Berlin Rail Travel

Berlin 48 hour transport ticket for zones A and B

Berlin has a good public transport system that is very accessible to wheelchair users. In the west of the city is a system of bus routes that are accessible, though I didn’t use them. Then there are four sorts of rail transport three of which I used last weekend. The Berlin transport authority produces a map that shows which S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations have lifts or ramps, though the ramps such as at Schönefeld  airport can be quite steep.

Regional trains are probably the first you will come across if you fly in to Berlin Schönefeld airport. These are usually red coloured trains and are good for travelling longer distances in the area as they stop at fewer stations.  They have a carriage that has access for wheelchairs and bicycles. There is a button at the door, both inside and outside, to call for a ramp. At Schönefeld station the access is level so you can board unaided, it is possible to board at any door but you MUST board at the correct carriage or there will be no space for your wheelchair and you will be blocking the vestibule. And more importantly there will be no ramp to get off at your destination. Unlike any other trains I have travelled on you have to go down a ramp, rather than up, to board these trains.

Berlin S-Bahn trains

In Berlin itself are the S-Bahn suburban trains. These are the trains that will get you around the city, they are mostly at ground level or overhead but there are underground sections (not to be confused with the actual underground system.) These trains are mostly red and yellow but there are some that carry all over advertising liveries (the ends are still red and yellow.) These trains all have level access as can be seen in the picture above. The trains are made up of four carriages but are run as two sets connected (eight carriages.) The wheelchair and bicycle accessible carriages are at either end of each train, so there are 4 in an 8 carriage train, and you will be able to access any of them. However, be prepared that if anyone from the railway sees you in a carriage other than the one at the front of the train they will tell you off. This didn’t happen to me until the Sunday morning and when explained it made sense, when the train stops in a station a mirror flips out next to the driver so he can see you and not close the doors whilst you are still getting out.

Also within the city are the U-Bahn, or underground trains, these are yellow. They are accessible mostly with level access but sometimes they are a couple of inches  above platform height and a ramp is needed to get on. If you are at the correct place on the platform at the front of the train the driver will see you and get out to place a ramp for you, he will also ask where you are getting off so he can get the ramp there too, though I found I didn’t need the ramp for getting off. Whether or not you will need a ramp does not depend on the station but the train so you wont know until it arrives, they are the older trains that need the ramp and these will eventually be phased out.

Finally, mostly in the north eastern area of the city is a tram network. The trams, like the public buses, are entirely wheelchair accessible though I did not try out the trams this trip as I didn’t know where they went to. I did see them in a couple of places, Aleksander Platz station and next to the U-Bahn  station at Tierpark (east Berlin’s zoo.)

I found the rail systems in Berlin very wheelchair friendly and, unlike Barcelona, during extensive usage of it I never once came across a lift that was broken. At some of the busier stations, such as Berlin Hbf. you may have to queue for the lifts but not for too long. For €19.90 you can get a 48 hour transport ticket that allows you unlimited travel on all forms of public transport in zones A+B, for and additional few Euros you can get one that covers zones A, B+C but unless you are going to Schönefeld  airport or Potsdam you probably don’t need zone C, Berlin’s Tegel airport is in zone B. A single trip ticket for all three zones costs €4.80. To use you ticket you put it in a machine to validate it by printing the location, time and date on it and then you can leave it in your pocket unless someone from the transport systems asks to see it.

If you have any further questions about rail transport in Berlin post them in the comments below and I will try to answer them.

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