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If I understand correctly, at a railway station Gleis designates the (rail)track while Bahnsteig is the platform.

When giving information about where to go to catch a train, do we usually refer to the Gleis (which is actually where the train is) or to the Bahnsteig (like it is done in English)?

Are there regional differences? (I mean between Hochdeutsch, Austrian German, Swiss German...)

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In Swiss-German you use "Perron" oder "Kante" but Bahnsteig. –  alk Oct 2 '13 at 16:01
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3 Answers

I would say both are fine colloquially.

But if you want to give travel information to someone, I would prefer using:


You can see this on every travel information page from the Deutsche Bahn or similar services. They always refer to a "Gleis" instead of a "Bahnsteig".

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It has a unique usage, there is not regional difference.

Actually, it's just a logical problem. Gleis (rail track) is where the train approaches, Bahnsteig (platform) is where the people are waiting.

A train can approach am Bahnsteig 3 or auf Gleis 3, pay attention to am and auf; am means alongside the platform, auf means it goes on the rail track. The station announcement can use both versions, it doesn't matter, both ones are correct. They just should use the proper preposition to hold back people from entering the rail track or prevent the train to jump on the platform, respectively. ;)

Examples to check:

  • "Der Zug hat Einfahrt auf Gleis 3!" vs. "Der Zug hat Einfahrt am Bahnsteig 3!"
  • Note "Bitte begeben Sie sich zum Bahnsteig 3, der Zug hat Einfahrt auf Gleis 2!" could be used, if platform 2 is closed because of a a building lot and platform 3 is alongside rail track 2 also.
  • zu is possible with "Bahnsteig" and "Gleis"; the announcement "Bitte begeben Sie sich zu Gleis 3" expects you know what to do in that case, and you can choose the platform by yourself
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„Der Zug hat Einfahrt“? Do they really say that? –  Carsten Schultz Oct 2 '13 at 14:55
@Carsten Schultz: na klar, ist doch offizielle Ansagensprache der Bahn, zumindest als ich noch damit gefahren bin. Findet man auch tausendfach im Internet. –  falkb Oct 2 '13 at 15:13
@CarstenSchultz: Sie sagen es tatsächlich. An der Richtigkeit zweifle ich. –  rimrul Oct 2 '13 at 19:37
@Stan: Ursprünglich ist Zug nicht das Transportmittel, sondern die Bewegung. Der Zug dieser Vögel endet in Afrika. –  chirlu Oct 2 '13 at 22:35
@CarstenSchultz I also heard Am Gleis 1 erhält Einfahrt.. –  embert Feb 26 at 15:39
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When giving information about where to go to catch a train, do we usually refer to the Gleis (which is actually where the train is) or to the Bahnsteig (like it is done in English)?

We we can refer to Gleis or Bahnsteig. In the station both is used with the number of the actual Gleis.

If there is a Bahnsteig with a Gleis on each side (e. g. 1 and 2), it has no distinct number but is referred to as Bahnsteig 1 and Bahnsteig 2. Still physically it is the same platform.

If you are travelling and there is a connection to another train, it might say

[...] am selben Bahnsteig gegenüber.

Regional Differences


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