Germany - General Information
National Railway System
Deutsche Bahn AG (DB).
National Railway Operator
Deutsche Bahn AG (DBAG) is a company wholly owned by the German government. It functions through a large number of subsidiary companies. The principal ones responsible for railway operations in Germany are:
- DB Fernverkehr AG: Long-distance (IC/ICE) passenger services, 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 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.
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 are here and a route map is here. Note that both flixtrain.com and flixtrain.de redirect to the Flixbus site so these links need to 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 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)).
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.
- Deutsche Bahn AG: numeric 80, alpha DB.
Other companies operating on DB Netz AG 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.
- PC/laptop: reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en
- Smartphone: DB Navigator
Actual Train Times
- Zugverfolgung.com Note that this site seems to offer tracking for Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland as well.
- BahnhofsAbfahrten This site provides a real time view of departure information for the selected station
- DBF an unofficial site providing a real time view of departure information for trains within Germany
If the table number is known, it can simply be inserted in the Kursbuchstreckennummer search box at top left.
Otherwise, 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.
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.
bauarbeiten.bahn.de in German only.
A DB engineering works app DB Bauarbeiten is available in both Android and iPhone versions but only in German.
The APKPure DB Bauarbeiten app gives a number of options.
The Journey Planner (above) selects bus services if they provide the best journey.
- Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland by Schweers + Wall.
- European Railway Atlas (All-Europe Edition) by M.G. Ball.
- European Railway Atlas (Regional Series - Germany) by M.G. Ball.
- The DB Karte für den Personenverkehr Deutschland, which showed all German railways on a sheet map at a scale of 1:1,200,000, has now been withdrawn.
- Sporenplan has a series of on-line maps and schematic track diagrams. Click on "Sporenplannen" on the left-hand side, then on Germany on the map, then "Actuele tekeningen - simpel" for a map showing coverage of the current network. This is limited to most of the former West Germany with no coverage in the eastern Länder.
- Thorsten Büker's Map of Germany. This is no longer being updated.
- Maps and Plans - Germany
- The DB Netz Infrastructure Register. It is based around an interactive map which is optimised for Google Chrome.
- The DB website has downloadable schematic maps of local services for all Länder except Hessen. It also has very general maps showing the ICE and IC/EC networks.
The 49-Euro-Ticket is a monthly pass for local and regional transport across Germany, priced at only €49, which commenced on 1 May 2023. This is the successor ticket to the very successful 9-Euro-Ticket of summer 2022, but unlike that ticket, the 49-Euro-Ticket is to be digital-only and subscription-based. A German, or at least Eurozone-based bank account will be required to set up a direct debit for the subscription. The only alternative is to buy the ticket at a DB travel centre or subscription centre, paying by cash or card, but in that case a 12-month subscription will have to be paid for up front, at a cost of €588.
For occasional visitors to Germany, the offers below will therefore remain the best options.
The Quer-durchs-Land Ticket 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). DB and non-DB operated local trains are included. 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.
Tourist and preserved railways, including most steam railways that operate a regular service, are not included. The ticket is not valid on tram and U-Bahn services nor 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.
Validity information can be found on the DB website's regional offers page.
Länder-Tickets give one day's unlimited travel for up to five people throughout the Land [region] concerned on local trains (IRE, RE, RB and S-Bahn); and usually (but not always) on tram, U-Bahn and local bus services in tariff association (Verkehrsverbund) areas.
They are valid from 09:00 on weekdays and all day at weekends and on national or regional holidays. In Baden-Württemberg, as well as the regular ticket there is a slightly dearer version known as 'bwTAG' which is valid all day on weekdays.
Some Länder-Tickets are valid in more than one Land, as follows:
- Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Thüringen count as the one area, and a ticket for any one of these Länder is valid in all three. Any of these tickets can also be extended to include the Westharz area of Niedersachsen, at extra cost.
- The Niedersachsen-Ticket is valid in Hamburg and in Bremen, which are both separate Länder. An optional extension to Groningen (NL) is available at extra cost.
