Metro systems in Germany: Mülheim an der Ruhr

The city

The city of Mülheim an der Ruhr is one of the smallest cities in the Rhine-Ruhr region, an area traversed by two very important rivers from which it takes its name. This region is one of the most important in the country, as it is densely populated and has great economic importance. It is located in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state in Germany.

Mülheim lies on the banks of the Ruhr river, between Duisburg and Essen. Other nearby cities include Oberhausen and Ratingen. It is a rather small city, with only about 170,000 people living in it.

The entire region has been a great economic drive for the country, coal mining being one of the most important activities of the past. Mülheim was the first city in the area to reduce the ecological impacts and eventually stop the industry altogether. It has since diversified its economy and is now mainly focused on agriculture. It is estimated that about half of the total surface of the city is comprised of green areas, an impressive feat, considering it heavily relied on industries and mining in the past.

On the cultural front, the city of Mülheim an der Ruhr has seen a sharp increase in the number of museums and theaters it has. Restoration of public parks, historical buildings and landmarks has also been relevant.

The overall climate is temperate, and extremely rainy. In summer, the average temperature fluctuates between 16 and 17 °C, while in winter it drops to about 2 or 3 °C.

The Metro

The Metro of the city is part of the Stadtbahn of Essen. The only line that covers the distance between Essen and Mülheim is line U18, and only 5.5 km of the line are actually within the city limits.

The entire rolling stock that operates on the system is comprised of two types of trains. The first one is called the Stadtbahnwagen B, a train that serves line U18 between Essen and Mülheim. This train is mainly used in light rail systems.


They have been gradually replaced since the 90’s with two more modern versions: Stadtbahnwagen P86 and P89. They are based off the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from Transports for London, and provide a more efficient service.

Not all replacements were introduced to line U18, however, as braking distance on some stations could be an issue. The U18 line is run by the Bochum-Gelsenkirchener Straßenbahnen AG, also known as BOGESTRA.

Brief history

The city of Mülheim an der Ruhr is located in the Rhine-Ruhr region, an area quite densely populated. As such, the demand for a robust transport network that connected all the major cities and its suburbs was very high. The city was included in the master plan for the development of a network of trains that would eventually become the Stadtbahn network.

It was after the Second World War that planning really took off. The trams were the first ones to be implemented, followed suit by a network of express buses that had their own isolated lane. It was not until 1961 that plans were laid out for the construction of a tunnel in Essen that would allow a direct connection to Mülheim. It was not yet clear whether it was viable to develop a large U-Bahn system like all major cities, or to implement a tram instead. The latter was chosen and the underground tram line commenced its first phase of operations in May 28th, 1977, connecting Essen to Mülheim via the Heißen Kirche station.

The other 5 stations constructed in the city were inaugurated in November 3rd, 1979, when the link to the railroad station (Hauptbahnhof) was completed. The line continued its expansion around the area, especially in Essen and the neighboring Gelsenkirchen. In the year 2010, the entire system was rearranged to increase efficiency, and line U18 was branded as a shopping line, as it had relevant commercial importance.

Lines and stations

The Stadtbahn in Essen directly connects three nearby cities: Essen, Gelsenkirchen and Mülheim an der Ruhr. It has a total of three lines. U11 serves Gelsenkirchen via the Gelsenkirchen-Horst Buerer Straße terminal, and links it to Essen at the Messe/Süd/Gruga terminal. U17 runs exclusively in Essen, while U18 serves as a connection to Mülheim.


This line starts in Essen, at Berliner Platz terminal station, and serves Mülheim via a subterranean line. Its terminal on this side of the line is called Mülheim (Ruhr) Hauptbahnhof. It has a total of 17 stations, and a single run takes about 10 minutes to complete. The network was rearranged in 2010, and the route of line U18 was extended. Also, between 2010 and 2011 it was called a shopping line, as it had stations in important commercial areas.

Mülheim an der Ruhr has 9 stations within its city limits. If a passenger is coming from Essen, the first station they will arrive to is the Rhein-Ruhr-Zentrum. It is above ground and serves the commercial area of the same name. The next stations are Rosendeller Straße and Eichbaum stations, both also located above ground. Following this, the trains arrive at Heißen Kirche, the final station inaugurated in 1977, and the only one then to be underground.

Mulheim U18 tren
Mulheim U18 train

The next stations were opened to the public in 1979. The first of those is Mühlenfeld station, located below Hingbergstraße. Further along the line is Christianstraße station, similar to the last station. After this, U18 arrives at Gracht, an underground station located near the Buggenbeck channel. The next station is called Von-Bock-Straße, also underground. The last station is the Mülheim (Ruhr) Hauptbahnhof, and is probably the most important one, as it serves as a transit hub, connecting line U18 with the trams, several other trains and many bus lines as well.

