Train categories in Europe: Wikis


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Railway companies in Europe assign their trains to different categories or train types depending on their role. Passenger trains may be broadly split into long-distance and local trains; the latter having average journey times of under an hour and a range of less than 50 kilometres. Goods trains have their own train types. The names of these train types has changed continually in the course of time.

A train type is not essentially a trademark name. However there are trademark names that are also used as train types (e.g. CityNightLine, Cisalpino, VogtlandExpress).


European long-distance trains/high-speed trains

Name Abbreviation Region
Alaris ALS Spain
Alta Velocidad Española AVE Spain
Cisalpino Italy/Switzerland
EuroCity EC Various European countries
Euromed Spain
Eurostar United Kingdom/France, United Kingdom/Belgium
Eurostar Italia Italy
Fyra FYR Netherlands, Netherlands/Belgium
High Speed Train HST United Kingdom
Intercity-Express ICE Germany, Austria, Germany/Netherlands, Germany/Switzerland, Germany/Austria, Germany/France, Germany/Denmark, Germany/Belgium, Germany/Netherlands
Railjet Austria/Hungary, Austria/Germany
Train à Grande Vitesse TGV France, France/Switzerland, France/Germany, France/Italy, France/Luxembourg, France/Belgium, France/Spain
Trenhotel TH Spain, Spain/Portugal, Spain/France, Spain/Switzerland, Spain/Italy
Thalys THA France/Belgium/Netherlands, France/Belgium/Germany
X2000 Sweden

Austria, Germany and Switzerland

Long-distance (Fernverkehr) and local (Nahverkehr) train types within the Deutsche Bahn AG, Austrian Federal Railways (Österreichische Bundesbahnen or ÖBB), Swiss Federal Railways (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen or SBB) are divided into further sub-categories:


Long-distance passenger services (Personenfernverkehr)

Name Abbreviation Operator Role
Intercity-Express ICE DB AG, NS, SNCF, ÖBB high-speed train (with multiple units)
train à grande vitesse TGV SNCF, DB AG
railjet RJ ÖBB, DB AG (inter-) national high-speed train
EuroCity EC various international long-distance train
Intercity / InterCity IC various national long-distance train
InterCity-Neigezug ICN SBB national long-distance train with tilting technology
Interregio IR (obsolete) national long-distance train with frequent stops
InterRegio IR SBB
InterConnex X Veolia Verkehr private long-distance train
Schnellzug D various (inter-)national long-distance train
für besondere Zwecke

Local passenger services (Personennahverkehr)

Name Abbreviation Operator Role
Interregio-Express IRE DBAG almost a local train (Nahverkehrszug) stopping at few stations; semi-fast[1]
EURegio ER ÖBB border-crossing local train stopping at few stations; semi-fast
Regional-Express RE DBAG local train stopping at few stations; semi fast
RegionalExpress REX ÖBB
RegioExpress RE SBB
ErlebnisZug EZ ÖBB
Eilzug E (obsolete)
Regionalbahn RB DBAG local train stopping at (almost) all stations; stopping train
Regionalzug R ÖBB
Regio R SBB
metronom regional MEr metronom
Stadt-Express SE (obsolete) local train not stopping on certain sections of line
RegionalSchnellBahn RSB (obsolete)
Regio-S-Bahn RSB ÖBB
S-Bahn S various not to be confused with DBAG product classes, the same train types grouped by price
Stadtbahn STB various
RegioTram RT RBK & DB Regio

See also: Deutsche Bahn AG price system.

Goods trains

There are a large number of goods train types, some of which are only used for a few trains. Very broadly they can be divided into:

Name Abbreviation Role
Ganzzug IK, CS, CT inter alia Complete train-loads; trains that are used to transport a single type of freight from the loading point all the way to their destination station
Einzelwagenverkehr FR, FS, FZ inter alia Trains that haul individual wagons or groups of wagons usually to or from the nearest railway hub

Night trains

Name Abbreviation Role
EuroNight EN International sleeper train
CityNightLine CNL International night train with luxury sleeping compartments, normal sleepers and couchettes
DB NachtZug NZ The main national night train in Germany with sleepers and normal coaches
Night through-coach train (DB) and the night trains of eastern European railway companies

