Germany - General Information

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Country Name

Germany (Deutschland)

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, also operation of EC and most other international services within Germany.
  • DB Regio AG: Local and regional passenger services. DB Regio is split into regional divisions and also owns various subsidiary rail passenger companies, almost all of which bear DB branding.
  • DB Vertrieb GmbH: Retail sales and systems
  • DB Cargo Deutschland AG: Freight services
  • DB InfraGO AG: Infrastructure (since 27 December 2023 when it was formed by a merger or the former DB Netz and DB Station&Service entities)
  • 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.

Other Operators

Long-distance services

There has been only limited success with open-access long-distance passenger services in competition with DB. The following operators run trains within Germany or to neighbouring countries:

  • Flixtrain, a subsidiary of German long-distance coach operator Flixbus, runs various long-distance trains within Germany. PDF timetables and a route map are available here. Note that both flixtrain.com and flixtrain.de redirect to the Flixbus site so this link must be used. There are generally one or two trains each way on certain days only on each route. Timetables change frequently. Other than the core Stuttgart to Berlin and Hamburg to Köln services, routes and stations served are also subject to frequent changes, additions and withdrawals.
  • Abellio Rail Mitteldeutschland runs the Harz-Berlin Express on summer weekends only between Berlin and Goslar/Thale Hbf, having taken over from Transdev in 2018.
  • Snälltåget (a subsidiary of Transdev) operates overnight trains between Berlin, Malmö and Stockholm for most of the year.
  • RDC Deutschland subsidiary BahnTouristikExpress operates a Hamburg-Lörrach overnight car-carrying service in the summer months, marketed as BTE AutoReiseZug, and the seasonal weekend-only Alpen-Sylt Nachtexpress overnight service between Salzburg and Westerland (Sylt). RDC subsidiary RDC Autozug Sylt GmbH operates a car-carrying service between Niebüll and Westerland (Sylt) in competition with DB.
  • Urlaubs-Express operates Motorail services in the winter from various cities in northern Germany to München and ski resorts in Austria, and in the summer to München, Lörrach, Innsbruck and Verona. Passengers without cars are also carried.
  • Thalys operates high-speed services between Paris, Brussel/Bruxelles and Köln, with occasional services extended to the Ruhr. They are now part of Eurostar Group which is mainly owned by the French and Belgian national railways SNCF and SNCB/NMBS. In 2024 Thalys services are expected to be rebranded as "Eurostar".

Local services

Local and regional services are tendered by regions (Länder) in lots comprising a particular area or network, usually for a period of between two and twelve years. As a result, over the years an increasing number of services have become operated by companies other than DB Regio, to the extent that DB Regio-operated trains are a rarity in quite a few areas.

These non-DB companies are often owned by the Land concerned (for example HLB in Hessen and SWEG in Baden-Württemberg), or by the state railways of other countries (for example various companies are owned by Netinera, part of FS, the Italian state railway company), or they can be completely private companies, often foreign (for example National Express (UK), Go-Ahead (UK) or Transdev (France)).

Language

German.

Upper and Lower Sorbian are Slavic languages spoken in the areas around Bautzen and Cottbus respectively. They appear alongside German on station nameboards in these areas.

North Frisian is a minority language spoken in the north-west of Schleswig-Holstein. Station nameboards in this area are also bilingual.

Currency

Euro

UIC codes

  • Deutsche Bahn AG: numeric 80, alpha DB.

Other companies operating on DB InfraGO AG (formerly DB Netz) tracks in Germany also use numeric code 80 but each has its own individual alpha code.

The former Deutsche Reichsbahn code was 50, but this will now be seen only on withdrawn or museum vehicles.

Timetable

Journey Planner

Actual Train Times

  • Zugverfolgung.com Note that this site seems to offer tracking for Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland as well.
  • BahnExpert 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

Downloadable Timetable

http://kursbuch.bahn.de/hafas/kbview.exe

If the table number is known, it can simply be inserted in the Kursbuchstreckennummer search box at top left.

Otherwise, use one of the buttons in the left-hand column:

  • "Kursbuchtabellensuche". This 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 (Table number)
    • Zugnummer (Train number e.g. IC1234)
  • "Interaktive Streckenkarte". This button produces a passenger network map. Scroll to the desired area, click on the table number next to a line and that line's timetable will be displayed.
  • "Tabellenübersichten". This button produces further options, including:
    • Regionaltabellen (In spite of its name, an almost-complete table list - but see note on omitted tables below)
    • Museums- und Nostalgiebahnen (Preserved railways - only a very few shown)

The Schifffahrtstabellen (shipping services) and Bergbahnen (mountain railways) buttons do not link to any tables.

Unfortunately, some services provided by operators other than DB are not included in the electronic Kursbuch. These are listed 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 and 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.

Printed Timetable

DB has not provided a hard-copy national timetable since 2007-08. A local book for the 2023 timetable in Nordrhein-Westfalen is available to order from the VRS website. It is believed that Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein also still publish timetable books for services in their areas.

Engineering Information

Engineering work information in German only.

