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
  • 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:

  • Erzgebirgsbahn
  • Kurhessenbahn
  • Oberweißbacher Berg- und Schwarzatalbahn
  • Südostbayernbahn
  • Westfrankenbahn.

Language

German.

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.

Currency

Euro

UIC codes

  • 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.

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.
  • 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

Downloadable Timetable

kursbuch.bahn.de/hafas/kbview.exe/d.&rt=1&mainframe=tab_main

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.

Printed Timetable

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.

Engineering Information

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.

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. This is no longer being updated.
  • Maps and Plans - Germany
  • The DB Netz Infrastructure Register. It is based around an interactive map which is optimised for Google Chrome.
  • The DB website has downloadable schematic maps of local services for all Länder except Hessen. It also has very general maps showing the ICE and IC/EC networks.

Ticketing

Quer-durchs-Land Ticket

The Quer-durchs-Land Ticket is a very useful bargain ticket. It 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. 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 being charged a small extra amount. Tickets are best purchased online or from a ticket vending machine as there is a EUR 2 surcharge at ticket offices. 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 QdL Ticket is valid on almost all non-DB companies that run scheduled local train services. Tourist and preserved railways, including most steam railways that operate a regular service, are not included. The ticket is not valid on local urban tram and U-Bahn services or on any buses, although it is valid on certain 'tram-train' services where they have railway-like characteristics. 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.

Much useful information is on the DB website and validity information can be checked on the Die Beförderer website, the tariff website of the TBNE organisation of German train operating companies.

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 Länder-Tickets do, as mentioned below.

Länder-Tickets

Länder-Tickets give unlimited travel for up to five people for one day 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 valid from 09:00 on weekdays and all day at weekends and on national or regional holidays.

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, which are both separate Länder.

Certain Länder-Tickets are valid on 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.

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 not valid in Sachsen-Anhalt or Thüringen.

Verkehrsverbund tickets

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 may be better value than a Länder-Ticket, or have no weekday start time restriction.

Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis

Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis tickets are quota-controlled tickets, often much cheaper than the full fare. They must have at least one leg on a long-distance service (ICE/ECE or IC/EC). The tickets are only valid on the specified long-distance train or trains. Local connecting services, if shown on the itinerary, are only suggested services and those particular local train(s) need not be used.

Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis tickets can be booked for travel on the same day as well as in advance, subject to availability.

For journeys of over 100 km, Sparpreis tickets include a "City-Ticket" at origin and destination (if a large town or city) which gives one free single journey to the origin station and from the destination station on local public transport in the towns concerned. City-Tickets are shown by the designation "+ City" after the name of the town. Super Sparpreis tickets are cheaper, only available in limited quantities, and do not include City-Tickets.

Flexpreis

There are three levels of flexible full-price (Flexpreis) fares - the dearest, for ICE/ECE services, a slightly cheaper rate for IC/EC services, and the cheapest, valid on local trains only. If purchasing a Flexpreis ticket for a route on which various types of train operate it is important to specify which type of train it is intended to use. Flexpreis tickets for a higher price-band can also be used on cheaper trains without penalty. Tickets at the local rate cannot be upgraded - a new ticket must be purchased to travel on an ICE/ECE or IC/EC service, except in the event of service disruption or cancellation, where at the conductor's discretion local tickets may be accepted. Tickets for travel on local trains only are often identifiable by having the words "Nur Gültig in Zügen des Nahverkehrs" or "...in NV" on them.

BahnCards

Regular travellers may wish to purchase a BahnCard, which is an annual discount railcard. The BahnCard 50 gives 50% discount on Flexpreis tickets but only 25% discount on Spar/Super Sparpreis tickets. The BahnCard 25 gives a 25% discount on all tickets. Both the BahnCard 50 and BahnCard 25 come in First Class and cheaper Second Class versions. The First Class version can also be used to obtain a discount on Second Class fares. Cheaper versions of all BahnCards are available for those under the age of 26 or over 65.

Note that some local fares in urban areas do not attract a BahnCard discount.

There is also a BahnCard 100 which allows unlimited travel throughout Germany for one year, including on local urban transport in the central areas of large towns.

BahnCards are sold on a subscription basis so a new one will automatically be sent out (and have to be paid for) shortly before the expiry of the existing card, unless the subscription has been cancelled.