Connections with other systems

As with all cities, one type of transport cannot satisfy all need for mobility its citizens have. Thus, any metro system is complemented by other public transport networks. Mülheim is part of the larger Rhine-Ruhr regional transport, and the metro is actually part of the larger Statdbahn network based in Essen. This also provides additional connections to other suburban and long-range trains.

In the city, the most widely used means of public transport are the trams (known locally as Straßenbahn). Since they also operate in the neighboring city of Oberhausen, the tram network is fittingly called Straßenbahn Mülheim/Oberhausen. The system is run by a company called VRR (Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr). The only direct connection between the metro and the trams is the main station in the city: Mülheim (Ruhr) Hauptbahnhof. Lines 102 and 901 have stops in it.

Additionally, as with most cities in the world, a large part of public transport is provided by buses. In this case, they are also operated by VRR, so they are completely integrated into the tram network. There are tickets that cover all three systems and make moving around the city easier and more convenient. Rhein-Ruhr-Zentrum, Von-Bock-Straße and Hauptbahnhof stations all have direct connection to bus lines.

The other great element in the equation is the S-Bahn. The S-Bahn refers to all train networks that bridge the distance between city centers and suburbs. In the Rhine-Ruhr region, the entire S-Bahn is unified, and has 14 lines and 124 stations distributed around the area. Only 3 of these are in Mülheim an der Ruhr. Naturally, the most important station in the city is one of them: Hauptbahnhof. This station is the only connection between both systems (Stadtbahn and S-Bahn), and serves lines S1 and S3. The other two S-Bahn stations in the city are Mülheim Styrum, which also has stops from lines S1 and S3, and Mülheim (Ruhr) West, that only serves line S3.

National and long-range (international) trains are also an important connection to have, and the system does have a direct link via the Mülheim (Ruhr) Hauptbahnhof station. From here, passengers may transfer into any of the 5 regional lines, or any of the 5 or more long-range lines.

Connections to the airport

The city of Mülheim does not have an international airport of its own, due to its small size. Most of the passenger traffic moves through Düsseldorf, a larger city that is located 29 km to the south of Mülheim.

There are 2 additional options nearby: the airports in Dortmund and Weeze, which are 61 km and 71 km away, respectively.

There is no direct connection of line U18 with the airport at Düsseldorf, but it is still quite easy to get to and from it via the S-Bahn. From Mülheim an der Ruhr, any user must take the metro and reach the terminal, Hauptbahnhof. From there, one must only board a train from line S1 of the S-Bahn, as this line makes a stop at the airport.

Schedule and timetables

The schedule and timetable of line U18 from Essen varies according to the day of the week. Monday to Friday, the first train of the day leaves Wickenburgstraße station in Essen at 4:22 in the morning. A short ride later, it enters Mülheim via the Rhein-Ruhr-Zentrum, and reaches the terminal, Hauptbahnhof at 4:35 a.m. The last train to arrive at the terminal does so at 11:22 p.m.

The frequency of the trains also varies along the day. From the opening hour to 6 a.m., the trains run every 20 minutes. From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., they provide service every 10 minutes. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., this is scaled back to 15 minutes. Trains running any later than 10 p.m. until the closure of the facilities have longer delays, up to 30 minutes.

Interior Mulheim U18 train
Interior Mulheim U18 train

On Saturdays, the trains have a slightly shorter schedule. The first train leaving from Essen arrives at 6:41 a.m. at Rhein-Ruhr-Zentrum station, and at 6:52 a.m. at the terminal. The last train of the day remains the same. Frequency of the trains is also a bit slower, as trains run every 15 minutes most of the day, except at night, when they run every 30 minutes.

There is also a special schedule and timetable for Sundays and holidays. The first train reaches Zentrum at 7:41 a.m., and completes the ride at 7:52 a.m., when it reaches the terminal station. The last train remains the same, at 11:22 p.m. The frequency of runs is the same as on Saturdays: 15 minutes most of the day, except late at night, when it increases to 30 minutes.

Tariffs, tickets and cards

The tariffs are unified with the rest of the public transport in the region that is run by VRR. This is an advantage, as one can access buses, trams and metros (Stadtbahn) from all around the Rhine-Ruhr region. The price of the ticket varies according to the distance travelled, and there are four distinct categories: A, B, C and D. Zone A is subdivided into A1, A2 and A3 if the city is large enough.

The first type of ticket offered is a single ticket, a solution for one-time users or people who do not use the system very often. The single ticket is also known as Einzelticket, or individual ticket. When the distance you will travel is short, no more than three stations in 20 minutes, the ticket costs 1.60 euro ($1.90 USD). If you travel to zone A, it goes up to 2.70 euro ($3.23 USD). For zone B, the price is 5.80 euro ($6.95 USD). If you are moving to zone C, it will set you back 12.10 euro ($14.49 USD). Travelling to zone D costs 15.00 euro ($17.96 USD). Tickets for children (from 6 to 14 years old) always cost 1.60 euro ($1.90 USD), though.