A DB engineering works app is available in both Android and iPhone versions but only in German.

The APKPure DB Bauarbeiten app gives a number of options.

Bus Information

The Journey Planner (above) selects bus services if they provide the best journey.

Maps

Printed Maps

Web-based Maps

  • 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 updated December 2022 Also enlargements for Berlin Hamburg the Ruhr area Frankfurt to Stuttgart
  • Maps and Plans - Germany
  • The DB InfraGO Infrastructure Register has an interactive map available.
  • DB Netze had a catalogue of railway maps available to order. It is not clear if this still exists on the new DB InfraGO website.
  • The DB website has downloadable schematic maps of local services for all Länder. It also has very general maps showing the ICE and IC/EC networks.

Ticketing

Deutschland-Ticket

This is a season ticket for almost all urban, local and regional transport across Germany, priced at only €49 per calendar month. It is sold on a subscription basis and in digital format only.

Tickets are not valid as a rule on long-distance services (IC/EC or ICE), but there are certain exceptions as shown in the validity conditions. They are valid on most of the narrow-gauge steam railways in eastern Germany that operate regular scheduled services, usually on payment of a supplement.

A summary of the validity conditions is on the DB site in English here. Full validity details are on a pdf which is linked to from the DB German-language site here under Wo, in welchen Zügen, gilt das Deutschland-Ticket in Deutschland? then under Geltungsbereich Deutschland-Ticket.

Normally a German, or Eurozone-based bank account is required to set up a direct debit for the subscription; however a few possibilities for international purchasers are known with the Hamburg transport authority's "HVV Switch" app where UK customers can use PayPal, or "MoPla Solutions" which allows payment by UK credit card.

For occasional visits to Germany, the following offers may be more suitable.

Rover tickets

There are two main versions, the Quer-durchs-Land Ticket which covers the whole of Germany, and Länder-Tickets which cover each individual region (Land) of the country.

All these tickets are valid from 09:00 on Mondays to Fridays, and from midnight at weekends and on public holidays, until 03:00 on the morning following the day of validity and are only valid on local train services (IRE, RE, RB and S-Bahn, not IC/EC or ICE) whether operated by DB or any of the many non-DB operators . Museum-type lines are generally excluded apart from the few that accept local public transport tickets.

The main difference between the two types of ticket, apart from the areas of validity, is that the Quer-durchs-Land Ticket is not valid on local urban transport (buses, trams and U-Bahn services) whereas Länder-Tickets generally (but not always) are.

The Quer-durchs-Land Ticket and most Länder-Tickets are valid for between one and five people, with a base fare being charged for the first person and a small additional amount added for each additional traveller. The number of passengers must be specified at the time of purchase and all their names written on the ticket. A few Lander-Tickets are sold either at a flat fare for up to five people or with only a single or multiple travellers option.

Some Länder-Tickets are valid in more than one Land; in particular Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Thüringen count as the one area, and a ticket for any one of these Länder is valid in all three. Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland also count as the one area, and the Schleswig-Holstein-Ticket is valid in Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, although the cheaper Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-Ticket is valid in Hamburg but not in Schleswig-Holstein.

There are numerous options only available in certain Länder including all-day, evening-only, youth and First Class versions. Some Länder-Tickets and the Quer-Durchs-Land Ticket are valid on Intercity services in a few areas.

Rover tickets are also available which include areas of other countries, including Groningen (NL), Alsace and Lorraine (FR) and Bohemia (Böhmen) (CZ).

Validity details for each of these tickets can be checked on the DB website's regional offers page.

There are also tariff association (Verkehrsverbund) tickets available in most regions of Germany. 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 zonal combinations which may be better value than a Länder-Ticket, or have no weekday start time restriction.

Point-to-point tickets

As with most European railways, dearer flexible and cheaper train-specific tickets are available.

Flexible tickets are known as Flexpreis on long-distance (ICE or IC/EC) trains and as Normalpreis on local trains when priced by DB. They can be used on any train of the specified type on any permitted route between origin and destination. Break of journey is allowed. Tickets for ICE trains are dearer than those for IC/EC or purely local services. A Flexpreis ticket for a dearer train type can be used on cheaper train types if desired.

Notes:

1. Flexpreis tickets are no longer available from on-board staff. If you board an ICE or IC/EC train without a ticket, you must buy a ticket on the DB website or app within 10 minutes of departing from your boarding station or be liable for a considerable surcharge.
2. Normalpreis tickets cannot be upgraded to be used on long-distance services except where there is disruption, when they may exceptionally be allowed to be used without extra payment.

Local tickets entirely within city or Land tariff areas have different pricing structures and conditions. Often these tickets are zonal and time-limited, and valid on other local transport, but they may well be non-refundable and have no break of journey facility.

Advance tickets, known as Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis, are available on any journey with at least one leg on a long-distance service. They are only valid on the booked long-distance train. Cheaper tickets are available to under-27s and over-65s.

Full details of all DB tickets are on the DB website ticketing page.