Other types of train

Name Country Role
Extrazug CH "Extra train" to supplement scheduled services
Entlastungszug D "Relief train" added when there is a lot of traffic
Sonderzug D "Special train"

Former passenger train types

Name Abbreviation Role
Autoreisezug ARZ Car sleeper-train or motorail
Beschleunigter Personenzug BP "Fast passenger train", an Eilzug (semi-fast train) with compartment coaches and no supplementary fare
Citybahn CB Category in between an S-Bahn train and a local train, only used on a few routes (Köln – Gummersbach, Bremen – Bremen-Vegesack, Hamburg – Stade and in the Saarland, precursor of the RegionalBahn and RegionalExpress trains (only in the Saar-Westpfalz area)
Dienstbesatzerzug for the Westalliierten in Berlin Db + Dbg "Service train for the western allies in Berlin", military train for western forces in West Berlin which transited through the GDR
D-Zug for the US-Army DUS Express train for the US Forces in Germany
D-Zug with Wehrmachtsabteil DmW Express train for German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht)
City-D-Zug DC National long-distance train, preferred for InterCity feeder services
Express-Zug Ex National and international long-distance train with few stops en route, GDR and Austria
FernExpress FD National and international long-distance train, mainly for holiday traffic
Interexpress IEx International long-distance train with few stops en route, only GDR, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia
Eilzug E Semi-fast or fast stopping train, precursor of the RegionalExpress
EuroCityExpress ECE
ExpoExpress EXE DB specials used for Expo 2000 in Hanover, mainly ICE rakes
F-Zug F National long-distance train with enhanced comfort, precursor of the InterCity trains
Luxuszug L CIWL trains with the highest levels of comfort
Metropolitan Express Train MET
Nahverkehrszug or
N Local or stopping train, precursor of the Regionalbahn trains
Personenzug with Güterbeförderung PmG Passenger train with goods wagons attached
Personenzug P Passenger train; the most basic service
Schnellzug for Fronturlauber SFR
Städteschnellverkehrszug S Semi-fast train (Eilzug) with no supplement
Städteschnellzug National long-distance train, only CH
Städteexpress Ex (GDR + D) from 1976 to 1991, linked the GDR's outlying cities with Berlin. Travelled out in the morning and back in the evening. Supplementary express fare charged
SwissExpress National long-distance train, only CH
Trans-Europ-Express TEE international long-distance train with enhanced comfort
In 1953 the Deutsche Bundesbahn had the following categories
Fernschnellzug (F) / Fernschnelltriebwagen (Ft)
Schnellzug (D) / Schnelltriebwagen (Dt)
Eilzug (E) / Eiltriebwagen (Et)
Städteschnellverkehrszug (S) / Städteschnellverkehrs-Triebwagen (St) / Städteschnellverkehrs-Schienenomnibus (Sto)
Nahschnellverkehrszug (N) / Nahschnellverkehrs-Triebwagen (Nt) / Nahschnellverkehrs-Schienenomnibus (Nto)
Personenzug (ohne Zusatz) / Triebwagen (T) / Schienenomnibus (Pto)

Former goods train categories

Name Abbreviation Role
Durchgangsgüterzug Dg "Through goods train", largely corresponds to today's InterCargo train
e. g. Erzzug
Gdg, Gag Complete train-load trains, e.g. mineral trains
Güterzug with Personenbeförderung GmP Goods train with passenger coach(es) attached
(Rollende Landstraße)
"Piggy back train" or "rolling country road", train with flats for carrying road vehicles
Nahgüterzug Ng Local goods train
Postzug Postz Mail train
Übergabegüterzug Üg Goods exchange train

