Frankfurt U-Bahn

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Frankfurt U-Bahn
Underground station Westend on Lines U6 & U7.
Owner RMV
Locale Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany
Transit type Rapid transit/Light rail[1]
Number of lines 9[2]
Number of stations 86[2]
Daily ridership 321,000 (2012)[2]
Annual ridership 117.3 million (2012)[2]
Website VGF
Began operation 4 October 1968[3]
Operator(s) Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt (VgF)
Character Mostly underground, with significant sections at-grade (including at-grade intersections), with some street running (U5 line)
Train length 50–105 metres (164–344 ft)
Headway 5-15 minutes (daytime)
System length 64.9 km (40.3 mi)[2]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
(standard gauge)
Top speed 80 km/h (50 mph)
System map
U-Bahnnetz Frankfurt

The Frankfurt U-Bahn, together with the Rhine-Main S-Bahn and the Frankfurt Straßenbahn, forms the backbone of the public transport system of Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany. Its name derives from the German term for underground, Untergrundbahn. Since 1996, the U-Bahn has been owned and operated by Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt (VgF), the public transport company of Frankfurt, and is part of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) transit association.

The U-Bahn opened in 1968,[3] and has been expanded several times. It consists of three inner-city tunnels and above-ground lines in the suburbs. About 59% of the track length is underground.[citation needed] The above-ground sections operate at different standards from traditional rapid transit systems due to the independent expansion of at-grade rail for those sections – they are more like light rail[1] (Stadtbahn) due to their not being fully grade-separated.[4]

The network consists of 86 stations on nine lines, with a total length of 64.85 kilometres (40.30 mi).[2] Eight of the nine lines travel through the city center (line U9 being the exception). In 2012, the U-Bahn carried 117.3 million passengers,[2] an average of approximately 321,000 passengers per day.


Planning began in the 1950s to replace the overburdened streetcars with a more robust public transit system. The various local political parties put forward plans for a full U-Bahn, a streetcar system with an underground section downtown (i.e. a Stadtbahn), and an elevated railway, respectively. Eventually politics, in the form of the 1964 municipal election, resolved the issue in favor of the U-Bahn project that began as a light rail/Stadtbahn network using tunnels in Frankfurt's city core, but which in the future would be transformed into a fully rapid transit U-Bahn network.[citation needed]

The U-Bahn opened on 4 October 1968, with the underground route from Hauptwache to Nordwestzentrum.[3]

On 19 December 1971, it was extended to Gonzenheim from Heddernheim. On 4 November 1973, the southern extension was opened to Theaterplatz. On 29 September 1974, it was being extended to Römerstadt. The new line was opened on 27 May 1978, and is from Zeilweg to Ginnheim. The southern extension to Südbahnhof was opened on 29 September 1984, and is the first main tunnel to cross the river. Niddapark, Lahnstraße and Rosengärtchen opened later on 1989 and 1997 respectively.

The second trunk route, route B was built as a tram tunnel between Theaterplatz and Gießener Straße and opened in 1974. On 28 May 1978, both ends were extended to Hauptbahnhof and Preungesheim. In 1980 the line reached Seckbacher Landstraße and started to operate as a full U-Bahn, i.e. competely underground and entirely grade-separated.

The route C is a former tram line and was integrated in 1986 with the tunnel. Since 1992, U7 has been extended to Enkheim, and on 30 May 1999, U6 has been extended to Frankfurt Ostbahnhof. The branch to Enkheim, as well as the two western legs, is a typical Stadtbahn route on a separate right-of-way, but with level crossings. All stops have high-level platforms. Heerstraße and Ebelfeld closed in 2004.

Construction for the 1.7 km long extension west to Bockenheimer Warte (2 stops) started in 1989 and after long delays it finally entered service on 10 Feb 2001, but actually it was extended to Ginnheim.

On 15 June 2008, line U4 was extended from Seckbacher Landstraße to Schäfflestraße, using the tracks that link the depot from both line U4 and line U7. This extension was a trial service for 6 months, with about every second train continuing to Schäfflestraße. Since 14 Dec 2008, every other train on line U4 has been running through to Enkheim sharing route with line U7, now as a permanent service.

A branch from Niederursel to Riedberg, and from there to Kalbach on line U2 (3.8 km) was added on 12 Dec. 2010, introducing the new lines U8 and U9.