BahnCards

BahnCards are annual discount railcards, sold on a subscription basis, which give either a 25% or 50% discount and in either First or Second Class versions. Cheaper Youth and Senior Cards are available, as are trial and occasional promotional versions. There is also a BahnCard100 which gives one year's unlimited travel on almost all public transport throughout Germany.

Full details are available on the DB website.

Flixtrain tickets

Flixtrain tickets must be booked from the Flixbus website or a Flixbus office, which can be found at major bus stations. DB tickets and Interrail/Eurail passes are not valid on Flixtrain services.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure Authority

DB InfraGO AG, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, is responsible for track and infrastructure. It replaced DB Netz AG on 27 December 2023, when it was created by a merger of the DB Netz AG and DB Station&Service organisations.

The Eisenbahn-Bundesamt (EBA) is a government agency tasked with regulatory oversight of safety and some other matters, independent of DB.

Network Statement

DB InfraGO AG > Network Statement 2024

Gauge

Standard.

There are various narrow-gauge private lines, including former DB/DR operated ones in the Harz (1000 mm gauge), Bad Doberan ("Molli") (900 mm) and, all 750 mm, on the island of Rügen ("Rasender Roland"), at Oschatz (Döllnitzbahn), Radebeul (Lößnitzgrundbahn), Freital (Weißeritztalbahn), Cranzahl (Fichtelbergbahn), 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.

Electrification

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.
It is planned to electrify the few hundred metres from the Polish border viaduct at Zgorzelec into Görlitz Hbf 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 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.

Distances

The Schweers + Wall Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland (11th Edn. ISBN 978-3-89494-149-9) is the best source of distance information.

Other Railways

See separate document.

Tourist lines

Very few tourist lines run frequently - once or twice a month 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 very small number of preserved lines in its Museums- und Nostalgiebahnen section.

Timetables and other information about tourist lines are published annually in Kursbuch der deutschen Museums-Eisenbahnen (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 for details of a few of them.

Metro

Berlin, Hamburg, München, Nürnberg. A number of other cities have partially underground or interurban tram networks, known as U-Bahn or Stadtbahn, including Bielefeld, Bochum, Bonn, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Frankfurt am Main, Gelsenkirchen, Hannover, Köln, Ludwigshafen, Mannheim, Mülheim (Ruhr) and Stuttgart. Some cities have "Tram-Train" networks with vehicles that run on both the urban tram network and the suburban rail network, including Chemnitz, Heilbronn, Karlsruhe and Kassel.

Track plans for all metro and tram systems in Germany are available on the Gleisplanweb site.

Trams/LRT-Systems

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 all tram systems in Germany are available on the Gleisplanweb site or on the UrbanRail site.

See also Germany - Tram services over obscure routes

Recent and Future Changes

General

The funding of local public transport, including railways, is controlled by the Länder (regions) 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.

Recent Changes

Openings

2024

The following line opened on 17 April 2024

434 Rummenohl – Lüdenscheid-Brügge – Lüdenscheid Reopened after July 2021 flood damage

The following line opened on 8 April 2024

459 Gummersbach – Marienheide Reopened after July 2021 flood damage

The following line opened on 7 January 2024

428 Recklinghausen Süd – Herne-Rottbruch [– Bochum-Riemke] New RE41 service direct from Recklinghausen Hbf to Bochum Hbf
2023

The following line opened on 4 September 2023

RB TES Erkner – Fangschleuse Tesla Süd Shuttle service on Mondays to Fridays to serve Tesla electric car factory

The following line opened on 11 June 2023

236 Varnsdorf Pivovar Kocour (CZ) – Seifhennersdorf Rail service reinstated after 8-year 'temporary closure'

In the "tourist/museum line" sector:

The Wiehltalbahn from Gummersbach-Dieringhausen to Waldbröl reopened as far as Wiehl on 26 March 2023. It had been closed since summer 2020 because of fire damage to a bridge over the Wiehl river at Bielstein. It is unclear when or if a further reopening can be expected.

2022

The following lines opened on 11 December 2022

209 Genshagener Heide Ost – Abzw Birkengrund Süd Used by extended FEX/RB32 services to Ludwigsfelde
209.32 Nord Grünauer Kreuz West – Grünauer Kreuz Süd Used by RB24 and new RB32 to BER T5 (note RB32 operates in two separate sections)
209.33 Lienewitz Lia – Beelitz Bea Reinstated bridge over the Berlin – Bad Belzig line
690 Koblenz-Mosel Gbf – Koblenz Lützel (Koblenz avoiding curve) Used by one RB12 Trier – Köln train pair daily, only until the direct line via Gerolstein reopens (probably late 2024 at the earliest)
750.1 Ulm Hbf – Wendlingen Rübholz – Wendlingen Abzw W64 (NBS) New high-speed line, initially with connecting curve to Wendlingen (Neckar)

