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I am living in Germany and recently had to buy a one-way ticket to get to Frankfurt. After acquiring the ticket, I was wondering how long the ticket is valid after the purchase. The ticket was for a regional railway. Departure was from Glauburg-Stockheim.

It is not mentioned on the ticket itself and I couldn't find anything on the web as well. The only thing that you can see on the ticket, is the time (and date) when it was bought.

My questions are:

  1. How long is a one-way ticket valid after purchase?

  2. How does an inspector know if it has been used?

  3. A bit off-topic: Can I ride the tram with the one-way ticket? (I know its possible with day-tickets) This question does not need to be answered for the checkmark

  • 2
    Currently this question is hard to answer, because there are a lot of different tickets. Can you edit the question and tell us, if it was a ticket for an urban, regional or long-distance connection? Maybe just give us the name of the specific ticket you bought and/or the city of departure. – tallistroan Apr 17 '18 at 11:10
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    @tallistroan I edited the question. Hope it is clearer now. The ticket name translates to "one way", I doubt that helps much and is already mentioned in the question – XtremeBaumer Apr 17 '18 at 11:16
  • Welcome to Germany. You're unlikely to get a definitive answer even from a ticket controller. They also get lost by more complicated cases. There are often some nicely hidden validity times, for example 60 minutes for 2 zones, 90 minutes for 4 zones etc, but as hidden as they are, they can change any moment without anyone noticing... – Danubian Sailor Apr 20 '18 at 19:23
  • I think it would help to edit the question and add a photo of the actual ticket. If it has your name, obscure that. Also tell us how and where you bought the ticket. What machine? Online? On what website or app? – simbabque Apr 23 '18 at 13:25
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For German regional/local tickets, there are two cases:

  • Valid after stamped. You have to start the journey immediately after stamping.

    They don’t always show lines/sections/arrows to indicate this, so you have to read it. The ticket should also say something like "Nur gültig ab Entwertung". An indicator can be that the date and time (when the ticket was bought/printed) is not clearly visible.

  • Valid after printed. You have to start the journey immediately.

    They typically show the date and time of the print in a clearly visible way. They typically say something like "Ticket bereits entwertet".

(For longer train journeys, there are tickets that can only be stamped by the train staff. These tickets should show the date range in which they can be used once, and the planned train connection you’re supposed to use.)

How long the tickets are valid before stamping (i.e., when buying them far in advance) might depend on the terms of service of the responsible Verkehrsverbund. The terms I know allow you to use the ticket as long as the price is still the same, and if the price changes (only at the beginning of a year), you can use tickets with the old price until the end of March of that year. After that, you can return them and use their value as credit for buying a ticket with the new price.

How long the tickets are valid after stamping/printing depends on the ticket category. They are either valid for a certain low number of stops (Kurzstrecke) or inside a certain region (Preisstufe, Zone), and there is generally also a time limit, typically depending on the category (I’m not sure if this time limit is always printed on the ticket, but it should at least be stated on the website or in their terms of service). You should have no problem reaching your destination in this time limit as long as you don’t interrupt the journey.

The one-way tickets are only valid for one direction (no round trip), of course, and detours are typically not allowed. In this direction, you can use any kind of public transport which is organized in a Verkehrsverbund (train, bus, tram) and which has local stops, i.e., everything that’s not a long distance train (IC, ICE) and not an intercity bus. If you stay in the time limit, you may interrupt the journey.

  • But how long can you keep the ticket before stamping it? One month? One year? That's how I read the question. – Relaxed Apr 18 '18 at 23:40
  • @Relaxed: Thanks, that interpretation is possible, too. I added a paragraph. – unor Apr 19 '18 at 6:13
  • This answer lists various things, but does not seem to mention DB tickets for regional trains (crossing boundaries of Verkehrsverbünde). – O. R. Mapper Apr 19 '18 at 7:15
  • @O.R.Mapper: I don’t think there is something special to say about this case, or is there? The Preisstufe (or Zone or however it’s called) of the ticket decides for which destinations it’s valid -- this destination may or may not be in the same Verkehrsverbund, and you may or may not reach it also with a bus or a tram. – unor Apr 19 '18 at 8:37
  • @unor: Well, for one, it does not fit in the "valid after stamped"/"valid after printed" pattern; it rather works like a regular (i.e. non-discount) IC/ICE ticket in that you buy it for a given origin and destination, and can freely choose which day and which train(s) you use it on. Furthermore, you cannot stamp it yourself, so only the on-board staff might stamp it - which indeed invokes the question what prevents a second use if you are not checked, which is quite common on RB/RE type trains. Lastly, maybe DB uses Preisstufen/Zonen internally, but they are by far not as prominently ... – O. R. Mapper Apr 19 '18 at 8:55
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The specific one-way ticket from the RMV your question is about, has to be purchased directly before the start of the journey and is only valid until you reach your destination without any breaks. This means you are not allowed to purchase them in advance and use them later.

