Germany - General Information
National Railway System
Deutsche Bahn AG (DB).
National Railway Operator
Deutsche Bahn AG (DBAG) is a company wholly owned by the German government. It functions through a large number of subsidiary companies. The principal ones responsible for railway operations in Germany are:
- DB Fernverkehr AG: Long-distance (IC/ICE) passenger services
- DB Regio AG: Local and regional passenger services
- DB Vertrieb GmbH: Retail sales and systems
- DB Cargo Deutschland AG: Freight services
- DB Netz AG: Infrastructure
- DB Station&Service AG: Stations
- DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung GmbH: Maintenance
DBAG has many interests in other countries. Passenger rail and bus services in 14 European countries outside Germany are operated by its Arriva subsidiary, with headquarters in Sunderland, UK.
Subsidiaries of DB Cargo AG in Germany include RBH Logistics GmbH and an 80% holding in Mitteldeutsche Eisenbahn (MEG). Outside Germany it has 100%-owned subsidiaries in several European countries under the DB Cargo name, and part-ownership of several railfreight firms such as Transfesa.
DB Regio AG is subdivided into the following regional units:
- DB Regio Baden-Württemberg
- DB Regio Bayern
- DB Regio Mitte (including S-Bahn RheinNeckar)
- DB Regio Nord (including DB Regio Schleswig-Holstein)
- DB Regio Nordost
- DB Regio NRW
- DB Regio Südost
- S-Bahn München
- S-Bahn Rhein-Main
- S-Bahn Stuttgart
DB Regio AG also has numerous wholly-owned subsidiaries including many bus companies and:
- DB RegioNetz Verkehrs GmbH
- DB ZugBus Regionalverkehr Alb-Bodensee GmbH
- Regionalverkehre Start Deutschland GmbH
- S-Bahn Berlin GmbH
- S-Bahn Hamburg GmbH
- Usedomer Bäderbahn GmbH
DB RegioNetz Verkehrs GmbH is the holding company for several semi-autonomous regional networks:
- Oberweißbacher Berg- und Schwarzatalbahn
Upper and Lower Sorbian are Slavic languages, related to Czech and Polish, spoken in eastern Germany in the areas round Bautzen and Cottbus respectively. They have official status as protected minority languages. Travellers are most likely to encounter these languages on signs and notices, including station nameboards where they appear alongside German.
North Frisian is a minority language in the north-west of the mainland of Schleswig-Holstein, and on the islands of Sylt, Amrum and Föhr. Station nameboards in this area are also bilingual.
- Deutsche Bahn AG: numeric 80, alpha DB.
- Ahaus Alstätter Eisenbahn GmbH and Bentheimer Eisenbahn AG: numeric 68, alpha AAE.
The former Deutsche Reichsbahn code was 50, but this will now be seen only on withdrawn or museum vehicles. UIC code 50 now applies to ŽFBH, the railway of the Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
- PC/laptop: reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en
- Smartphone: DB Navigator
Actual Train Times
- Zugverfolgung.com Note that this site seems to offer tracking for Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland as well.
- BahnhofsAbfahrten This site provides a real time view of departure information for the selected station
- DBF an unofficial site providing a real time view of departure information for trains within Germany
If the table number is known, it can simply be inserted in the Kursbuchstreckennummer search box at top left.
Otherwise, the left-hand column has various ways of searching for the desired table:
The "Kursbuchtabellensuche" button gives options to search by:
- Bahnhof/Halt (Station/Halt)
- Liniennummer (Line Number. Note this is not the table number, but the S-Bahn or RB/RE line number. These are duplicated across Germany, so a search for (e.g.) S2 or RB40 will produce results from many different areas, from which one can pick the desired route)
- Kursbuchstreckennummer (Timetable table number)
- Zugnummer (Train number e.g. IC1234)
There is also the option of an interactive map - select "Interaktive Streckenkarte" and a more-or-less up-to-date passenger network map is shown. By using the arrows at the edge of the map, one can scroll to the desired area. By clicking on the timetable number next to a line, that line's tables will be displayed.
Alternatively, click on "Tabellenübersichten". This contains further sections:
- Regionaltabellen (In spite of its name, a complete table list - but see note on omitted tables below)
- Schifffahrtstabellen (Shipping services - although none currently shown)
- Bergbahnen (Mountain railways - although none currently shown)
- Museums- und Nostalgiebahnen (Preserved railways - only a very few shown)
from which one can select the desired table number.
Unfortunately, some services, particularly in the Berlin area, provided by operators other than DB are not included in the electronic Kursbuch. Details of omitted tables are in the 'Lines with Obscure or Sparse Passenger Services' section under 'Regular Services Not in the Kursbuch '.
While IC/EC and ICE services appear in many tables alongside regional services, there are many routes where IC/EC or ICE services operate but only the regional services are shown in the tables. For full timetables of long-distance services, the European Rail Timetable is recommended.
DB no longer provides a hard-copy national timetable. The 2007-8 Kursbuch was the last one available for general sale. Some Länder continued to sponsor the production of printed timetable books in Kursbuch format, but only for those tables traversing the relevant Land. By the 2021/22 timetable period, with the cessation of publication of the Bayern timetable book, Baden-Württemberg, NRW and Schleswig-Holstein appear to be the final Länder publishing such volumes.
bauarbeiten.bahn.de in German only.
A DB engineering works app DB Bauarbeiten is available in both Android and iPhone versions but only in German.
The APKPure DB Bauarbeiten app gives a number of options.
The Journey Planner (above) selects bus services if they provide the best journey.
- Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland by Schweers + Wall.
- European Railway Atlas (All-Europe Edition) by M.G. Ball.
- European Railway Atlas (Regional Series - Germany) by M.G. Ball.
- The DB Karte für den Personenverkehr Deutschland, which showed all German railways on a sheet map at a scale of 1:1,200,000, has now been withdrawn.
