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by train to and from Frankfurt (Main)/Germany

An Introduction

A unique in depth, independent guide to travelling to and from Frankfurt (Main) by train and using the primary stations in Frankfurt (Main).


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Info/Plans for Frankfurt (Main) hbf

Click here for D-Bahn's guide to Frankfurt (Main) hbf including details of car parking and left luggage offices.
Click here for a plan of the station.

Train Departure Times

All train departures from Frankfurt (Main) hbf on the D-Bahn timetable.
Click here for the therebytrain.com guide to using the D-Bahn timetable.

City Centre Links

The ‘Hauptbahanhof’ is approximately 15 mins walk to the west of the city centre, so the quickest way to reach the hbf is to take the S-Bahn from/to ‘Hauptwache’ station, which is in the heart of the city.

Click here for a public transport map for central Frankfurt

Using Frankfurt (Main) hbf

The main central station in Frankfurt, ‘Hauptbahnhof’ (Frankfurt Main hbf) is one of the largest and busiest train stations in Europe. It is a terminal station, therefore the regional, long distance (inc ICE) and international services all use the main terminal building which is on one level.
Therefore it is a comparatively easy station for passengers making connections to navigate, as you do not have to negotiate stairs or escalators, simply walk to the end of the platform and check where your connection is leaving from on the concourse.
The exception is for passengers using the S-Bahn (local) services as these platforms i a lower level.

The comprehensive information available to travellers at Frankfurt hbf results it in being comparatively easy to work out which train is leaving from what platform and when.
However, the size of the station means that at least 10 minutes should be allowed for connections, particularly for those that aren’t familiar with the layout of the station.

There are also information boards on each platform that list all of the departures and these also show the formation of each train.
If you have reserved seats in a specific train you can use the information and the indicators on the platform to ensure that you will be waiting near to the correct carriage when the train arrives.

Journey Time Summary to/from Frankfurt

Train types in brackets
Less Than One Hour:
Darmstadt
Heidelberg (IC)
Mainz

One – Two Hours:
Aachen (ICE)
Baden Baden(ICE/IC)
Cologne/Koln(ICE/IC)
Dusseldorf(ICE)
Heidelberg(IC)
Kassel(IC)
Koblenz(IC/ICE/RE)
Marburg (IC)
Stuttgart (IC/ICE)
Wurzburg (ICE)

Two – Three Hours:
Liege (ICE)
Basel (ICE)
Bonn (ICE/IC)
Cologne/Koln (IC)
Erfurt (IC)
Hannover (ICE); Hildesheim(ICE)
Nuremberg (ICE)
Ulm (ICE/IC)
Weimar (IC/ICE);

Three - Four Hours -
Arnhem (ICE)
Brussels (ICE)
iHalle (IC)
Hamburg (ICE)
Hannover (IC)
Leipzig(ICE)
Munich/Munchen (ICE)
Paris (AEO)
Regensburg(ICE)
Utrecht (ICE)
Zurich (ICE)

Four-Five Hours -
Amsterdam (ICE); Bern(ICE)
Berlin (ICE/IC)
Dresden(ICE)
Hamburg(IC)

Passengers heading for Cologne/Koln and the Rhine-Ruhr area can choose between high speed ICE services or the slower IC trains that follow the line of the Rhine Valley via Mainz and Koblenz. If you have time available the slower trip along the Rhine is highly recommended.

Certain ICE trains to Cologne serve its Messe-Deutz station instead of Cologne Hauptbahnhof though very frequent trains link Messe-Deutz with Cologne Hauptbahnhof

International Service Summary

The following trains depart from Frankfurt Main hbf to:

  • Amsterdam (Arnhem and Utrecht) (ICE)
  • Basel and Zurich (ICE)
  • Bern and Interlaken (ICE)
  • Brussels (and Liege) (ICE)
  • Graz/Klagenfurt (EC)
  • Strasbourg - Mulhouse - Lyon - Avignon - Marseilles (AEO)
  • Paris (Gare De L'est) (AEO)
  • Salzburg - Villach - Ljubljana - Zagreb
  • Vienna(and Linz) (ICE)

International Overnight Trains

The following trains depart from Frankfurt (Main) to:

Types of Train to/from Frankfurt

These types of train operate long distance services to/from Frankfurt, click the type of train for more information:

  • AEO - Alleo trains to Paris and NOW Strasbourg - Mulhouse - Lyon - Avignon - Marseilles
  • ICE - ICE trains to Belgium and Netherlands
  • CNL - 'City Night Line trains
  • EC -international daytime trains
  • EN- 'Euronight' overnight trains
  • IC trains
  • ICE trains

Using Frankfurt (Main) Sud station

Certain long distance trains from Frankfurt (Main), particularly IC trains on the route to Eeisenach, Erfurt, Gotha, Leipzig don’t call at Frankfurt hbf, instead they call at Frankfurt Sud station, which as it’s name implies is to the south of the city centre. (ICE trains to Eisenach, Gotha and Leipzig depart from Frankfurt Main hbf

The CNL train to Prague/Praha departs from Frankfurt Sud (not Frankfurt Main hbf) at 00:54

The easiest journey between both Frankfurt Hbf and the city centre to Frankfurt Sud is to take S-Bahn line 5 train that operate every 15 mins during the day, but only every 30 mins at evenings and on Sundays - so allow sufficient times for making connections particularly into overnight trains.

