Metros in Germany: The Dortmund Metro

The city

Dortmund is a city to the northwest of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is the 8th most populated city in the country, having a population of approximately 586 thousand inhabitants by 2015. It has a surface of 280.71 square kilometers. It is located in the state of Rhineland in North-Westphalia. To the south of this city, the Ruhr River passes by, but the actual river that crosses this city is the small Emscher River.

This city was founded on the year 882 as a Free Imperial City. A lot of things have taken place throughout the centuries of its history. Just like many other German cities, 98% of it got destroyed by bombings during World War II.

In regards of the economic sector, commerce on this city is of special importance due to its sea port, which is the biggest port of this kind in the entire European continent, and is capable of connecting to the North Sea. During a big part of the 20th century, the city of Dortmund flourished because of the coal industry, just like the entire Rhine-Ruhr region. However, this city has been converted into an eco-friendly center, in which you will be able to easily find a lot of green spaces, besides being a city that hosts different universities and polytechnic institutes. Dortmund is also the home of Borussia Dortmund, the club that won the Champions League and is among the most renowned clubs in Europe.

Dortmund Stadtbahn
Dortmund Stadtbahn

The Metro

The Dortmund Stadtbahn is the transportation service by excellency of this German city. Stadtbahn literally means suburban rail, and it is a combination of the many old tramway networks, which have been adapted into a light rail system. Light rails are quite common on this region of Germany. This model was also imitated by other neighbor cities.

Meanwhile, the Dortmund Stadtbahn belongs to the Stadtbahn system of the Rhine-Ruhr region, and it is managed by the VRR. In absolute terms, the Dortmund Stadtbahn has 125 stations that transit through 75 kilometers of the city. All of those stations are grouped into 8 lines.

With regards of the rolling stock that transits on these railways, said rolling stock was made by many different manufacturers. One of the oldest vehicles that is still operational is the Stadtbahnwagen B, which was completely built on 1999. There is also the Flexity Classic from Bombardier, the Stadtbahnwagen Typ M/N and the GT8 from Dortmunder Stadtwerke (DUEWAG,) among others.

The number of passengers that travel on this system yearly is of approximately 130 million. The Dortmund Stadtbahn operator is DSW21, the municipal traffic department associated with the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR,) which is in charge of all of the transportation of the Rhine-Ruhr region.

  • Known as: Stadtbahn.
  • Length: 75 kilometers.
  • Railway gauge size: 1435 mm.
  • Number of lines: 8.
  • Number of stations: 125.
  • Maximum speed: 80 km/h.
  • Website: www.bus-und-bahn.de.
  • Operator: DSW21, owned by the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR.)
  • Annual ridership: 130 million.
  • Foundation: May 15th, 1976.

Brief history

The idea of creating this system appears when the city of Dortmund joins the Stadtbahngesellschaft Ruhr, which had the purpose of creating a U-Bahn network among the cities from the existing tramway network. On this city, it was planned to create a network with three lines that cross each other in a triangle shape, just like the Prague Metro. The transportation systems of this kind in Germany tend to come from other transportation systems that were reconditioned. The Stadtbahn of the Rhine-Ruhr region were born from the city’s tramway lines that had been transformed. On this region, the adaptation and integration of the Stammstrecke trunk lines were made to this system.

The first works began on October 22nd, 1969, with the construction of the first tunnel, in which the lines 401 and 406 transited by. This tunnel ended up being inaugurated on 1984 in Hörde, towards the south of the city. The trains on this tunnels circulate between the Leopoldstrasse and Westfalenpark stations, and belong to Stammstrecke I. As it was previously said, lines 401 and 406 used to transit on this tunnel, until the railway on downtown Dortmund was inaugurated, which connected the aforementioned regions.

On 1976, the Schnellstrassenbahn had been inaugurated, which is an express tramway that currently belongs to line U42, and is the origin of the current Strassenbahn. Later, the system kept growing and, on 2008, a new trunk route was created, called Stammstrecke III, where trains transit from east to west. All of these lines were being integrated into 8 lines under a single name. The Dortmund Stadtbahn is being constantly expanded.