The following line opened on 1 November 2022

351 Einbeck Mitte – Einbeck BBS/PS-Speicher Sparse weekday-only service over this section, experimental for three years

The following line opened on 24 June 2022

393 Sande – Abzw Weißer Floh [– Schortens-Heidmühle] Brand new alignment well to the east of previous one

The following line opened on 12 June 2022

333 (PKP) Guben – Guben Grenze [– Gubin (PL)] Initially weekend-only service; daily from December 2022

The following line opened on 21 May 2022

190 Sassnitz-Mukran Abzw Borchtitz – Sassnitz-Mukran Fährhafen Limited summer service to connect with Ystad and Bornholm ferries

The following line opened on 30 January 2022

524 Chemnitz Technopark – Chemnitz-Reichenhain (Abzw Chemnitz Süd Strab) New tram-train connection onto reconstructed Chemnitz – Aue line

In the "tourist/museum line" sector:

The Museums-Eisenbahn Minden resumed operation over the long-closed section between Preußisch Oldendorf and Bad Holzhausen on their line to Bohmte on 26 May 2022.

2021

The following lines opened on 20 December 2021

440 Hagen-Kabel – Hagen-Vorhalle Curve between Siegen and Witten lines used by new IC34 services to/from Dortmund
440 Hagen-Kabel – Westhofen (Westf) Curve between Siegen and Unna lines used by new IC34 services to/from Hamm

The following lines opened on 12 December 2021

209.35 Bad Saarow Klinikum – Bad Saarow-Pieskow
Augsburg Tramway Haunstetten West – Königsbrunn Zentrum Line 3, southern extension
Stuttgart LRT Fasanenhof Schelmenwasen – Flughafen/Messe Ost Line U6, south-eastern extension

The following line opened on 11 December 2021

Karlsruhe LRT Kombilösung cross-city tram tunnels 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

The following line opened on 29 November 2021

627, 646 Frankfurt am Main Hbf – Abzw Mainzer Landstraße New exit line to the north of Frankfurt Außenbahnhof

The following line opened on 8 August 2021

732 Sauldorf – Stockach Summer Sundays only. Reopening delayed by flood damage

The following line opened on 18 July 2021

732 Mengen – Sauldorf Summer Sundays only
2020

The following lines opened on 13 December 2020

203.Sued Abzw Doberlug-Kirchhain Nord - Abzw Hennersdorf West Used by new peak-hour trains between Berlin and Finsterwalde
450.28 Mettmann Stadtwald - Abzw Wuppertal-Dornap Partly new-build line connecting with the Velbert – Wuppertal line
970 Lindau-Aeschach - Lindau-Reutin (Lindau avoiding line) Served by new electric München – Zürich services

The following lines opened on 31 October 2020

207 Abzw Selchow - Abzw Selchow Süd In connection with the opening of Flughafen BER T1-2. In regular use from 13 December
209.22 Abzw Bohnsdorf West - Abzw Bohnsdorf Süd In connection with the opening of Flughafen BER T1-2
207, 209.9/14/22 Abzw Glasower Damm Ost - line 6151 - Flughafen BER Terminal 1-2 - Abzw Bohnsdorf Nord

The following line opened on 26 October 2020

200.9 Flughafen BER Terminal 5 (Schönefeld) - Flughafen BER Terminal 1-2 (S-Bahn)

The following line opened on 11 September 2020

450.9 Gelsenkirchen-Buer Nord – Recklinghausen Hbf Without intermediate stations which are not due to open until 2024

The following lines opened on 21 May 2020

former 172; 174 Parchim - Karow (Meckl.) - Plau am See and Inselstadt Malchow - Karow Scheduled summer weekend services

The following line opened on 16 May 2020

424 [Moers –] Rheinkamp – Kamp-Lintfort Süd Temporary weekend-only service until 4 October for NRW Garden Festival

Permanent Closures

Note that in most cases the lines remain available for empty stock, freight, diversionary or charter services.

2024

In the "tourist/museum line" sector:

Scheduled services on the Wisentatalbahn museum line between Schönberg (Vogtl) and Schleiz West ceased after farewell trips on 9 and 10 March 2024, and after a very last farewell excursion on 13 March from Zittau, the line was closed to all traffic. This is because the line's leaseholders Deutsche Regionaleisenbahn GmbH (DRE) wish to terminate the lease and no other undertaking has offered to take it on.

Services on the museum line between Rinteln and Stadthagen ended after a final farewell trip on 21 April 2024. This is because bridge and track repair work is required at a cost well beyond what the preservation society (FERSt) can afford to pay. A study is underway to see if the line could be reopened to regular passenger services; unless this happens, it would appear that it has seen its last passenger train.