When travelling to Frankfurt (Main) Sud from the airport take the S-Bahn trains on lines S8/S9 from the Regionalbahnhof to Ostendstraße station and connect there to trains on S-Bahn lines S3/S4

All train departures from Frankfurt (Main) Sud on the D-Bahn timetable.

Frankfurt Airport/Flughafen - by train FROM central Frankfurt

S-Bahn (commuter trains operate between central Frankfurt and the airport/Flughafen from the following city centre stations:

The journey time to the airport is 15-20mins and the S-Bahn trains arrive at Frankfurt (Main) Flughafen Regionalbahnhof. This station is located directly beneath the Terminal 1 building (a people mover links Terminal One with Terminal Two)
You need to take trains on lines S8/S9 from central Frankfurt that will have Wiesbaden as a final destination, but take care not to take a line S1 train to Wiesbaden, line S1 trains don't serve the airport.

At Frankfurt (Main)hbf the S-Bahn trains usually depart from the lower concourse/‘tief’ certain services leave from the main terminal on Sundays.
There are less frequent (local) trains from the main concourse at Frankfurt Main (hbf) to the airport, so if you have luggage you can save the bother of descending to the S-Bahn platforms, if a RE train is due to depart for the Flughafen Regionalbahnhof (if there is not a train within 15 mins it will be quicker to take the S-Bahn.)

If you're flying with Lufthansa, an option is take an ICE train from Frankfurt (Main) hbf to Frankfurt am Main Flughafen Fernbahnhof.
Tickets will cost more than by local train, but Lufthansa has check-in desks at the Fernbahnhof (express train station) and the queues at these desks are usually much shorter in comparison to the departure halls at the airport.

If you're not flying by Lufthansa there is no need to take an ICE train to the airport from Frankfurt (Main) hbf. The tickets are more expensive, the journey time difference in comparison to the S-Bahn and RE trains is marginal and ICE trains will arrive at the Fernbahnhof station at the airport, which is more distant from the terminals than the Regionalbahnhof used by the S-Bahn and RE trains.
In fact the overall transit time from the main concourse at Frankfurt (Main) hbf to the departure halls at the airport is slower by ICE train.

If you need to make a connection at Frankfurt (Main) hbf, when travelling to the airport by ICE trains from other destinations in Germany, it can make sense to continue the journey to the airport by ICE train, particularly if you're flying with Lufthansa.
The transfer between ICE trains at Frankfurt Main (hbf) is all on one level, so making the connection is straightforward.
There is no need to reserve seats on the ICE trains between Frankfurt (Main) hbf and the airport, the journey time is less than 15 mins.

From Frankfurt Airport/Flughafen TO central Frankfurt by train.

When travelling between the airport and central Frankfurt the easiest option is to use the 'Regionalbahnhof and take the S-Bahn line S8/S9 trains to Hauptwache station which is the closest station to the city centre.
You won't have to wait more than 15 mins for a train and the journey time from the airport to Hauptwache station is 15-17 mins. You should therefore be in the city centre no more than 40 mins after exiting the arrivals hall.
Hauptwache station on Google Maps

The S8/S9 trains also serve other stations in central Frankfurt, click the name of the station to access a Google Map link;

Frankfurt Main hbf (the primary main line station in central Frankfurt) is located to the west of the city centre, though many of the city's largest hotels including the Le Meridien and The Intercontinental are in the area adjacent to the hbf.

If your final destination is closest to one of the other stations served by the S-Bahn trains (see above), don't take a non-S-Bahn train that terminates at Frankfurt Main hbf if it is the next train to depart from the Regionalbahnhof.
You will then need to transfer to the S-Bahn train on arrival at Frankfurt Main hbf, at the hbf the S-Bahn trains depart from a lower level, making for a more awkward transfer.

If your final destination IS adjacent to Frankfurt Main hbf, you don't have to take an S-Bahn train. If you have luggage it will be easier to actually to take a local (RE) train which terminates at Frankfurt Main (hbf). Taking these trains will save the bother of exiting the S-Bahn at Frankfurt Main hbf because at Frankfurt Main hbf the S-bahn station is underground.
However, these local (RE) trains operate less frequently than the S-Bahn, so it may not be worth waiting for a RE train if a S-Bahn train is due

There is no need to take an ICE train to Frankfurt Main hbf from the airport, local tickets won't be valid on the ICE trains and the difference in travel time is marginal.
Once you have factored in the additional time it takes to transfer to the Fernbahnhof, from where the ICE trains depart, the overall transit time is longer in comparison to using the local trains.

However, if your need to connect at Frankfurt Main hbf into an ICE, or other long distance trains, for onward travel beyond Frankfurt, the best option is usually to take an ICE train from the Fernbahnhof to Frankfurt (Main) hbf.
At the hbf your connecting train will then depart at the same level that the ICE train will arrive at, which can make for a comparatively easy transfer.
If you use an S-Bann train to make the transfer to Frankfurt (Main) hbf you will arrive at a lower level to the main departure platforms, so making the connection is comparatively awkward.
You don't have to reserve seats on the ICE trains between the airport/flughafen and Frankfurt (Main) hbf. You will be on the train for less than 15 mins, so if you have luggage. it’s easier to stay by the train doors rather than finding a seat.
It will also save you time when making connections at Frankfurt (Main) hbf if you board the ICE from the Fernbahnhof towards the front.

When travelling to Frankfurt (Main) Sud from the airport take the S-Bahn trains on lines S8/S9 from the Regionalbahnhof to Ostendstraße station and connect there to trains on S-Bahn lines S3/S4