bus and train vocabulary in german

Useful German Train & Bus Vocabulary

Traversing long distances in Germany by car is often very tiring, especially for the driver. If you are prepared to give up the time flexibility, taking a train or a bus might be a better alternative for you to get around. 

It is much more comfortable. You can sleep, eat, watch a movie, read a book, work or play games with your children or friends while leaving kilometers behind you. 

And if you are traveling alone, it might be even cheaper than making a car trip. Furthermore, it is more environmentally friendly.

In Germany, there is a very well-developed train system. You can reach almost every village by train. So if you choose to travel by public transport, I’ll give you some useful vocabulary now. 

German Train & Bus Vocabulary

Types of public transport

  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Zug 🇺🇸 a train
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Bus – 🇺🇸 a bus
  • 🇩🇪 die/eine Straßenbahn – 🇺🇸 a tram
  • 🇩🇪 die/eine S-Bahn (Schnellbahn) – 🇺🇸 a suburban train
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Stadtbus – 🇺🇸 a city bus
  • 🇩🇪 die/eine U-Bahn – 🇺🇸 a subway

The staff

  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Busfahrer – 🇺🇸 a bus driver, male
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Schaffner 🇺🇸 a conductor, male
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Kontrolleur – 🇺🇸 an inspector, male
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Lokführer – 🇺🇸 a train driver, male

Note: Most professions in German are masculine. By adding “-in” at the end, you get the feminine form. (“der Busfahrer; die Busfahrerin“)

At the train station

  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Bahnhof – 🇺🇸 a train station
  • 🇩🇪 die/eine Fahrkarte or der/ein Fahrschein 🇺🇸 a ticket
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Fahrscheinautomat – 🇺🇸 a ticket machine
  • 🇩🇪 erste/zweite Klasse – 🇺🇸 first/second class
  • 🇩🇪 das/ein Gleis or der/ein Bahnsteig – 🇺🇸 a platform
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Anschlusszug – 🇺🇸 a connecting train
  • 🇩🇪 Abfahrt 🇺🇸 departure
  • 🇩🇪 Ankunft – 🇺🇸 arrival
  • 🇩🇪 umbuchen – 🇺🇸 to rebook
  • 🇩🇪 die/eine Verspätung – 🇺🇸 a delay
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Sitz 🇺🇸 a seat
  • 🇩🇪 die/eine Reservierung – 🇺🇸 a reservation
  • 🇩🇪 das/ein Abteil 🇺🇸 a compartment
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Auskunftsschalter – 🇺🇸 an information desk
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Fahrplan – 🇺🇸 a timetable
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Warteraum – 🇺🇸 a waiting room
  • 🇩🇪 die/eine Ermäßigung – 🇺🇸 a reduction
  • 🇩🇪 das/ein Gepäck – 🇺🇸 a luggage 
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Koffer – 🇺🇸 a suitcase
  • 🇩🇪 der/ein Rucksack – 🇺🇸 a backpack

Memorize all these essential words and phrases with our Quiz-App

Expressions You Need to Know while Using the Bus and Train

I have prepared some phrases and questions for you to help you get your bearings on a trip through Germany:

🇩🇪 Wo ist der Bahnhof?
🇺🇸 Where is the train station?

🇩🇪 Wie komme ich zum Gleis vier?
🇺🇸 How do I get to platform four?

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🇩🇪 Wo finde ich den Fahrplan?
🇺🇸 Where do I find the timetable?

🇩🇪 Gibt es einen Busbahnhof in der Nähe?
🇺🇸 Is there a bus station nearby?

Being able to understand when someone tells you a direction in German is a valuable skill. I highly recommend you to take a look at it before traveling to a German-speaking country.

🇩🇪 Fährt der Zug nach Nürnberg?
🇺🇸 Does this train go to Nürnberg?

🇩🇪 Gibt es eine direkte Verbindung nach Hamburg?
🇺🇸 Is there a direct connection to Hamburg?

🇩🇪 Ich möchte ein Ticket nach Dortmund kaufen.
🇺🇸 I would like to buy a train ticket to Dortmund.

🇩🇪 Für wen gilt die Ermäßigung?
🇺🇸 For whom is the reduction valid?

🇩🇪 Gibt es ein Tagesticket?
🇺🇸 Is there a day ticket?

🇩🇪 Können die Kinder kostenlos fahren?
🇺🇸 Are the children allowed to travel for free?