All BahnCards have a Probe (trial) version which is valid for three months. After the three months has expired, an annual subscription will commence unless the trial version has been cancelled at least six weeks before its expiry.

Bahncard details are available on the DB website.

Flixtrain tickets

Flixtrain tickets must be booked from the Flixtrain website or a Flixtrain office. DB tickets and Interrail/Eurail passes are not valid.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure Authority

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.

Network Statement

DB Netz AG > Network Statement

Gauge

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.

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.

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.

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 - 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.

Metro

Berlin, Hamburg, München, Nürnberg. A number of other cities have underground tram routes, known as U-Bahn or Stadtbahn, including Bielefeld, Bochum, Bonn, Dortmund see TSUL for Signal-Iduna-Park service , Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Frankfurt am Main, Gelsenkirchen, Hannover, Kassel, Köln, Ludwigshafen, Mannheim, Mühlheim (Ruhr) and Stuttgart.

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

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, Jena, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Köln, Krefeld, Leipzig, Ludwigshafen, Magdeburg, Mainz, Mannheim, Mülheim (Ruhr), München, Naumburg (Saale), Nordhausen, Nürnberg, Oberhausen, Plauen, Potsdam, Rostock, Rüdersdorf, Saarbrücken, Schwerin, Strausberg, Stuttgart, Ulm, Woltersdorf, Würzburg, Zwickau. Many neighbouring systems are interlinked. It is possible to travel entirely by tram, changing cars and gauge several times, all the way from Benrath (south of Düsseldorf) to Witten (east of Bochum). This is reputed to be the longest possible journey by tram anywhere in the world.

Track plans for most or all tram systems in Germany are available on the Gleisplanweb site or on the Doprava website or the UrbanRail,net site.

See also Germany - Tram services over obscure routes

Recent and Future Changes

General

The funding of local transport, including railways, now rests with the Länder (Provinces) and in some areas responsibility has been devolved to the Kreise (Districts). Western Länder are generally supportive of rail and many lines have been re-opened in the last couple of decades. However in the eastern Länder many lines have been closed as a result of depopulation and increasing car ownership since reunification, and lack of funds to support such a dense network of local services. The rate of closures has slowed considerably in recent years, and the federal government is making funds available to the Länder for re-opening schemes. While there have been numerous lengthy lists published of closed lines which are possible candidates for re-opening, only those proposals which are likely to be progressed with are mentioned below.

The German railways were never entirely nationalised, with various independent lines surviving, particularly in Baden-Württemberg. Länder are responsible for tendering the operation of local passenger services, and many independent operators have won tenders in competition with DB. In some cases these are long-established, local railway companies, expanding out of their own network. Some operators are entirely new and others are subsidiaries of foreign companies or the state railways of other European countries.

Open access long-distance passenger and freight operation is possible in Germany. Increasing numbers of open access freight operators are running trains, but there has been limited success with passenger services, despite DB Netz having been ordered to charge the same prices for track access to DB and non-DB operators alike. Snälltåget (a subsidiary of Transdev) operate overnight trains between Berlin, Malmö and Stockholm for a limited summer season each year. Transdev also operate the Harz-Berlin Express between Goslar/Thale and Berlin.

The only other non-DB long-distance services (apart from cross-border trains such as Thalys) are operated by Flixtrain, a subsidiary of German long-distance coach operator Flixbus. Flixtrain services run on the following routes:

  • Kiel - Hamburg - Berlin - Leipzig (- Jena - München (overnight))
  • Köln - Hamburg
  • Aachen - Köln - Dortmund - Berlin
  • Berlin - Frankfurt (Main) - Stuttgart
  • München - Frankfurt (Main)

There are generally one or two trains each way on certain days only on each route.

Flixtrain also run a Hamburg-Lörrach overnight car-carrying service in the summer months (the former Bahn Touristik Express service).