- Sporenplan has a series of on-line maps and schematic track diagrams. Click on "Sporenplannen" on the left-hand side, then on Germany on the map, then "Actuele tekeningen - simpel" for a map showing coverage of the current network. This is limited to most of the former West Germany with no coverage in the eastern Länder.
- Thorsten Büker's Map of Germany. This is no longer being updated.
- Maps and Plans - Germany
- The DB Netz Infrastructure Register. It is based around an interactive map which is optimised for Google Chrome.
- The DB website has downloadable schematic maps of local services for all Länder except Hessen. It also has very general maps showing the ICE and IC/EC networks.
As a special offer to stimulate demand and tempt motorists out of their cars, a monthly season ticket for just nine euros is being offered in June, July and August 2022. This is valid on all scheduled local train services throughout Germany, with the only exceptions being the narrow-gauge steam railways in eastern Germany that run daily services, and the funicular/electric service from Obstfelderschmiede to Cursdorf. It is also valid in all tariff areas (Verkehrsverbünde), covering local buses, trams and U-Bahn systems.
It is not valid on any EC, IC, ICE or other long-distance train services, even those where local tickets are normally accepted, or on long-distance buses.
The ticket is available to anyone without subscription and can be purchased from DB and other transport companies and tariff associations online, through an app, from ticket offices and from ticket vending machines. Irrespective of when it it purchased during the month, the expiry date will be the end of that month. Therefore the last day that these tickets can be used is 31st August 2022.
Full details are on the DB website.
As the 9-Euro-Ticket is a much better offer, it is not recommended to buy the Quer-durchs-Land Ticket during June, July or August 2022.
Details of this ticket will be reinstated towards the end of August.
As the 9-Euro-Ticket is a much better offer, it is not recommended to buy Länder-Tickets during June, July or August 2022.
Details of these tickets will be reinstated towards the end of August.
As the 9-Euro-Ticket is a much better offer, it is not recommended to buy Verkehrsverbund tickets during June, July or August 2022.
Details of these tickets will be reinstated towards the end of August.
Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis
While the 9-Euro-Ticket is available, if more than a very short connecting journey is being made on local trains, it is not recommended to buy Sparpreis or Super Sparpreis tickets that include local journeys, but to buy tickets to cover the IC/EC or ICE leg only and use the 9-Euro-Ticket to cover any local journeys instead.
Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis tickets are quota-controlled tickets, often much cheaper than the full fare. They must have at least one leg on a long-distance service (ICE/ECE or IC/EC). The tickets are only valid on the specified long-distance train or trains. Local connecting services, if shown on the itinerary, are only suggested services and those particular local train(s) need not be used.
Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis tickets can be booked for travel on the same day as well as in advance, subject to availability.
For journeys of over 100 km, Sparpreis tickets include a "City-Ticket" at origin and destination (if a large town or city) which gives one free single journey to the origin station and from the destination station on local public transport in the towns concerned. City-Tickets are shown by the designation "+ City" after the name of the town. Super Sparpreis tickets are cheaper, only available in limited quantities, and do not include City-Tickets.
There are three levels of flexible full-price (Flexpreis) fares - the dearest, for ICE/ECE services, a slightly cheaper rate for IC/EC services, and the cheapest, valid on local trains only. If purchasing a Flexpreis ticket for a route on which various types of train operate it is important to specify which type of train it is intended to use. Flexpreis tickets for a higher price-band can also be used on cheaper trains without penalty. Tickets at the local rate cannot be upgraded - a new ticket must be purchased to travel on an ICE/ECE or IC/EC service, except in the event of service disruption or cancellation, where at the conductor's discretion local tickets may be accepted. Tickets for travel on local trains only are often identifiable by having the words "Nur Gültig in Zügen des Nahverkehrs" or "...in NV" on them.
Regular travellers may wish to purchase a BahnCard, which is an annual discount railcard. The BahnCard 50 gives 50% discount on Flexpreis tickets but only 25% discount on Spar/Super Sparpreis tickets. The BahnCard 25 gives a 25% discount on all tickets. Both the BahnCard 50 and BahnCard 25 come in First Class and cheaper Second Class versions. The First Class version can also be used to obtain a discount on Second Class fares. Cheaper versions of all BahnCards are available for those under the age of 26 or over 65.
BahnCards are accepted on almost all non-DB local services, but note that some local fares in urban areas do not attract a discount.
There is also a BahnCard 100 which allows unlimited travel throughout Germany for one year, including on local urban transport in the central areas of large towns.
BahnCards are sold on a subscription basis so a new one will automatically be sent out (and have to be paid for) shortly before the expiry of the existing card, unless the subscription has been cancelled.
All BahnCards have a Probe (trial) version which is valid for three months. After the three months has expired, an annual subscription will commence unless the trial version has been cancelled at least six weeks before its expiry.
Bahncard details are available on the DB website.
Flixtrain tickets must be booked from the Flixtrain website or a Flixtrain office. DB tickets and Interrail/Eurail passes are not valid.
DB Netz AG, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, is responsible for track and infrastructure.
The Eisenbahn-Bundesamt (EBA) is a government agency tasked with regulatory oversight of safety and some other matters, independent of DB.
DB Netz AG > Network Statement
Standard. There are various narrow-gauge private lines, including former DB/DR operated ones at Dresden, Fichtelberg, the Harz, Radebeul, Molli, Weißeritz Valley and Zittau. DB operates a metre gauge line on the island of Wangerooge. A number of tramway systems are metre gauge. The train ferry terminal at Sassnitz Fährhafen (Mukran) has 1524 mm gauge tracks to receive and despatch wagons from and to Klaipeda, in addition to the standard gauge tracks. The funicular section Obstfelderschmiede - Lichtenhain is 1800 mm gauge.
15 kV 16.7 Hz ac.