2023

The following line closed on 7 August 2023

Ruhrbahn Tram route 104 (part) Mülheim (Ruhr) Wertgasse – Oppspring Also depot journeys from Berliner Platz to Wertgasse

The following line closed on 15 April 2023

415.2 Dortmund Signal Iduna-Park (Westfalenhalle) – Dortmund-Lütgendortmund Flm – Bochum-Langendreer RE11 services reverted to running via Dortmund Hbf and Hamm
2022

The following lines closed on 11 December 2022

209.23 Abzw Lienewitz Lia – Seddin Bla Replaced by new RB33 Potsdam – Jüterbog service
209.63 Joachimsthal – Templin Stadt Experimental service reinstatement ended

The following line closed on 31 August 2022

140 Neustadt (Holst.) Gbf – Puttgarden
(including the curves to Fehmarn-Burg)
Closed for complete reconstruction, mainly on a new alignment, in connection with the Fehmarn Belt Tunnel project

The following line closed on 27 March 2022

393 Sande - Abzw Weißer Floh [- Schortens-Heidmühle] Replaced by new double-track alignment to the east
2020

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.

Future Changes

Forthcoming Openings

2024

The Gunzenhausen to Nördlingen Hesselbergbahn is to be reopened between Gunzenhausen and Wassertrüdingen in December 2024.

The first stage of the Berlin S-Bahn line linking the Innenring with Berlin Hbf (Invalidenstraße) by an east to south curve from Wedding has been severely delayed and is not now due to open until December 14 2024. It will initially run between Hauptbahnhof and Gesundbrunnen only, under the designation S15. The intermediate station at Perleberger Brücke is not due to open until 2029. 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 (to be known as S21) through central Berlin. Opening of the entire line is not expected until 2037.


2025

An extension of the Stolberg (Rheinland) Hbf to Stolberg Altstadt passenger service to Breinig is not now due to open until 1 March 2025. Progress has been delayed by the need to lower the trackbed under a bridge at Stolberg Altstadt to provide safe clearance for the overhead wires, and by serious damage sustained to the existing line in the July 2021 floods. A further extension to Walheim, on the Belgian border, is planned to be opened 'by 2032'.

The reopening of Calw - Weil der Stadt has been put back by at least one year every year since 2018. It is now due to open in June 2025, some six-and-a-half years after originally planned. Reasons for the delays include 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 Weststrecke in Trier between Ehrang and Igel via Trier West is now scheduled to open to passengers in full in December 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 curve between Glasower Damm Nord and Glasower Damm Süd which will be an extension of exisiting line 6151 from the airport to Glasower Damm Süd This is expected to mean the end of regular passenger services over the curves from Genshagener Heide Mitte to Großbeeren Süd. This work will include a reinstatement of a closed section of S-Bahn: When the S-Bahn reopened to Blankenfelde on 04.10.1992 it was given its own platform 172m north of the actual station (until closure on 11.09.1961 the S-Bahn ran through Blankenfelde to Rangsdorf) As part of the Dresdener Bahn rebuilding the S-Bahn will be extended into the station proper and this is expected to open in December 2025

Work started in January 2024 on the reactivation of the Horlofftalbahn between Wölfersheim-Södel and Hungen, with scheduled services planned to commence in December 2025.

The Land of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has published an invitation to tender which includes reinstatement of passenger services between Hagenow Stadt and Zarrentin (23.9 km) from December 2025. This line lost its passenger trains in May 2000.

The reopening to regular services of the Kiel to Schönberger Strand branch, which is currently only a tourist line beyond Kiel-Oppendorf, has been heavily delayed and is not now due to happen until December 2025 at the earliest.

2026

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 (NL). An invitation to tender has been issued for a start date in either June or December 2026.

Reopening to passengers of the WLE Münster (Westf) Hbf to Neubeckum line as far as Sendenhorst is now planned for December 2026.

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 new high-speed line (NBS) between Ulm and Stuttgart opened on 11 December 2022 between Ulm and Wendlingen. The remaining section between Wendlingen and Stuttgart Hbf was due to open in December 2025 with the the new low-level Stuttgart Hbf but it was announced on June 10 2024 that this will be delayed until December 2026 [1]

2027

Stuttgart S-Bahn line S2 is to be extended by 4 km by reopening the route between Filderstadt and Neuhausen auf den Fildern, which was closed to passengers in 1955, and completely in 1983. Financing was approved in late 2022 with construction to start in mid-2023 and opening targeted for May 2027.

Reopening of the northern section of the Gessertshausen - Markt Wald Staudenbahn as far as Langenneufnach has been agreed with the much-delayed construction (including electrification) beginning in 2026 and opening scheduled for December 2027.

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 TWE (Teutoburger Wald-Eisenbahn) is to be reopened in December 2027 between Harsewinkel, Gütersloh and Verl (Bz Detmold).

A new Hamburg S-Bahn Line, S4, is due to open in 2027. Its first stage will be from Hasselbrook on the existing S1 line to Rahlstedt, running parallel to the Hamburg – Lübeck main line (1120). The first 2.772 km will have third rail electrification and the rest (5.394 km) 15,000 V AC overhead. (Hamburg already operate dual voltage units on the line to Stade).

2028

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.

The reopening of Homburg (Saar) to Zweibrücken was planned for 2026, but cost pressures have forced a deferral until 2028.

An extension of Kassel RegioTram route RT5 from Melsungen to Melsungen Süd is now planned to come into service in 2028, some five years later than originally planned. The station at Melsungen Süd will be on a short spur just off the main line.

