German Bike-Rail Experience

A Wolves on Wheels Cycle Campaign member was on holiday during the survey period in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Southern Germany.
On his rail journeys he observed Bike-Rail conditions on Deutsche Bahn (DB) in Bavaria.
Ingolstadt is a town on the Danube river 80 km north of Munich, of comparable size to Wolverhampton and is a main railway junction with trains coming from 5 directions. Cycle carriage is a normal part of the DB network services.

A German passenger has access to clear and accurate information to assist in planning a trip with onward cycle carriage.
Timetables at all stations show with a bicycle symbol which trains are fitted out for cycle carriage.
The superb DB travel website not only has all the railway timetables of Europe in its database but allows a number of cycles to be carried to be entered into the enquiry form for the proposed trip.
The website user can work out a suitable route, then reserve seat and cycle spaces in Germany and order tickets.


Deutsche Bahn have produced in the past an information booklet called Bahn und Bike. A copy could not be found on this trip in the limited time.
The 2001 edition with prices in Deutschmarks is a 91 page booklet produced in conjunction with the ADFC Germany's national cycling organisation and equivalent to our CTC.

It is a mine of information about cycle carriage in general and in each Land of the Federal Republic plus lots of ideas for combining cycle tours and day trips with train travel.
The 2001 prices for cycle carriage on DB perhaps illuminate the behaviour of German cycling passengers.
In 2001 £1 was about 3 DM.

For single journeys per cycle the charges were as follows:-

On long distance inter-city and prestigious trains; with a rail card 12 DM.

Without a rail card 16 DM

On regional stopping trains; 6 DM

Tandems, trikes, power-assisted cycles and recumbents require 2 cycle tickets each if you can find a train to take them. Cycle carriage off-peak in conjunction with a special regional day ticket like the “Bayern Ticket” used on this trip (21 Euro for all day travel for up to 5 adults and all their children on regional trains in Bavaria) is a better deal because the cycle tour and day ride market in the tourist season in Germany is very lucrative.
Each cycle accompanying such a ticket holder required a 6 DM ticket valid for the whole day.

Cycle Lanes

Cycle Lanes

The main railway stations (Hbf) at Ingolstadt, Regensburg and Augsburg had excellent cycle lanes and road crossings to bring riders to the station. This picture shows the lanes to Ingolstadt Hbf.









Bike Parking

more bike parking

Ingolstadt Hbf had hundreds of places for cycle parking in stands, which were mainly covered. These are mostly filled each weekday by commuters bicycles.

even more bike parking

Augsburg and Regensburg (pictured) stations had large quantities of parked cycles on the square in front of the station .

snow and even more bike parking

Cycle parking stands are a feature of almost all German railway stations. The photo shows parked cycles, including some chained to railings, at Grafing Stadt on the Munich suburban railway network (S-Bahn).

dodgy bike parking

warning sign

Casual cycle parking is clearly a huge problem on the forecourt of Ingolstadt Hbf. Cycles may be locked to the railing along the station building frontage but this warning notice tells riders that if their bike is parked in the wrong part of the forecourt then it will be removed and impounded.

Boarding the train

If you want to take your bicycle along with you on the train then you will face a mixture of good and bad features.

nasty stairs

These stairs connect the subway with the station building and each of the platforms at Ingolstadt Hbf.
The suitcase conveyor is handy for bags but there are no lifts for cycles, children in pushchairs and wheelchair users.
The same was found at Regensburg and Augsburg stations.
Munich Hbf and stations used on the S-Bahn all had lifts where necessary.

Two excellent features of DB stations now come into play.
The first is the train diagram .
The one pictured illustrates the facilities in each main train scheduled to arrive at this platform.
There is a bicycle symbol to show the location of cycle carrying coaches.
Labels on the diagram correspond to overhead signs.
A cycling passenger or a wheelchair user can position themselves in exactly the right spot to board the train.

train layout

clearly marked doors

The second feature is the simplest one.
Each trains cycle carrying compartment is clearly marked, as here on this Ingolstadt to Augsburg train.


older type of train
The final snag is getting on and off the train with a cycle. Any combination of train floor to platform height differences is possible on DB.
The continental loading gauge allows larger, higher trains too.
At rural stations the platform may only be level with the rails and it can be a formidable climb to get onboard.
The older type of train pictured here at Munich Hbf has steps into the doorway which is divided by a vertical rail all intended to *help* passengers clamber on and off but totally hinder people with bikes and wheel chairs.
A sharp turn in a confined space follows in order to get to an area of folding seats fitted with inertia-reel restraining straps for cycle carriage.


double deck train

This newer double deck train is very easy to board at main stations with a bike.
There are ramps down to the lower deck saloon where cycle and wheelchair parking spaces are provided beside folding seats.


direction sign

bike rental sign

A cycle hire business was found at Munich Hbf by following these signs.

Much of what is written above also applies to Dansk Statsbaner, the Danish railway company. The same family took bicycles and a Burley trailer across Denmark and into southern Sweden in 2002 for a touring holiday. Only the new Copenhagen to Malmö trains were easy to board.

For German cycling passengers and commuters the combination of readily available, free cycle parking stands, difficult access to platforms and trains and high cycle carriage fees mean that parking the bicycle at the station for the outward trip is the normal practice.
It is possible that a lot of the parked bikes are second bikes in use at the destination station.
Cycle carriage for off-peak travel, especially in rural areas, and for leisure trips is well catered for despite difficulties boarding the train.
DB has special cycle tourist train services on lines that run parallel to long distance cycle routes such as the Donauradwanderweg , a cycle route which runs along the entire Danube river. Here trains with a 20 metre long cycle van run in the summer months.
If DB offered free cycle carriage it would probably be unable to satisfy peak demand because cycling is such a normal, everyday activity in Germany.
Thus cycle carriage fees appear to be a way of controlling usage.

wow logo