The Berlin S-Bahn is 800V dc third rail, and the Hamburg S-Bahn is 1200V dc third rail. Obstfelderschmiede to Cursdorf is 500V dc overhead and Blankenburg (Harz) to Elbingerode and Kalkwerk Homberg, which has been freight-only since 2005, is 25kV 50Hz ac. (The line between Kalkwerk Homberg and Königshütte closed to all traffic in 2000 and is now lifted).
The following cross-border lines have sections within Germany that use the other country's electrification system. Distances shown are the sections within Germany between the frontier and the electrification changeover point:
Hengelo (NL) - Bad Bentheim: 8.1 km at 1500 V dc
Arnhem/Betuweroute (NL) - Emmerich: 5.6 km at 25 kV ac (see Note below)
Welkenraedt/LGV (BE) - Aachen Hbf: 7.4 km at 3 kV dc
Węgliniec (PL) - Horka: 1.5 km at 3 kV dc
Rzepin (PL) - Frankfurt (Oder): 1.7 km at 3 kV dc.
Note: The line between Emmerich and the Netherlands border was 1500 V dc but has been converted to 25 kV ac for easier operation of Betuweroute freight traffic. This means that trains between Emmerich and Arnhem must be able to operate under three different electrification systems.
Rule of the road
A few sections of line have left-hand running, as follows:
- a short piece of the Aachen – Liège main line between the east end of the Busch Tunnel (Üst Aachen Süd) and the Belgian border;
- between Nürnberg-Reichelsdorf and Nürnberg Hbf, on the non-S-Bahn lines only, to facilitate reversal by trains running between the Treuchtlingen and Würzburg lines;
- on the Hamburg S-Bahn between Altona and Holstenstraße, to assist reversal.
The Schweers + Wall Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland (11th Edn. ISBN 978-3-89494-149-9) is the best source of distance information.
See separate document.
Very few tourist lines run frequently - fortnightly or monthly during the summer is quite common, although some operate only two or three times a year. In many cases these are weekend operations over private freight lines. Whilst many tourist trains are steam-worked, numerous preserved railbuses and diesel locomotives are also used. A German language site Eisenbahn Vereinskarte Deutschland comprises an interactive map of Germany showing most preserved railways. An English language site gives an overview map split by Länder, with a list of many lines in alphabetical order in each Land section. Both give direct links to the various railways' homepages/timetables. The DB Kursbuch site gives timetables for a small number of preserved lines in its Museums- und Nostalgiebahnen section, sometimes in a more easily intelligible form than the railways’ own websites.
Timetables and other information about tourist lines are published annually in Kursbuch der deutschen Museums-Eisenbahnen (now published by Eisenbahn Kurier, EK-Verlag GmbH, Lörracher Str. 16, 79115 Freiburg, tel +49 761 703100). Owing to the very large number of tourist lines in Germany, no one source appears to give a comprehensive list of every operation, so it is suggested that each of the above sources is consulted.
A special category are Parkeisenbahnen, which are complex miniature railways where operations closely follow the prototype. A comprehensive list of these is given in Wikipedia.
Rail cycling (Draisinenfahrten) is possible on a number of lines; see the IG Draisinenfahrten website. Click on 'Deutschland' to obtain a list of operations in geographical order with some useful information. Click on 'International', followed by 'Draisinenlinks' to obtain website details.
Berlin, Hamburg, München, Nürnberg. A number of other cities have underground tram routes, known as U-Bahn or Stadtbahn, including Bielefeld, Bochum, Bonn, Dortmund see TSUL for Signal-Iduna-Park service , Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Frankfurt am Main, Gelsenkirchen, Hannover, Kassel, Köln, Ludwigshafen, Mannheim, Mühlheim (Ruhr) and Stuttgart.
Track plans for most or all metro and tram systems in Germany are available on the Gleisplanweb site or Doprava
Augsburg, Bad Schandau, Berlin, Bielefeld, Bochum, Bonn, Brandenburg, Braunschweig, Bremen, Chemnitz, Cottbus, Darmstadt, Dessau, Dortmund, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Erfurt, Essen, Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt an der Oder, Freiburg (Breisgau), Gelsenkirchen, Gera, Görlitz, Gotha, Halberstadt, Halle (Saale), Hannover, Heidelberg, Heilbronn, Jena, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Köln, Krefeld, Leipzig, Ludwigshafen, Magdeburg, Mainz, Mannheim, Mülheim (Ruhr), München, Naumburg (Saale), Nordhausen, Nürnberg, Oberhausen, Plauen, Potsdam, Rostock, Rüdersdorf, Saarbrücken, Schwerin, Strausberg, Stuttgart, Ulm, Woltersdorf, Würzburg, Zwickau. Many neighbouring systems are interlinked. It is possible to travel entirely by tram, changing cars and gauge several times, all the way from Benrath (south of Düsseldorf) to Witten (east of Bochum). This is reputed to be the longest possible journey by tram anywhere in the world.
Track plans for most or all tram systems in Germany are available on the Gleisplanweb site or on the Doprava website or the UrbanRail,net site.
See also Germany - Tram services over obscure routes
Recent and Future Changes
The funding of local transport, including railways, now rests with the Länder (Provinces) and in some areas responsibility has been devolved to the Kreise (Districts). Western Länder are generally supportive of rail and many lines have been re-opened in the last couple of decades. However in the eastern Länder many lines have been closed as a result of depopulation and increasing car ownership since reunification, and lack of funds to support such a dense network of local services. The rate of closures has slowed considerably in recent years, and the federal government is making funds available to the Länder for re-opening schemes. While there have been numerous lengthy lists published of closed lines which are possible candidates for re-opening, only those proposals which are likely to be progressed with are mentioned below.
The German railways were never entirely nationalised, with various independent lines surviving, particularly in Baden-Württemberg. Länder are responsible for tendering the operation of local passenger services, and many independent operators have won tenders in competition with DB. In some cases these are long-established, local railway companies, expanding out of their own network. Some operators are entirely new and others are subsidiaries of foreign companies or the state railways of other European countries.
