How to buy a German train ticket from a machine

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Whenever I teach a beginners’ class there is always the obligatory lesson on how to buy a train ticket. You know the ones, asking how much a ticket is and then buying it …

But what do you do when you get to the station and there is no kiosk to buy your ticket, only a machine or nothing at all?

You panic! Right?

No, you won’t because a) there will be machines, either at the station or on the train, b) the machines can be set to the English language, but that’s not much fun, and c) I will show you how to do it in German ☺

First you select your destination and the station where you’re at. Last Christmas we were in Rheine and wanted to get back to Schüttorf, where we stayed over Christmas and New Year with my mum and family.

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Select your destination

Select your type of ticket and press “weiter” (continue). Ticket choices were: einfache Fahrt – single ticket,  Hin- und Rückfahrt – return ticket, Wochen- und Monatskarten – weekly and monthly tickets.

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Select your type of ticket

The next step  is to say how many passengers. I didn’t get a picture of that step, but you can see on the next picture that we were two adults, each added separately: 1. Erwachsener, 2. Erwachsener, and neither of us had a Bahncard or any other discount cards: “keine BC”

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keine BC – no BahnCard

“Bitte wählen Sie, wie Sie reisen möchten.” – Please select how you would like to travel.

We chose “2. Klasse” as we didn’t want to pay any extra for 1st class. We also chose “Alle Zugtypen” as we didn’t care which train we took, as long as it took us to our destination. Other choices would have been “Alle ohne ICE” (all trains but not IntercityExpress), “nur Nahverkehr” (local transport only) or “Alle ohne Bus & U-Bahn” (all  but not bus or underground)

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Select how you would like to travel

“Bitte wählen Sie, wann Sie reisen möchten.” – Please select when you would like to travel.

We selected “Abfahrt” (departure) “Ab sofort” (as from now). You can also select  “Heute, um …” (today at …), “Morgen, um …” (tomorrow at …) or chose another date “Anderes Datum”.

All those option also work with “Ankunft” (arrival), if you want to arrive at a certain time.

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Select when you would like to travel

“Bitte wählen Sie eine Verbindung.”  – Please select a connection. This will  also tell you how much you will have to pay.

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Select a train

“Bitte wählen Sie zusätzlich zu Ihrer Fahrkarte …” We had one more option to select whether we wanted/ needed a ticket for our bike. We didn’t, but if you travel by bicycle and need to take your bike on a train, your selection would be “Fahrradtageskarte wählen” (select day ticket for bike).

If at any time you make a mistake, just click on “Zurück” ,which takes you  to the previous step or “Abbrechen”, which stops everything.

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Travelling with your bike?

Finally you pay (I missed taking a picture) and you get your tickets and possible change. “Bitte entnehmen Sie Ihre Belege” – Please take your receipts. Then click “Beenden” to finish the process.

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Take your receipts and possible change

Now all you have to do is find the right train on the right platform. Find a departure board (Abfahrt) and search for the time you selected for travel. I tried to take a picture of a departure board. It doesn’t  show it very well, but German departure boards are sorted by the times. So, if your train is expected to leave by 14.35, find the part on the board between 14.00 and 15.00. At 14.35 you may find more than one train, so check carefully in which direction you want to go and from which platform (Gleis) it goes.

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Departure board

And if you’ve got some time, have a look at the arrival board (Ankunft) to see when your train is due to arrive.

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Arrival board

If you like to know more about travelling by train in Germany, check out Train Travel in Germany.

So, would you be brave enough to use a ticket machine in the German language? Have you  already done it? Was it easy? Please let me know.

Happy travelling!

Do you need help reaching your goal of German fluency? I can help you. Message me

5 thoughts on “How to buy a German train ticket from a machine”

  1. Just for you to help me please. I sent an email to Frankfurt Station as unlike the ticket machine at Frankfurt Airport it doesn’t accept my card. I an coming over again in May to help run the Rugby Youth Festival. My card is “Travel money Card” that has Euros. Will you kindly let me know why it is not accepted in the Ticket machines where the 3 of us have to by local train tickets
    Thank you

    • As we have now found out. The ticket machines in Germany accept cash and debit cards but not credit cards. BUT those are being phased out in spring 2018. So once they have been replaced you should be fine with your card (…she says, hopefully)


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