Germany train strike: These alternatives will get travellers to their destination

One of the longest rail strikes in decades has been affecting Deutsche Bahn's passenger services since Wednesday morning, 24 January 2024. Large parts of rail transport will be paralysed for six days after the next strike by the German Train Drivers' Union (GDL) began on Tuesday. An overview of which trains are still running despite the railway strike and what alternatives there are to Deutsche Bahn trains.

When is the train strike?

The strike will run from Wednesday, 24 January to Monday, 29 January. This will paralyse large parts of train services in Germany for six days after the next strike by the German Train Drivers' Union (GDL) began on Tuesday. The strike began on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for freight transport, and since 2 a.m. on Wednesday there has also been a strike on Deutsche Bahn's passenger services. However, some trains have already been cancelled as the journey should not end on a free route. The strike is scheduled to last until next Monday at 6 pm. It will be the longest and most expensive railway strike in German post-war history.

Which trains are affected by the railway strike?

According to Deutsche Bahn, the latest strike will lead to "massive disruptions". This affects long-distance services as well as regional trains and Deutsche Bahn suburban trains. As a result, there will be "only a very limited train service" in the coming days. Anyone who still has to travel should look around for alternatives.

Which trains are still running despite the strike?

During the days of the strike, Deutsche Bahn will operate an emergency timetable. The railway is also planning to run longer trains to cushion the impact of the strike. During previous strikes, around one in five DB long-distance trains still ran. However, the restrictions vary depending on the connection and region. In general, Deutsche Bahn asks its passengers to check their connections 24 hours before travelling, for example via the DB Navigator app.

These alternatives will get you to your destination despite train cancellations

If you have to travel and can't change your plans, you don't have to wait for Deutsche Bahn, but can use alternatives. Here are some offers that will get travellers to their destination without Deutsche Bahn:

Private railways

Not all trains travelling by rail in Germany belong to Deutsche Bahn. There are around 300 other railway companies in Germany that transport passengers. These include many that operate trains for inner-city transport, but some also run between cities, connecting metropolises and entire regions. In northern Germany, for example, the Metronom runs between Hamburg, Hanover and Göttingen, while in northern Hesse the Cantus railway company connects the cities of Kassel, Göttingen and Fulda, among others. Nordwestbahn operates in North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bremen. However, most private railway companies only connect cities that can be reached within a few hours with their regional trains. Furthermore, there are not private providers on all routes. So if you need to travel from Hamburg to Cologne or from Frankfurt to Berlin, it will be difficult to cover the entire distance by train. The advantage, however, is that the Deutschlandticket is also valid on these trains.

Foreign railway companies

As already mentioned, there are hardly any private railway companies in long-distance transport. Deutsche Bahn is almost the monopolist here in Germany. However, if you are planning a long-distance journey by train in the next few days, you can make use of a few existing connections operated by railway companies in neighbouring German countries. The night trains of the Austrian Federal Railway run from Hamburg via Hanover and Nuremberg to Vienna and from Berlin via Leipzig and Frankfurt to Zurich. Similar offers are also available from Czech railway companies. However, it pays to be quick here, as these connections tend to be fully booked quickly and do not run daily.
The international railway company Thalys, on the other hand, runs daily services from Dortmund via Cologne and Aachen to Brussels and Paris. The French TGV connects Munich and Frankfurt with Paris with intermediate stops in Stuttgart and Karlsruhe or Mannheim. Here, too, Thalys and TGV require reservations and trains can be fully booked very quickly.

Flixbus and Flixtrain

Flixbus and Flixtrain in particular are benefiting from the Deutsche Bahn rail strike. According to Flixbus, demand for tickets for the company's long-distance buses and trains has already doubled. The private provider travels to most cities in Germany with its green buses, including smaller cities as well as the major metropolises. Flixtrain operates on the Stuttgart-Berlin, Basel-Berlin, Stuttgart-Hamburg, Hamburg-Cologne, Cologne-Berlin-Dresden and Hamburg-Leipzig routes.

Long-distance bus

When Deutsche Bahn goes on strike, Flixbus and other long-distance bus providers are also happy. As soon as rail travel is cancelled, the number of bookings for long-distance coach travel increases rapidly, which means that travellers have to be quick to book a seat. In contrast to travelling by train, however, you should allow a little more time when travelling by long-distance bus, as the bus takes significantly longer than the train on the same route.


If the train is cancelled and travellers have no other way of reaching their destination on the same day (e.g. by regional train or bus), they can also take a taxi and have the travel costs reimbursed by Deutsche Bahn afterwards. However, this depends on the distance travelled, as there is only a certain quota for taxi journeys, which is based on the length of the remaining journey. The maximum amount for a taxi journey is 120 euros. This is usually an emergency solution.

Car rental

If, on the other hand, you want to drive yourself and book a hire car, you have to be prepared for enormous price increases in addition to the limited availability of vehicles. In some cases, car hire companies such as Sixt or Europcar are charging twice as much during the strike, depending on the route. An insider tip: The provider Movacar specialises in vehicle transfers for fleet operators. The transfer journeys are offered as one-way rentals for as little as one euro. If you need to travel between Cologne and Düsseldorf, you can also take advantage of car sharing from SHARE NOW. The provider makes it possible to park the rented vehicle in the other city. Those who need to be mobile within a city can also make use of car sharing services from other providers such as Flinkster or Miles.


For people who prefer to travel by car, there is also the option of carpooling in addition to hiring a car. This is often the cheapest alternative to travelling by train. However, during a rail strike, offers on platforms such as BlaBlaCar are limited due to high demand. So it pays to be quick here too. Platforms such as GoFlux,, Twogo or are primarily aimed at commuters. Journeys are offered for as little as one euro, but the pick-up location and time must be suitable.

Your own car

A rail strike means empty rails and, above all, fuller motorways. Because if you have your own car, you will use it to get to work in the event of train cancellations. However, you will need to be a little more patient than usual and plan more time for your journey to work - because most commuters will opt for their own car during a rail strike, which will lead to a lot of traffic jams.


Last but not least, it is of course also possible to use the aeroplane instead of the train to get from Hamburg to Munich or from Cologne to Dresden, for example. However, in addition to the problematic carbon footprint of domestic flights, this rail alternative may not be entirely favourable due to the strike.

Stefan Wendering
Stefan is a freelance writer and editor at NAVIT. Previously, he worked for startups and in the mobility cosmos. He is an expert in urban and sustainable mobility, employee benefits and new work. Besides blog content, he also creates marketing materials, taglines and content for websites and case studies.