The Deutsche Bahn AG (abbreviated as DB or DB AG) is a German railway company. Headquartered in the Bahntower in Berlin, it is a private joint-stock company (AG), with the Federal Republic of Germany being its single shareholder.
As the number one long-distance passenger transport service in Germany, Deutsche Bahn can get you around the country with minimum fuss. Travel is made easy when the majority of your journeys are with one well-organised provider, and with over 13 million passengers travelling on the service every day, DB certainly lives up to its reputation as a reliable service.
There are three main types of DB train in operation, including the ICE (Intercity Express), Germany’s iconic high-speed train service. Intercity trains, meanwhile, conveniently connect many of the major cities across the country. Finally, DB also provides Regional Express and Regional Bahn services, which connect quieter towns and villages to nearby cities.
DB Fernverkehr operates all InterCityExpress and InterCity trains in Germany as well as in some neighboring countries and several EuroCity and EuroCityExpress trains throughout Europe. Unlike its sister companies DB Regio and DB Cargo, DB Fernverkehr still holds a de facto monopoly in its segment of the market as it operates hundreds of trains per day, while all competitors' long-distance services combined amount to no more than 10–15 trains per day.
Additionally DB Fernverkehr operates a few long-distance coach services throughout Germany, called IC Bus.
DB Regio AG is the subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn that operates passenger trains on short and medium distances in Germany. Unlike its long-distance counterpart, DB Fernverkehr, it does not operate trains on its own account. Traffic is ordered and paid for by the Bundesländer (states) or their respective SPNV-Aufgabenträger (Regional train operation supervisors).
Some states have awarded long-term contracts to DB Regio (usually 10 to 15 years), in others, DB Regio's operations are decreasing, in North Rhine-Westphalia, their market share is expected to be lower than 50%. DB Regio rail services are divided into several regional companies:
- DB Regio Nord for Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Bremen
- DB Regio Nordost for Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
- DB Regio NRW for North Rhine-Westphalia
- DB Regio Südost for Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia
- DB Regio Mitte for Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Hesse and parts of Baden-Württemberg
- DB Regio Baden-Württemberg for the rest of Baden-Württemberg
- DB Regio Bayern for Bavaria
- S-Bahn Hamburg
- S-Bahn Berlin
- RegioNetz (small, independent networks, like Erzgebirgsbahn, Gäubodenbahn, Kurhessenbahn, Oberweißbacher Bergbahn, Südostbayernbahn, Westfrankenbahn for easier organisation)
The bus services consist of 25 bus companies, which have subsidiary companies themselves.
Train Deutsche Bahn (DB)
Trains in Germany are classified by their stopping pattern:
- Fernverkehr (long-distance trains), also Fernzug
- ICE (Intercity-Express ) for high-speed long-distance train services between major cities and regions. Does also cross European borders to the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Austria.
- EC (EuroCity) for IC trains that cross borders, and connects Germany with other countries. Can also be operated by foreign State Railways. Can have carriages from various European countries.
- IC (InterCity) for long-distance semi-high-speed services, that connects regions and cities. Serves as a "mini ICE" with trains reaching high speed (average around 160 – 220 km/h), but stops more frequently, and in smaller cities than ICE services. On some IC lines the trains go on older railways instead of the high speed lines the ICE takes. International IC services are usually operated As Euro-City.
- As like ICE, EC and (few) IC do cross European borders, train categories of other operators do so into Germany and are operated in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn:
- ECE (EuroCity Express) for international high-speed rail services. Currently only one route from Frankfurt to Milan
- TGV from France to Frankfurt and Munich via Stuttgart
- RJ (Railjet) from Austria to Munich and Frankfurt as well as to Berlin
- Nahverkehr (local trains)
- IRE (Interregio-Express) longer distance RE trains, that connects regions and cities. Serves as slower IC trains. IRE trains only exist in Baden-Württemberg and on the Hamburg–Berlin route
- RE (Regional-Express) serves regions and connects cities, and does not stop at every Station on the route.
- RB (Regionalbahn) stops at all stations on the route (except where S-Bahn is available) and is the most basic train service
- S (S-Bahn) is rapid transit and most services stop at all stations. S-Bahn operate high-frequency services and are comparable with, for example, the London Overground
Train categories no longer used include:
- MET (Metropolitan) was a luxury train service between Hamburg and Cologne. The two special MET train sets are now used for IC and ICE services, and does still have a comfort level above the regular IC and ICE coaches
- IR (InterRegio), set between RE and IC was meant to connect cities and regions at a lower price, but also be used for local traffic. Replaced partly by IC, RE and IRE
- SE (Stadt-Express) operated as a mixture of RE and RB: trains skipped many stations in urban areas but made all stops in the countryside. Rebranded as RE and RB. In some regions, such as Rhine-Main (Frankfurt, Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund), the local transit authority advertised trains as SE. Internally, DB classified them as either RE or RB, but even DB trains display "SE" on their destination boards. This ceased in December 2016.