Current lines[edit]

The U-Bahn consists of nine lines, U1 to U9, running on three primary routes based on the three tunnels, with a planned fourth route from the suburbs to the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof only partially completed.

Tunnels exist at -

  • A Line: South of Dornbusch, into the city centre, Nordwestzentrum (small section)
  • B Line: Scheffeleck and Seckbacher Landstraße to Bockenheimer Warte.
  • C Line: Kirchplatz to Johanna-Tesch-Platz and Ostbahnhof
Route Line Path Stations
(and D)
U1Frankfurt U1.svg Ginnheim - Römerstadt - Nordwestzentrum - Hauptwache - Willy-Brandt-Platz - Südbahnhof 20
A U2Frankfurt U2.svg Bad Homburg-Gonzenheim - Ober-Eschbach - Nieder-Eschbach - Bonames - Hauptwache - Willy-Brandt-Platz - Südbahnhof 21
A U3Frankfurt U3.svg Oberursel-Hohemark - Oberursel - Niederursel - Hauptwache - Willy-Brandt-Platz - Südbahnhof 28
(and C+D)
U4Frankfurt U4.svg Enkheim - Schäfflestraße - Seckbacher Landstraße - Bornheim - Konstablerwache - Willy-Brandt-Platz - Hauptbahnhof - Festhalle/Messe - Bockenheimer Warte 15
B U5Frankfurt U5.svg Preungesheim - Eckenheim - Hauptfriedhof - Konstablerwache - Willy-Brandt-Platz - Hauptbahnhof 16
C U6Frankfurt U6.svg Heerstraße - Bockenheimer Warte - Hauptwache - Konstablerwache -
C U7Frankfurt U7.svg Hausen - Bockenheimer Warte - Hauptwache - Konstablerwache - Eissporthalle -
Hessen-Center - Enkheim
(and D)
U7Frankfurt U8.svg Riedberg - Niederursel - Hauptwache - Willy-Brandt-Platz - Südbahnhof 19
(and A)
U7Frankfurt U9.svg Nieder-Eschbach - Riedberg - Niederursel - Nordwestzentrum - Römerstadt - Ginnheim 12


These are individual routings.

  Stretch Line Routing Opening Stations Frequency  
A1 U1Frankfurt U1.svg GinnheimHeddernheim
Hochbahn: GinnheimRömerstadtTunnel: Nordwestzentrum – Heddernh. Landstr. – Eisenbahn: Zeilweg – Heddernheim
1968–1978 6 071015 10 15
A2 U2Frankfurt U2.svg Bad Homburg-GonzenheimHeddernheim
Eisenbahn: GonzenheimNdr.-Eschb.BonamesMertonviertelHeddernheim
1971 7 071015 10 15
A3 U3Frankfurt U3.svg Oberursel-HohemarkHeddernheim
Eisenbahn: HohemarkOberurselWeißkirchenNiederurselHeddernheim
1978 14 071515 15 15
B1 U5Frankfurt U5.svg PreungesheimKonstablerwache
Stadtbahn: PreungesheimGießener StraßeEckenheimMarbachwegStraßenbahn: HauptfriedhofEckenh. Landstr.NordendTunnel: ScheffeleckKonstablerwache
1974–1978 12 0507105 10–20
B2 U4Frankfurt U4.svg Bornheim Seckbacher Landstr.Konstablerwache
Tunnel: BornheimBerger StraßeNordendKonstablerwache
Stadtbahn: Bornheim Seckbacher Landstr.Schäfflestraße – (Enkheim mit U7)
1980 4 0507105 10–20
[GS 1]
U4Frankfurt U4.svg
U7Frankfurt U7.svg
Tunnel: ZooOstendEissporthalle (nur U7)Stadtbahn: RiederwaldBorsigalleeEnkheim (U4 und U7)
1992 9 071020 10 20
[GS 2]
U6Frankfurt U6.svg ZooOstbahnhof
Tunnel: ZooOstbahnhof
1999 1 071020 10 20
Hausen U7Frankfurt U7.svg HausenIndustriehof
Stadtbahn: HausenIndustriehof
1986 2 071020 10 20
Heerstr. U6Frankfurt U6.svg Praunheim HeerstraßeIndustriehof
Stadtbahn: PraunheimLudwig-Landmann-Str.HausenIndustriehof
1986 5 071020 10 20
D4 (formerly known as A2) U7Frankfurt U8.svg
U7Frankfurt U9.svg
NiederurselAbzweig Kalbach
2010 4 07101515 15 30
Frankfurt U-Bahn network map showing Sections A, B, C.
  1. ^ The connecting line C1 between the stations Schäfflestraße and Enkheim is additionally driven by individual trains of the line U4. The data in the table refers only to line U7.
  2. ^ The construction section C IV is actually a part of the basic section C. Since the section section corresponds operatively to a connecting section, it is listed in this table.

