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To help German residents deal with the increasing fuel and living costs and encourage people to leave their vehicles at home and hop on the public transportation, the German government has introduced a special discounted flat-rate travel ticket valid throughout the country called the 9-euro ticket. Curious to learn more about what it is, and if you should get them, grab your favourite beverage, and read on!

A little background before we begin…

The Ukraine-Russian conflict has affected more than the people of the two countries – the surrounding regions have not been spared by the crisis. Germany imports 25% of its oil and 45% of its gas supplies from Russia. During the scramble to find alternatives, regular people like you and me faced challenges like cooking oil shortages, utility bill hikes and, of course, petrol prices for vehicles soared.

Here comes the 9-euro ticket, or das Neun-Euro-Ticket!

What is the 9-euro ticket?

Valid from June 1st – August 31st, the 9-euro ticket is a flat-rate discounted ticket that can be used for public transportation all around Germany. Doesn’t matter if you’re in Munich or Hamburg; the ticket is valid on all public transport, including buses, trams, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, and local and regional trains

Photo Credit: Die Bundesregierung

How does the 9-euro ticket work?

Each ticket costs… well, €9 per month. For example:

June 1st-30th – €9
July 1st- July 31st – €9
August 1st- August 30th – €9

This means that the total costs of taking public transportation around Germany these three months would be €27! Quite a steal, really.

Who can purchase the 9-euro ticket, and where can I buy them?

Anyone! This includes non-German residents and tourists! You can easily purchase them from the official Deutsche Bahn website (in English) and the various public transportation apps and ticket machines at train/bus/tram stations and shops.

Pros of the 9-euro ticket

  1. €9 per month for 3 whole months!
  2. Access to all the public transportation networks in Germany.
  3. Travel around Germany for cheap.

For residents in Germany who don’t have access to a subsidised transport ticket, €9 for access to all public transport in Germany is quite a steal! For example, if I were a Frankfurter heading to Berlin for a day, I don’t need to buy a separate ticket for my U-Bahn rides because the ticket covers it!

The same goes for tourists flocking into Germany for the summer. It’s an affordable way to travel, and you get to see so much more with just one ticket. That’s if you have the luxury of time.

Plus, you can use it as many times in a single day as you want! 

Cons of the 9-euro ticket

  1. Crazy crowded trains
  2. Not applicable on IC, EC or ICE long-distance trains, FlixBus
  3. Not ideal for quick and easy long-distance travel – multiple train changes needed.

There were lots of noise and disagreements when the 9-euro ticket news broke in March, citing that while cheap travel sounds attractive, it comes with many conditions. Yes, you can use the 9-euro tickets on local public transportations, but you cannot use them on IC, EC, ICE long-distance trains, FlixBus and other long-distance routes. Sounds okay to you? Well, as a resident of Germany, I do encourage you to think again. 

Living in Leipzig and once upon a time having to commute to Berlin, I enjoyed the fuss-free and convenient 1-hour commute on the ICE train. Almost all the time, there’s an option to select a train with direct connections. However, with the 9-euro ticket, you are restricted to local and regional trains (e.g. RB and RE). This route requires me to change once and takes an hour longer to get home! See below for the comparison:

Berlin to Leipzig fares on the ICE trains

Berlin to Leipzig fares on Local and Regional trains

While it doesn’t seem much of a difference on the Berlin-Leipzig route, look at the following route. So you’re done exploring Hamburg, Germany’s prominent port city in the north, and would like to explore the beautiful Bayern region in the south. It’s the gateway to the beautiful Black Forest, and a road trip is one of the must-dos when you visit! You’ll be taking a train from Hamburg to Munich (the nearest big city, but not close to the Black Forest). Here’s a journey comparison:

Hamburg to Munich fares on ICE trains

Hamburg to Munich fares on Local and Regional trains

Yes, the fares on the ICE trains probably made your eyes go wide. However, check out the duration to get from Hamburg to Munich. On the ICE train, you’ll get there in 6.5-7 hours without any transfers, while on the regional trains it takes DOUBLE the time with at least 5 transfers! You should also factor in train delays, and missed connections. Contrary to popular belief, trains in Germany aren’t always on time.

I don’t usually travel on regional trains. However, I must take them when I fly from Leipzig Airport. Before June, the trains were quite comfortably filled. You might have to stand most time, but it isn’t super-duper crowded. We came home from our trip two weeks ago, and we experienced an incredibly crowded train filled with commuters enjoying the 9-euro ticket!

I must warn though, while the 9-euro train ticket is valid for my travels to Leipzig airport, some bigger cities might require you to pay a regular price for train connections to the airport. Remember, you cannot use your 9-euro tickets on ICE, IC, and EC trains, even if they’re the fastest, most convenient way to the airport.

How can I search for the correct trains to book for my travel with the 9-euro ticket?

If you board an ICE train with your 9-euro ticket, and a conductor comes to check your ticket – this happens almost every time on the long-distance trains-, you’ll be considered a “ticket fare dodger”, and if they aren’t feeling nice, you might be slapped a €60 fine. Not the best way to spend your hard-earned cash.

To prevent confusion, check for the applicable trains on the DB website by deselecting “Show Fastest Connections” and selecting “Local Transport Only”. This way, the system will avoid showing you the ICE train options and only the €9.00 fares you’re allowed to travel on.

Buy your ticket online – trust me, it’s the best way to not lose them!

When you’re travelling, you’ll definitely have many things, and a small paper ticket should be the least of your problems.

Pro tip:

  1. Sign up for a free Deutsche Bahn account on their website
  2. Buy the 9-euro ticket online; you’ll receive the ticket in PDF form in your email.
  3. If you bought the ticket through the “My Bahn” customer account, you’d also have access to your ticket there.
  4. Oh, download the DB navigator app as well for easy reference.

If you bought the ticket off the ticket machines and received a paper ticket, don’t worry.

  1. Download the DB navigator app (Apple | Android)
  2. Enter your ticket order number and your last name.
  3. Voila!

Note: I’m not sponsored by DB or anyone… just sharing my tips for free!

My thoughts on the 9-euro ticket

I think that the 9-euro ticket is an affordable way to travel around Germany. Personally, I purchased the ticket because I’m a frequent public transporter. An Einzelfahrkarte (Single-ticket) valid for an hour in Leipzig costs €3, and a day ticket good for 24 hours for one person is €8. You see why it’s a steal for me.

However, I would still prefer to pay more when travelling long distances. Partly because we paid for the Bahn Card 25, which gives me 25% discounts on my 2nd Class tickets. But also because I’d rather pay more for a direct train and comfort. I rarely get a seat on a local and regional train, and it can get quite inconvenient when travelling for hours.

Final thoughts on the DB 9-euro ticket

The 9-euro ticket is cheap and ideal for German residents who use public transportation to commute. It is also great for budget travellers with some time on their hands (and patience) to get to anywhere in Germany cheaply. However, brace yourselves for packed trains and missed connections because it’ll happen at least once during your time here in Germany.

Finally, I hope that this has been an informative read for you! Germany in summer is beautiful, with incredible sights to see and things to do. Here’s wishing you the best of luck in planning your trip, and once you’ve booked your tickets, “Herzlich Wilkommen in Deutschland!”