Lines and stations

The Dortmund Light Rail is a complex system that articulates 125 stations within 8 different lines. Meanwhile, the system is divided into three trunk lines called Stammstrecke. The first one is Stammstrecke I, which was inaugurated on 1983 and is connected to the city in a north-south axis. The next one is Stammstrecke II, inaugurated alongside the system on 1976 and that transits from the southwest to the northeast of the city. More recently, on the year 2008, Stammstrecke III was inaugurated. From all of its stations, only 24 are underground, which are located on the central part of the city, while the remaining ones are at surface-level. The lines for the Dortmund Stadtbahn are:

U41

This line, which belongs to Stammstrecke I, is comprised of 28 stations, 12 of which are underground. Its journey starts from the north of the city of Lünen, and crosses Dortmund from north to south, ending at Clarenberg station, which is to the south of the city. It can be identified by its yellow color, and the whole journey lasts between 10 and 20 minutes.

U42

This line, identified by its orange color, also has 28 stations, but only 8 of them are regular metro stations, that is, underground stations. The journey that this line does starts at Greven, at the northeast, and ends at Grotenbachstrasse, to the south of the city. It originally belonged to the Schnellstrassenbahn system, but it is nowadays integrated to Stammstrecke II.

Dortmund Stadtbahn
Dortmund Stadtbahn Station

U43

It joins the city from east to west, starting at Dorstfeld Betriebshof station, and ending at Dortmund-Wickede and Wickede Post stations, which are located at a crossroads. It has a total of 34 stations, five of which are underground. This is one of the newest lines, since it belongs to the Stammstrecke III. This line is turquoise blue in color.

U44

Just like U43, it has been recently integrated to the system, since it belongs to the Stammstrecke III. Within a big section of its journey, it overlaps with U43, starting more to the west, at Walbertstraße/Schulmuseum station, until reaching Westfalenhütte station after the northern crossroads. In total, this section has 19 stations, four of which are underground. This line is distinguished by its light blue color.

U45

Distinguished by its red color, the U45 belongs to the Stammstrecke I, and starts from downtown Dortmund and ends at the south, between the Fredenbaun and Westfalenhallen stations. This line is smaller than others in the system, since it has 13 stations, 7 of which are underground.

U46

The most distinguishable feature of this purple line from the Dortmund Stadtbahn, the U46, is that all of its 7 stations are underground. It could be said that its journey is parallel to the U45, starting from the north and juxtaposing each other to the south of the city. Its journey covers all of the five stations between Brunnenstraße and Westfalenhallen. It belongs to Stammstrecke II.

U47

The U47 is another of the big lines from the Stadtbahn, having 27 stations, 8 of which are underground. The line starts at the northwest of the city, at Dortmund-Westerfilde station, and continues its journey to the southeast, ending at Aplerbeck station. The U47 belongs to Stammstrecke I, and it is distinguishable from the others by its green color.

U49

With 11 stations, the U49 is one of the smallest lines of the Dortmund Metro. It is pink in color, and it travels from the north to the south within downtown Dortmund. Its journey starts at Hafen and ends at Hacheney. This line has 8 underground stations. Its railroads are included within the Stammstrecke I.

Connections with other systems

The city of Dortmund has many complex roads, therefore, many different systems of transportation are required to make the commute be more efficient. Even though the Stadtbahn is one of the main transportation services, there are other means of transportation that complement the system. In Germany, most of the trains from the U-Bahn, Stadtbahn, and Strassenbahn have a connection with a suburban rail system (S-Bahn.) This is also the case in the Rhine-Ruhr region, since the Dortmund Stadtbahn is connected with the S-Bahn system of the entire Rhine-Ruhr region.

There are four S-Bahn lines that go to Dortmund. Many of them have a connection with the Stadtbahn. From the Dortmund central train station, the Hauptbahnhof, you can connect to the S-Bahn lines S1, S2, and S5 through the Stadtbahn lines U41, U45, U47, and U49. The S4 transits through most of the Stadtbahn network since it connects to the Dortmund-Wickede stations (U43,) Dortmund Stadthaus (U41, U45, U47, and U49,) and the Dortmund Möllerbrücke (U42.)