- The Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket is valid in Saarland, and vice versa.
- The Schleswig-Holstein-Ticket is valid in Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, but note that the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-Ticket is not valid in Schleswig-Holstein, although it is valid in Hamburg. Neither ticket is valid on local buses or trams apart from in Hamburg where they are both valid on all local transport and in Szczecin (Stettin) (Poland) where the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-Ticket is valid on trams.
Certain Länder-Tickets are valid on Intercity services, for example in the Berlin/Brandenburg area, between Stuttgart and Konstanz, and west of Bremen.
Most Länder-Tickets 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 also offer First Class and/or evening (Nacht - valid after 18:00) versions, and in Baden-Württemberg there is a cheaper "Young" version for people aged under 27. Länder-Tickets are best bought online or from a ticket vending machine as there is a €2 supplement for buying from a ticket office.
The Sachsen- and Bayern-Tickets each have a version which is also valid in Bohemia (Böhmen) in the Czech Republic, on ČD trains only, including EX and IC/EC services, but note that IC/EC trains cannot be used on cross-border journeys. These tickets are not valid on any buses or trams in either country. Note particularly that unlike the regular Sachsen-Ticket, the Sachsen-Böhmen-Ticket is not valid in Sachsen-Anhalt or Thüringen.
Validity details for each Länder-Ticket can be checked on the DB website's regional offers page
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). They can be booked for travel on the same day as well as in advance, subject to availability. These 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.
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 on local public transport in the towns concerned. City-Tickets show "+ City" after the name of the town. Sparpreis tickets are refundable up to one day before the date on the ticket.
Super Sperpreis tickets are cheaper, do not include "City-Tickets", and are non-refundable, apart from a 12-hour period immediately after booking.
Cheaper tickets are available to under-27s and over-65s.
Details of all these tickets are on the DB website ticketing page
Flexpreis tickets are flexible tickets for travel on ICE or IC/EC services. Tickets for ICE services are charged at a dearer rate with a slightly cheaper rate for IC/EC services. Tickets at the ICE rate can also be used on IC/EC services. All Flexpreis tickets can also be used on local (RE/RB/S-Bahn, etc) services if desired.
For journeys over 100 km, a "City-Ticket" is included which gives one single journey at origin and destination (if included in the scheme) on local transport.
Break of journey is permitted. For journeys under 100 km, the journey has to be completed on the date shown. For journeys over 100 km, the journey has to be started on the date shown but may be completed on the following day after a break of journey.
First Class tickets include a free seat reservation.
Note 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.
Full details are on the DB website's ticketing page.
Full-price tickets on local trains (IRE, RE, RB, S-Bahn, etc) when priced by DB are known as Normalpreis. Break of journey is permitted and tickets are refundable. These tickets cannot be upgraded to be used on long-distance services; however if local trains are disrupted they may exceptionally be allowed to be used on ICE or IC/EC trains.
Note that tickets entirely within city or Land tariff areas have different pricing structures and conditions. Often these 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. These tickets are not known as Normalpreis.
Regular travellers may wish to purchase a BahnCard, which is an annual discount railcard, sold on a subscription basis. 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 types of BahnCard come in First Class and cheaper Second Class versions. Reduced price BahnCards are available for those under the age of 26 or over 65.
BahnCards are accepted on almost all non-DB local services, but note that some local fares in urban areas do not attract a discount.
There is also a BahnCard 100 which allows unlimited travel throughout Germany for one year.
All BahnCards have a Probe (trial) version which is valid for three months. Umless cancelled at least six weeks before the expiry of the trial version, an annual subscription will then commence.
Full details are available on the DB website.
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.
DB Netz AG, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, is responsible for track and infrastructure.
The Eisenbahn-Bundesamt (EBA) is a government agency tasked with regulatory oversight of safety and some other matters, independent of DB.
DB Netz AG > Network Statement
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.
15 kV 16.7 Hz ac.
