LivingTravelUseful German phrases for train travel

Useful German phrases for train travel

Traveling by train is the best way to get around Germany. Trains run regularly and cheaply to all corners of the country and are fast and efficient.

Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company, offers a comprehensive site within Germany and extends to the rest of Europe. Their site offers information in English with train schedules, travel deals and the ability to buy tickets online.

However, sometimes you need to speak to a real German person or just interpret your train ticket or schedule in German. Try some deutsch with the agent at the ticket counter or with your fellow travelers on the train. It is true that most Germans speak English, but ein bisschen (a little bit) of German can open many doors.

In this German travel glossary, you will find the most widely used German vocabulary and expressions related to train travel in Germany. Learn how to book your train tickets in German and learn essential phrases that you can use on the train or at the train stations.

(You will find the pronunciations in parentheses. Just read it aloud with the capitalized part of the word emphasized).

Gute Reise ! (GOO-tuh RY-suh) – Have a good trip!

German for Travelers: Train Travel Glossary


Remember that the date in Germany is written . For example, Christmas 2019 is written on 12/25/19. The time may also be a little different than what you are used to, as it is based on the 24-hour clock. For example, 7:00 am is 7:00 am and 7:00 pm is 7:00 pm.

When searching for your reserved seat, the digital display should say your last name above the assigned seat on your ticket. Alternatively, it can be a printed card or a simple origin and destination description. It’s not uncommon for someone to be in your seat as no reservations are required, just use our handy glossary to figure it out and usually the other passenger will move quickly.

Train types and abbreviations

  • InterCity-Express (ICE) – ICE pronounced like the German alphabet – not ‘ice’ like frozen water – these are the high-speed, long-distance trains that cross the country and reach neighboring EU countries
  • EuroCity (EC) – International long distance trains
  • InterCity (IC): long-distance trains linking German cities
  • EuroNight (ES) – International night trains with sleeping wagons. Routes include Cologne – Frankfurt – Vienna, Berlin – Prague – Bratislava – Budapest and Munich -Salzburg-Vienna
  • Regional-Express (RE) – The fastest regional rail with fewer stops than the RB trains below
  • Interregio-Express (IRE): fast local services over longer distances than RE trains
  • RegionalBahn (RB) or Regio – standard regional trains
  • S-Bahn (S): Local commuter trains usually covered in public transport tickets

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