Openings

Actual Openings

2021
12146 Süderbrarup - Kappeln (summer weekend services through to/from Eckernförde) 17 July
732 Mengen - Stockach (summer Sunday services) 18 July Mengen to Sauldorf; 8 August to Stockach (delayed by flood damage)
2020
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
2019
376 Bad Bentheim – Neuenhaus 6 July but 7 July for revenue earning services
- Flensburg Weiche Süd - Flensburg Friedensweg (diversion of Hamburg - København services away fron Puttgarden - Rødby) 15 December
209.24 Berlin Bornholmer Straße - Schönhauser Allee (diversion of RB24 until 9 July 2021). 15 December
209.24 Berlin Frankfurter Allee - Ostkreuz (oben) (initially by diverted RB24 but now used permanently by FEX airport trains) 15 December
former 12474 Düren - Euskirchen (regular service instead of weekend-only service) 15 December
645.8/9 Frankfurt (Main) Stadion - Gateway Gardens - Frankfurt (Main) Flughafen Regionalbahnhof 15 December
2018
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
2017
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
2016
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 2022) 12 September
541 Wünschendorf Nord - Gera-Zwötzen (0.5km connection to allow closure of line via Gera-Liebschwitz) 25 October

In the "tourist/museum line" sector:

The Bremen-Thedinghauser Eisenbahn ("Pingelheini") service resumed from Leeste (b. Bremen) as far as Stuhr, 4.5 km from Kirchhuchting, on 22 August 2021. The line had been closed west of Leeste since the end of the 2015 season to allow construction of an extension of Bremen tram route no. 8. A resumption of the Pihgelheini service as far as Bremen-Kirchhuchting is expected at some point. Once the tram service starts it is expected that trams and Pingelheini trains will share the tracks.

Forthcoming Openings

Work to reopen a further 1.3 km section of the Furstenwalde (Spree) to Beeskow line between Bad Saarow Klinikum and Bad Saarow-Pieskow 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.

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 is now due to 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 December 2021. It was closed on 15th September 2018 for conversion to tram-train service under the "Chemnitzer Modell" Stage 2, which has taken much longer than expected.

A diversion of the Sande - Esens line is under construction to improve access for freight to Jade-Weser-Port in Wilhelmshaven. A new 4.7 km 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.

The new high-speed line (NBS) between Ulm Hbf and Stuttgart Hbf, which is being constructed as part of the "Stuttgart 21" programme, is now due to open in December 2022.

The first stage of the Berlin S-Bahn line S21, linking the Innenring with Berlin Hbf (Invalidenstraße) by an east to south curve from Wedding is due to open, belatedly, in December 2022. A west to south curve from Westhafen to Invalidenstraße is expected 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.

The bridge over the Belzig - Berlin line between Beelitz Stadt and Ferch-Lienewitz (Abzw Beelitz Bea - Abzw Lienewitz Lia) was reinstated in April 2021 and is to be used by a new Jüterbog to Potsdam service commencing in December 2022.

The Kiel to Schönberger Strand branch, which is currently only a tourist line beyond Kiel-Oppendorf, is now due to reopen in December 2022.

Calw - Weil der Stadt looks unlikely to open before December 2022 at the earliest. The project has been considerably delayed by legal action, 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 until possibly 2024.

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 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.

The Bentheimer Eisenbahn from Bad Bentheim to Coevorden (NL), which was reopened in 2019 as far as Neuenhaus, is to be reopened through to Coevorden by 2025.

Reinstatement of main line tracks (closed 1952) alongside the S-Bahn on the Dresdner Bahn from Berlin Südkreuz to Blankenfelde (Kr. Teltow-Fläming) is underway. Services on the line are due to commence in December 2025. This will speed up trains between Berlin and Dresden and also allow a fast service to Berlin-Brandenburg airport via a new north-to-east curve at Glasower Damm. This is expected to mean the end of regular passenger services over the curves from Genshagener Heide Mitte to Großbeeren Süd.

The Barth - Zingst - Prerow Darßbahn is to be reopened. Tripartite funding, split between the federal government, Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Usedomer Bäderbahn has been agreed for the reconstruction of the Meiningenbrücke road/rail bridge just north of Bresewitz, which will allow reopening of the entire line to Prerow by 2028.

Preliminary work has started on the reconstruction of the 4.5 km Berlin S-Bahn branch from Jungfernheide to Gartenfeld. Known as the Siemensbahn, as it served the large factory of that firm, it closed in 1980. With the closure of the factory in 2018, a research campus and large residential development is being built on the site. Reopening of the line is planned for Autumn 2029. A study is underway for a possible new-build extension to Hakenfelde.

Projected Developments

It is planned to reopen the first 2.9km of the Wrist - Itzehoe line as far as Kellinghusen. Financing was apparently agreed in December 2019 after years of prevarication, but a firm date for reopening has not yet been announced.

