Swiss Railways train in Zurich Station
Below is a detailed map of the railways of Germany. You can zoom in by using the +/- buttons or by using the wheel on your mouse whilst hovering over the map.
The map has been extracted from the Railway Map of Europe with kind permission of the publishers.
You can purchase copies of the full map, as well as rail timetables, from The European Railway Timetable website
Most rail services are operated by DB (Die Bahn or Deutsche Bahn) which is the national operator. There are also quite a lot of local operators. In the former East Germany there are, in addition, a number of narrow-gauge steam-operated railways in the Harz mountains and around Leipzig and Dresden which also offer a public service.
RESERVATIONS: most services in Germany are provided by DB. Experience is that reservations are not necessary on high speed trains which operate under the banner IC or ICE. ICE is the acronym for Inter-City Express and is NOT pronounced in a way that has anything to do with frozen water. Cheaper Super Saver and Saver fares are available for specified trains(Called Spar Preis). The Saver fares also include local public transport at the origin and destination stations.
Reservations are not available on RE (Regio Express) or RB local trains (Regionalbahn). Regional Day tickets for unlimited travel in any one of the 16 Federal States are extremely good value for money for up to 5 people travelling together. Most, but not all Regional tickets are also valid on local public transport.
TICKETS can be purchased on line or at ticket offices at major stations (Hbf). There are also ticket machines widely available, although experience is that non-German credit and debit cards are not always accepted. Quite a few local stations have a small general shop or kiosk where tickets can be purchased. Interrail tickets are fully acceptable on DB services and by many, but not all of the private operators. Regional tickets are not usually valid on IC and ICE services, although there is no warning on the tickets about validity. There is a small charge for cycles on long-distance DB services
CYCLES: Many IC and ICE trains do not carry cycles. The people of Germany do a lot of cycling so there is usually ample space for bicycles on all Regional and Local trains. Racks are sometimes provided. For those long-distance trains that DO carry cycles it is necessary to book in advance. See DB website.
INTERRAIL PASSES: can be bought in the UK from the Eurail Group website. It appears to be possible to buy tickets and make reservations on-line and tickets can also be purchased through travel agencies, although a fee may be payable..For those doing a lot of travelling a Bahncard may be a worthwhile investment. It operates like a Senior Railcard or Student Railcard but is available to any age.
OPEN ACCESS: The long-established HKX, the Hamburg–Köln-Express is now part of Flixtrain which is also operating a number of other routes across Germany including Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart and Leipzig..Flixtrain offer lower fares and also carry bicycles. See link below.
ONWARD TRAVEL: German public transport is very well integrated. At local stations buses meet the trains. In major towns and cities there are frequently S-bahn (Schnellbahn), U-bahn (Underground, but not always), trams and buses Local city and regional transport authorities publish guides to the networks. Interchange between modes is usually very easy.
DISABLED ASSISTANCE: Passengers need to give 24 hours’ notice if assistance is required when boarding/changing or leaving trains. See link below for further information
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL: Some ICE and IC trains run through to Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. Austrian Railways (ÖBB) run Railjet services to Austria and Hungary from Munich. Czech Railways run a Eurocity service to the Czech Republic from Berlin, Munich and Dresden and Polish Railways(PKP) run a Eurocity service to Poland from Berlin. There are also local services into Poland and the Czech Republic from Berlin, Dresden (up the very pretty Elbe Valley) and a number of other places.
DP August 2021