The big system that complements the Dortmund Metro is the system of bus lines, which is part of a system integrated to the metro and operated by the DSW21. Currently, this network is 852.1 kilometers long, distributed among 75 lines. It is estimated that 125 million passengers circulate on this system yearly. Most of these bus stations have a direct connection with the Stadtbahn stations. Another of the distinguishable transportation systems of the city of Dortmund is the H-Bahn, which is unique in its style. It is a suspended monorail that connects both campuses of the Dortmund University. The Stadtbahn does not have a direct connection with the H-Bahn, which is why you will have to use the S-Bahn to reach it.

Finally, Dortmund’s railway system is among one of the most important in Germany since it is used by a lot of people. The Dortmund Hauptbahnhof is the third most crowded station in the country, which is impressive since 41 million people circulate through all of the train stations in the city. From this station, you can board trains that go to the Netherlands and to Belgium. Also, the central train station is the heart of the Dortmund Stadtbahn.

Dortmund Stadtbahn Station
Dortmund Stadtbahn Station

Connection to the airport

The city of Dortmund has an airport that gives service to a big part of the Rhine Ruhr region. During its time, it was one of the most important airports, but its importance started to decline. This changed when low-cost airlines resuscitated the airport, converting it into a secondary airport in the city. To make a connection with the Stadtbahn network, you must board a bus. There is an express route called AirportExpress that goes in 22 minutes towards Dortmund Hauptbahnhof station, where a transfer to the metro is possible. You could also use bus line 440, which connects with line U47.

The other airport of the region, which has international flights and where the most important airlines arrive, is the Düsseldorf International Airport, which is the third most important airport in Germany after the Frankfurt Airport and the Munich Airport. This airport has many different train stations. To reach the Dortmund Stadtbahn, you will simply have to board the S1 line from the S-Bahn at the airport, and continue towards Dortmund Hauptbahnhof, where you will be able to connect with the Stadtbahn.

Schedule, calendar and timetables

The Dortmund Metro is open for a quite long period of time during the day. Generally, the metro opens at approximately 3:00 in the morning and closes after midnight, at 1:15 am of the following day, when the system’s routes are substituted by a system of night buses.

To be more specifically, the U41 line starts its operations on weekdays at 3:10 in the morning, with the departure of the first train from Stadtgarten. Meanwhile, during Saturdays, the first train departs from Stadtgarten at 4:01 in the morning. On Sundays, the first train departs at 7:18 in the morning. At Stadthaus station, the last train arrives at 12:59 at midnight of the following day every day. The frequency of departure on this line oscillates between 10 and 20 minutes throughout the day during most days, and between 15 and 30 minutes during Sundays.

In case of the U42, the first train departs Reinoldikirche at 3:55 in the morning. On Saturdays, the first train departs at 4:49 in the morning, while on Sundays, the first train departs at 7:18 in the morning. The last trains always arrive at 12:51 at midnight at Stadtgarten station. The frequency of departure of the trains varies a lot, but it usually is of 10 minutes in the afternoon. During Sundays, the frequency of trains increases to 15 minutes.

For the U43 line, the first train departs from Dortmund Dorstfeld Betriebsho station at 3:01 in the morning during weekdays. In case of Saturdays, the U43 starts operations at 4:28 in the morning. Meanwhile, on Sundays, it starts operations at 7:13 am. The last train arrives at Dortmund-Wickede station at 12:25 at midnight. The frequency of trains varies, since it is of 20 minutes at the beginning of the day, while it decreases to 10 minutes during most of the day, until finally increasing to 15 minutes at the end of the day.

The U44 line starts working at 3:45 am at Dorstfeld Betriebshof station during most days, and at 4:54 in the morning on Saturdays. In case of Sundays, the U44 starts operations from Westentor at 7:46 in the morning. Operations end every day at 12:34 at midnight at Kampstraße station. The frequency of trains during weekdays is of 10 minutes, except at night, when it changes to 15 minutes. On Saturdays, the frequency of trains varies between 10 and 15 minutes. Meanwhile, on Sundays, the frequency remains at 15 minutes.