Train types - private operators

Name Abbreviation Role
Arriva-Länderbahn-Express alex alex Interregio replacement IR 25 MunichOberstdorf/Lindau and Munich - Regensburg - Schwandorf - Hof (Saale) / Prague der Länderbahn, equates to the InterRegio service, but may be used with local fares or Bayern and Schönes-Wochenende tickets
CityNightLine CNL Night train in D, A, CH, DK, NL
Cisalpino CIS SBB and Trenitalia long-distance tilting or. standard trains
Harz-Berlin-Express HBX Veolia long-distance trains
InterConnex X Veolia Verkehr long-distance services, equating to the Interregio trains
Lausitz-Express LX Connex Sachsen long-distance services
metronom regional MEr Metronom Eisenbahngesellschaft local passenger trains stopping at all stations
Mitfahrzug IGE long-distance services
Vogtland-Express VX Vogtlandbahn long-distance trains

Belgium (NMBS/SNCB)

InterCity (IC)
A train connecting Belgium's major cities. These trains stop at the most important stations only, sometimes crossing national borders as well.
InterRegio (IR)
A train connecting Belgium's major cities with smaller cities. These trains generally skip smaller stations. Comparable to German Regional-Express
Piekuurtrein/rush-hour train (P)
Additional scheduled train service that is limited to times at which the demand for a certain route is at its highest. The number of stops varies between trains.
Lokale trein/local train (L)
Local trains usually connect larger cities, but will stop at (nearly) every station along the way. Similar to German Regionalbahn
CityRail (CR)
Suburban train connecting towns and cities around Brussels. Stops at (nearly) every station.
Note: this is an incomplete list. Other train types are also present, but less common.

Croatia (Hrvatske Zeljeznice)

Intercity Express (ICN)
fast trains using DMUs, run across the whole country
slower trains using push-pull trains, run across the whole country and some places in otehr countries as well
Regional Train
serve the suburb of Zagreb only, using EMUs

Czech Republic (České dráhy)

SuperCity (SC)
highest-standard trains requiring reservation, made of modern tilting-train units operating on both national and international routes
Eurocity (EC)
higher-standard international trains, consisting of new or modernised cars of several rail companies and stopping at selected stations only
Euronight (EN)
international sleeper trains
Intercity (IC)
the highest category of national trains, with carriages and stopping frequencies comparable to the EC trains
Expres (Ex)
faster trains linking regions, mostly faster and more comfortable than the R trains
Rychlík (R)
the lowest category of longer-distance train, usually quite slow and with old carriages
Spěšný vlak (Sp)
local trains stopping on selected stations only
Osobní vlak (Os)
local trains stopping at every station

France (SNCF)

The SNCF use a different system of trains categories, based on politics wishes and commercial trademarks. Categories can not match with distance.

National or international services by high speed trains with supplementary fare, totally or partially on high speed lines. Similar to the ICE.
National services on main lines with supplementary fare, never on high speed lines. Similar to the Intercity. There are no CORAIL TEOZ trains between two cities already linked by TGV on a similar itinerary.
National services, ever on main lines and/or secondary lines without supplementary fare. Similar to the InterRegio or the Intercity (Paris - Caen - Cherbourg and Paris - Rouen - Le Havre). Have been used to be called Train Inter Regional, but is obsolete.
These trains are financed by administratives regions and don't reflete precisely a category, a TER route can be anything from 10 miles to more than 250 miles long. Some TER routes are longer than TGV ones.
Regional or national services, on main lines or secondary lines without supplementary fare. Used to be similar to the S-Bahn (many stops from a big city on a short distance, neighbourhood service), the Regional or RegioExpress, but can be also similar to the InterRegio-Express or Intercity (Interloire Nantes - Orléans) and the InterRegio (Orléans - Lyon, Toulouse - Clermont-Ferrand).
There are also some special regional trains called TERGV (merged TER and TGV). In the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, important cities have to be linked to the main city Lille in less than one hour. The TERGV consists in TGV trains for regional service, the only one with a supplementary fare. These trains use the high speed lines (LGV) to link quickly Dunkerque, Calais, Boulogne-sur-Mer (non-exhaustive list), essentially for business workers. The TERGV is similar to a kind of regional ICE.

Hungary (MÁV)

international luxury trains
trains mainly in national services on important long-distance routes with air conditioning, restaurant car and seat reservation
fast train with compulsory seat reservation (only summertime)
express trains on long-distance routes with standard rolling stock
Eilzug equivalent
RegionalBahn equivalent
Regionalzug equivalent
state-subsidiarised international stopping trains near the Austrian border, connects Győr to Vienna and Wiener Neustadt to Graz via Sopron, Szombathely and Jennersdorf

This trains make connections with Intercity trains from smaller towns. Air conditioned, allowed to travel with bike or wheelchair.