There are no stamps or marks on the ticket to prove that it was already used. However the validity of the ticket is determined by the date and time printed on the ticket. Even though I can't give you an exact number of hours, this ticket counts "automatically" as invalid if the time of travel and time of purchase differs too much from the time it would have taken you to reach your destination if you started your journey right after the purchase.

According to the transport regulations it is also not allowed to hand the ticket to another person after you reached your destination. If you travel with such a one-way ticket from another person you do it at your own risk of having to pay an increased transport charge of currently 60 EUR.

On the ticket the destination tariff area is printed, probably in your case for Frankfurt (Main) it is 5000. This area basically covers the city of Frankfurt and you can also use the trams to reach your destination within this area. For a detailed plan of the tariff area you can download a map.

  • Sorry, but your answer does only answer the optional question and none of the main questions – XtremeBaumer Apr 17 '18 at 12:14
  • I added two sentences to clarify the answers to the first two questions – tallistroan Apr 17 '18 at 12:21
  • +1 for the additional sentences. The most important bit on the page you linked to is Einzelfahrkarte gilt nur zum sofortigen Fahrtantritt, ein Erwerb im Vorverkauf ist deshalb nicht möglich. That's what I read the question to be about. The rest becomes moot/obvious once you realise you have to use the ticket immediately but this is somewhat counter-intuitive for people familiar with other train systems. Maybe you could emphasize this even more in the answer? – Relaxed Apr 18 '18 at 23:45
  • I edited my answer again. Additionaly I don't see the point in mentioning all other different ticket types which exist in Germany, because the question was about one specific ticket. – tallistroan Apr 19 '18 at 17:08
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The other answers (+1) pointed me towards the answer to your questions but I have the feeling they did not fully articulate what this answer is.

The key is that, in many cases, tickets have to used immediately. That's why they don't need an explicit duration of validity like tickets have in many other places. They are valid for the duration of the next connection between your point of origin and your destination (in practice possibly with some leeway regarding which exact train or connection you are using?)

Train guards therefore do not need to determine whether the ticket has already been used as the opportunities for fraud are very limited. Even allowing for a comfortable time buffer or allowing you to take the second or third available connection, it would be very difficult to squeeze an additional return trip or meaningful intermediate stop.

A side effect is that it is not possible to buy a one-way ticket in advance, as explained in the link provided by @tallistroan.

  • A: Any official source for this? B: This would mean that you essentially can pass the ticket to an unspecified amount of people and all could use it without any problem. The only thing that could reveal it would be the timestamp which you can cover when showing – XtremeBaumer Apr 19 '18 at 6:03
  • I think it is possible to buy one-way tickets that need to be stamped. It depends on where you buy them (and maybe on the Verkehrsverbund). For example, you get tickets that need to be stamped when buying them in a kiosk/shop. And some machines might give you the option to choose. – unor Apr 19 '18 at 6:03
  • @XtremeBaumer: "The only thing that could reveal it would be the timestamp which you can cover when showing" - given that it is (among other things) that timestamp that train guards are looking for, you can be absolutely sure they will ask you to place your finger elsewhere so they can read the timestamp. – O. R. Mapper Apr 19 '18 at 7:21
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    @XtremeBaumer: Also: "This would mean that you essentially can pass the ticket to an unspecified amount of people and all could use it without any problem." - not at all. Two hours, or whatever the duration of validity is, is quite a limited amount of time. Furthermore, depending on the concrete tariff consortium, the location of sale may be printed onto the ticket, and "one-way" means just that, no round trips allowed. So, you'd have to buy a ticket, go where you want to go and run your errands, return to the origin of your journey and pass on the ticket to someone whose journey will end ... – O. R. Mapper Apr 19 '18 at 7:28
  • ... before the validity of the ticket expires. – O. R. Mapper Apr 19 '18 at 7:28

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