The Berlin S-Bahn is 800V dc third rail, and the Hamburg S-Bahn is 1200V dc third rail. Obstfelderschmiede to Cursdorf is 500V dc overhead and Blankenburg (Harz) to Elbingerode and Kalkwerk Homberg, which has been freight-only since 2005, is 25kV 50Hz ac. (The line between Kalkwerk Homberg and Königshütte closed to all traffic in 2000 and is now lifted).
The following cross-border lines have sections within Germany that use the other country's electrification system. Distances shown are the sections within Germany between the frontier and the electrification changeover point:
Hengelo (NL) - Bad Bentheim: 8.1 km at 1500 V dc
Arnhem/Betuweroute (NL) - Emmerich: 5.6 km at 25 kV ac (see Note below)
Welkenraedt/LGV (BE) - Aachen Hbf: 7.4 km at 3 kV dc
Węgliniec (PL) - Horka: 1.5 km at 3 kV dc
Rzepin (PL) - Frankfurt (Oder): 1.7 km at 3 kV dc.
Note: The line between Emmerich and the Netherlands border was 1500 V dc but has been converted to 25 kV ac for easier operation of Betuweroute freight traffic. This means that trains between Emmerich and Arnhem must be able to operate under three different electrification systems.
Rule of the road
A few sections of line have left-hand running, as follows:
- a short piece of the Aachen – Liège main line between the east end of the Busch Tunnel (Üst Aachen Süd) and the Belgian border;
- between Nürnberg-Reichelsdorf and Nürnberg Hbf, on the non-S-Bahn lines only, to facilitate reversal by trains running between the Treuchtlingen and Würzburg lines;
- on the Hamburg S-Bahn between Altona and Holstenstraße, to assist reversal.
The Schweers + Wall Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland (11th Edn. ISBN 978-3-89494-149-9) is the best source of distance information.
See separate document.
Very few tourist lines run frequently - 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. Click on 'Deutschland' to obtain a list of operations in geographical order with some useful information. Click on 'International', followed by 'Draisinenlinks' to obtain website details.
Berlin, Hamburg, München, Nürnberg. A number of other cities have 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 most or all metro and tram systems in Germany are available on the Gleisplanweb site or Doprava
Augsburg, Bad Schandau, Berlin, Bielefeld, Bochum, Bonn, Brandenburg, Braunschweig, Bremen, Chemnitz, Cottbus, Darmstadt, Dessau, Dortmund, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Erfurt, Essen, Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt an der Oder, Freiburg (Breisgau), Gelsenkirchen, Gera, Görlitz, Gotha, Halberstadt, Halle (Saale), Hannover, Heidelberg, Heilbronn, Jena, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Köln, Krefeld, Leipzig, Ludwigshafen, Magdeburg, Mainz, Mannheim, Mülheim (Ruhr), München, Naumburg (Saale), Nordhausen, Nürnberg, Oberhausen, Plauen, Potsdam, Rostock, Rüdersdorf, Saarbrücken, Schwerin, Strausberg, Stuttgart, Ulm, Woltersdorf, Würzburg, Zwickau. Many neighbouring systems are interlinked. It is possible to travel entirely by tram, changing cars and gauge several times, all the way from Benrath (south of Düsseldorf) to Witten (east of Bochum). This is reputed to be the longest possible journey by tram anywhere in the world.
Track plans for most or all tram systems in Germany are available on the Gleisplanweb site or on the Doprava website or the UrbanRail,net site.
See also Germany - Tram services over obscure routes
Recent and Future Changes
The funding of local 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.
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.
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 mid 2024)|
|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 Böhmte on 26 May 2022.
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|
In the "tourist/museum line" sector:
The Bremen-Thedinghauser Eisenbahn ("Pingelheini") service resumed from Leeste (b. Bremen) as far as Stuhr, 4.5 km from Kirchhuchting, on 22 August 2021. The line had been closed west of Leeste since the end of the 2015 season to allow construction of an extension of Bremen tram route no. 8. A resumption of the Pingelheini service as far as Bremen-Kirchhuchting is expected at some point. Once the tram service starts it is expected that trams and Pingelheini trains will share the tracks.