There is also line U45. This line starts working at 4:03 in the morning at Hauptbahnhof station on weekdays, and ends operations at 1:03 in the morning at Stadtgarten station. On Saturdays, the U45 starts working at 5:13 at Hauptbahnhof, and also closes at 1:17 am on Stadtgarten. Meanwhile, on Sundays, the U45 starts working at 8:13 in the morning at Hauptbahnhof, and ends operations at 1:10 in the morning at Stadtgarten. The frequency of trains during weekdays is of 10 minutes during most of the day, except at night, which changes from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. On Saturdays and Sundays, the train frequency remains at 15 minutes, changing to 30 minutes at night.

Another Stadtbahn line is the U46. Dortmund Brunnenstraße is the starting station of the first train of the day, departing at 4:27 in the morning. Meanwhile, the U46 opens at 5:24 am on Saturdays, while opening at 8:09 am on Sundays. The first train also departs from Dortmund Brunnenstraße station on weekends. Service ends at Westfalenhallen station at 12:01 at midnight of the following day. In regards of frequency of trains, the frequency is of 10 minutes during peak hours, and of 15 minutes during off peak hours. Meanwhile, the frequency is of only 10 minutes on Saturday mornings, changing to 15 minutes during the rest of the day, just like on Sundays.

U47 belongs to the Dortmund Metro. From Hafen station, the line starts working at 3:45 in the morning. On Saturdays, the U47 starts working at 5:01 in the morning while, on Sundays, it starts working at 7:16 am. During both days, the first train also departs from Hafen station. All of the lines operations end at 12:42 at night of the following day, with the departure of the last train at Märkische Straße station. During weekdays, this line’s frequency of trains is of 10 minutes during the morning hours, and changes to 15 minutes during the afternoon. On Saturdays, the train frequency is of 10 minutes during some hours in the morning, and of 15 minutes during the rest of the day, just like on Sundays.

Finally, there is the U49 line. For this line, service starts on weekdays at 4:15 in the morning at Hauptbahnhof station. On Saturdays, the U49 starts working at that same stations at 5:37 in the morning. Meanwhile, on Sundays, service starts at 8:07 in the morning. Every day, the last train transits by the Hacheney station at 11:48 at night. With regards of the frequency of trains, the frequency starts at 20 minutes during weekdays, but changes to 10 minutes during most of the day, and changes to 15 minutes during the end of the night. On Saturdays, the frequency varies between 10 and 15 minutes, changing to 30 minutes at the end of the day. On Sundays, the train frequency varies between 15 and 30 minutes.

Fares, tickets, and cards

The Dortmund Stadtbahn maintains the same fare structure as all systems belonging to the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR,) firm that is in charge of transportation on the region of Rhine-Ruhr. To calculate the costs of the different tickets, distance is always taken into account, and, for that, the competent institutions established four fare zones: A, B, C, and D. Out of these, A is subdivided into A1, A2, and A3. Each of these subdivisions corresponds to populations of different sizes of the region.

Although distance is primordial to calculate fares, there are specific tickets for people who will not travel as frequently. Among them is the Single Ticket or Einzelticket. This ticket has a price of 1.60 euros (1.87 USD.) If you travel towards Zone A, it will cost 2.70 euros (3.15 USD.) Meanwhile, the price will be of 5.80 euros (6.77 USD,) 12.10 euros (14.11 USD) and of 15 euros (17.50 USD) in zones B, C, and D, respectively. Children will have a fixed fare of 1.60 euros (1.87 USD.)

Besides these tickets, there are also the Four-Ride Tickets. The short journeys for these tickets will cost 5.90 euros (6.88 USD.) The price for each zone is of 10 euros (11.67 USD,) 20.90 euros (24.38 USD,) 42.80 euros (49.93 USD,) and 52.90 euros (61.24 USD) for zones A, B, C, and D, respectively. Children will also have a fixed fare, but this time, it will cost 5.90 euros (6.88 USD.) There are also tickets for 10 rides, which cost 13.60 euros (15.86 USD) for short journeys. For each zone, these tickets have a cost of 22 euros (25.66 USD,) 44 euros (51.33 USD,) 88 euros (102.65 UD,) and 100 euros (116.65 USD) for zones A, B, C, and D, respectively.

Likewise, there are tickets that allow you to have unlimited rides within a day, which can be acquired either for an individual or for a group. For individuals, it will cost 6.80 euros (7.93 USD) for zone A, 13.90 euros (16.21 USD) for zone B, 23.60 euros (27.53 USD) for zone C, and 28.40 euros (33.13 USD) for zone D.

