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“Complication” might be the first word that comes up when you think about the German transportation system. But when understood, it becomes one of the well-structured systems in the world.
This article will help you to understand different transport systems available in Germany. Fun Fact – ‘Verkehrsnetz’ is the german word for transport system.

Deutsche Bahn (DB) is the German national railway company that operates all of the railway systems across Germany. Local transport association operate local transport such as bus, tram, or U-Bahn, but not S-Bahn.
For example – The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) is the main public transport company of Berlin, the capital city of Germany.

There are different types of tickets available, depending on the region. But usually there are 3 types of tickets.

  • Single Ticket (Einzelticket) lets you to travel anywhere by any means of mode up to 1.5 hours, regardless of the stops you make. This costs 2-2.8 Euros per person.
  • Day Ticket (Tagesticket) lets you to travel anywhere for a day. Here one day does not mean 24 hours from the time you buy the ticket.
    In some cities, it means 24-hour ticket whereas some cities allow you to travel only to 3 am or 6 am on the following day. This costs 6-8 Euros per person.
  • Group Ticket (Gruppenticket) is usually a day for a group of 5 people. This costs 12-20 Euros per person.
    Pro tip: Sometimes buying a group ticket is cheaper even when you travel with just 2 or 3 people compared to buying several single tickets.

People in Germany usually buy tickets online from:
https://www.bahn.com/i/view/index.shtml

You can choose the English language and start exploring Germany with your own eyes.
Regular travellers prefers different types of Bahn cards, namely – Bahn25 (25% off), Bahn50 (50% off) and Bahn100 (free travel). Bahn25 starts from as low as 62 Euros per year.
To know more about the prices and exciting offers, visit:
https://www.bahn.com/en/view/offers/bahncard/bahncard.shtml

Apart from these tickets, there are some weekend offers ticket based on the region like Bayern Ticket, Baden Wüttemberg Ticket. You can look the details on their website here:
https://www.bahn.com/en/view/offers/regional/index.shtml

The most common mistake done by tourists is not stamping the ticket. Just having a ticket in your possession isn’t enough. Your ticket must be validated with a code for the date and time from the machine installed on every platform and bus & tram. A ticket without a stamp is not a valid ticket and the fine is as high as 60 Euros.
Fun fact: the German verb ‘schwarzfahren‘ means to ride public transport without a ticket. A person who does this is called a ‘Schwarzfahrer‘.

Now let’s jump right away into understanding the whole network:

Bus is the most common public transportation in Germany. It goes both for bigger cities like Munich, Berlin, Hamburg and also for smaller towns. The only difference is how dense the bus network is and the frequency of the buses. In bigger cities this frequency varies from 5-20 mins, while only one bus in an hour in a small town. 

U-Bahn (short for “Untergrundbahn”) is the German term for what is variously known in English as the metro, subway, underground, having different colored lines. The Berlin U-Bahn network has gradually expanded to become Germany’s largest, with 10 lines covering a total distance of 146.2 kilometers (91 miles) and stopping at 173 U-Bahn stations.
Today only four German cities have underground/metro (U-Bahn) lines: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Nuremberg.

Satdtbahn is the light-rail system, also known as city rail. It uses a mixture of special and regular streetcars that use underground tunnels and stations to increase the system’s speed by avoiding vehicular traffic. Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, and Stuttgart etc. have Stadtbahn which provides faster service than a normal tram.

S-Bahn is an abbreviation of “Stadtschnellbahn” or city rapid rail. It expands out of the cities and it is the best way to cover longer distances, sometimes in combination with the underground U-Bahn. But it can be confusing for the first time travellers.
For ex. – The airport in Munich is in the outskirts of the city. Two S-Bahns (S1 and S2) connect city center to the airport. But S1 splits in the middle of the way and the coach that reads ‘Airport’ or ‘Flughafen’ only goes to the airport. So, make sure that your are in the right part of the S-Bahn when travelling to the airport.

Trams are the small capacity trains that travel on the roads along with the cars and all the traffic. They are like buses but only with rails and set paths

ICE is an abbreviation of ”Intercity Express“. It is a high-speed train that connects all major cities in Germany. With speed up to 300km/h, this is one of the fastest ways to travel between cities such as Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne. The ICE has international connections to Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Austria. Seat reservation is allowed on the ICE, and it is charged separately.

Lastly people in Germany uses carpooling. Two of the most widely used services are Blablacar and Flixbus. They are cheap, fast and comfortable.

I hope this article is helpful. Share your experiences when travelling through a German transport system. Please comment below your first time travelling stories. Was it confusing? Was it easy?

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