The 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|
The following lines opened on 15 December 2019
|-||Flensburg Weiche Süd - Flensburg Friedensweg||Diversion of Hamburg - København services away from Puttgarden - Rødby|
|209.24||Berlin Bornholmer Straße - Schönhauser Allee||Diversion of RB24 until 9 July 2021|
|209.24||Berlin Frankfurter Allee - Ostkreuz (oben)||Initially by diverted RB24 but now used permanently by FEX airport trains|
|645.8/9||Frankfurt (Main) Stadion - Gateway Gardens - Frankfurt (Main) Flughafen Regionalbahnhof||Brand new eastern exit line from the airport replacing existing line|
|former 12474||Düren - Euskirchen||Regular service instead of weekend-only service|
The following line opened on 7 July 2019
|376||Bad Bentheim – Neuenhaus||A free preview service ran on 6 July|
Note that in most cases the lines remain available for empty stock, freight, diversionary or charter services.
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|
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|
The following lines closed to regular services on 31 October 2020
|207, 209.14||Berlin Grünauer Kreuz Nord - Grünauer Kreuz Süd||Almost all services diverted via Flughafen BER Terminals 1-2. A residual late-night service of a few RE7 trains continued until 12 December 2020.|
|209.22||Berlin-Grünau - Abzw Selchow||Almost all services diverted via Flughafen BER Terminals 1-2. A residual late-night service of a few RB22 trains continues to run on Monday nights only.|
The following line closed on 13 June 2020
|415.1||Düsseldorf Flughafen - Düsseldorf Flughafen Terminal||The one very early morning train diverted to run direct to Düsseldorf Hbf|
The following line closed in March 2020
|305||Uelzen W750 – Uelzen W23 (Veerßer Kurve)||Berlin – Hamburg IRE services 'temporarily' withdrawn as a Covid-related service reduction but withdrawal made permanent in October 2021.|
The following line closed on 14 December 2019
|140||Fehmarn-Burg avoiding line||Hamburg - København IC services ceased running via Puttgarden - Rødby; the remaining RB services to Puttgarden all reverse at Fehmarn-Burg.|
The following line closed in September 2019
|190||Sassnitz-Mukran Abzw Borchtitz - Sassnitz-Mukran Fährhafen||Berlin - Malmö overnight services ceased to operate via the Sassnitz - Trelleborg train ferry after the end of the 2019 season.|
The following line closed on 18 March 2019
|447||Duisburg Hbf - Duisburg Entenfang||The final day of service was 30 November 2019, when three farewell round trips operated. The service otherwise was by replacement bus from 18 March until 14 December 2019, the official closure date.|
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 was substantial work required on the line, which the society were not in a position to fund. The society announced its dissolution in 2021 so services will definitely not resume.
A shuttle service from Erkner to a new station to be known as Freienbrink Süd, on the DRE-owned line south of Fangschleuse, is to begin probably in October 2023. This is to serve the adjacent Tesla electric car factory. It is not yet clear whether or not this will be able to be used by people other than workers at the factory or official visitors.
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 2023. A west to south curve from Westhafen to Invalidenstraße is expected to open later, and plans are to extend the line to Potsdamer Platz in Stage 2 and Yorckstraße in Stage 3, thus creating a second north-south S-Bahn line through central Berlin. Opening of the entire line is not expected until 2037.
An extension of Kassel RegioTram route RT5 from Melsungen to Melsungen Süd is planned to come into service in December 2023. The station at Melsungen Süd will be on a short spur just off the main line.
A new RE41 service between Haltern am See and Bochum Hbf was due to commence on 11 June 2023, however this has been delayed until December 2023. The introduction will restore passenger services to the Recklinghausen Süd – Herne Rottbruch [– Bochum-Riemke] connection.
