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-Hercegovina.
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 have continued to sponsor the production of printed timetable books in Kursbuch format, but only for those tables traversing the relevant Land: Baden-Württemberg, Thüringen, NRW and Bayern (only via mail order) have been observed.
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.
- DB's Karte für den Personenverkehr Deutschland, which is available from DB travel centres and agencies, shows all German railways on a sheet map at a scale of 1:1,200,000. A new edition is issued with each December timetable change. It currently costs EUR4.
- 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.
DB offers its own network tickets, which give much better value than the standard One Country passes if travel is entirely by local trains.
Among the most useful tickets is the Quer-durchs-Land Ticket, which gives one day's unlimited travel throughout Germany for up to five people travelling together on all local trains (S-Bahn, RB, RE and IRE) on any day of the week. This includes almost all private companies that run scheduled local train services. Tourist and preserved railways, including most steam railways that operate a regular service, are not included. Use of ICE and IC trains, while not generally allowed, is permitted between Stuttgart and Konstanz, and west of Bremen. A few lines that cross into Austria, Switzerland and Poland are included. The ticket is however NOT valid on tram, U-Bahn and local bus services, although it is valid on 'tram-train' services in certain areas. It is valid from 09.00 on Mondays to Fridays, and from midnight at weekends, until 03.00 on the day following the day of validity. The number of people travelling must be specified when booking - there is a base fare for one passenger with each additional passenger (up to five in total) being charged a small extra amount. Tickets are best purchased online or from a ticket vending machine as there is a EUR 2 surcharge when they are bought at a ticket office. The names of all the passengers in the group need to be written on the ticket. It is permitted for people to join the main party later on the journey as long as the names of the whole group are shown on the ticket from the outset, and all the passengers have been paid for.
The former weekend-only Schönes-Wochenende Ticket has been withdrawn, with the Quer-durchs-Land Ticket becoming the weekend as well as the weekday option. There is therefore no pan-German ticket which allows use of local city transport, although regional tickets do, as mentioned below.
Länder-Tickets give unlimited travel for up to five people for one day (from 09:00 on weekdays; all day at weekends and on national or regional holidays) throughout the Land [region] concerned on local trains, and in some cases a neighbouring Land as well. Tram, U-Bahn and most local bus services within the area of validity are also included. They are occasionally valid on some Intercity services, for example in the Berlin area, and west of Bremen. Most Länder-Tickets now have a base fare with a small extra amount for each additional passenger. Only Berlin/Brandenburg and Hessen still charge a flat price while Nordrhein-Westfalen has one-person and two-to-five-person versions. A few Länder offer First Class and/or evening (Nacht - valid after 18:00) versions as well as the basic version.
Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Thüringen count as the one area, and a ticket for any one of these Länder is valid in all three. The same principle applies to Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz. Note however that while a Schleswig-Holstein-Ticket is valid in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the converse is not true, although both are valid in Hamburg. A Niedersachsen-Ticket is valid in Hamburg and in Bremen. Validity details for each Länder-Ticket can be checked on the Die Beförderer website. Maps and other useful information are on the DB website
Some areas offer an add-on to other countries for an extra cost, for example the Niedersachsen-Ticket has an optional extension to Groningen (NL) and the Sachsen- and Bayern-Tickets have a version which is also valid in Bohemia (Böhmen) in the Czech Republic. Note that the Sachsen-Böhmen-Ticket is however not valid in Sachsen-Anhalt or Thüringen.
All urban areas are part of a Verkehrsverbund which co-ordinates public transport in that area and in which an integrated ticketing system applies. These can cover just the area round a town, or an entire region such as Berlin and Brandenburg. These normally offer day tickets for various areas which can sometimes be better value than a Länder-Ticket, or have no weekday start time restriction.
Bargain tickets include Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis which are the equivalent of British 'Advance' tickets, and are subject to similar restrictions. They are only available on journeys that involve at least one leg on an IC/EC or ICE service, and on those services the specified train must be used. Local connecting services as part of the through journey are not time-restricted; although a suggested service may be shown, this is not binding. For journeys of over 100km, 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 on-the-day (Flexpreis) fares - the dearest, for ICE services, a slightly cheaper rate for IC/EC services, and the cheapest, valid on local trains (DB and non-DB) 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 IC/EC or ICE 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 gives a 25% or 50% fares discount for a period of 3 or 12 months. The 100% BahnCard allows unlimited travel for 3 or 12 months. Bahncard details are available on the DB website.
DB tickets and Interrail/Eurail passes are not valid on Flixtrain long distance services.
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
Right. A short piece of the Aachen - Liège main line has left-hand running between the west end of the Busch Tunnel and the Belgian border. There is also left-hand running between a flyover at Nürnberg-Reichelsdorf and Nürnberg Hbf, in order to facilitate reversal at the latter by trains between the Treuchtlingen and Würzburg lines. There is also left-hand running 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.
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, 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.