Likewise, there is a similar ticket but for 7 days, which has a cost of 21.90 euros (25.55 USD) for Zone A1, 26.65 euros (31.09 USD) for Zone A2, 27.65 euros (32.25 USD) for Zone A3, 40.40 euros (47.13 USD) for Zone B, 53.15 euros (62 USD) for Zone C, and 67.70 euros (78.86 USD) for Zone D.

Just like many transportation systems of this kind, there are monthly subscriptions that are made for people who travel daily. The most popular of these subscriptions are Ticket1000 and Ticket2000, which offer unlimited monthly rides. The difference between these two tickets is that the latter offers more benefits since, with it, you can travel with another person during some hours, with children under 15 years of age, or with a bike. There is a variation for each of these tickets that offers an eco-friendly journey that is also cheaper and that works like most tickets, with the difference that it is only valid starting from 9:00 in the morning.

There are groups of people that are entitled to special fares. The groups of people that get special fares are the following: students under 25 years of age can enjoy the SchokoTicket; young people with the YoungTicket; employees from firms that encourage their workers to use public transportation with the FirmenTicket; people of low income with the MeinTicket; and senior citizens that are 60 years and older with the BärenTicket.

Future expansions

The government of the city of Dortmund took the decision in the year 2008 of establishing a plan of railway development, indicating three levels of priorities. Most of the objectives on that plan have been completed, so, in 2012, a new development plan was approved, also having three priorities. The first priority all of the expansion on planning stages or under construction, while the second one includes the new projects. One of these new projects is the expansion of the U49 from Hacheney to Wellinghofen. Lastly, the third priority includes projects such as the expansion of the U44 towards Westfalenhütte or the connection at the Dortmund Airport.

Tips

  • The vast majority of the railway vehicles in Germany do not have turnstiles to board them. However, purchasing you ticket is important because, at any time, an inspector can ask you to show it during the journey.
  • It is important to study the different options available in the entire Rhine-Ruhr region to travel within it. You could take advantage of the S-Bahn to travel among many cities without a hassle.
  • It is recommended to calculate the fare or check which ticket is the most convenient to use.

Fun facts

  • The Dortmund Stadtbahn has the same fares as all of the transportation systems in the Rhine-Ruhr region managed by the VRR.
  • Its trains are painted in white and red.
  • Making a connection with nearby cities is very easy, therefore, you can reach those cities by using the metro.

Nearby attractions

Dortmund, just like the entire Rhine-Ruhr region, had a very strong coal industry, which had the consequence that tourism was far from being the main industry in the region. However, since the city stopped being dependent of the coal industry, the entire Rhine Ruhr region became a completely touristic region after having developed a huge number of green areas and including the most important rivers as an indispensable part of the city’s geography. Some of the places that you can visit via the Dortmund Stadtbahn are:

  • Westfalenstadion: This city is the home of the Borussia Dortmund, one of the main soccer clubs in Europe. This stadium is the location of this club, where all of the local games take place, and it represents a big touristic attraction. To reach it, you will only have to exit the Stadion exit from the U45 and walk to the west.
  • Westfalenpark: after exiting the station of the same name of the U45 and U49 lines, you will find this park, which offers to its visitors a world of peace and tranquility. It has vast green areas in which people can have fun and enjoy during the different seasons of the year.
  • German Soccer Museum: besides the stadium, soccer lovers have a place to show their love for the sport. In it, you will be able to learn about the entire history of the most famous sport in Germany. To reach it, you can go to three nearby stations: Westentor (U43 and U44,) Kampstrasse (U41, U43, U44, U45, U47, and U49,) and Dortmund Hauptbahnhof (U41, U45, U47, and U49.)

Metro map of Dortmund

Metro map of Dortmund Full resolution
Map via commons.wikimedia.org
Maps by Sebastian Sothen, DE See map full resolution. It may take a little bit to load.

Dortmund Stadtbahn map

  • Also Known As: Stadtbahn
  • Passengers/Day
  • Fares: honour system
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: No
  • Walk between platforms: Yes
  • Driverless trains: No
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • Operator: DSW21 (Dortmunder Stadtwerke)
  • 1
  • Dortmund Metro Official Website
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