Calw - Weil der Stadt has been delayed yet again and is now due to reopen in December 2024, some six 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.
An extension of the Stolberg (Rheinland) Hbf to Stolberg Altstadt passenger service to Breinig was due to open, belatedly, in December 2021, but reopening is now not planned to take place until December 2024. Progress was initially delayed by the need to lower the trackbed under a road bridge at Stolberg Altstadt to provide the required safe clearance for the overhead wires and was further delayed by serious damage sustained to the existing line in the July 2021 floods. A further extension to Walheim, on the Belgian border, is delayed until an unknown date.
The Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn is rebuilding the line from Berlin-Wilhelmsruh to Wilhelmsruher Damm, therefore reopening the Heidekrautbahn between Bornholmer Straße and Schönwalde (Barnim) to passenger service for trains from Berlin-Gesundbrunnen to Basdorf and beyond. This is now planned for December 2024. A 30-minute frequency south of Basdorf was planned but as some redoubling of the existing lines from Schönholz to Wilhelmsruh and north of Schildow is required, this has been deferred until around 2030 with the initial frequency from 2024 being hourly. The existing line via Berlin-Karow will be retained with trains planned to terminate at a new Karower Kreuz interchange station. Reopening of the line from Wensickendorf to Liebenwalde has been proposed.
The reopening to passengers of the first part of the Weststrecke in Trier between Ehrang and Trier West, across the Mosel from the existing passenger line via Trier Hbf, has been delayed until the end of 2024.
The reopening to regular services of the Kiel to Schönberger Strand branch, which is currently only a tourist line beyond Kiel-Oppendorf, has been further delayed and is not now due to happen until 2024.
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 is not due to open until 2025, when the new low-level Stuttgart Hbf opens.
A replacement for the Lindaunisbrücke combined road-rail bascule bridge over the Schlei sea inlet between Rieselby and Süderbrarup on the Kiel – Flensburg line is being built. The new 126 metre-long bascule bridge will be some 13 metres to the east of the old bridge, which will be closed and the line realigned. The new bridge and alignment are expected to come into service in late 2025.
Reinstatement of main line tracks (closed 1952) alongside the S-Bahn on the Dresdner Bahn from Berlin Südkreuz to Blankenfelde (Kr. Teltow-Fläming) is underway. Services on the line are due to commence in December 2025. This will speed up trains between Berlin and Dresden and also allow a fast service to Berlin-Brandenburg airport via a new north-to-east curve at Glasower Damm. This is expected to mean the end of regular passenger services over the curves from Genshagener Heide Mitte to Großbeeren Süd.
Reopening to passengers of the WLE Münster (Westf) Hbf to Neubeckum line as far as Sendenhorst is planned for December 2025, delayed by two years because of platform works needed at Münster (Westf) Hbf.
The TWE (Teutoburger Wald-Eisenbahn) is to be reopened in December 2025 for a short distance (12-14 km) either side of Gütersloh. Trains will run through between Harsewinkel and Verl (Bz Detmold).
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.
Work is due to start on the reactivation of the Horlofftalbahn between Wölfersheim-Södel and Hungen in early 2025, with scheduled train services planned to commence in 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 reopening of Homburg (Saar) to Zweibrücken is planned for 2026.
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.
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 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 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 31 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 4.5 km Berlin S-Bahn branch from Jungfernheide to Gartenfeld. Known as the Siemensbahn, as it served the large factory of that firm, it closed in 1980. With the closure of the factory in 2018, a research campus and large residential development is being built on the site. Reopening of the line is planned for Autumn 2029. A study is underway for a possible new-build extension to Hakenfelde.
It is planned to reopen the first 2.9 km of the Wrist - Itzehoe line as far as Kellinghusen. Financing was supposedly agreed in December 2019 after years of prevarication, but no progress has been made on declaring an opening date.
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.
Dombühl - Dinkelsbühl was planned for reopening to passengers in December 2019, but this has been deferred and possibly shelved altogether.