In the early days of DBAG, the most basic train categories, which were in use since the early days of rail travel in Germany, were also used:
- D (D-Zug or Schnellzug, abbreviated from Durchgangszug) was the express train category and used to be the highest train category. It was replaced by IC and the even faster ICE. The trains of the SyltShuttle plus car shuttle service connecting the island of Sylt with the mainland are still officially referred to as D trains
- E (Eilzug) was the semi-fast service offering faster journeys than normal passenger trains but not at such long distances and speed as D trains, though there were some quite long running E trains. No direct successor, would be located between RE and IC
- N (Nahverkehrszug), the most basic form of train service stopping at all stations. When all local train services were vertaktet, i.e. operating at a fixed interval (mostly one train per hour), they were rebranded as RB
There are several other operators in Germany which sometimes offer other categories, also, a local transport authority or tariff associations might brand the trains in a different way than DB does. For example, in the Nuremberg region, RE and RB trains are not differentiated, but called R instead. In some regions, such as Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg, private operators do use the RE and RB labels, in others, such as Saxony, they do not. In online and print information systems of DB, private trains officially labelled RB and RE by their operators, might get a different label, for example "ABR" for trains operated by Abellio, though on platforms, trains and maps or timetables issued by the local transport authority overseeing regional train services, these abbreviations usually do not appear.
Able to reach speeds of over 300 km/h, DB’s ICE trains cover the hugely popular long-distance routes across the country, serving major cities like Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt. You can also take the ICE train to neighbouring countries such as France and Austria, making it a great option if you’d like to city (or even country) hop!
Onboard, you can expect to find WiFi on most trains, as well as quiet zones, family carriages and much more. ICE trains feature two seating classes, both of which are incredibly comfortable. In First Class, passengers are treated to free newspapers, hot and cold drinks and snacks, and unlimited WiFi.
Providing a similar service to the ICE trains, Intercity services also ferry passengers between Germany’s major cities – just at a slower speed. You’ll get many of the same comforts on these trains, including the spacious seats. In fact, some Intercity trains also feature double-decker carriages, enabling them to carry more passengers per journey than ICE trains.
Regional Express and Regionalbahn
Regional Express and Regionalbahn trains provide some of the most important commuting routes in Germany, connecting towns and villages to major cities. So try to avoid travelling on these trains during peak hours, as they can be quite busy. On the other hand, if you’d like to explore some slightly different areas away from the beaten path, then regional trains are incredibly useful. Much like the Intercity trains, some of these services also feature double-decker carriages for extra space.
Popular Train Journeys in Germany
As trains in Germany are fast and reliable, they're a popular method of getting around Germany for locals and travelers alike. From our data, we've compiled a list of the most popular routes that are taken throughout the country. Most routes are run by Deutsche Bahn however some more locals routes are operated by smaller, more regional companies.
Trains from Berlin to Hamburg
Trains from Berlin to Munich
Trains from Hamburg to Berlin
Trains from Munich to Berlin
Trains from Frankfurt to Berlin
Trains from Berlin to Frankfurt
Trains from Frankfurt to Munich
Trains from Cologne to Berlin
Trains from Cologne to Hamburg
Popular International Routes by Train from Germany
Travelers wishing to visit cities in Germany using the train as the method of transportation will find that Omio is an efficient and convenient tool to streamline the planning process. Being located in the center of Europe, Germany has many international routes passing through its cities. Here are three of the main cities in Germany and how to get there by train:
- Munich: The most popular international routes in Munich are to Innsbruck (EuroCity), to Vienna (Austrian RailJet), to Prague (DB Express), to Paris (TGV), to Venice (EuroCity), and to Rome (ÖBB).
- Frankfurt: The most popular international routes in Frankfurt are to Brussels (InterCity Express), to Paris (InterCity Express), and to Amsterdam (InterCity Express).
- Berlin: The most popular international routes in Berlin are to Prague (EuroCity), to Warsaw (Berlin-Warsaw Express), and to Zurich (ÖBB).
|Trains from Berlin to Prague|
|Trains from Berlin to Amsterdam|
|Trains from Munich to Paris|
|Trains from Munich to Salzburg|
|Trains from Munich to Vienna|
|Trains from Cologne to Amsterdam|
|Trains from Munich to Prague|
|Trains from Hamburg to Copenhagen|
Deutsche Bahn tickets
Deutsche Bahn tickets usually increase in price the longer they’re available. The cheapest fares available are Sparpreis tickets, which you can buy from up to six months before the departure date – we’d recommend booking these tickets as early as possible to save money on your journey.
DB timetables feature thousands of different routes running on a daily basis, so the possibilities for amazing travels are endless.
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