Transport in Germany
The first highway system to have been built, the extensive German Autobahn network famously features sections where no speed limit is in force. The country's most important waterway is the river Rhine. The largest port is that of Hamburg. Frankfurt Airport is a major international airport and European transportation hub. Air travel is used for greater distances within Germany but faces competition from the state-owned Deutsche Bahn's rail network. High-speed trains, called ICE connect cities for passenger travel with speeds up to 300 km/h. Many German cities have rapid transit systems and Public transport is available in most areas.
Road and automotive transport
The volume of traffic in Germany, especially goods transportation, is at a very high level due to its central location in Europe. In the past few decades, much of the freight traffic shifted from rail to road, which led the Federal Government to introduce a motor toll for trucks in 2005. Individual road usage increased resulting in a relatively high traffic density to other nations. A further increase of traffic is expected in the future.
High-speed vehicular traffic has a long tradition in Germany given that the first freeway (Autobahn) in the world, the AVUS, and the world's first automobile were developed and built in Germany. Germany possesses one of the most dense road systems of the world. German motorways have no blanket speed limit. However, posted limits are in place on many dangerous or congested stretches as well as where traffic noise or pollution poses a problem.
The German government has had issues with upkeep of the roads in the country, having had to revamp the eastern portions transport system since the unification of Germany between the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). With that, numerous construction projects have been put on hold in the west, and a vigorous reconstruction has been going on for almost 20 years. However, ever since the European Union formed an overall streamlining and change of route plans have occurred as faster and more direct links to former Soviet bloc countries now exist and are in the works, with intense co-operation among European countries.
Germany has approximately 650,000 km of roads, of which 231,000 km are non-local roads. The road network is extensively used with nearly 2 trillion kilometers travelled by car in 2005, in comparison to just 70 billion km travelled by rail and 35 billion km travelled by plane.
The national roads in Germany are called Bundesstraßen (federal roads). Their numbers are usually well known to the road users, as they appear (written in black digits on a yellow rectangle with black border) on direction traffic signs and in street maps. A Bundesstraße is often referred to as "B" followed by its number, for example "B 1", one of the main east-west routes. More important routes have lower numbers. Odd numbers are usually applied to north-south oriented roads, and even numbers for east-west routes. Bypass routes are referred to with an appended "a" (alternative) or "n" (new alignment), as in "B 56n".
Other main public roads are maintained by the Bundesländer (states), called Landesstraße (country road) or Staatsstraße (state road). The numbers of these roads are prefixed with "L", "S" or "St", but are usually not seen on direction signs or written in maps. They appear on the kilometre posts on the roadside. Numbers are unique only within one state.
- Total number of cars: 53,600,000
- Cars per 100 capita: 100
- Adam Opel AG (owned by General Motors Company)
- BMW AG
- Daimler AG
- Ford-Werke GmbH (owned by Ford Motor Company)
- Gumpert Sportwagenmanufaktur GmbH
- Volkswagen AG
- Wiesmann GmbH
- total: 40,826 km, including
- at least 14,253 km electrified and
- 14,768 km double- or multiple-tracked (1998)
Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) is the major German railway infrastructure and service operator. Though Deutsche Bahn is a private company, the government still holds all shares and therefore Deutsche Bahn can still be called a state-owned company. Since its reformation under private law in 1994, Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) no longer publishes details of the tracks it owns; in addition to the DBAG system there are about 280 privately or locally owned railway companies which own an approximate 3,000 km to 4,000 km of the total tracks and use DB tracks in open access.
There are significant differences between the financing of long-distance and short-distance (or local) trains in Germany. While long-distance trains can be run by any railway company, the companies also receive no subsidies from the government. Local trains however are subsidised by the German states, which pay the operating companies to run these trains. This resulted in many private companies offering to run local train services as they can provide cheaper service than the state-owned Deutsche Bahn. Track construction is entirely and track maintenance partly government financed both for long and short range trains.
The InterCityExpress or ICE is a type of high-speed train operated by Deutsche Bahn in Germany and large cities in neighbouring countries, such as Zurich, Vienna, Copenhagen, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. The rail network throughout Germany is extensive and provides excellent services in most areas. On regular lines, at least one train every two hours will call even in the smallest of villages. Nearly all larger metropolitan areas are served by S-Bahn, U-Bahn, Strassenbahn and/or bus networks
International freight trains
While Germany and most of contiguous Europe use standard gauge (1435 mm), differences in signalling, rules and regulations, electrification voltages, etc. tend to hamstring freight operations across borders. These obstacles are slowly being overcome, with international (in- and outgoing) and transit (through) traffic being responsible for a large part of the recent uptake in rail freight volume.