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 and Malmö 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 link Köln and Hamburg, Köln and Berlin via Dortmund, and Berlin and Stuttgart via Frankfurt am Main Süd. There are generally one or two trains each way per day on each route. They also run a Hamburg-Lörrach overnight car-carrying service in the summer months (the former Bahn Touristik Express service).
The section of the Ablachtalbahn between Stockach and Mengen (KBS 732) has been purchased by the local councils of Meßkirch and Sauldorf for a symbolic one euro from the previous owner, Ablachtalbahn GmbH. The line is now known as the Biberbahn. Reopening to passengers is planned for July 2021 with three train pairs daily. The first and last trains will run through from and to Radolfzell. Normal local and national tickets will be accepted.
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, was due to open in December 2020, but this has been delayed until December 2021. A west to south curve from Westhafen to Invalidenstraße is due to open later, and plans are to extend the line to Yorckstraße via Potsdamer Platz, thus creating a second north-south S-Bahn line through central Berlin.
Work to reopen a further 1.3km section of the Furstenwalde (Spree) to Beeskow line between Bad Saarow Klinikum and Bad Saarow Süd is underway, with reopening planned for December 2021. The line south of Bad Saarow is owned by the Scharmützelseebahn GmbH, who are organising the reopening works.
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 in December 2021.
A new IC service will commence in December 2021 between Frankfurt (Main) Hbf, Münster (Westfalen) and Norddeich Mole. This will introduce passenger services to the south to west curve from Hagen-Kabel on the Siegen line to the Dortmund line at Hagen-Vorhalle, and the south to east curve from Hagen-Kabel to the Hamm line at Westhofen (Westf.). It will also introduce regular services to the Gießen avoiding line which currently only sees one weekday peak train each way per day (DE21/505).
An extension of the Stolberg (Rheinland) to Stolberg Altstadt passenger service to Breinig was planned for December 2020, but will now open in December 2021. Reopening has been 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. A further extension to Walheim, on the Belgian border, is still scheduled for December 2022.
The Zwönitztalbahn between Chemnitz and Aue (Sachs.) (KBS524) is due to reopen in September 2021. It was closed on 15th September 2018 for conversion to tram-train service under the "Chemnitzer Modell" Stage 2.
The Kiel to Schönberger Strand branch, which is currently only a tourist line beyond Kiel-Oppendorf, was planned to be reopened to normal passenger services in March 2021; however this date has slipped until December 2022.
A diversion of the Sande - Esens line is under construction to improve access for freight to Jade-Weser-Port in Wilhelmshaven. A new 4.7km double-track alignment from Sande towards the junction with the port line at Abzw. Weißer Floh will run to the east of the existing single-track line through Sanderbusch. On completion, targeted for the end of 2021, the existing line will be closed and the halt at Sanderbusch abandoned.
Calw - Weil der Stadt looks unlikely to open before December 2022 at the earliest. The project has been considerably delayed by legal action against the project, which has now 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 planned for 2023. Some redoubling of the existing lines from Schönholz to Wilhelmsruh and north of Schildow is required to bring the lines into passenger use at the planned 30-minute frequency. 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.
Dombühl - Dinkelsbühl was planned for reopening to passengers in December 2019, but this has been deferred. The previous infrastructure owner BEG closed the entire line between Dombühl and Nördlingen on 25 January 2019. However, the new infrastructure and operating company, MFEG (Mittelfränkische Eisenbahngesellschaft) is due to commence scheduled passenger services between Dombühl and Wilburgstetten by 2024 at the latest. Occasional freight services between Nördlingen and Wilburgstetten resumed on 3 May 2020. A seasonal Sunday-only museum service between Nördlingen and Wilburgstetten is due to resume on 4 April 2021 operated by Bayernbahn; see DB Kursbuch table 12991 for timings.
The reopening to passengers of the first part of the Weststrecke in Trier, across the Mosel from the existing passenger line via Trier Hbf between Ehrang and Trier West was planned for December 2020, but has been delayed until the end of 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.
Conversion of the section of the Bremen-Thedinghausener Eisenbahn between Moordeich and Leeste (b. Bremen) to an extension of Bremen tram route no. 8 was finally approved in summer 2020 following long delays caused by local opposition to the tram service, and completion is now expected in 2024. The BTE preserved service ("Pingelheini") on the section between Bremen-Kirchhuchting and Leeste ceased at the end of the 2015 season, leaving just the Leeste to Thedinghausen section in operation. A resumption of the Pingelheini service between Leeste and Stuhr, 4.5km from Kirchhuchting, is planned for some time in 2021. Once the tram service starts it is expected that trams and Pingelheini trains will share the section west of Leeste. An extension of the tram route to Thedinghausen is being considered by local politicians but this would appear to be a long-term aspiration.
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.
Train-ferry operations between Puttgarden and Rødby ceased in December 2019, as part of preparations for the construction of the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link, which will include the world's longest immersed tube tunnel. Completion is due in 2028. The railway on the Danish side is closing for reconstruction in mid-2021. The existing DB line to Puttgarden will close north of Neustadt (Holst.) at the end of 2021 for rebuilding on a new alignment, in part alongside the A1 Autobahn. The new line is not expected to open until 2026.