ÖBB REX trains serve the Vienna-Ebenfurth-Sopron-Deutschkreutz line

Italy (FS)

High-speed trains

Eurostar Alta Velocità
high-speed train on the new Turin-Milan-Rome-Naples line
Eurostar Italia (ES)
High-speed, tilting trains for long-distance services

Long-distance services

Eurostar City
trains running once every hour or two hours on the most important long-distance routes (replaced most intercity on main lines as of 12/13/2008)
trains running once every hour or two hours on the most important long-distance routes
Intercity Plus
Intercity trains with refurbished rolling stock
express trains for long-distance services (night, holiday or relief trains)

Regional and local trains

Basic local train, equates to German Regionalbahn. Former "interregionale" trains were renamed "regionale" as of 13/06/2008.
Stadtschnellbahn, fast commuter services, the S-Bahn in Milan

Netherlands (Nederlandse Spoorwegen)

High-Speed train currently running between Amsterdam and Rotterdam
International Trein
train class in cross-border traffic between the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany (Intercity to Berlin) and other European countries
national train, links the cities with fixed-interval services
Express train, similar to the German Regionalexpress or Eilzug, the train class is gradually being replaced by "downgraded" IC trains
stops at all stations, the basic local train service, similar to the German Regionalbahn
stops at all stations and runs mainly in conurbations, similar to the German S-Bahn. The Sprinter is gradually replacing the stoptrein.

In 2010 only three levels will exist: Internationale Trein - Intercity - Sprinter.

Poland (PKP and others)

EuroNight (EN)
high quality night train; operated by PKP Intercity
EuroCity (EC)
international luxury trains on the most important long-distance routes, must be reserved on domestic routes, up to 160 km/h; operated by PKP Intercity
Ekspres InterCity (EIC)
luxury trains in national services on the most important long-distance routes, must be reserved, up to 160 km/h; operated by PKP Intercity;
Ekspres (Ex)
express trains in national services on the most important long-distance routes, higher standard than TLK, lower than Ekspres InterCity; must be reserved (category to be phased out, trains will be upgraded to Ekspres InterCity or downgraded to TLK); operated by PKP Intercity
Tanie Linie Kolejowe (TLK)
fast trains on inter-regional routes; optional reservation in 1st class; operated by PKP Intercity
RegioEkspres (RE)
fast trains on inter-regional routes; no reservation; currently only on the route Dresden Hbf - Wrocław Główny, 1st and 2nd class; operated by Przewozy Regionalne
InterRegio (IR)
fast trains on inter-regional routes; no reservation; cheaper than "TLK", but with lower standard, 2nd class only; operated by Przewozy Regionalne
semi-fast local passenger train missing out several stops, mainly used for commuter services, 2nd class only; operated by Przewozy Regionalne
Regio (R)
local passenger train, 2nd class only; operated by Przewozy Regionalne
Osobowy (os.)
local passenger train, 2nd class only; operated by Arriva PCC (consortium of Arriva and DB Schenker Rail Polska), Koleje Dolnośląskie and Koleje Mazowieckie
Szybka Kolej Miejska
S-Bahn in Tricity (operated by PKP SKM) and Warsaw (operated by SKM Warszawa)

Portugal (Comboios de Portugal - CP)

Alfa Pendular (AF)
tilting trains, speeds up to 220 km/h
Intercidades (IC)
Interregional (IR)
Regional (R)
Urbano / Suburbano
Comboios Internacionais (Internacional, IN)
international trains to Madrid, Vigo and Hendaye / Irun

Slovakia (ZSSK)