Reopening of the northern section of the Gessertshausen - Markt Wald Staudenbahn as far as Langenneufnach is planned, but a date for this is not known.
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 services to Stolberg has been postponed indefinitely. An excursion train ran to Stolberg on 10 December 2022 which was the first passenger train to reach there for many years, possibly since closure.
DB Netze 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 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.
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.
DB announced in 2021 that it intends to reopen 20 lines to passenger traffic. These are at various stages of the planning/implementation process and some may not be proceeded with. Those not mentioned individually above are:
- Buchholz (Nordheide) - Hamburg-Harburg via Jesteburg
- Gnadau - Barby - Güterglück over the Elbbrücke (part of the Kanonenbahn)
- Oberhausen - Spellen (Walsumbahn)
- Duisburg Hbf - Düsseldorf-Rath (Ratinger Weststrecke)
- Blankenstein - Marxgrün (Höllentalbahn)
- Eisfeld - Coburg (Werratalbahn)
- Ludwigsburg - Markgröningen
- Breisach - Colmar (F)
- München northern ring line (Münchener Güternordring).
The Prime Minister and Transport Minister of Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern restated in early 2020 their commitment to the rebuilding of Ducherow – Świnoujście/Swinemünde (Poland) but as this project would involve complete reconstruction of the bridge at Karnin between the mainland and the island of Usedom, this would appear to be a long-term aspiration.
The Potsdamer Stammbahn (Zehlendorf to Griebnitzsee) is projected to reopen, to give a more direct route between Berlin and Potsdam for regional trains. The main line tracks from Schöneberg to Zehlendorf through Rathaus Steglitz will also be reinstated, along with a possible curve to the Innenring at Schöneberg. This may not occur until the early 2030s.
Other projects in the i2030 scheme for rail development in Berlin and Brandenburg include:
- Extension of the S2 from Blankenfelde to Rangsdorf along the Dresdner Bahn, in conjunction with the rebuilding of the long-distance lines north of Blankenfelde
- Extension of the S21 from Teltow Stadt over a new-build line to Stahnsdorf
- Extension of the S5 from Spandau to Nauen, parallel to the existing line, with a possible branch over part of the Johannesstift freight line to Falkenseer Chaussee
- Extension of the S75 along the Außenring to Karow
- Extension of the S25 between Hennigsdorf and Velten (Mark).
Reinstatement of regional tracks between Schönholz and Hennigsdorf to give a more direct route to the Wittstock line was considered but has been discounted on cost grounds. However capacity improvements between Velten (Mark) and Neuruppin are still going ahead.
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 for one year from 15 October 2022. According to the project website the planned opening date of the new Altona main-line station is 2027.
There have been numerous deviations of railways to allow open-cast mining. There has been a proposal for significant re-routing of the Görlitz to Cottbus line, which would involve the closure of around 10km of the existing line between Weißwasser and Rietschen, to be replaced by a 13km-long deviation to the east. This may not happen owing to environmental concerns.
Following the serious floods of mid-July 2021 in western Germany, many stretches of line in Nordrhein-Westfalen and Rheinland-Pfalz sustained considerable damage and needed major repairs. All sections of line have now reopened apart from the following. Projected reopening dates are shown where known.
|474 Eifelstrecke (central section)||Gerolstein – Kall||June 2023: Gerolstein – Nettersheim; |
'2nd quarter of 2024': Kall - Nettersheim
|434 Volmetalbahn (part)||Rummenohl – Lüdenscheid||Date unknown|
|482 (part)||Stolberg (Rheinl) Hbf – Eschweiler West||December 2023|
|482 (part)||Stolberg Rathaus – Stolberg Altstadt [– Breinig]||Date unknown but extension to Breinig due to open in December 2024|
|475 Erfttalbahn||Euskirchen – Bad Münstereifel||10 December 2023.|
|477 Ahrtalbahn (western end)||Walporzheim – Ahrbrück||Eight bridges over the river Ahr and most of the track have to be replaced. This is expected to take until the end of 2025.|
The Zellertalbahn between Monsheim, Langmeil (Pfalz) and Münchweiler (Alsenz) (KBS 662.1) has been closed since 2018 because of the condition of the track. Services operate on summer Sundays only. Services were shown in Table 662.1 as resuming on 2 April 2023; however this Table has disappeared from the Kursbuch and it appears that reopening will probably not be until 2024.
