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Since 2022 it is no longer possible to buy tickets on German trains:

Wer ohne Papier- oder Onlineticket in einen Zug steigt, muss richtig tief in die Tasche greifen. Laut Gesetz wird der doppelte Fahrpreis fällig, mindestens allerdings 60 Euro.

Translation:

Someone entering a train without a paper or online ticket, must dig deeply in the pockets. According to the law, the double ticket price will be applied, and at least 60 Euro.

On 2022-01-01 I entered the train at the station Rückersbacher Schlucht:

Photo of train station Rückersbacher Schlucht

This station has no ticket machine (and certainly no ticket office). It also has no wifi.

Finally I got on the train and used the train wifi to buy a ticket online, which worked because I had a smartphone on me. But even that would seem to violate the rule that one must buy a ticket before entering the train. How can I buy a ticket for this train if I do not have internet connectivity at the departure station? Signs on the train itself also reminded passengers that they have to buy the ticket before entering the train or risking a fine of at least €60.

In case it matters, the train was run by HLB under the price and conditions of RMV.

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  • I see two issues. First is what to do when there's no ticket vending machine at the station an second if only Deutsche Bahn does no longer sell tickets in the trains or if this new rule applies for RMV, too. Jan 2 at 18:30
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  • Your first link answers your question: Ein Ticket kann dann nach der Abfahrt nur noch über die App oder die Bahnwebsite gebucht werden. (A ticket can then only be booked via the app or the railway website after departure). Jan 2 at 18:42
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo See this 360° view to confirm no ticket machine on either platform. I didn't see one on street level either, nor on the train (I didn't take a street level photo, nor can I find one online).
    – gerrit
    Jan 3 at 12:28
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo It is a very small station. According to the Main-Echo, it gets around 20 passengers per day and is threatened with closure. Nevertheless, I've asked RMV directly what applies at Rückersbacher Schlucht.
    – gerrit
    Jan 3 at 12:41

2 Answers 2

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Over on Twitter Deutsche Bahn answered:

Sollte kein Smartphone vorhanden sein, musst du direkt das Zugpersonal aufsuchen, die Situation erklären und am nächsten Bahnhof ein Ticket erwerben.

“If you do not have a smartphone, you must approach the staff on board the train immediately, explain the situation and acquire a ticket at the next station.”

Seems strange to me, personally, but then, what do I know.

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  • Does this apply only to DB trains, or to all train operating companies in Germany? Jan 2 at 19:42
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    At the next station? Getting off the train, buying a ticket, then waiting an hour for the next train? And... the train I got on had only a driver, no other Zugpersonal.
    – gerrit
    Jan 2 at 20:27
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    What is strange about it? On local trains (Regionalverkehr) you have not been allowed to board a train without a valid ticket for decades, presumably because it would be too easy to cheat due to the frequent stops. But if you didn't have time to buy a ticket, the conductors were often lenient when you actively sought them and explained yourself so that it was clear you didn't try to avoid the fee. Jan 3 at 2:26
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    They clearly expect that normal passengers have smartphones, and use every means at their disposal to make them use it for their ticket.
    – o.m.
    Jan 3 at 6:07
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    I had a similar case a few years ago: Ticket costs was 15 Euro, I only had 13 Euro in change, a 50 Euro bill that the machine didn't accept and credit cards which the machine didn't accept either. No "Eurocheck" card. Sunday early morning and all stores are closed, no way to break a 50. I told the conductor upfront, and she was nice enough to let me ride for free.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 3 at 12:43
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This is probably not the only valid answer to this question, as seen in the comments and other answers so far. Still, I think it is too straightforward not to be mentioned, so here we go:

How can I buy a ticket for this train if I do not have internet connectivity at the departure station?

You buy a ticket before you arrive at the station.

There are three facets to this:

  • You do not have to wait with buying the ticket until you arrive at the station. You can do that at home, or wherever else you are beforehand, where you have some internet connectivity. In the case of time-limited tickets, that may indeed be a slight disadvantage, though, as you might lose the timespan required to then get to the station if the ticket is invariably valid immediately after purchase.
  • If there are tickets that can be used at a later time (e.g. once you stamp them in the little machine on the train/platform), you buy them beforehand at a larger station. I'd say that was the normal way to go in pre-internet/pre-online ticket times - I used to always carry around one or two multi-ride tickets of my local place so I could spontaneously board any bus or train and had a ticket ready. And I'd replenish that stock whenever I was at a larger station that had vending machines or booths.
  • Depending on where the station is located, the vast majority of passengers boarding at that station might be equipped with season tickets for one reason or another. Thus, having one might be the expected mode of using that station - and otherwise, see the above two points.

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