Open access long-distance passenger and freight operation is possible in Germany. Increasing numbers of open access freight operators are running trains, but there has been limited success with passenger services, despite DB Netz having been ordered to charge the same prices for track access to DB and non-DB operators alike. Snälltåget (a subsidiary of Transdev) operate overnight trains between Berlin, Malmö and Stockholm for a limited summer season each year. Transdev also operate the Harz-Berlin Express between Goslar/Thale and Berlin.
The only other non-DB long-distance services (apart from cross-border trains such as Thalys) are operated by Flixtrain, a subsidiary of German long-distance coach operator Flixbus. Flixtrain services run on the following routes:
- Kiel - Hamburg - Berlin - Leipzig (- Jena - München (overnight))
- Köln - Hamburg
- Aachen - Köln - Dortmund - Berlin
- Berlin - Frankfurt (Main) - Stuttgart
- München - Frankfurt (Main)
There are generally one or two trains each way on certain days only on each route.
Flixtrain also run a Hamburg-Lörrach overnight car-carrying service in the summer months (the former Bahn Touristik Express service).
|393||Sande – Abzw Weißer Floh [– Schortens-Heidmühle] (new alignment well to the east of previous one)||24 June|
|333 (PKP)||Guben – Guben Grenze [– Gubin (PL)] (initially weekend-only service)||12 June|
|190||[Lietzow (Rügen) –] Sassnitz-Mukran Abzw Borchtitz – Sassnitz-Mukran Fährhafen (limited summer service to connect with ferries to/from Ystad and Bornholm)||21 May|
|524||Chemnitz Technopark – Chemnitz-Reichenhain (Abzw Chemnitz Süd Strab) (new tram-train connection onto reconstructed Chemnitz – Aue line)||30 January|
|440||[Hohenlimburg –] Hagen-Kabel – Hagen-Vorhalle (curve between Siegen and Witten lines used by new IC34 services to/from Dortmund)||20 December|
|440||[Hohenlimburg –] Hagen-Kabel – Westhofen (Westf) [– Schwerte (Ruhr)] (curve between Siegen and Unna lines used by new IC34 services to/from Hamm)||20 December|
|Augsburg Tramway||Line 3; southern extension - Haunstetten West to Königsbrunn Zentrum [4.6 km]||12 December|
|Stuttgart LRT||Line U6; south eastern extension - Fasanenhof Schelmenwasen to Flughafen/ Messe Ost [3.2 km]||12 December|
|Karlsruhe LRT||Kombilösung cross-city tram tunnels inaugurated [3.4 km]||Lines 1, 2 and S2 diverted into the tunnel on 11 December followed by AVG lines S1/11, S4, S5/51, S7 and S8 on 12 December|
|209.35||Bad Saarow Klinikum – Bad Saarow-Pieskow||12 December|
|627, 646||Frankfurt am Main Hbf – Abzw Mainzer Landstraße (new exit line to the north of Frankfurt Außenbahnhof)||29 November|
|732||Mengen - Stockach (summer Sunday services)||18 July Mengen to Sauldorf; 8 August to Stockach (delayed by flood damage)|
|424||[Moers –] Rheinkamp – Kamp-Lintfort Süd (temporary weekend-only service until 4 October for NRW Garden Festival)||16 May|
|former 172; 174||Parchim - Karow (Meckl.) - Plau am See and Inselstadt Malchow - Karow (scheduled summer weekend services)||21 May|
|450.9||Gelsenkirchen-Buer Nord – Recklinghausen Hbf (without intermediate stations which are not due to open until 2024)||11 September|
|200.9||Flughafen BER Terminal 5 (Schönefeld) - Flughafen BER Terminal 1-2 (S-Bahn)||26 October|
|207, 209.9/14/22||Abzw Glasower Damm Ost - line 6151 - Flughafen BER Terminal 1-2 - Abzw Bohnsdorf Nord||31 October|
|207||Abzw Selchow - Abzw Selchow Süd||31 October, but in regular use from 13 December|
|209.22||Abzw Bohnsdorf West - Abzw Bohnsdorf Süd||31 October|
|203.Sued||Abzw Doberlug-Kirchhain Nord - Abzw Hennersdorf West||13 December|
|450.28||Mettmann Stadtwald - Abzw Wuppertal-Dornap [- Wuppertal-Vohwinkel]||13 December|
|970||Lindau-Aeschach - Lindau-Reutin (Lindau avoiding line)||13 December|
|376||Bad Bentheim – Neuenhaus||6 July but 7 July for revenue earning services|
|-||Flensburg Weiche Süd - Flensburg Friedensweg (diversion of Hamburg - København services away fron Puttgarden - Rødby)||15 December|
|209.24||Berlin Bornholmer Straße - Schönhauser Allee (diversion of RB24 until 9 July 2021).||15 December|
|209.24||Berlin Frankfurter Allee - Ostkreuz (oben) (initially by diverted RB24 but now used permanently by FEX airport trains)||15 December|
|former 12474||Düren - Euskirchen (regular service instead of weekend-only service)||15 December|
|645.8/9||Frankfurt (Main) Stadion - Gateway Gardens - Frankfurt (Main) Flughafen Regionalbahnhof||15 December|
|209.63||Templin Stadt - Joachimsthal (experimental service now until Dec 2022)||9 December|
|227||Hoyerswerda – Horka (Abzw. Muckenhain) [- Görlitz] (after long-term closure for rebuilding)||9 December|
|351||Einbeck Salzderhelden – Einbeck Mitte||9 December|
|471||Mainz Hbf (Abzw Kaiserbrücke Ost) - Hochheim (Main) (Abzw Kostheim) (used by new service RE4 between Frankfurt and Mainz)||9 December|
|930||Neufahrn avoiding curve||9 December|
In the "tourist/museum line" sector:
The Bremen-Thedinghauser Eisenbahn ("Pingelheini") service resumed from Leeste (b. Bremen) as far as Stuhr, 4.5 km from Kirchhuchting, on 22 August 2021. The line had been closed west of Leeste since the end of the 2015 season to allow construction of an extension of Bremen tram route no. 8. A resumption of the Pingelheini service as far as Bremen-Kirchhuchting is expected at some point. Once the tram service starts it is expected that trams and Pingelheini trains will share the tracks.