🇩🇪 Gibt es einen Rabatt für Schüler/Studenten?
🇺🇸 Is there any discount for pupils/students?

🇩🇪 Ich würde gerne einen Sitzplatz am Fenster buchen.
🇺🇸 I would like to book a seat by the window. 

🇩🇪 Sind Tiere im Zug erlaubt?
🇺🇸 Are pets allowed on the train?

🇩🇪 Darf ich mein Fahrrad mitnehmen?
🇺🇸 Can I take my bike with me?

Phrases for Solving Problems in German

While traveling by train, at least in Germany, some situations might surprise you. Sometimes, your train will have a delay, or it might be canceled. But there’s no reason to worry because there is always a solution to every problem. 

Here are some phrases and questions that will help you in such situations:

🇩🇪 Entschuldigung, wo ist der Auskunfsschalter?
🇺🇸 Excuse me, where is the information desk?

🇩🇪 Wann fährt der nächste Zug nach Berlin?
🇺🇸 When does the next train to Berlin leave?

🇩🇪 Ich möchte meine Reservierung umbuchen.
🇺🇸 I would like to rebook my reservation. 

🇩🇪 Warum hat mein Zug eine Verspätung?
🇺🇸 Why is my train delayed?

🇩🇪 Ich erreiche den Anschlusszug nicht. Wie komme ich weiter?
🇺🇸 I won’t make the connecting train. How do I continue my journey?

🇩🇪 Wo kann ich mein Gepäck lassen?
🇺🇸 Where can I leave my luggage?

🇩🇪 Ich möchte ein Hotelzimmer für heute Abend. 
🇺🇸 I would like a hotel room for tonight. 

🇩🇪 Gibt es ein Hotel in der Nähe?
🇺🇸 Is there a hotel nearby?

🇩🇪 Wo soll ich die Rechnung schicken?
🇺🇸 Where should I send the bill?

🇩🇪 Ich finde meinen Sitzplatz nicht.
🇺🇸 I cannot find my seat.

🇩🇪 Ich will einen Fahrgastrechte-Formular ausfüllen.
🇺🇸 I want to fill in the passenger rights claim form. 

Mostly you will turn to the train customer service when you have a problem, so maybe it is helpful to think of some Phrases for Customer Service in German in this situation. 

German Expressions in the Train

When your train has arrived and you have successfully found your seat, you will probably enjoy the trip in peace, reading a book, working, or listening to music. But there are also questions you might like to know while on a train, for example:

🇩🇪 Entschuldigung, wo ist die Toilette?
🇺🇸 Excuse me, where is the toilet?

🇩🇪 Wo finde ich das Bordbistro?
🇺🇸 Where do I find the onboard bistro?

🇩🇪 Ich möchte meinen Sitzplatz wechseln.
🇺🇸 I would like to change my seat. 

🇩🇪 Wo finde ich den Schaffner?
🇺🇸 Where can I find the conductor?

🇩🇪 Wie viel Verspätung haben wir?
🇺🇸 How much of a delay do we have?

🇩🇪 Kommen wir in Frankfurt rechtzeitig an?
🇺🇸 Will we arrive in Frankfurt on time?

🇩🇪 Gibt es hier eine Steckdose?
🇺🇸 Is there an electrical outlet here?

🇩🇪 Entschuldigung, Sie sitzen auf meinem Sitzplatz.
🇺🇸 Excuse me, you are sitting in my seat. 

Upon arrival at your destination, you can continue your journey by tram or bus, but maybe it’d be easier to call a cab. For this, you might want to learn how to call a taxi in German

Good to Know About German Bus and Train System 

The German train system is not as perfect as the Japanese one, but (apart from the fact that a delay is quite probable) it does have a high standard. The trains are modern and comfortable, at least the Intercity trains. And the Deutsche Bahn has developed an app where you can check all the connections and delays or buy a ticket. 

However, in my opinion, it is pretty expensive if you want to travel spontaneously. So if you have the possibility to plan your trip, I recommend you buy your ticket earlier. For this, you can look at the Sparpreis-Angebote (you can easily find them on the app). 

I hope I have given you some useful phrases and information for traveling by public transport and that your trips throughout Germany will be easy-going for you now.

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Weronika Olszewska

Weronika Olszewska

Living and studying in Germany for as long as she can remember. German tutor by day, Italian learner by night. When she's not learning new languages, you can find her enjoying great rock bands on stage.

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