Provisionally in December 2028 the AKN (Altona-Kaltenkirchen-Neumünster Eisenbahn) line from Hamburg Eidelstedt to Kaltenkirchen will be electrified with 15,000 V AC and incorporated into the Hamburg S-Bahn as an extension of the S5 which will then no longer terminate at Elbgaustrasse.

2029

The Vögelfluglinie railway between [Lübeck -] Bad Schwartau and the island of Fehmarn is being completely rebuilt. It will be a double-track electrified railway, mostly on a new alignment which will in part run alongside the A1 Autobahn. The existing line from Lübeck to Puttgarden closed north of Neustadt (Holst.) Gbf on 30 August 2022. On reopening in 2029 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 previous 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 is also being reconstructed.

Preliminary work has started on the reconstruction of the closed 4.46 km Berlin S-Bahn branch from Jungfernheide to Gartenfeld. Known as the Siemensbahn, as it served the large factory of that firm. The last train ran on September 17 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.

Hamburg's S4 is due to be extended from Rahlstedt to Bad Oldesloe in 2029. From Rahlstedt to Bargteheide it will have its own overhead electrified formation. From there to Bad Oldesloe trains will run on line 1120, the Hamburg-Lübeck mainline.

Projected Developments

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 was planned for December 2024 but a current date is unknown. The existing line via Berlin-Karow will be retained. A possible reopening between Wensickendorf and Zehlendorf bei Oranienburg (not to be confused with Zehlendorf near Potsdam) is being considered.

Reports suggest that a 13.2 km section of the Muldentalbahn between Glauchau (Sachs) and Wolkenburg will reopen for tourist services at some time in 2025. This is in addition to the motor-draisine operation (Schienentrabi) which runs on another section of the line between Rochlitz, Wechselburg and Göhren.

Reopening of the line from Wittgensdorf to Limbach-Oberfrohna is planned as Stage 4 of the Chemnitzer Modell tram-train system.

The Langenlonsheim – Büchenbeuren Hunsrückquerbahn, which has been without regular traffic for over 20 years, is in the process of being reactivated for freight traffic, which is expected to start running some time in 2025. It is intended at some point to start running passenger trains over the route as well.

It is planned to reopen the first 2.9 km of the Wrist - Itzehoe line as far as Kellinghusen. Financing was supposedly agreed in December 2019 after years of procrastination, but opening has been deferred until 2027 at the earliest, mainly, it is reported, because of flood protection issues in Kellinghusen. New overhead electrification masts are visible on the branch from passing trains on the main line, so progress is definitely being made, albeit slowly.

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 intended to be used.

In July 2024, DB RegioNetz Infrastruktur GmbH published an invitation to tender for the planning phase of the reopening to passengers of the line between Pockau-Lengefeld and Marienberg. A planned date for reopening is not yet known.

Dombühl - Dinkelsbühl was planned for reopening to passengers in December 2019, but this has been deferred and probably shelved altogether.

In Hessen, early planning for the Lumdatalbahn (Lollar – Mainzlar – Londorf) has been completed and the line is registered for inclusion in a federal package which supports such projects by financing up to 90% of the necessary work. Planning work is also underway for a 3 km line from Neu-Isenburg Bf – Neu-Isenburg Stadtzentrum (town centre). Studies are underway for other lines in Hessen which are considered to have potential for reopening, including:

  • Kirchhain - Nieder-Gemünden (mittelhessische Ohmtalbahn)
  • Darmstadt - Groß-Zimmern
  • Wiesbaden - Diez (in Rheinland-Pfalz) (Aartalbahn)

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 regular services to Stolberg has been postponed indefinitely, although occasional excursion trains have run to Stolberg since December 2022.

DB InfraGO (the former DB Netz) is planning to upgrade the Landshut (Bay) – Plattling line with four new passing loops and two extended ones. A short section of the line will be doubled and line-speed improvements are planned. These improvements will allow a half-hourly service on the RE3 "Donau-Isar Express" service between Passau and München. Also planned is a single-track curve to the west of Plattling, linking the Landshut and Regensburg lines, but this may only be intended for use by freight, primarily traffic to and from the large BMW factory at Dingolfing.

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 surface every few years, but no concrete progress has been made on this project.

In early 2023, the new public transport authority for the Köln/Aachen areas, known as go.Rheinland, announced its plans for the networks of 2032 and 2040. By 2032 the following lines are planned to be reopened to passengers:

  • Alsdorf-Kellersberg – Aldenhoven-Siersdorf
  • Linnich – Hückelhoven-Baal
  • Erkelenz – Baal – Ratheim
  • Stolberg-Breinig – Walheim – Eupen (BE).

By 2040 further reopenings are planned:

  • Ratheim – Wassenberg
  • Dalheim – Roermond (NL)
  • Köln-Mülheim – Opladen via Morsbroich
  • Köln Frankfurter Straße – Köln Süd via the Südbrücke
  • Gummersbach-Dieringhausen – Waldbröl (although a study in 2023 rejected potential reopening of this line as too costly given the likely demand and poor journey time to Köln).