The recently-reopened branch line to Einbeck Mitte is to be extended on 11 December 2022 by a further 1.1 km to BBS Einbeck/PS Speicher for, initially, a three-year trial period. The station will serve an apprentice training school (BBS = Berufsbildende Schule) and a motor museum (PS = Pferdestärke or horsepower).
An extension of the Stolberg (Rheinland) to Stolberg Altstadt passenger service to Breinig was due to open, belatedly, in December 2021, but has been further delayed until an unknown date in 2022. Reopening was initially delayed by the need to lower the trackbed under a road bridge at Stolberg Altstadt to provide the required safe clearance for the overhead wires and has been further delayed by serious damage sustained to the existing line in the July 2021 floods. A further extension to Walheim, on the Belgian border, was scheduled for December 2022 but this may also be delayed as a consequence of the flood damage.
The new high-speed line (NBS) between Ulm Hbf and Stuttgart Hbf, which is being constructed as part of the "Stuttgart 21" programme, is due to open on 11 December 2022. Test running started on 31 January 2022.
The bridge over the Belzig - Berlin line between Beelitz Stadt and Ferch-Lienewitz (Abzw Beelitz Bea - Abzw Lienewitz Lia) was reinstated in April 2021 and is to be used by a new RB33 Jüterbog to Potsdam service commencing in December 2022. The existing RB23 service will no longer run via Ferch-Lienewitz which will mean an end to services over the curve between there and Seddin.
The Kiel to Schönberger Strand branch, which is currently only a tourist line beyond Kiel-Oppendorf, is now due to reopen in December 2022.
The first stage of the Berlin S-Bahn line S21, linking the Innenring with Berlin Hbf (Invalidenstraße) by an east to south curve from Wedding is due to open, belatedly, in June 2023. A west to south curve from Westhafen to Invalidenstraße is expected to open later, and plans are to extend the line to Potsdamer Platz in Stage 2 and Yorckstraße in Stage 3, thus creating a second north-south S-Bahn line through central Berlin. Opening of the entire line is not expected until 2037.
Calw - Weil der Stadt is now due to reopen in December 2023. The project has been considerably delayed by legal action, which has been dismissed, and the decision to build a new section of line in tunnel to shorten the route between Ostelsheim and Weil der Stadt. The line will be known as the Hermann-Hesse-Bahn and run through to Renningen, sharing tracks with the S6 from Weil der Stadt.
The Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn is rebuilding the line from Berlin-Wilhelmsruh to Wilhelmsruher Damm, therefore reopening the Heidekrautbahn between Bornholmer Straße and Schönwalde (Barnim) to passenger service for trains from Berlin-Gesundbrunnen to Basdorf and beyond. This is now planned for December 2024. A 30-minute frequency south of Basdorf was planned but as some redoubling of the existing lines from Schönholz to Wilhelmsruh and north of Schildow is required, this has been deferred until around 2030 with the initial frequency from 2024 being hourly. The existing line via Berlin-Karow will be retained with trains planned to terminate at a new Karower Kreuz interchange station. Reopening of the line from Wensickendorf to Liebenwalde has been proposed.
The reopening to passengers of the first part of the Weststrecke in Trier between Ehrang and Trier West, across the Mosel from the existing passenger line via Trier Hbf, has been delayed until the end of 2024.
The Bentheimer Eisenbahn from Bad Bentheim to Coevorden (NL), which was reopened in 2019 as far as Neuenhaus, is to be reopened through to Coevorden by 2025.
Reinstatement of main line tracks (closed 1952) alongside the S-Bahn on the Dresdner Bahn from Berlin Südkreuz to Blankenfelde (Kr. Teltow-Fläming) is underway. Services on the line are due to commence in December 2025. This will speed up trains between Berlin and Dresden and also allow a fast service to Berlin-Brandenburg airport via a new north-to-east curve at Glasower Damm. This is expected to mean the end of regular passenger services over the curves from Genshagener Heide Mitte to Großbeeren Süd.
Reopening to passengers of the WLE Münster (Westf) Hbf to Neubeckum line as far as Sendenhorst is planned for December 2025, delayed by two years because of platform works needed at Münster (Westf) Hbf.
A temporary weekend- and holiday-only passenger service ran in summer 2020 from Duisburg and Moers to Kamp-Lintfort Süd in connection with a garden festival, thus reintroducing trains to the former colliery branch from Rheinkamp. Full passenger services are planned for 2026, via a new south to west curve at Rheinkamp. The branch will be extended to a new Kamp-Lintfort station, beyond the former mine area.
The Barth - Zingst - Prerow Darßbahn is to be reopened. Tripartite funding, split between the federal government, Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Usedomer Bäderbahn has been agreed for the reconstruction of the Meiningenbrücke road/rail bridge just north of Bresewitz, which will allow reopening of the entire line to Prerow by 2028.
Preliminary work has started on the reconstruction of the 4.5 km Berlin S-Bahn branch from Jungfernheide to Gartenfeld. Known as the Siemensbahn, as it served the large factory of that firm, it closed in 1980. With the closure of the factory in 2018, a research campus and large residential development is being built on the site. Reopening of the line is planned for Autumn 2029. A study is underway for a possible new-build extension to Hakenfelde.
It is planned to reopen the first 2.9 km of the Wrist - Itzehoe line as far as Kellinghusen. Financing was apparently agreed in December 2019 after years of prevarication, but a firm date for reopening has not yet been announced.
Reopening of approximately 3 km of the Rendsburg - Husum line as far as a new station at Rendsburg-Seemühlen is planned, with two new intermediate halts. Hybrid battery/electric Stadler Flirt units are planned to be used.
