Metro in Germany: Frankfurt

Frankfurt, also known as Frankfurt am Main in German, is a city located in the mid-south of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is the most populated city in the state of Hesse, with a bit more of 700,000 of inhabitants. It is also the fifth most populated city of Germany, after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Colony. The importance of this city lies on the fact that it represents a financial district in Europe. Frankfurt holds the European Central Bank headquarters as well as the most important stock exchange market of the country. Regarding the topic of transportation, Frankfurt’s central location allows the city to be the place of hundreds of connections.

The Metro of Frankfurt runs 40.32 miles (64.9 kilometers) along and across the city of Frankfurt. It is identified by its German name U-Bahn. The metro system, inaugurated in 1968 with just one line running, has been constantly subject to expansions, to the point of having nine lines servicing 86 stations in the present. All lines, to the exception of the latest U9, go through the city’s downtown. The number of daily passengers is very high: approximately 321,000. In 2012, 117.3 million of passengers transited the Frankfurt’s U-Bahn. Throughout its history, the car park has been renovated five times. The latest renovation happened in 2008, with Bombardier cars.

Brief History

The former system of trolley cars of the city had turned obsolete and insufficient, reasons why in the 50s, the city posed the definitive development of a plan for a more efficient and complex transportation system. A study on building a complete underground metro system, a partial system and an elevated railway was made. Finally, on October 4, 1968, the projects were finalized and the U-Bahn of Frankfurt was inaugurated. The route at that time traveled between Hauptwache and Nordwestzentrum.

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof U-Bahn Typ U3 Linie U4

Expansions, however, started promptly. In 1971 alone, an extension from Gonzenheim to Heddernheim was launched. In the following years, the expansion towards the south of the city began, and in 1978, a new line was opened, connecting Zeilweg and Ginnheim. Year after year new routes as well as new lines were inaugurated. Today, the expansion process continues. The most recently created lines have been U8 and U9, both opened in December 12, 2010.

Lines and Stations

The Metro of Frankfurt, better known as U-Bahn, is constituted by nine lines that encompass 86 stations. All of these lines are administered by a unique system monitored by Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt (VgF), which in addition involves the city’s suburban transport.

U1

This is the first line of the U-Bahn of Frankfurt, covering the Hauptwache - Nordwestzentrum section, and which was inaugurated first within the system. Its length is 12.3 kilometers and it currently counts with 20 stations. The line crosses the city’s downtown, connecting the northern neighborhoods from the terminal station of Ginnheim with the train station on the south of the city, in Südbahnhof. It is identified by the color red.

U2

This line shares part of the U1 travel, only separating in the last seven stations. It was also inaugurated in 1968, when the whole system was created. Its northern terminal point is Bad Homburg Gonzenheim, whereas the southern terminal station is the railway station of Südbahnhof. The U2 line comprehends 21 stations and travels a distance of 16.6 kilometers. It is identified by a light green color.

U3

Oberusel Hohemark, to the northwest of the city, is the terminal station for line 3. On the other end, there is the terminal station of Südbahnhof, which is reached by traveling south from the first terminal. This line was also opened when the U-Bahn was inaugurated in 1968. The line covers 28 stations in a span of 19.3 Kilometers of distance. It is identified by a dark purple color.

U4

Identified by the color pink, this line was inaugurated in 1980 and it was the first one to cross the city of Frankfurt from east to west. Its west terminal station is called Bockenheimer Warte. After a brief descent to the south, the route travels northeast until it reaches the terminal station of Enkheim. The line, with its 15 stations, covers a distance of 11.3 kilometers.

U5

U5, the dark green line, goes from north to south, though with a slight inclination towards the west. Its northern terminal station is Preungesheim, while its southern one is Hauptbahnhof. This line was opened in 1974 and it covers a distance of 7.6 kilometers, along which 16 stations can be found.

U6

With the arrival of the U6, those lines that moved across horizontally within the system were consolidated. The line started running in 1986. It starts its travel on the northwest at the Praunheim Herrstr station until it reaches the terminal station of Ostbahnhof on the east. This line covers a distance of 8.7 kilometers, encloses 15 stations, and it is identified by the color blue.

U7

Opened in 1986, this line goes across Frankfurt east to west. It travels from the Hausen station on the west of the city to the Einkheim station on the east, which is also shared by the line U4. Orange is the color that identifies this line. This line, with 11.8 kilometers of distance, averages the rest of the lines within the U-Bahn system. Additionally, U7 counts with 21 stations.

U8

This is one out of the two lines that has been created recently. It was opened in 2010, it is identified by a light purple color, and it travels north-south. The line also shares a big part of its distance with lines 1, 2 and 3, starting on its north terminal station called Riedberg. From there, it joins the other three lines until it reaches the southern station of Südbahnhof.