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).

In August 2023, the Länder of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg launched their review into the development and potential reopening of all or part of the so-called Karower Kreuz network radiating from Karow (Meckl). This covers the north-south Neustadt (Dosse) – Pritzwalk – Meyenburg – Karow – Güstrow route which has sparse services south of Meyenburg and is closed north of there apart from summer weekend services between Karow and Plau am See, and the east-west Mecklenburger Südbahn (Parchim – Waren (Müritz)) which only has summer weekend services between Parchim and Inselstadt Malchow.

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, out of service since an an air raid on February 3rd 1945 and subsequently lifted, will also be reinstated, along with a possible curve to the Innenring at Schöneberg. This may not occur until the early 2030s.

@ The section from Düppel to Griebnitzsee has not been used since April 1945 (possible last train on the 22nd). Zehlendorf to Düppel continued to see local passenger service after the war and was electrified on June 15 1948 but closed after the last train on September 17 1980.

Other projects in the i2030 scheme for rail development in Berlin and Brandenburg include:

  • Reopening 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 S75 along the Außenring to Karow
  • Reopening of the S25 between Hennigsdorf and Velten (Mark).

On February 13th 2024 final approval was given to extending U-Bahn line U3 from Krumme Lanke to Mexikoplatz where a new interchange with the S-Bahn will be available. It is planned to open in 2031.

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.

Longer term it is planned to build a new S-Bahn line from Grünau to Springfühl via Wuhlheide. Plans for this line were already developed by the DDR in the 1980s.

Planning work has started to reopen the Berlin S-Bahn line from Spandau to Falkensee in the early 2030s. This section opened on August 14 1951 and closed when the Berlin Wall was built. Spandau to Albrechtshof which crossed the border closed on August 12 1961. A shuttle was maintained from Albrechtshof to Falkensee but this last ran on October 9 1961.

  • 12.428 Spandau
  • 17.422 Albrechtshof
  • 18.320 Seegefeld
  • 20.373 Falkensee

Planned permanent closures (without replacement)

There was some doubt about the future of services after December 2022 on the sparsely-served section north of Kyritz Am Bürgerpark of the Neustadt (Dosse) – Pritzwalk line (KBS 209.73) and on the Pritzwalk West – Pritzwalk – Meyenburg line (KBS 209.74). However, in late September 2022 it was announced that these two lines will continue until at least 2025 while the Länder of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern jointly conduct an investigation into the entire (Berlin –) Neustadt (Dosse) – Pritzwalk – Meyenburg – Karow (Meckl.) – Güstrow route.

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 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, although with a change of name to "Mitte Altona". S-Bahn services are not serving Diebsteich until late January or early February 2025. According to the project website the planned opening date of the new Altona main-line station is 2027. The proposed track layout and usage can be seen here.

There have been numerous deviations of railways to allow open-cast mining. There will be a significant re-routing of the Görlitz to Cottbus line, with the the closure of around 10 km of the existing line between Weißwasser and Rietschen, to be replaced by a 13 km-long deviation to the east. Work is due to start in March 2024 with the line opening in June 2027. See this DB pdf about the project.

The mainline tracks between Stuttgart-Vaihingen (not to be confused with Vaihingen (Enz) which is northwest of Stuttgart) and Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, (line 4860) will close permanently in May 2026. They will eventually be replaced by a new tunnel connection to the underground Hauptbahnhof and the new line to Ulm but this is not expected to open until December 2032. Until the new line opens, passengers from the southwest, including those on Intercity trains from Zürich, will have to change to the S-Bahn at Stuttgart-Vaihingen. See this press report.

Temporary closures

The line between Frankfurt an Main-Höchst and Bad Soden (Taunus) is closed from 29 March 2024 until probably 2028 and the RB11 service replaced by buses. This is in connection with construction of the new Regionaltangente West line.

The section of the Eisenach – Wernshausen – Meiningen line (KBS 575) between Eisenach and Förtha (Kr Eisenach) will be closed between 25 March and 11 October 2024.

The Hameln – Elze (Han) line (KBS 372) has been closed since October 2023 as a result of a damaged bridge near Osterwald. Reopening was expected on 16 June 2024 but although the bridge has been repaired, reopening of the line has been deferred until 25 November 2024 to allow for the introduction of new signalling.

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. All sections of line have now reopened apart from the following. Projected reopening dates are shown where known.

482 (part) Stolberg (Rheinl) Hbf – Eschweiler West 1 March 2025
475 Erfttalbahn Euskirchen – Bad Münstereifel December 2024 (?)
482 (part) Stolberg Rathaus – Stolberg Altstadt [– Breinig] Existing line together with extension to Breinig due to open on 1 March 2025
459 Volmetalbahn (part) Marienheide – Lüdenscheid-Brügge 15 December 2024
474 Eifelstrecke (central section) Gerolstein – Kall Date unknown (end of 2024 at the very earliest)
477 Ahrtalbahn (western end) Walporzheim – Ahrbrück December 2025. The line is also being electrified.