Dombühl - Dinkelsbühl was planned for reopening to passengers in December 2019, but this has been deferred until possibly 2024.
Reopening of the northern section of the Gessertshausen - Markt Wald Staudenbahn as far as Langenneufnach has been agreed, but this is not now due to happen until the end of 2024.
The reopening of Homburg (Saar) to Zweibrücken is planned for 2025.
Land Brandenburg plans to reopen the Priort - Wustermark Rbf Wot south to east curve to be used by a new Potsdam to Berlin service, by 2027.
The District (Landkreis) of Tübingen is planning to convert some lines in their area to a tram-train system known as Regional-Stadtbahn Neckar-Alb. This involves construction of a new line known as the Gomaringer Spange between Nehren, on the Tübingen - Balingen line, and Reutlingen. This will partially re-use the formation of the Reutlingen West to Gomaringen branch. Other plans include the reopening of the Albstadt-Ebingen to Albstadt-Onstmettingen and Engstingen to Reutlingen lines, and the introduction of a regular passenger service between Hechingen and Burladingen on the line to Gammertingen. Tramway-style lines into Tübingen town centre and through Reutlingen are also planned.
A new S-Bahn line between Fürth Hbf and Eltersdorf via Fürth-Steinach is planned but construction has been delayed by legal challenges. The new S-Bahn lines will be brought into use where they run parallel to the main lines, but the original line between Fürth-Stadeln and Königsmühle will remain a two-track bottleneck until the S-Bahn deviation to the east via Steinach is eventually opened.
The Warnetalbahn GmbH, which operates the museum line between Salzgitter-Bad and Börßum, took a lease in December 2019 of the section of KBS 592 between Rottleberode and Stolberg (Harz), with the intention to run freight (timber) trains and occasional tourist passenger services. The branch from Berga-Kelbra, which latterly only had weekend services, closed to passengers in December 2011 and has been completely out of service north of the gypsum works at Rottleberode since then. Unfortunately because of the condition of a bridge over the river Thyra at Rottleberode, the reintroduction of services to Stolberg has been postponed indefinitely.
A west-to-south curve is planned to link the Lübeck - Bad Kleinen line with the main line to Schwerin, avoiding Bad Kleinen. This would allow direct trains to run between Lübeck and Schwerin. This is currently in the planning/financing phase and no start or end date has yet been announced.
Plans to re-open the line between Salzgitter-Lebenstedt and Salzgitter-Fredenberg appeared to have been abandoned, but in March 2021 it was announced by the local traffic authority (Regionalverband Braunschweig) that further consideration is being given to this proposal.
DB announced in 2021 that it intends to reopen 20 lines to passenger traffic. These are at various stages of the planning/implementation process and some may not be proceeded with. Those not mentioned individually above are:
- Buchholz (Nordheide) - Hamburg-Harburg via Jesteburg
- Gnadau - Barby - Güterglück over the Elbbrücke (part of the Kanonenbahn)
- Oberhausen - Spellen (Walsumbahn)
- Duisburg Hbf - Düsseldorf-Rath (Ratinger Weststrecke)
- Blankenstein - Marxgrün (Höllentalbahn)
- Eisfeld - Coburg (Werratalbahn)
- Ludwigsburg - Markgröningen
- Breisach - Colmar (F)
- München northern ring line (Münchener Güternordring).
The Prime Minister and Transport Minister of Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern restated in early 2020 their commitment to the rebuilding of Ducherow – Świnoujście/Swinemünde (Poland) but as this project would involve complete reconstruction of the bridge at Karnin between the mainland and the island of Usedom, this would appear to be a long-term aspiration.
The Potsdamer Stammbahn (Zehlendorf to Griebnitzsee) is projected to reopen, to give a more direct route between Berlin and Potsdam for regional trains. The main line tracks from Schöneberg to Zehlendorf through Rathaus Steglitz will also be reinstated, along with a possible curve to the Innenring at Schöneberg. This may not occur until the early 2030s.
Other projects in the i2030 scheme for rail development in Berlin and Brandenburg include:
- Extension of the S2 from Blankenfelde to Rangsdorf along the Dresdner Bahn, in conjunction with the rebuilding of the long-distance lines north of Blankenfelde
- Extension of the S21 from Teltow Stadt over a new-build line to Stahnsdorf
- Extension of the S5 from Spandau to Nauen, parallel to the existing line, with a possible branch over part of the Johannesstift freight line to Falkenseer Chaussee
- Extension of the S75 along the Außenring to Karow
- Extension of the S25 between Hennigsdorf and Velten (Mark).
Reinstatement of regional tracks between Schönholz and Hennigsdorf to give a more direct route to the Wittstock line was considered but has been discounted on cost grounds. However capacity improvements between Velten (Mark) and Neuruppin are still going ahead.
Note that in most cases the lines remain available for freight, diversionary or charter services.
The following line closed to passengers on 27 March 2022.
