Coronavirus Train Disruptions – Central Europe

By Edward | Coronavirus

May 21
Empty DB train
This picture shows an empty DB Intercity. Courtesy of my friend and colleague Zugführer Martin Pavlík. Thank you!

Europe's trains during Coronavirus - Central Europe

Central Europe has fared better in the coronavirus pandemic than Western Europe, mainly due to swift, draconian measures in the Visegrád states and Germany's calm discipline. Czechia was in lockdown before coronavirus was really a thing in England.

This hit the railways hard. Slovakia introduced an emergency timetable (you can download it), and across Central Europe services were wound down to a bare-bones minimum. Only Germany kept most of its long-distance trains running, though local services plummeted.

Germany - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇩🇪

On local and regional services, face-masks are now mandatory. On long distance trains, not. Social distancing distance is 1.5 m.

Germany border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open

  • Czechia
  • The Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Luxembourg
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Switzerland

Closed

  • Poland

International Services

May international services have resumed. There are still NO TRAINS to Italy or Poland.

  • Railjets from Munich to Vienna are still running. Expect long and difficult customs stop at Salzburg.
  • TGV and ICE services to Paris are resuming. All begin and terminate at Karlsruhe.
  • There are now three daily services from Prague via Dresden to Berlin and back: EC 170/171, EC 174/175 and EC 178/179
  • Trains to the Netherlands and Belgium are running, but at a reduced rate.
  • Since 18th May, select services to Denmark have been reintroduced
  • While the Swiss border remains closed, some ICEs now reach Basel SBB. Others terminate at Basel Bad.
  • EN 462/463 Kálman Imre from Munich to Budapest is still hanging in there.

The ÖBB Nightjets are all cancelled.

Corona trains

EN 463 from Munich to Budapest, 23rd April. Courtesy of my friend Martin Pavlík.

Local cross border services

Local trains continue to reach:

  • Kufstein and Salzburg in Austria. Austrian trains continue to reach Freilassing, Simbach, Passau and Lindau.
  • Strasbourg in France
  • Basel Bad and Schaffhausen in Switzerland

National Services

Deutsche Bahn are running almost all mainline trains. Only a few ICEs and ICs are cancelled. There is an hourly service between most major cities.

Local services are crawling back to higher frequencies.

The DB lounges are closed, while the restaurant cars are selling only prepackaged food and drink.

All Flixtrain services are suspended indefinitely. I struggle to see Flixtrain re-emerging from this.

Click here for DB's daily updates. (German only)

Refund policies

If you postpone your journey: DB tickets purchased up to the 13th March for travel between 13th March and 30th April are automatically commuted to fully flexible tickets and will be accepted until 31st October.

Fully flexible tickets can be exchanged or reimbursed free of charge.

Flixtrain exchanges your ticket for a Flixbus voucher.

Updated: 27th May. Outlook: improving

Switzerland - coronavirus rail disruptions

🇨🇭

Face-masks are urged if social distancing is difficult. They are not mandatory. Social distancing distance is 2 m.

Switzerland border status

Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

Open

  • Germany
  • France

Closed

  • Italy (except Domodossola)
  • Austria

International services

Some international trains are resuming service.

  • There is now a daily train from Basel to Paris and from Geneva to Paris
  • All Railjets to Austria remain cancelled
  • All Nightjet services remain cancelled.
Basel Bad

Blocked exit at Basel Bad. You are not allowed into Switzerland. Courtesy of my boots on the ground


Local cross border services

France: The Léman express is gathering speed. Trains have started to cross the border in the direction of Annemasse again. Presumably commuters are allowed to stay on the trains. Here is the link to the Léman Express corona page as of 25th May.

Italy: Local services reach Domodossola

Germany: My boots on the ground in Basel tell me that trains from Germany terminate at Basel Badischer Bahnhof. The Basel S-Bahn is fleeced by the Swiss border guards in both directions before it continues on its journey. While the Basel S-Bahn runs across the border, passengers must stay behind. 


Austria: Services from St. Margrethen to Bregenz have resumed. Also resumed are the trains from Buchs to Feldkirch. Many thanks to Lorenzo and Wrzlbrnft for writing in with these details!

National services

Most national domestic services are running to the original schedule again, though some trains are still cancelled. Until the trains are completely back to normal, no Sparbillett promo tickets are being sold.

Click here for SBB's updates

Refund policies

SBB are secretive about their refund terms. They say they are being "lenient". 

Get ready for some serious filling in of forms and click here.

Updated: 27th May. Outlook: improving

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    Austria - coronavirus rail disruptions

    🇦🇹

    In Austria, face-masks are mandatory on ALL public transport. Social distancing distance is 1 m.

    Austria border status

    Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

    Open

    • Germany
    • Hungary

    Closed

    • Slovakia
    • Czechia
    • Italy
    • Slovenia
    • Switzerland

    International Services

    There are NO TRAINS to:

    • Czechia
    • Slovakia
    • Slovenia
    • Switzerland
    • Italy

    Some trains to Hungary are still running, but expect border controls at Hegyeshalom. Only Hungarian residents are let into Hungary.