Along single tickets, the other solution most people who don’t use the metro frequently have, are 4-trip tickets. They are priced at 5.90 euro ($7.07 USD) for the basic ride; 10.00 euro ($11.98 USD) for zone A; 20.90 euro ($25.03 USD) if you are travelling to zone B; 42.80 euro ($51.26 USD) for zone C; and 52.50 euro ($62.87 USD) while heading to zone D. Pricing for children (from 6 to 14 years old) is also at discount, as they will always pay 5.90 euro ($7.07 USD) regardless of the zone. Following the same principle, there is also a 10-trip ticket that goes for 13.60 euro ($16.28 USD) on the basic ride, 22.00 euro ($26.35 USD) for zone A; 44.00 euro ($52.69 USD) for zone B; 88.00 euro ($105.39 USD) for zone C; and 100.00 euro ($115.80 USD) for zone D.

A more popular option among tourists is the 1-day unlimited pass. They can be valid for up to 5 people at a time, so you can save a large amount of money with it. The basic 1-person 1-day pass costs 6.80 euro ($8.14 USD) for zone A; 13.90 euro ($16.65 USD) for zone B; 23.60 euro ($28.26 USD) for zone C; and 28.40 euro ($34.01 USD) for zone D. In case the 1-day unlimited pass is not enough, there is also a 7-day unlimited pass. This ticket costs 21.90 euro ($26.23 USD) for zone A1; 26.65 euro ($31.92 USD) for zone A2; 27.65 euro ($33.11 USD) for zone A3; 40.40 euro ($48.38 USD) for zone B; 53.15 euro ($63.65 USD) for zone C; and 67.70 euro ($80.96 USD) for zone D.

Pricing is also complemented by several travel cards that are tailored to frequent users of the system. The most important of these are the Ticket1000 and Ticket2000 cards. They both offer unlimited travel for an entire month, but Ticket2000 allows a second person to travel with the cardholder during certain hours. Additionally, it also allows children under 15 years of age to travel free of charge; and even grants the right to travel with a bicycle, a situation you would normally have to buy an additional ticket for. Apart from the normal all-day cards, a more economical offer is available, in which the system can only be used from nine in the morning.

Other special cards are available: the ShokoTicket, for all students under 25 years of age; the YoungTicket, for students in general; the Semesterticket, which is also for students but is emitted directly from schools and universities; the FirmenTicket, that are emitted by enterprises for their workers; the MeinTicket, a social ticket; and the BärenTicket, a special card for people over 60 years of age.

Rules and regulations

All transport systems in the world have a set of rules passengers must follow in order to make the trip more pleasing for everybody. Some of the norms in the Mülheim metro are:

  • Smoking is strictly prohibited, as is drinking or eating while inside the trains.
  • People must yield their seat if required by the elderly, by people with severe physical disability, by pregnant women or people with small children.
  • Passengers must always follow the instructions given by the personnel working there, especially if there is an emergency.


Public transport in Germany is based on a trust system, so there are no physical barriers impeding your entrance to the trains. However, it is very important to keep the ticket with you at all times, as the operators may demand it whenever they see fit.

Planning is very important in this type of system, as knowing how far your destination is from where you are can save you money. Planning is also generally a good idea for holidays at large.

There is a free app available for download. It provides detailed instructions, timetables, notices and all relevant information a passenger may find useful.

Fun facts

  • This metro is only a fraction of the larger Stadtbahn of Essen, a transport network that provides service to the entire Rhine-Ruhr region.
  • The larger region is served by the S-Bahn, a rapid transit system.
  • Despite being called ‘metro’, many operative systems in the region are more like a hybrid between metro and trams.
  • Any elderly who requires assistance will be accompanied by a member of the staff until they reach their destination, at no additional cost.

Tourism and sightseeing

As with the entire Rhine-Ruhr region, Mülheim an der Ruhr has been transformed from its gray industrial and coal-mining roots into a green city, boasting sustainable enterprises. Some of the most popular attractions easily reached via the metro are:

Rhein-Ruhr-Zentrum: one of the first large shopping malls in Germany is located just outside the metro station of the same name. There are many large designer shops, franchises and smaller business, as well as a large food court.

Kunstmuseum Mülheim an der Ruhr in der alten Post: located in the former post office building, this is one of the main expressionism centers in the region. The Karl and Maria Ziegler Foundation is the main contributor to its collection. To reach the museum, passengers must descend at the terminal (Hauptbahnhof) and walk a couple blocks to the west.

Metro map of Mulheim

Metro map of Mulheim Full resolution
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Mulheim Stadtbahn Mulheim U18 map

  • Also Known As: Stadtbahn Mulheim U18
  • Passengers/Day
  • Fares:
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: No
  • Walk between platforms: No
  • Driverless trains: No
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • Mulheim Metro Official Website

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