Eurocity (EC)
high quality, usually long-haul international services between Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany. Surcharge payable when travelling with domestic ticket
InterCity (IC)
high quality trains providing only air-conditioned carriages, mostly domestic services (several trains are available to Vienna - closing since 2010 timetable - and Hungary). Reservation always necessary when travelling between Bratislava hlavná stanica and Košice, surcharge payable when travelling with domestic ticket
EuroNight (EN)
high quality night train
Expres (Ex)
this category is used for trains which operate as EuroCity in other countires, but failed to qualify for EuroCity in Slovakia due to high quality standards given by ZSSK. However, there is also high quality domestic express service from Banská Bystrica to Bratislava (Ex 530/531)
Rýchlik (R)
"fast train" - trains for longer routes, usually stops at all towns en route, but not at villages
Regional Express (REX)
international local train stopping at few stations; semi fast, Slovakia/Austria
border-crossing local train stopping at few stations (but more than Regional Express); semi-fast, Slovakia/Austria
Zrýchlený vlak (Zr)
semi fast train
Osobný vlak (Os)
stopping train, serving all stations

Slovenia (Slovenske Zeleznice - SZ)

Intercity Express (ICS)
observe large stations only, equilavent to ICE in Germany and Austria, using tilting trains
Intercity (IC)
slower and older train which observe large stations with some large towns using push-pull trains
International Train (MV)
similar to Intercity, but serves other countries, especially croatia, using DMUs
Local Train (LP)
observe all stations, slow train

Spain (RENFE)

High speed trains, speeds up to 300 km/h
Trains capable of operating in both high-speed and conventional lines, speeds up to 250 km/h
Trains which use different locomotives in high-speed and conventional lines, speeds up to 250 km/h
Operates in the Mediterranean coast, speeds up to 220 km/h
  • Barcelona-Valencia-Alicante
Tilting trains operating in conventional lines, speeds up to 200 km/h
Tilting trains in high-speed and conventional lines, link Madrid with other capital cities
Conventional trains, link Barcelona with other capital cities
  • Barcelona-Mérida-Badajoz
  • Barcelona-Sevilla
  • Barcelona-Málaga
  • Barcelona-Granada
  • Barcelona-Almería
  • Barcelona-Murcia, nowadays it's clasificated as a Talgo
Night services
  • Madrid-Lisbon
  • Madrid-Paris
  • Barcelona-Paris
  • Barcelona-Zürich
  • Barcelona-Milan C.le
  • Lisbon-Irún
  • Barcelona-Cádiz
  • Barcelona-Málaga.
  • Barcelona-Granada
  • Barcelona-Vigo
  • Barcelona-Gijón
Media Distancia

AVANT, also called lanzaderas. Land trains that use the high speed. Madrid-Toledo Madrid Pta. Atocha-Ciudad Real-Puertollano Madrid Chamartín-Segovia-Valladolid Sevilla-Málaga Cádiz-Sevilla-Córdoba-Jaén Barcelona-Lleida Catalayud-Zaragoza

Middle distance services, speeds up to 160 km/h
Routes: all over continental Spain
Short distance services in metropolitan areas, speeds up to 120 km/h
Areas (clockwise): Madrid, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Valencia, Murcia/Alicante, Málaga, Cádiz, Sevilla, Oviedo/Gijón, Santander, Bilbao, San Sebastián Cercanías de Zaragoza

Former Soviet Union

Passaschirski (пассажирский)
express train, very largely sleepers only, must be reserved
Elektro-/Diesel-Pojesd powyschennoj komfortnosti (электро-/дизель-поезд повышенной комфортности)
fast passenger train, sometimes also with 1st and 2nd class, sometimes must be reserved
Elektro-/Diesel-Pojesd (электро-/дизель-поезд)
Local train, 3rd class only

United Kingdom

See List of companies operating trains in the United Kingdom.

Former Yugoslavia (Successor companies of the )

international high-class trains
trains used on national and international services on important long-distance routes
Intercity nagibni
Croatian Railways tilting train
Poslovni voz
Intercity - similar to express trains, usually 1st class only
Brzi voz/vlak
Express trains on long-distance routes, national and international
Zeleni vlak
Former Slovenian express multiple-unit connexions, also cross-border
Ubrzi vlak
semi-fast (like German Eilzug)
Putnički voz/vlak, Lokalni voz
Regional train stopping at all station, usually multiple unit trains

See also

Sleeper trains in Europe

Footnotes and References

  1. ^ Semi-fast train, also known as a fast stopping train


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