The cross-border line between Küstrin-Kietz and Kostrzyn (PL) closed on 13 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 December 2023.
The section of KBS 437 between Unna and Fröndenberg is closed until December 2023 while the embankment is repaired after a 300 m stretch near Frömern had been found to have been seriously undermined by 39 separate badger tunnels. 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 is reconstructing the bridge, but the line is not expected to reopen until 2024. The train service on the German section west of the bridge, between Nieuweschans and Weener, resumed on 30 October 2016. Once the bridge has reopened a direct Bremen – Groningen service is planned, to be known as the "Wunderline". Initially a journey time of 2h30 is foreseen, reducing to 2h15 with line improvements. These include double-tracking the sections between the Dutch border and Ihrhove and between Stickhausen-Velde and Augustfehn.
The service on the cross-border section of KBS 236 between Varnsdorf Pivovar Kocour (CZ) and Seifhennersdorf (2.1 km) was withdrawn at short notice and replaced by a minibus shuttle on 13th March 2015, because of problems with the German infrastructure owner DRE not being able to meet the operational requirements for cross-border services. The train service is expected to resume on 16 June 2023.
In the "tourist/museum line" sector:
The Oleftalbahn between Kall and Hellenthal sustained severe damage in the July 2021 floods and a date for its reopening is not yet known;
The Museums-Eisenbahn-Club Losheim was closed suddenly in April 2017 by the authorities because of the condition of the track. At present trains are only running between "Großer Wald" (west of Losheim) and Dellborner Mühle whilst relaying is in progress.
For details of older changes see Germany - Older General Information.
Train services in Germany are divided into a number of distinct categories:
- S (S-Bahn): Regular interval local trains in urban areas, generally using segregated tracks.
- RB (Regionalbahn): Basic local services.
- RE (RegionalExpress): Regular interval local or semi-fast trains calling at fewer stations than RB services.
- IRE (Inter-RegionalExpress): Long-distance semi-fast trains. This designation is quite rarely used; it currently appears only in Baden-Württemberg.
- IC (InterCity): Long-distance expresses, making limited stops.
- EC (EuroCity): Similar to IC, but for international journeys.
- RJ / RJX (Railjet / Railjet Xpress): High-speed Austrian Railways (ÖBB) trains to and from München via Salzburg.
- ICE (InterCity Express) & ICE Sprinter: High-speed, long-distance electric trains worked with dedicated ICE trainsets. These are the only trains to operate on certain stretches of high-speed line (Schnellfahrstrecken) such as between Frankfurt (Main) and Köln and between Hannover and Würzburg.
- ECE (EuroCity Express): Trains between München and Zürich are designated ECE and are operated by Swiss Railways (SBB) high-speed trainsets.
- THA (Thalys): High-speed trains on the Köln - Brussels - Paris route, managed by the French and Belgian railways. Reports indicate that these services and trains will be rebranded as "Eurostar" in 2023
- NJ (Nightjet): Almost all of the remaining sleeper trains to and from Germany are operated by ÖBB (Austrian Railways) and branded as "Nightjet".
- D-Zug: This designation is derived from Durchgang, the German for corridor. Its use for regular passenger trains is now very rare — the only remaining instances are on the "Sylt Shuttle Plus" services between Westerland (Sylt), Niebüll and Bredstedt, and the seasonal Berlin – Malmö – Stockholm overnight services. It may still be used within Germany for an excursion or other special passenger train.
A few services operate only during school term time, or are extensively altered during school holidays. The dates of holidays vary from Land to Land.
A brief Guide to German railway terminology is available.