Using the Hamburg U-Bahn

The Hamburg U-Bahn is an extensive urban metro network, covering 66 route miles with 92 stations. It was first opened in 1912 and is still expanding. Of the four lines, the newest opened in 2012, with the latest station, Elbbrucken  opening in 2018.

Hamburg also has an extensive S-Bahn network – above ground suburban railways (although 2/3rd of the U-Bahn is above ground!) They interchange at various stations on the network. Hochbahn, who run the railway, say that currently 80% of stations are fully accessible and step free, and are aiming to make that 95% by 2021.

The system is fairly easy to navigate and all day passes are reasonably priced. There’s a peak price metro card for journeys starting before 9am, and a cheaper one after that. Prices vary as it’s based on a zonal system, but an all day card for after 9am that covers the main part of Hamburg (Zone AB) is 6.60 Euro. More fares can be found on the HVV website

Services start around 4am and finish about midnight Monday to Friday, with extended hours at weekends and before bank holidays. All metro stations now have free Wifi, and newer trains have USB charging points between the seats.

Buying tickets is easy, with machines that work in several languages. Be aware that Germany is still a country that prefers cash. In discussion with the Ubahn office regarding my contactless card not working on several different machines I tried, the response was “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Cash always works”. If you need season tickets or other enquiries there are a number of ‘service centres’ and ‘sales points’ around the city.

If you’re using the joint machines at D-Bahn stations you will need to press the HVV button to get U-Bahn tickets – see images below. HVV stands for Hamburger Verkehrsverbund – the overseeing authority for the public transport network in Hamburg. Many of the stations have cycle racks and bus stops right outside the station entrances. There are no ticket barriers but there are regular ticket inspections on the network, get a ticket!

In addition to the U-Bahn and S-Bahn there’s also an extensive network of ferries across the harbour that are included in the day ticket system – although there’s one that doesn’t take them weekends and bank holidays – see the harbour map for details.The U3 line is one that runs alongside the harbour for a section of the route and is elevated through a large part of its course through the city, giving a scenic tour for a fraction of the price of a tour bus! There’s some wonderful examples of station design on the network, with the unique light show at HafenCity Universität being my clear favourite.

Thanks for reading. Check out my other posts on travel, heritage railways and more.
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