U9

This line is identified with a yellow color. Due to its recent inauguration in 2010, this line is the shortest of the entire system and it counts with only 12 stations as well as a length of 10.3 kilometers. It is located on the north and it goes from the Nieder-Eschbach station to the Ginnheim one.

Connections with Other Systems

While the U-Bahn is the underground transportation system in most of the mayor cities of Germany, it is generally complimented by a superficial transport system usually called S-Bahn. In Frankfurt’s case, there is the Rino and Meno S-Bahn, also known as S-Bahn Rhein-Main. This system is extensive, even superior to the metro itself, and it counts with 111 stations grouped within nine lines.

Estacion del metro de Frankfurt Franfkurt U-bahn station Image via Ingolf .

Cities close to Wiesbaden, Mainz, Offenbach am Main, Hanau and Darmstadt are connected by the S-Bahn to Frankfurt. Through this system, Frankfurt can be reached by its train stations, which resemble an epicenter for all public transportation systems. For instance, there are connections at the central station of Hauptbahnhof and at the south station of Südbahnhof respectively, that connect to four lines of the Frankfurt U-Bahn.

Besides the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn, Frankfurt also counts with a vast streetcar system. The Trolley of Frankfurt has ten operating lines. Additionally, it has a single line serving touristic purposes. The system is completely integrated with the U-Bahn, since it is administered by the same operator. The number of stations adds up to 136 within a network of 67.25 kilometers, being this coverage a bit more extensive than that of the metro.

Lines go from numbers 11 to 21. Besides these, there is the touristic streetcar, Ebbelwei-Expreß, which is only operated on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The connection between these lines and the U-Bahn is ample and it includes a great set of subway lines, particularly those located on the south side of the city of Frankfurt.

On the other hand, even when buses do exist, their presence is much more noticeable on the northern half of the city, where the streetcar system is more limited than in the south.

Airport Connections

The airport of Frankfurt is one of the most important of the region as it is, in conjunction with the airport of Múnich, one of the hubs of the airline Lufthansa. Moreover, it is the third most transited airport in Europe after the London’s Heathrow and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airports.

Due to the importance of the airport in the city, the connection between the same and public transportation is key. The S-Bahn conducts the land transport to the city of Frankfurt. On the contrary, the U-Bahn does not reach the airport directly but its connections with the suburban trains do.

Inside the airport there is a regional train station that not only can connect with other cities, but also has access to the lines S8 and S9 of the S-Bahn. Both of the latter connect with lines U4 and U5 at the Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof station. Later on, S8 and S9 reach lines U1, U2, U3, U6, U7 and U8 at the Hauptwache station. Additionally, at Konstablerwache, S8 and S9 connect with lines U4, U5, U6 and U7. That is, from the airport and through the assistance of the S-Bahn network, anyone can access all U-Bahn lines, to the exception of the shortest and newest U9.

Schedule and Frequency

Frankfurt’s U-Bahn operates between 3:20 in the morning and 2:00 in the morning of the following day, however this varies by line. Generally, from its opening until 6:00 in the morning, it passes every 15 minutes. Then from 7:00 and for the rest of the day, its frequency changes to about ten minutes. From midnight on, this goes back to the average of 15 minutes.

U1: the first train leaves from the Heddernheim station at 3:57 in the morning, while the last train arrives to Zellweg at 2:03 in the morning. On Saturdays, the train frequency varies between ten, fifteen and thirty minutes. On Sundays and holidays, trains pass between every fifteen and thirty minutes.

U2: the first train parts out of the Nieder-Eschbach station at 3:28 in the morning. Contrastingly, the last train arrives to Heddernheim at 2:23 in the morning. The frequency on Saturdays can go up to 20 minutes, while on Sundays it is between 15 and 30 minutes.

U3: from the Bahhoff station, the first train departs at 3:46 in the morning and the last one arrives at the prior station at 1:44 in the morning. The time between trains is more distanced, extending up to 15 minutes throughout most part of the day.

U4: this line commences its operation at 3:37 in the morning from the Schäfflestraße station and the last train arrives at 1:43 the following day. Frequency between trains is very short, around 5 minutes throughout the day. This schedule is active during most time of the year, except for the summer vacation. On the other hand, during summer vacation, the line works until later in the day and it closes at approximately at a similar time. Frequency is also reduced to fifteen minutes.

U5: this line starts running from 3:44 in the morning from the Preungesheim station. Last train departs from the same station at 1:47 early morning, when it is not summer. The last train departs from the same station, Preungesheim, at 10:47 in the night.

U6: the first train leaves the Zoo station at 3:26 in the morning, while the last one departs from the same station at 1:35 in the morning. On Saturdays, trains pass every ten to fifteen minutes. On Sundays, the frequency is similar to the exception of the first hours in the morning, when it can reach to 30 minutes.