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 were due to resume on 1 April 2024, but this has been further deferred to an unknown date. Previously, trains ran on summer Sundays only; however a more frequent service of Saturdays, Sundays and summer Wednesdays is planned.

The cross-border line between Küstrin-Kietz and Kostrzyn (PL) closed on 12 December 2020, originally for two years while the bridge over the river Oder/Odra is replaced by a new structure. It is not now due to reopen until September 2024.

A replacement for the Lindaunisbrücke combined road-rail bascule bridge over the Schlei sea inlet between Rieseby and Süderbrarup on the Kiel – Flensburg line is to be built. The new 126 metre-long bascule bridge will be some 13 metres to the east of the old bridge, which was closed to rail traffic on October 31 2021. (Eckenförde to Süderbrarup closed on this date). On September 15 2022 the service was altered to terminate at temporary platforms either side of the inlet, known as Rieseby Schleibrücke Süd and Boren-Lindaunis Schleibrücke Nord, with passengers having to walk over a newly-built footbridge between them, a distance of 264 metres, and Rieseby station reopened. The footbridge was closed between 2 March and 9 December 2023 while the entire Kiel-Flensburg line was operated by bus substitution. Train service resumed either side of the footbridge on December 10 2023. Unfortunately the EBA (Federal Railway Authority) has introduced new, stricter, standards for railway bridges and so DB's plans for the bridge are having to be revised, and new materials tested. The schedule for the commissioning of the new bridge will not be ready until early 2025, with the actual construction of the bridge following after that, for an as-yet unspecified period of time, but probably several years.

The section of KBS 437 between Unna and Fröndenberg is closed while the embankment is repaired after at least 140 badger tunnels were found to have undermined the whole line. In November 2023 it was announced that it would take until 'the end of the decade' to reinstate the line. RB54 services are replaced by buses until then.

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 has reconstructed the bridge, and the line is now expected to reopen fully in 'mid-2025'. 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 two-platform terminus station at Söllingen (b. Karlsruhe) AVG closed in September 2022 for complete rebuilding and modernisation. The AVG line from Karlsruhe (line 9496) now terminates at the previous station, Söllingen Reetzstraße. The replacement station and line is expected to open at some time in 2024. The station on the main Karlsruhe - Pforzheim line (4200) is unaffected, apart from the Karlsruhe-bound platform having been replaced by a temporary structure.

In the "tourist/museum line" sector:

The Bremen-Thedinghauser Eisenbahn ("Pingelheini") service closed once again between Stuhr and Leeste (b. Bremen) after service on 16 June 2024, so that work can actually commence on the long-awaited extension of Bremen tram route no. 8. This section originally closed at the end of the 2015 season to allow work on the tram extension but reopened on 22 August 2021 with no progress on the tramway having been made. It is believed that eventually the Pingelheini trains will resume as far as Bremen-Kirchhuchting, sharing the track with the trams as far as a junction just short of there.

The line between Rahden and Uchte was closed at short notice in June 2021 because of urgently needed track repair. Reopening has been delayed several times because of the amount of vegetation clearance and subsequent checking/repairing of track that has been required. The plan is now to open between Rahden and Lavelsloh on 10 August 2024, with full reopening to Uchte following later.

The Oleftalbahn between Kall and Hellenthal sustained severe damage in the July 2021 floods and a date for its reopening is not known.

The Museums-Eisenbahn-Club Losheim was closed suddenly in April 2017 by the authorities because of the condition of the track. Following this closure, trains only ran between "Großer Wald" (west of Losheim) and Dellborner Mühle but since summer 2023 (or possibly earlier), no trains have run at all.

Older Changes

For details of older changes see Germany - Older General Information.

Special notes

Train services in Germany are divided into a number of distinct categories:

  • S (S-Bahn): Regular interval local trains in urban and suburban areas, often using segregated tracks, particularly in city centres.
  • RB (Regionalbahn): Basic local services, usually calling at all stations except where a parallel S-Bahn route exists.
  • RE (RegionalExpress): Regular interval local or semi-fast trains calling at fewer stations than RB services.
  • IRE (Inter-Regional Express): 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. 'Traditional' loco-hauled IC trains are now fairly rare with many former IC services having been converted to ICE operation and many of those that remain being operated with double-deck IC2 rolling stock.
  • EC (EuroCity): Similar to IC, but for international journeys, often using non-German rolling stock.
  • 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.
  • EST (Eurostar): High-speed trains on the Köln – Brussels – Paris route, managed by the French and Belgian railways, rebranded from Thalys in October 2023. Not to be confused with the Paris/Brussels – London services through the Channel Tunnel, although they have been part of the same group since 2021.
  • 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 non-ÖBB operated services such as those to Stockholm (operated by SJ) or Zagreb (operated by HZ) 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 in Germany are on the "Sylt Shuttle Plus" services between Westerland (Sylt), Niebüll and Bredstedt, and the Snälltåget-operated Berlin – Malmö – Stockholm overnight services. It may still be used 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.

A brief Guide to German railway terminology is available.

See also