|393||Sande - Abzw Weißer Floh [- Schortens-Heidmühle]||To be replaced by new alignment to the east. It was definitively closed to all traffic on 18 April 2022 and track-lifting commenced shortly afterwards.|
The following lines closed to regular services on 31 October 2020:
|207, 209.14||Berlin Grünauer Kreuz Nord - Grünauer Kreuz Süd||Almost all services diverted via Flughafen BER Terminals 1-2. A residual late-night service of a few RE7 trains continued until 12 December 2020.|
|209.22||Berlin-Grünau - Abzw Selchow||Almost all services diverted via Flughafen BER Terminals 1-2. A residual late-night service of a few RB22 trains continues to run on Monday nights only.|
The following line closed on 13 June 2020:
|415.1||Düsseldorf Flughafen - Düsseldorf Flughafen Terminal||The one very early morning train diverted to run direct to Düsseldorf Hbf|
The following line closed in March 2020:
|305||Uelzen W750 – Uelzen W23 (Veerßer Kurve)||Berlin – Hamburg IRE services 'temporarily' withdrawn as a Covid-related service reduction but withdrawal made permanent in October 2021.|
The following line closed on 14 December 2019:
|140||Fehmarn-Burg avoiding line||Hamburg - København IC services ceased running via Puttgarden - Rødby; the remaining RB services to Puttgarden all reverse at Fehmarn-Burg.|
The following line closed in September 2019:
|190||Sassnitz-Mukran Abzw Borchtitz - Sassnitz-Mukran Fährhafen||Berlin - Malmö overnight services ceased to operate via the Sassnitz - Trelleborg train ferry after the end of the 2019 season.|
The following line closed on 18 March 2019:
|447||Duisburg Hbf - Duisburg Entenfang||The final day of service was 30 November 2019, when three farewell round trips operated. The service otherwise was by replacement bus from 18 March until 14 December 2019, the official closure date.|
The following line closed on 15 September 2018:
|524||[Chemnitz Hbf –] Chemnitz Süd – Chemnitz-Reichenhain (Abzw Chemnitz Süd Strab)||Line closed for conversion to tram-train route but this connection closed to passengers completely.|
In the "tourist/museum line" sector:
In July 2019 the Ruhrtalbahn announced an end to their operations on the Hagen - Hattingen route as a result of severe mechanical problems with their Schienenbus. Operations resumed in 2021 under the auspices of the Eisenbahnmuseum Bochum, but only as far as Wengern-Ost, leaving the section between there and Hagen-Vorhalle without regular services.
The Niederlausitzer Museumseisenbahn closed their line from Finsterwalde to Crinitz after a final day of service on 30th December 2018. This is because there is substantial work required on the line, which the society were not in a position to fund. It looks increasingly unlikely that this line will reopen.
Planned permanent closures (without replacement)
Land Brandenburg has announced that the experimental service reinstatement between Joachimsthal and Templin Stadt (KBS 209.60) will cease on 12 December 2022. There is also some doubt about the future of services after this date on the sparsely-served section north of Kyritz Am Burgerpark of the Neustadt (Dosse) – Pritzwalk line (KBS 209.73) and on the Pritzwalk West – Pritzwalk – Meyenburg line (KBS 209.74).
Some Länder were previously reviewing their funding of relatively lightly-used lines:
Land Bayern was reportedly examining withdrawing funding from lines that have fewer than 1,000 passengers per day but no action to close any line has been taken so it would appear that this review is dormant.
Land Thüringen was reviewing services on lines which have fewer than 500 passengers per weekday but again no closure action has been taken on any line.
Planned permanent closures (with replacement)
The existing line from Lübeck to Puttgarden will be closed from 1 September 2022 for rebuilding as a double-track electrified line, mostly on a new alignment which will in part run alongside the A1 Autobahn. The new line is due to open in 2026. From 2028 it will form part of a new high-speed line to København via the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link, which will include the world's longest immersed tube tunnel. Neustadt (Holst.) will be served by a link from Haffkrug on the new line to the existing line via Sierksdorf, which will become a branch line. The old route from Ratekau to Haffkrug through Timmendorfer Strand will be abandoned, as will the sections north of Neustadt, through Lensahn and Oldenburg (Holst.) and from Fehmarn-Burg to the terminus at Puttgarden. Most stations on the old route will have replacements on the new route, but they will be at some distance from the towns they are intended to serve, especially at Timmendorfer Strand. The railway on the Danish side closed for reconstruction in April 2021.
The main-line terminus station at Hamburg-Altona is due to close with a replacement through station being built roughly on the site of the current Diebsteich S-Bahn station. The low-level S-Bahn station at Altona will remain. S-Bahn services will not serve Diebsteich for one year from October 2022. According to the project website the planned opening date of the new Altona main-line station is 2027.
There have been numerous deviations of railways to allow open-cast mining. There has been a proposal for significant re-routing of the Görlitz to Cottbus line, which would involve the closure of around 10km of the existing line between Weißwasser and Rietschen, to be replaced by a 13km-long deviation to the east. This may not happen owing to environmental concerns.
Following the serious floods of mid-July 2021 in western Germany, many stretches of line in Nordrhein-Westfalen and Rheinland-Pfalz sustained considerable damage and needed major repairs. The following lines reopened on the dates shown:
|475 Voreifelbahn||Bonn Hbf – Euskirchen||30 August 2021 (to Rheinbach); 1 May 2022 (to Euskirchen)|
|474 Eifelstrecke (northern end)||[Köln –] Erftstadt – Kall||7 September 2021 (to Euskirchen); 23 April 2022 (to Mechernich); 12 June 2022 (to Kall)|
|477 Ahrtalbahn (eastern end)||Remagen – Walporzheim||8 November 2021 (to Ahrweiler); 12 December 2021 (to Walporzheim) (as a single line only)|
|485||[Aachen –] Herzogenrath – Geilenkirchen [– Mönchengladbach]||9 November 2021|
|434 Volmetalbahn (northern end)||Hagen – Rummenohl||12 December 2021|
|482 (eastern end)||Langerwehe – Eschweiler Talbahnhof||12 December 2021 (to Eschweiler-Weisweiler); 7 February 2022 (to Eschweiler Talbahnhof)|
|440 Ruhr-Sieg-Strecke||Hagen – Werdohl [– Siegen]||20 December 2021|
|450.9 S9||Wuppertal-Vohwinkel – Essen-Steele||27 December 2021|
|474 Eifelstrecke (southern end)||[Trier –] Ehrang – Kyllburg||5 February 2022 (to Auw an der Kyll); 28 May 2022 (to Bitburg-Erdorf); 21 June 2022 (to Kyllburg)|
|666 (part)||Bad Dürkheim – Freinsheim||23 May 2022|
The following stretches of line need extensive repairs and in some cases complete rebuilding, and remain closed. A projected date for reopening is shown where known:
|474 Eifelstrecke (central section)||Kyllburg – Kall||'late summer' 2022: Kyllburg – Gerolstein; |
11 December 2022: Gerolstein – Nettersheim
'Summer 2023': Kall - Nettersheim
|434 Volmetalbahn (part)||Rummenohl – Lüdenscheid||10 December 2022|
|482 (remainder)||Stolberg Altstadt – Stolberg (Rheinl) Hbf – Eschweiler Talbahnhof||October 2022: Stolberg Rathaus – Stolberg (Rheinl) Hbf; |
June 2023: Stolberg (Rheinl) Hbf – Eschweiler Talbahnhof;
October 2023: [Breinig (?) –] Stolberg Altstadt – Stolberg Rathaus
|475 Erfttalbahn||Euskirchen – Bad Münstereifel||10 December 2023. Electrification planned for 2026|
|477 Ahrtalbahn (western end)||Walporzheim – Ahrbrück||Eight bridges over the river Ahr and most of the track have to be replaced. This is expected to take until the end of 2025.|
The cross-border line between Küstrin-Kietz and Kostrzyn (PL) closed on 13 December 2020 for two years while the bridge over the river Oder/Odra is replaced by a new structure.