Future Plans[edit]

For the A Line, there are further plans to extend to Bad Homburg which might need 2 years of planning and 5 years of construction, it would complete in 2023. There might be a rehabilitation of tunnels at Eschersheimer Landstraße. Sachsenhausen can be awaited for extension on a long time.

For the B Line, rehabilitation is badly needed for Sigmund-Freud-Straße, Ronneburgstraße, Theobald-Ziegler-Straße, Gießener Straße and Marbachweg/Sozialzentrum (2013), Dt. Nationalbibliothek and Hauptfriedhof. There might be an extension to Wohnpark via Güterplatz, Emser Brücke and Europagarten, which might be opening in 2022. There might be an extension to Frankfurter Berg via August-Schanz-Straße and Berkersheimer Weg where construction can start in 2017. Bergen is another possible candidate.

For the C Line, future consideration plans would include Hanauer Landstraße, Leuchte, Steinbach, Bergen, Eschborn and it can be further extended to the west for either U6 or U7.

For the D Line, currently; there are plans to connect Bockenheimer Warte and Ginnheim (D II), it can be done through Ginnheimer Kurve or Europartum. Other plans is to extend from Hauptbahnhof to Niederrad (D III) and it can be further extended to Schwanheim and Stadion.

  • Ginnheimer Kurve: Franz-Rücker-Allee
  • Europartum: Platenstraße, Bundesbank, Grüneburgpark/Uni-Campus Westend


  • Heddernheim - for A & D Lines
  • Ost - for B & C Lines

Rolling stock[edit]

U1 Class[edit]

U1 prototype vehicle 1001

The U1 Class consists of two six-axle, two-section prototype vehicles made by DÜWAG in 1965, derived from the previous tramcars. Delivered in unpainted livery and later painted all red, it was used from 1966 to 1976 and was one of the world's first modern LRVs. The vehicles were removed from service after ten years because it was incompatible with newer types. A copy of a U1 Class is now stored in the Frankfurt Transport Museum.

U2 Class[edit]

U2 car 303 in original livery

The U2 Class were the first production vehicles for the network. DÜWAG built 97 vehicles of this type in three batches from 1968 to 1978. A fire at the depot in 1980 destroyed five sets and were replaced with seven replica sets in 1984. They were painted in a red and white livery and used from 1968 to 2016. A variant, the U2h, features a lower boarding height than the regular U2, and was in use until 2013.

The U2e was supposed to be a planned refurbishment project to take place in 2015, but due to age constraints, it was decided to replace all U2 cars with the newest U5 class. The last U2 car was withdrawn after a farewell trip on 3 April 2016, after over 48 years of service. U2h examples have been 303, 304 and 305 have been preserved.

Siemens adapted the U2 design for the North American light rail market, making the U2 the first modern LRV car in North America.

U3 Class[edit]

U3 car 469 in original livery

The U3 Class is based on the U2, but have a slightly longer length, a lightweight design made entirely of steel, and was intended for underground operation. DÜWAG built 27 vehicles, which are painted in the present blue livery that was applied to RMV (formerly FVV) and have been in use since 1980. They are, however, currently only deployed on line U6, as they were replaced on lines U4 and U5 on 13 April 2015 by U5 train cars, and the earlier batches have been scrapped.

U4 Class[edit]

U4 car 509

The U4 Class is a development from the U3 class, technically based on and similar in appearance to the R-type trams. Siemens and DÜWAG built 39 vehicles, which have also received the current blue livery, and have been in use since 1994-98. They were originally deployed to lines U1, U2 and U3, and later on to lines U8 and U9. An accident involving two U4 cars in 2007 resulted in their early retirement from the fleet.