The reopening of Homburg (Saar) to Zweibrücken is planned for 2025.

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), with the intention to run freight (timber) trains and occasional tourist passenger services. The branch from Berga-Kelbra, which latterly only had weekend services, closed to passengers in December 2011 and has been completely out of service north of the gypsum works at Rottleberode since then. Unfortunately because of the condition of a bridge over the river Thyra at Rottleberode, the reintroduction of services to Stolberg has been postponed indefinitely.

A west-to-south curve is planned to link the Lübeck - Bad Kleinen line with the main line to Schwerin, avoiding Bad Kleinen. This would allow direct trains to run between Lübeck and Schwerin. This is currently in the planning/financing phase and no start or end date has yet been announced.

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 the end of 2022.

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.

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
  • Calbe (Saale) Stadt - Barby - Güterglück over the Elbbrücke (part of the Kanonenbahn)
  • Oberhausen - Spellen (Walsumbahn)
  • Duisburg Hbf - Düsseldorf-Rath (Ratinger Weststrecke)
  • Blankenstein - Marxgrün (Höllentalbahn)
  • Eisfeld - Coburg (Werratalbahn)
  • Ludwigsburg - Markgröningen
  • Breisach - Colmar (F)
  • München northern ring line (Münchener Güternordring).

The Prime Minister and Transport Minister of Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern restated in early 2020 their commitment to the rebuilding of Ducherow – Świnoujście/Swinemünde (Poland) but as this project would involve complete reconstruction of the bridge at Karnin between the mainland and the island of Usedom, this would appear to be a long-term aspiration.

The Potsdamer Stammbahn (Zehlendorf to Griebnitzsee) is 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).

Closures

Permanent closures

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

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 24 October 2016:

541 Gera Süd (Abzw. Gera Debschwitz) - Wünschendorf Nord 4.7 km section of route replaced by a short link to the Gera - Saalfeld line near Wolfsgefärth, owing to the poor condition of a viaduct at Liebschwitz.

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

In the "tourist/museum line" sector:

In July 2019 the Ruhrtalbahn announced an end to their operations on the Hagen - Hattingen route as a result of severe mechanical problems with their Schienenbus. Operations resumed in 2021 under the auspices of the Eisenbahnmuseum Bochum, but only as far as Wengern-Ost, leaving the section between there and Hagen-Vorhalle without regular services.

The Niederlausitzer Museumseisenbahn closed their line from Finsterwalde to Crinitz after a final day of service on 30th December 2018. This is because there is substantial work required on the line, which the society were not in a position to fund. It looks increasingly unlikely that this line will reopen.

The Wachtl-Bahn 900 mm gauge line from Kiefersfelden to Wachtl ceased operations at the end of the 2016 season as it did not pass an official inspection in 2017. There does not appear to be any sign of a resumption of service.

The Teckelfahrten service from Hagen to Ennepetal ceased operation at the end of the 2016 season.

Planned permanent closures (without replacement)

No current specific closure proposals are known, but some Länder have been reviewing their funding of relatively lightly-used lines:

Land Bayern was reportedly examining withdrawing funding from lines that have fewer than 1,000 passengers per day but no action to close any line has been taken so it would appear that this review is dormant.

Land Thüringen was reviewing services on lines which have fewer than 500 passengers per weekday but again no closure action has been taken on any line.

Planned permanent closures (with replacement)

The existing DB line to Puttgarden will close north of Neustadt (Holst.) at the end of 2021 for rebuilding as an electrified line on a new alignment, in part alongside the A1 Autobahn. The new line is not expected to open until 2026. From 2028 it will form part of a new high-speed line to København via the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link, which will include the world's longest immersed tube tunnel. The railway on the Danish side closed for reconstruction in April 2021.

The main-line terminus station at Hamburg-Altona is due to close with a replacement through station being built roughly on the site of the current Diebsteich S-Bahn station. The low-level S-Bahn station at Altona will remain. S-Bahn services will not serve Diebsteich for one year from October 2022. According to the project website the planned opening date of the new Altona main-line station is 2027.

There have been numerous deviations of railways to allow open-cast mining. There has been a proposal for significant re-routing of the Görlitz to Cottbus line, which would involve the closure of around 10km of the existing line between Weißwasser and Rietschen, to be replaced by a 13km-long deviation to the east. This may not happen owing to environmental concerns.