    The Railjets to Munich are also running, but expect a long and difficult customs stop at Salzburg. Same goes for the ICEs to Frankfurt via Passau. Only German residents are let into Germany.

    EuroNight 462

    One of the very few international trains still running: EuroNight 463/462 "Kálmán Imre"


    The only international night trains still running are the EN 462/463 between Budapest and Munich and the EN 498/499 between Villach and Munich.

    Local cross border services

    Local services continue to reach Simbach, Passau, Lindau and Freilassing. Kufstein and Salzburg are served by German local trains.

    National services

    Mainline and local services are back to normal.

    Click here for more details.

    WESTbahn are running every two hours between Vienna and Salzburg.

    WESTbahn and ÖBB now recognise eachother's standard tickets

    Domestic Nightjet services continue to run.

    Refund policies

    ÖBB-Tickets up until 13th April to Italy, Slovakia, Czechia, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, Germany and Switzerland can be cancelled free of charge via customer service.

    This goes for all Nightjets, too.

    Updated: 27th May. Outlook: Improving

    Poland - coronavirus rail disruptions

    🇵🇱

    Face-masks are mandatory on all Polish public transport. Social distancing distance is 1 m.

    Poland border status

    Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

    Open

    Closed

    • Slovakia
    • Czechia
    • Germany
    • Ukraine
    • Belarus
    • Russia

    International Services

    All international services remain suspended.

    National Services

    National services are getting back to normal. More and more lines are being restarted or extended to their full length. EIP services are restarting from 22nd May.

    On PKP Intercity, only 50% of seats are sold to aid social distancing.

    Restaurant cars remain closed.

    Here is PKP's extensive corona page.

    And here is Polregio's extensive corona page.

    Refund policies

    Tickets bought before the 4th of March whose date of validity has not yet arrived can be returned for a full reimbursement.

    Updated: 27th May. Outlook: improving

    Join the Rail Guide Europe Club free

    Subscribe so I can send you the password to my free Insider Guides library. You also get access to my Rail Help Europe Telegram channel and can ask me anything by email.

      I won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Czechia - coronavirus rail disruptions

       🇨🇿

      Face-masks are mandatory on Czech public transport. Social distancing distance is 1.5 m.

      Czechia border status

      Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

      Open

      • Germany

      Closed

      • Slovakia
      • Austria
      • Poland

      Czechia is easing its lockdown. Shopping centres, theatres and restaurants are reopening. The borders are expected to open by June.

      Here is a map of the services that are running, as of 25th May.

      International Services

      International services are restarting! YAY!

      • First trains from Prague to Berlin are running from 25th May.

      National Services

      SuperCity Pendolinos between Prague to Ostrava/Český Těšín cancelled.

      National services are improving.

      RegioJet have adjusted their reservation system to ensure that there is enough space between travellers. Disinfectant soap is guaranteed in all loos. Free water now only in 1st class.

      Leo Express is running one train a day between Prague and Bohumín in both directions. They provide every passenger with a face mask.

      Refund policies

      Tickets can be returned for a full reimbursement, even First Minute Europe promo tickets.

      Updated: 25th May. Outlook: improving

      Slovakia - coronavirus rail disruptions

      🇸🇰

      Slovakia border status

      Here you can see which borders you can cross by train. Restrictions may apply. Be sure to check these.

      Open

      Closed

      • Hungary
      • Czechia
      • Austria
      • Ukraine

      Face-masks are mandatory on Slovak public transport. Social distancing distance is 1.5 m.

      International Services

      All international services remain suspended. 

      National Services

      ZSSK, Slovakia's national operator is starting to return to the normal timetable. Not everything is running yet, but since 10th May things have been improving.

      Here is that timetable in full.

      Since 1st April, free travel for students has been suspended. Everyone is urged to pay for tickets contactless.

      Time for a video:

      Refund policies

      If you bought your ticket before 13th March, 06:00 AM, you have until 30th June to exchange it free of charge or get your money back.

      If you have bought your ticket after 13th March, 06:00 AM, administrative fees apply, but I can't find where they say how much. It won't be much.

      Updated: 27th May. Outlook: Improving

      Now what?

      Well, I'm going to update this page every week. Truth be told, I'm up for some distraction now.

      1. Why not have a look at my other posts and plan for better times
      2. Or look at my coronavirus page, where I have all my coronavirus-writing in one place
      3. Or join my free Rail Guide Europe club and get the password to my insider guides

      Join the Rail Guide Europe Club free

      Subscribe so I can send you the password to my free Insider Guides library. You also get access to my Rail Help Europe Telegram channel and can ask me anything by email.

        I won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

        About the Author

        After crisscrossing Europe for 6 years as a train conductor, I guide intrepid travellers roaming Europe by rail.

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