In some areas of Germany an urban railway called S-Bahn is in operation. These trains usually connect larger agglomerations to the suburban areas, although in the case of the Rhein-Ruhr S-Bahn these also serve as a method of interurban transport between large cities.
Relatively few cities have a full-fledged underground U-Bahn system, and S-Bahn (suburban commuter railway) systems are far more common. In some cities the distinction between U-Bahn and S-Bahn systems is blurred, for instance some S-Bahn systems run underground, have frequencies similar to U-Bahn, and form part of the same integrated transport network. A larger number of cities has upgraded their tramways to light rail standards. These systems are called Stadtbahn (not to be confused with S-Bahn), on main line rails.
Cities with U-Bahn systems are:
- Berlin (U-Bahn)
- Hamburg (U-Bahn)
- Frankfurt am Main (U-Bahn)
- Munich (U-Bahn)
- Nuremberg/Fürth (U-Bahn)
Cities with Stadtbahn systems can be found in the article Trams in Germany.
Short distances and the extensive network of motorways and railways make airplanes uncompetitive for travel within Germany. Only about 1% of all distance travelled was by plane in 2002. But due to a decline in prices with the introduction of low-fares airlines, domestic air travel is becoming more attractive.
Frankfurt International Airport is Germany's largest airport and a major transportation hub in Europe. Frankfurt Airport ranks among the world's top ten airports. It is one of the airports with the largest number of international destinations served worldwide. Depending on whether total passengers, flights or cargo traffic are used as a measure, it ranks first, second or third in Europe alongside London Heathrow Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Germany's second most important international airport is Munich. Other major airports are Düsseldorf International Airport, Berlin-Tegel Airport, Hamburg Airport, Cologne Bonn Airport, and Leipzig/Halle Airport (the latter as a cargo hub).
Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) is expected to become the third largest German airport by annual passengers once it opens, serving as single airport for Berlin. Originally planned to be completed in 2011, the new airport has been delayed several times due to poor construction management and technical difficulties. As of January 2013, it is not known when BER will become operational.
Airports — with paved runways:
- total: 320
- over 3,047 m: 14
- 2,438 to 3,047 m: 61
- 1,524 to 2,437 m: 67
- 914 to 1,523 m: 56
- under 914 m: 122 (1999 est.)
Airports — with unpaved runways:
- total: 295
- over 3,047 m: 2
- 2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
- 1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
- 914 to 1,523 m: 55
- under 914 m: 226 (1999 est.)
Heliports: 59 (1999 est.)
Germany's largest airline is former national carrier Lufthansa that was privatised in the 1990s. The group also includes domestic subsidiaries Lufthansa Cityline and Eurowings that operate as Lufthansa Regional as well as independently operating low-cost subsidiary Germanwings.
Waterways: 7,500 km (1999); major rivers include the Rhine and Elbe; Kiel Canal is an important connection between the Baltic Sea and North Sea, the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal links Rotterdam on the North Sea with the Black Sea.
Pipelines: crude oil 2,500 km (1998)
Ports and harbours: Berlin, Bonn, Brake, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Cologne, Dortmund, Dresden, Duisburg, Emden, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Kiel, Lübeck, Magdeburg, Mannheim, Oldenburg, Rostock, Stuttgart, Wilhelmshaven
The port of Hamburg is the largest sea-harbour in Germany and ranks #2 in Europe, #7 worldwide (2004), in total container traffic.
total: 4759 ships (with a volume of 1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or over) totaling 6,395,990 GRT/8,014,132 metric tons deadweight (DWT)
ships by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo ship 181, chemical tanker 12, container ship 239, Liquified Gas Carrier 2, multi-functional large load carrier 5, passenger ship 2, petroleum tanker 8, rail car carrier 2, refrigerated cargo 2, roll-on/roll-off ship 13, short-sea passenger 7 (1999 est.)
- List of airports in Germany
- License plates in Germany
- List of motorways in Germany
- List of federal highways in Germany
- Tourism in Germany
- CIA World Fact Book - see section on transportation
- bundesregierung.de - The federal government says 40% of 164 billion euros spent on transport infrastructure where spent in the eastern part
- "Transport in Germany". International Transport Statistics Database. iRAP. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
- "BMVBS - Verkehr und Mobilität-Straße". BMVBS. Retrieved 2011-05-22.
- "New Berlin Airport to Finally Open Next October". Spiegel Online International. 4 September 2012.
- New York Times online article on the delayed Berlin Brandenburg Airport