On this trip to Germany, like the last trip, we spent a lot of time on trains. This time, I took pictures since we have nothing like this in the States, where train service is looked on as either a dinosaur or as some fiendish socialist conspiracy to take away our cars. The results of such an attitude are there for all to see, especially for anyone who has experienced a dirty and damaged Amtrak train arriving 12 hours late. And Acela! Hold on to your hats while this train goes maybe 10 mph faster than ordinary train service, and you pay another hundred bucks for those 10 extra mph's.
I love Amtrak, but folks, it just doesn't hold a candle to train service in that other part of the First World in Europe, and especially in Germany.
Deutsche Bahn is Germany's Amtrak. It is an independent corporation that gets public funding. Unlike Amtrak, that funding is very generous since millions of people depend on rail service all over the country from great cities like Berlin to rural villages like Westbevern (we visited both, and both had rail service). Also, rail service -- especially high speed rail service -- is a source of national pride.
There was a time when the USA was proud of its transportation infrastructure that included probably the best and most extensive passenger rail service in the world. Maybe we will return to that status some day, but I don't expect to live to see it if it ever happens.
Waiting for a train in Osnabrück
I noticed that there are completely separate rail networks for passenger and freight trains. Deutsche Bahn is not saddled with Amtrak's dependence on the generosity of commercial freight lines for track access. It is this arrangement that is the cause of so much delay and dysfunction on Amtrak. For that, we can thank Congress.
The S Bahn is a city railroad that serves cities and their surrounding suburbs, and sometimes intercity rail service when cities are close to each other. There is the alternative U Bahn (Unter Bahn) that usually serves as a subway in most cities, but also sometimes serves suburban cities.
The Deutsche Bahn Museum near the Nuremberg Hbf. Germany's first railroad was built in Nuremberg. This museum is about rail service in Germany from the early 19th century to now.
The very busy midlevel.
Engineers designed the Berlin station to let sunlight penetrate all three levels of the station. High speed trains usually arrive on the bottom level. The local S Bahn trains arrive on the top level.
Deutsche Bahn headquarters (right) on the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin
You can travel by car in Germany on excellent and well maintained highways.