Preliminary work has started on the reconstruction of the 4.5km 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.
Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has stated its intention to reopen the Barth - Zingst - Prerow Darßbahn as far as Bresewitz, halfway between Barth and Zingst, by 2022. Tripartite funding, split between the federal government, the Land and the Usedomer Bäderbahn was agreed in early 2020 for the reconstruction of the road/rail bridge at Meiningen, which will allow reopening of the entire line to Prerow by 2027.
It is planned to reopen the first 2.9km of the Wrist - Itzehoe line as far as Kellinghusen. Financing has apparently been agreed in December 2019 after years of prevarication, but a firm date for reopening has not yet been announced.
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 KBS592 between Rottleberode and Stolberg (Harz), presumably with a view to reintroducing tourist 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.
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.
Land Brandenburg plans to reopen the following lines by 2022:
- [Beelitz Stadt -] Beelitz Bea - Lienewitz Lia [- Ferch-Lienewitz] (reinstatement of bridge over the Belzig - Berlin line to be used by a new Jüterbog to Potsdam service);
- Priort - Wustermark Rbf Wot (south to east curve to be used by a new Potsdam to Berlin service).
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.
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 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 under consideration for reopening, to give a more direct route between Berlin and Potsdam either for S-Bahn or regional trains, or both. 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
- Reinstatement of regional tracks between Schönholz and Hennigsdorf, to give a direct route to the Kremmen/Wittstock/Pritzwalk line, and extension of the S-Bahn (S25) over this line as far as Velten (Mark).
|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 and Frankfurter Allee - Ostkreuz (oben)||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||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|
|513||Dippoldiswalde – Kurort Kipsdorf (reopening after 2002 flood damage)||19 June|
|133||[Kiel Hbf -] Kiel Schulen am Langsee - Kiel-Oppendorf||4 September|
|200.9||Treptower Park - Warschauer Straße (S-Bahn Berlin)||10 December|
|459||Meinerzhagen - Brügge (Westf)||10 December|
|580||Erfurt - Ebensfeld, including connections to and from Coburg (Schnellfahrstrecke)||10 December|
|225||Brieske – Hosena temporarily (until 24 September 2016) owing to closure of Ruhland - Hosena for engineering work||30 January|
|482||[Alsdorf Poststrasse -] Eschweiler-St.Jöris - Stolberg (Rheinl.) Hbf||12 June|
|908||Gotteszell - Viechtach (trial service now until September 2023)||12 September|
|541||Wünschendorf Nord - Gera-Zwötzen (0.5km connection to allow closure of line via Gera-Liebschwitz)||25 October|
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.
The line between Neustadt (Holstein) and Puttgarden is to close in late 2021, to allow complete reconstruction. The railway is to be substantially re-aligned and electrified, with the work taking at least six years. This is in preparation for opening of the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel to Denmark.
Hamburg Altona is due to close with a replacement main line through station being built roughly on the site of the current Diebsteich S-Bahn station. However an ongoing legal challenge by the Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) has paused the project for the time being. According to the project website the planned opening date of the new station is now 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.
The Niederlausitzer Museumseisenbahn closed their preserved 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. Some repair work has taken place so there are hopes of a reinstatement of services in the near to medium term.
The Teckelfahrten tourist operation from Hagen to Ennepetal did not operate in 2017 or 2018, and in July 2019 the Ruhrtalbahn announced an end to their operations on the Teckel and Ruhrtal (Hagen - Hattingen) routes as a result of severe mechanical problems with their Schienenbus. Operations did not resume in 2020 and it is unclear whether they will resume at all.
The Museums-Eisenbahn-Club Losheim was closed suddenly in April 2017 by the authorities because of the condition of the track. In 2019 trains only ran between "Großer Wald" (west of Losheim) and Dellborner Mühle whilst relaying is in progress.
The Wachtl-Bahn tourist operation did not resume in 2017 as it did not pass an official inspection. The service is currently suspended and it is unclear whether or not it will resume.
A 4.7 km section of the Gera - Weischlitz line between Abzw. Gera Debschwitz and Wünschendorf Nord closed on 24 October 2016 owing to the poor condition of a viaduct at Liebschwitz. It was replaced by a short link to the Gera - Saalfeld line near Wolfsgefärth.
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.
The service on the cross-border section of KBS 236 between Varnsdorf Pivovar Kocour (CZ) and Seifhennersdorf (2.1km) 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 has been reached and scheduled services are reportedly due to resume on 13 June 2021. A railcar made two test trips to and from Seifhennersdorf station on 12 January 2021.
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.
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 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 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 10 December 2017:
|594 (part)||Buttstädt - Großheringen|
The following line closed on 25 September 2016:
|225||Brieske - Hosena||Closed after temporary diversion of Ruhland - Hosena services for engineering work ended. A summer weekend service from Dresden via Kamenz still runs via this line.|
The following line closed on 31 July 2016:
|209.70||Pritzwalk West - Putlitz|
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 and on Berlin - Hamburg services.
- 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 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.