Temporary closures

Following the serious floods of mid-July 2021 in western Germany, DB has announced that the following stretches of line in Nordrhein-Westfalen and Rheinland-Pfalz have sustained serious damage and need major repairs. They are expected to be back in service by the end of 2021:

  • Eifelstrecke (northern end): [Köln -] Erftstadt - Euskirchen. Reopened 7 September 2021, one day later than planned owing to strike action.
  • Voreifelbahn (eastern end): Bonn Hbf - Rheinbach. Reopened 30 August 2021.
  • S9: Wuppertal-Vohwinkel - Essen-Steele
  • Volmetalbahn (northern end): Hagen - Rummenohl - Lüdenscheid-Brügge [- Lüdenscheid]. Hagen to Rummenohl is expected to reopen at the December 2021 timetable change, but Rummenohl to Lüdenscheid-Brügge is not expected to reopen until December 2022.
  • Ruhr-Sieg-Strecke (northern end): Hagen - Werdohl [- Siegen]. This line is expected to reopen at the December 2021 timetable change.
  • [Aachen -] Herzogenrath - Geilenkirchen [- Mönchengladbach]
  • Ahrtalbahn (eastern end): Remagen - Walporzheim. A single line is due to reopen by end 2021.
  • Stolberg (Rheinl) Hbf - Eschweiler-Talbahnhof - Langerwehe
  • Stolberg (Rheinl) Hbf - Stolberg Altstadt
  • Bad Dürkheim - Freinsheim. Expected reopening postponed until 14 November 2021.

The following lines have been extensively damaged and need to be completely rebuilt in many places. They are not expected to reopen until 2022 at the earliest:

  • Erfttalbahn: Euskirchen - Bad Münstereifel. A date for the reopening of this line is not yet available.
  • Voreifelbahn (remainder): Rheinbach - Euskirchen. A date for the reopening of this section is not yet available.
  • Eifelstrecke (remainder): Euskirchen - Ehrang [- Trier]. Dates for reopening of this section of line are:
    • By end 2021: Ehrang - Auw
    • Early 2022: Auw - Kyllburg; Euskirchen - Mechernich
    • Summer 2022: Kyllburg - Gerolstein - Nettersheim; Mechernich - Kall
    • Summer 2023: The final section between Kall and Nettersheim.
  • Ahrtalbahn (remainder): Walporzheim - Ahrbrück - on the entire branch seven bridges over the river Ahr and 24 km of track will have to be replaced. This may take several years.

The S6 (Essen - Kettwig - Düsseldorf - Köln) has not run between Kettwig and Düsseldorf-Rath Mitte since 17 September 2021 because of damage to a tunnel near Hösel caused by July's storms. Replacement buses are operating. It is not known when the line will reopen.

Because of the poor condition of the Salzbachtalbrücke bridge which carries the A66 Autobahn over the railway line between Wiesbaden Ost and Wiesbaden Hbf, the line between these stations has been closed since 18 June 2021. The bridge will need to be demolished and rebuilt. The demolition is not expected to take place until November 2021 so the railway will have to remain closed until at least then. As a result, ​there are no train services between Wiesbaden Hbf and Wiesbaden Ost until further notice. S-Bahn services S1 and S8 are turning round at Wiesbaden Ost and S9 at Mainz-Kastel. RB10 services between the Rhine right-bank line (Rechte Rheinstrecke) and Frankfurt Hbf are diverted via the Wiesbaden avoiding line (DE21/525). The only services using Wiesbaden Hbf are RB21 to/from Niedernhausen (Taunus) and Limburg (Lahn) and the morning ICE service to Köln Hbf and evening return (DE21/524).

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 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 (2.1 km) was withdrawn at short notice and replaced by a minibus shuttle on 13th March 2015, because of problems with the German infrastructure owner DRE not being able to meet the operational requirements for cross-border services. A solution to the bureaucratic issues has been reached and scheduled services are now due to resume on 12 December 2021.

In the "tourist/museum line" sector:

The Museums-Eisenbahn-Club Losheim was closed suddenly in April 2017 by the authorities because of the condition of the track. At present trains are only running between "Großer Wald" (west of Losheim) and Dellborner Mühle whilst relaying is in progress.

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 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.

See also