Travelling by train in Germany is fun! At least, that’s what I think. The trains are spacious and comfortable, the service is very reliable – sehr zuverlässig – and you can buy reduced price tickets – Spartickets. In this post, I offer some ticket-buying tips you might find useful. My aim is to help you to learn German but even if you’re just visiting and not planning on learning the language, these tips should be useful.
In the past, you just went to the ticket office on the day of travel and bought tickets – Fahrkarten – often with cash – (das_ Bargeld. Today you can buy tickets online in advance or from the machine on the day of travel. For reasons which I will explain, it’s useful to be able to order tickets from the assistant.
Today’s golden rule about buying tickets for trains, buses planes is to book in advance! – Im Voraus buchen! You can go to the www.bahn.de website well in advance of your trip, choose – Spartickets – reduced price tickets and you will pay a lot less. You can use the bahn.de website in German or in English and other languages.
Using the website is very straightforward. In fact it’s just like any other ticket booking website.
But now let’s imagine you’re in the country, and maybe you’re making a local trip on a train. You’re at the station and ask yourself, where can I get tickets? – Wo bekomme ich Fahrkarten? – At the machine – am Automaten .
There are options for different languages. You can choose English or German and then you just move through a series of screens and select your ticket and pay by card – mit Karte – or in cash
That’s the theory! In practice you may find it a little bit complicated – ein bisschen kompliziert! There are many options for different types of tickets and trains, individuals, small groups, and for the various types of railcards – Bahnkarten. In Bremen I used a machine and soon got in to difficulties. An assistant came and even he got confused!
So it may be a good idea to go into the Reisezentrum – the travel centre – and order your tickets from an assistant! They are often friendly and helpful. They will quite probably be able to speak English but if you’re learning German, please ignore that last remark!
From Bremen I needed to go to Delmenhorst, so let’s look at the simplest language to for a return journey – hin und zurück . It’s often good to prepare what you’re going to say, and maybe even write it down on a piece of paper. You start the conversation as follows:
“Nach Delmenhorst, bitte, hin und zurück!”
Acht Euro, bitte
You offer your card or money. The assistant hands you the ticket. You say:
He or she says:
If you wanted a single ticket, then you would say.
“Nach Delmenhorst, bitte, einfach.”
That’s the simplest way to buy a ticket. On the downloadable conversation sheet, you’ll find longer dialogues in both English and German to read, practice and learn.
Here’s an example of a ticket –
Price bracket 5
MwST = Mehrwertsteuer = VAT
For immediate travel already stamped
Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof = main or central station
Some tickets are issued without being time-stamped. When you go to the platform, you have to stamp/activate them in the machine – entwerten – The one above has already been entwertet.