone the Cyclist Hotline (Radfahrer-Hotline) for information on taking a bike aboard.
- Tel:01805 151 415
Animals on Trains in Germany
- Pets travelling in cages or similar transport housing as well as small to medium-sized dogs that can fit on a person's knees or in the luggage compartment may be taken on trains free of charge
- A child ticket (6-15 years old) must be bought for larger dogs, which must also wear a muzzle (except guide dogs)
- For international and overnight journeys, a child ticket must be bought for all dogs
- Seats may not be reserved for dogs
In some urban areas a suburban and city centre rapid transit system called the S-Bahn is in operation. S-Bahn stations feature a round green sign with a white S in the centre. A large number of German cities have the system, including:
Other transit systems in areas such as the Rhine link the following cities:
- Frankfurt - Mainz - Wiesbaden
- Ludwigshafen - Mannheim - Heidelberg - Karlsruhe
- Ruhr - Cologne
Other cities such as Frieburg (Breisgau S-Bahn) and Ortenau (Offenburg S-Bahn) have regional train services in the area.
Five cities in Germany have underground systems or U-Bahn networks, which run mostly underground. These are:
U-Bahn stations are marked with a white U against a square blue background.
Trams and light rail
Tram systems or Strassenbahn are common in towns throughout Germany. Many have been upgraded to light rail systems called Stadtbahn, but are nevertheless operated under the same Tramways Act of Germany as the Strassenbahn.
Tram (and bus) stops across the country are recognised by a green ring containing a green H on a yellow background. Some stops may also carry the word Trambahn.
Stadtbahn stops are a white U with the word Stadtbahn in white underneath it on a blue square background.