In continuation of an old Reichsbahn tradition, Deutsche Bahn's passenger cars are designated by an alphabetic type code. This consists of a leading class code (capital letters) and a varying number of additional lower-case letters which are technically flags -- the presence of one such letter indicates some specific property of the car; if a lower-case letter is absent, the respective feature isn't present either.

Class codes

(A D prefixed to a non-D class code indicates a double-decker car; some codes can be combined, thus WLA is a first-class-only sleeping car.)

  • A -- first-class-only car
  • AB -- mixed first-class/second-class car
  • AR -- first-class-only car with pantry and dining room
  • B -- second-class-only car
  • BD -- second-class-only car with luggage compartment
  • BR -- second-class-only car with pantry and dining room
  • BS -- second-class-only car with special installations
  • D -- luggage car
  • DD -- open double-decked auto transporter (for AutoZug)
  • K -- narrow-gauge car
  • MD -- luggage car (irregular construction) or auto transporter
  • Post -- mail car
  • WG -- entertainment car
  • WL -- sleeping car
  • WS -- dining car / service car

Affixed flags

Flags in their regular order of appearance:

  • p -- air-conditioned car with aisle and open seating
  • v -- prefixed to an "m": indicates long-distance cars with less than a certain number of compartments; the number is 10 first-class compartments for A cars, 5 first-class compartments for AB cars, 12 second-class compartments for B cars and 6 compartments for BD cars
  • o -- prefixed to an "m": same as "v", but without air conditioning
  • i -- prefixed to an "m": InterRegio car (outdated, as the regular InterRegio network has been discontinued in favor of InterRegio Express and InterCity trains)
  • n -- short-distance (local/commuter) car, longer than 24.5 m, with middle-aisle open seating in the second class equivalent to 12 compartments, an aisle in the first-class space, two middle doors per side and push-pull train capability
  • y -- same as "n", but second-class space equivalent to 11 compartments and no special first-class features
  • w -- light four-axled cars 18.7 m in length
  • x -- S-Bahn push-pull-train car, at least 24.5 m in length, open seating with middle aisle in both classes, middle doors, 1000 V power supply from the locomotive and KE-GPR+ep high-performance brakes
  • m -- long-distance car longer than 24.5 m, with 10 compartments if A, 12 compartments if B, six compartments if BD or five second-class compartments if AB (unless prefixed with "o" or "v")
  • r -- on Post cars or if an "n" is present: indicates KE-GPR high-performance brakes
  • s -- on luggage cars or cars with luggage compartments: indicates the aisle is on the side; on sleeping cars: indicates "Spezial" configuration
  • b -- with special installations for handicapped persons in wheelchairs
  • d -- if an "i" or "m" is present: indicates space for bicycle transport
  • k -- with self-service restaurant/bistro or pantry compartment
  • h -- cars with electrical installations that can be supplied either by the 1000 V cable from the locomotive or by running-wheel generators / old Deutsche Reichsbahn commuter cars with middle aisle
  • u -- push-pull-train capability (34-pole control cable)
  • z -- central power supply by 1000 V cable from the locomotive
  • q -- non-modernised pre-1991 cab car (34-pole control cable)
  • f -- cab car (36-pole control cable or better)

Exceptions to this order: with AR or BR cars the "k" always goes directly after the class code, as in ARkimbz or BRkimbz; so does the "s" for "Spezial" sleeping cars, as in WLABsm.

Other flags:

  • g -- large-profile car
  • uu -- DB Regio luggage car for bicycle transport

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