As a result of work on the reinstatement of the main line tracks on the Dresdner Bahn in southern Berlin, Berlin S-Bahn line S2 is closed between Lichtenrade and Blankenfelde (Kr. Teltow-Fläming) between 9 May and 10 December 2022, and between Mahlow and Blankenfelde until 16 May 2023.
The Zellertalbahn between Monsheim, Langmeil (Pfalz) and Münchweiler (Alsenz) (KBS 662.1) has been closed since 2018 because of the condition of the track. Services usually operate on summer Sundays only. Reopening is expected in December 2023, with passenger services resuming in summer 2024.
The line between Ihrhove and Nieuweschans closed after a ship hit and destroyed the main span of the bridge over the River Ems on 3 December 2015. DB is reconstructing the bridge, but the line is not expected to re-open until 2024. The train service on the German section west of the bridge, between Nieuweschans and Weener, resumed on 30 October 2016. Once the bridge has reopened a direct Bremen – Groningen service is planned, to be known as the "Wunderline". Initially a journey time of 2h30 is foreseen, reducing to 2h15 with line improvements. These include double-tracking the sections between the Dutch border and Ihrhove and between Stickhausen-Velde and Augustfehn.
The service on the cross-border section of KBS 236 between Varnsdorf Pivovar Kocour (CZ) and Seifhennersdorf (2.1 km) was withdrawn at short notice and replaced by a minibus shuttle on 13th March 2015, because of problems with the German infrastructure owner DRE not being able to meet the operational requirements for cross-border services. A solution to the bureaucratic issues was apparently reached in 2020 but reports suggest that reopening will not be until December 2022.
The Eberswalde – Frankfurt (Oder) line is closed from 15 April until 22 August 2022 between Letschin (Abzw Werbig oben) and Frankfurt (O) while the bridge over tbe Ostbahn at Werbig is renewed. Trains are terminating at a temporary platform on the normally freight-only curve at Werbig (see entry DE22/296).
In the "tourist/museum line" sector:
Three lines where the infrastructure is owned by RSE (Rhein-Sieg Eisenbahn GmbH) are closed until further notice owing to infrastructure damage:
- the Oleftalbahn between Kall and Hellenthal sustained severe damage in the July 2021 floods;
- the line between Rahden and Uchte was closed at short notice in June 2021 because of urgently needed track repairs;
- the Wiehltalbahn from Gummersbach-Dieringhausen to Waldbröl has been closed since summer 2020 because of fire damage to a bridge over the Wiehl river at Bielstein.
The Museums-Eisenbahn-Club Losheim was closed suddenly in April 2017 by the authorities because of the condition of the track. At present trains are only running between "Großer Wald" (west of Losheim) and Dellborner Mühle whilst relaying is in progress.
For details of older changes see Germany - Older General Information.
Train services in Germany are divided into a number of distinct categories:
- S (S-Bahn): Regular interval local trains in urban areas, generally using segregated tracks.
- RB (Regionalbahn): Basic local services.
- RE (RegionalExpress): Regular interval local or semi-fast trains calling at fewer stations than RB services.
- IRE (Inter-RegionalExpress): Long-distance semi-fast trains. This designation is quite rarely used; it currently appears only in Baden-Württemberg.
- IC (InterCity): Long-distance expresses, making limited stops.
- EC (EuroCity): Similar to IC, but for international journeys.
- RJ / RJX (Railjet / Railjet Xpress): High-speed Austrian Railways (ÖBB) trains to and from München via Salzburg.
- ICE (InterCity Express) & ICE Sprinter: High-speed, long-distance electric trains worked with dedicated ICE trainsets. These are the only trains to operate on certain stretches of high-speed line (Schnellfahrstrecken) such as between Frankfurt (Main) and Köln and between Hannover and Würzburg.
- ECE (EuroCity Express): Trains between München and Zürich are designated ECE and are operated by Swiss Railways (SBB) high-speed trainsets.
- THA (Thalys): High-speed trains on the Köln - Brussels - Paris route, managed by the French and Belgian railways.
- NJ (Nightjet): Almost all of the remaining sleeper trains to and from Germany are operated by ÖBB (Austrian Railways) and branded as "Nightjet", the exceptions being the services to and from Moskva which retain the designation EN (EuroNight).
- D-Zug: This designation is derived from Durchgang, the German for corridor. Its use for regular passenger trains is now very rare — the only remaining instances are on the "Sylt Shuttle Plus" services between Westerland (Sylt), Niebüll and Bredstedt, and the seasonal Berlin – Malmö – Stockholm overnight services. It may still be used within Germany for an excursion or other special passenger train.
A few services operate only during school term time, or are extensively altered during school holidays. The dates of holidays vary from Land to Land.
Train running can be observed on Zugfinder which displays the position of trains along each line.
A brief Guide to German railway terminology is available.