U5 Class[edit]

U5-25 car 607

The U5 Class, the newest of the U-Bahn fleet, has been produced by Bombardier Transportation in Bautzen since 2008. The first order of 146 vehicles was placed in 2005 and another order of 78 cars came in 2011. Two cars were damaged in a fire at the production factory in 2010. They have been deployed to all lines and will gradually replace the older cars in the coming years.

There are two versions of the U5 class: the U5-25 consists of two-section articulated sets like the older cars, while the U5-50 is formed of two permanently coupled U5-25 sets without cabs between the two sets. The concept is similar to the TW 2000 used on the Hanover Stadtbahn.


Ptb car 700 on line U5

The Pt Class was used from 1979 to 2016 on line U5, where the platforms were too low to accept the regular trains used on the other lines. As the line was gradually upgraded with high-level platforms as used on the remainder of the network, the Pt class cars were removed in 2007, whereas the Ptb (which is in the blue livery) were withdrawn in 2016.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Taplin, Michael (March 2013). "Home > World Systems List index > World List F-J - Germany (DE)". Light Rail Transit Association (LRTA). Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "ZAHLENSPIEGEL 2012" [STATISTICS 2012] (PDF) (in German). vgF. December 31, 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  3. ^ a b c "History - The history of local public passenger transport in Frankfurt". vgF. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  4. ^ Schwandl, Robert. "FRANKFURT am Main". Retrieved 2014-07-27. The Frankfurt "U-Bahn" is not a real metro, but rather a typical German Stadtbahn (like that of Stuttgart, Dortmund or Hanover), i.e. some sections in the city centre were built to full metro standards, whereas others along outer sections have level crossings, in the case of line U5 even some on-street running. 
  • Jens Krakies, Frank Nagel, Stadt Frankfurt am Main (Hrsg.): Stadtbahn Frankfurt am Main: Eine Dokumentation. 2. Auflage. Frankfurt am Main 1989, ISBN 3-923907-03-6, S. 23–42. (Standardwerk zur U-Bahn und ihrer Baugeschichte)
  • Dieter Höltge, Günter H. Köhler: Straßen- und Stadtbahnen in Deutschland. 2. Auflage. 1: Hessen, EK-Verlag, Freiburg 1992, ISBN 3-88255-335-9, S. 23–42. (Alle ehemaligen und bestehenden Straßenbahnbetriebe in Hessen, außerdem ein Kapitel zur Frankfurter U-Bahn, die 2. Auflage besitzt einen Anhang mit Aktualisierungen)
  • Hans-Werner Schleife, Günter Götz: Lexikon Metros der Welt. Geschichte, Technik, Betrieb. transpress, Berlin/Stuttgart 1985. ISBN 3-613-01068-2 (101 U-Bahn-Betriebe der Welt, einschl. Beschreibung des Frankfurter Betriebs)
  • Walter Söhnlein, Jürgen Leindecker: Die Frankfurter Lokalbahn und ihre Elektrischen Taunusbahnen. GeraMond, München 2000. ISBN 3-932785-04-5 (Die U-Bahn ist nicht zentraler Gegenstand des Buches, als Nachfolgerin der Lokalbahnstrecken wird die Entwicklung der A-Strecken jedoch ausführlich beschrieben)
  • Thomas Hanna-Daoud (Red.): Nahverkehr in Frankfurt. Trambahn, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Omnibus, Eisenbahn. Strassenbahn-Nahverkehr special. Nr. 7. GeraMond, München 2000. ISBN 3-89724-010-6 (Sonderheft des bekannten ÖPNV-Magazins zu allen Frankfurter ÖV-Netzen)
  • Magistrat der Stadt Frankfurt am Main Stadtbahnbauamt (Hrsg.): Die C-Strecke der U-Bahn Frankfurt am Main. Stadtbahnbauamt, Frankfurt am Main 1986. (Informationen über Planung, Bau und Architektur der C-Strecke in Wort und Bild)
  • Stadt Frankfurt am Main (Hrsg.): Gesamtverkehrsplan Frankfurt am Main. Ergebnisbericht 2004 (pdf). (Studie im Auftrag des Stadtplanungsamts zur zukünftigen Entwicklung Frankfurter Verkehrsnetze)
  • Stadt Frankfurt am Main (Hrsg.): Inbetriebnahme der U-Bahn. Übergabe der Hauptwache und Eröffnung des Nordwestzentrums. Publizität des Presse- und Informationsamts, Frankfurt am Main 1969.

External links[edit]