U7: from the Johanna-Tesch-Platz station, the first train departs at 3:30 in the morning. The last train leaves the same station at 2:01 in the morning. Frequency maintains between ten and fifteen minutes. On weekends and holidays, frequency is as of every fifteen minutes, with few periods of 30 minutes.

U8: the first train of this line departs at 3:28 in the morning from the Heddernheim station. From the same station, the last train departs at 1:43 in the morning. The frequency during the day is of fifteen minutes, while it is fifteen to thirty minutes during the weekends.

U9: from Ginnheim leaves the first train at 5:04 in the morning, while the last train leaves from the Nieder-Eschbach station at 11:53 at night. Frequency is usually fifteen minutes, although it can extend up to thirty minutes in certain peak hours during weekends and holidays.

Rates, Tickets and Cards

Like in any big public transportation system, the U-Bahn of Frankfurt relies on different price rates to offer to its users. All of them are part of an integrated system of transportation, which is handled by the RMV. Prices vary according to the distance traveled.

On first instance, there is the simple ticket, which is valid for a single trip and may cost between 2 Euro (USD 2.3) and 15.50 Euro (USD 17.78), depending on the traveled distance. Tickets for children are reduced in price, ranging from 1.20 Euro (USD 1.37) to 9.15 Euro (USD 10.90).

Additionally, there are cards that can be used to pay for all trips made throughout a single day, a week, a month or even a year. For daily passes, the rate can fall between 3.90 Euro (USD 4.47) and 13.20 Euros (USD 15.13), depending on the area where the train is directed to. Similar to singles passes, infants and children have to pay less for these tickets.

Finally, besides the single and time-length passes, there is a special ticket category that caters to specific situations planned by the user, larger groups, academicians, and persons with disabilities.

Future Expansions

The Metro of Frankfurt is a system that has been established as a means of transportation in constant development. Recently, in 2010, one of the major expansions of the latter decades occurred with the inauguration of lines U8 and U9.

Currently, plans to continue the system’s expansion are abundant. In fact, line U5 is under construction in order to add a new station, Güterplatz, which is to be inaugurated in 2022. There are also plans to expand line U4.

At the central part of the system, that is, the A, there are ongoing construction plans to extend a route towards Bad Homburg. This operation is planned to begin in 2023. In the C area, there are expansion plans that include Hanauer Landstraße, Leuchte, Steinbach and Bergen, possibly allocating these to lines U6 and U7.

Advice

There is an inherent risk of robbery in general in any system of public transportation. Although Germany is a particularly safe country, it is always important to have personal belongings at reach to avoid these types of experiences.

To enter Frankfurt’s U-Bahn, it is not necessary to insert any ticket or card in a machine. That is, access to the system is free. Therefore, it is key to pay attention to reloading cards as well as to having the ticket accessible in case that an inspector performs a check along the trip.

In order to avoid any unnecessary fines, it is important to pay attention to the coverage of distance of previously purchased tickets, in order to ensure that there is enough fare to move within the different methods of transport that the city presents, such as the metro, the suburban trains and the streetcars.

Interesting Facts

  • It is an integrated system that includes the suburban trains of the S-Bahn and commuter trains.
  • Its construction generated a public debate that incentivized the replacement of the former streetcars, which were modernized later, in the 90s.
  • More than half of the system operates underground, although there are sections that are located on the surface.
  • All lines, to the exception of the most recently created U9, go through the city’s downtown.

What to See from the Metro of Frankfurt

Frankfurt’s Cathedral: also known as the Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew, it is a church built in the XIII century that had great importance since it was the scenario where kings and German emperors were crowned. To get there, lines U4 and U5 serve its station: Dom/Römer.

Römerberg Plaza: it is located in the central part of the city and its surrounded by historical and traditional buildings. This square is the most picturesque of Frankfurt due to its typical architectural buildings. Similarly, the station of Dom/Römer serves this location.

Museum and house of Goethe: the German writer and icon, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, lived in Frankfurt before leaving to Leipzig. He lived in this house, which is now serving as a museum about the figure. To arrive there, you have to take a train from station Hauptwache via lines U1, U2 and U3.

Metro map of Frankfurt

Metro map of Frankfurt Full resolution
Map via www.vgf-ffm.de
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Frankfurt U-Bahn map

  • Also Known As: U-Bahn
  • Passengers/Day 380000
  • Fares: 2.30
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: No
  • Walk between platforms: Yes
  • Driverless trains: No
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • Max. Speed: 80km/h
  • Operator: Stadtwerke Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main mbH
  • €2.80
  • Frankfurt Metro Official Website
  • Tlf: +49 069 213 03
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