"Train Travel: How To Find Your Reserved Seat?" Germany Transportation Tip by Kathrin_E

Germany Transportation: 320 reviews and 291 photos

  Wagenstandanzeiger board on the platform
by Kathrin_E
  • Wagenstandanzeiger board on the platform - Germany
      Wagenstandanzeiger board on the platform
    by Kathrin_E
  • Wagenstandanzeiger: Details of trains and sections - Germany
      Wagenstandanzeiger: Details of trains and sections
    by Kathrin_E
  • Platform section G - Germany
      Platform section G
    by Kathrin_E
  • Class and red car number on the outside of ICE car - Germany
      Class and red car number on the outside of ICE car
    by Kathrin_E
  • Reservations for seats 16 (window seat) and 18 - Germany
      Reservations for seats 16 (window seat) and 18
    by Kathrin_E

Germans are generally very organized and invent clever plans and systems to make everything work perfectly - as soon as you understand how it works. At first, however, things may be confusing. So here are my instructions of use about seat reservations...

1. Your reservation ticket
The reservation ticket will state something like "1 Sitzplatz, Wg. 4, Pl. 27, 1 Gang, Tisch, Nichtraucher" (I'm using my last week's one here). This translates to:
1 Sitzplatz - number of seats reserved.
Wg. 4 = "Wagen 4" - the car number.
Pl. 27 = "Platz 27" - the seat number
Gang/Mitte/Fenster - aisle/middle/window (position of seat)
Großraum/Abteil/Tisch - type of compartment: "Großraum" is the large plane-like compartment with centre aisle, "Abteil" is a small compartment that seats 5 or 6, "Tisch" (table) are the seats at the tables in a part of the Großraum compartment, each table seats 4 (sometimes 3), in 1st class there are also tables for 2.
Nichtraucher - non smoking, all German trains are non smoking now.

2. Finding the right car
You need to know both car number and seat number because all cars use the same seat numbers from 11 to 126 or 128.
Look for the board named "Wagenstandanzeiger" (photo 1) on the platform. This board displays all trains that depart from this track(!) showing the sequence of cars and their number. Check were, in our example, car 4 is. In the top line above and the bottom line below the train schemes you'll see a row of letters from A to G or H (photo 2). Let's assume that car #4 is right underneath the letter D. You'll see signs, white on dark blue, showing the same letters above the platform marking the platform sections (photo 3), so find the D and wait underneath, car #4 should stop there or at least nearby.
(The fun part begins if the train comes in the other way round, which is rare but happens, then everybody will be running like mad.)

3. Finding your seat
Hop on the car with the right number, which is marked on the outside near the door (photo 4: 1st class car number 11, door to seats 11-76). Then find your seat numbers. Reservations are on display together with the seat number above each seat (photo 5). If someone is sitting in your seat even if the reservation is clearly marked you have the right to tell them off (but politely). Wave the ticket and tell them something about "reservation".

4. Validity of reservations
Seat reservations are valid for no longer than 15 minutes after departure. Either you have taken your seat by then, or someone else may take it.
If you want to, for example, visit the restaurant car during your journey, leave a jacket/scarf/piece of luggage on your seat to mark it as taken. I'd also recommend telling one of the other passengers in your surroundings.

Seat plans of the different types of train cars

Type: Train

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 5, 2009
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