I am looking for the correct technical English terms for these German words like you would use them in a published paper:

  • Bahnhof → station (We are boarding at the station)

  • Zugstrecke → route, line, track (The route/line/track between London and Paris is very busy.)

  • Gleis → track, rail, platform (We board at platform 1. There are constructions on the track between city A and City B. The train runs on the rails.)

    So here we have 3 different meanings of Gleis.

  • Zugfahrt → train ride (The train ride to London is very long.)

  • Teilfahrt → leg (The train was very slow on the leg between London and Cambridge, but the overall train ride was fine.)

  • Fahrzeit → travel time (The travel time from London to Paris was 3 hours.)

  • Zug fahren → run (The trains runs (along a rail track) from London to Paris.)

  • Sicherheitsabstand → safety distance (The minimum headway between two trains is 500 meters.)

  • Mindesthaltezeit → minimum dwell time (The minimum stopping time at the station London is 1 minute.)

  • Abfahrtszeit → departure time (The departure time of train A is at 10:30.)

  • Ankunftszeit → arrival time (The arrival time of train B is at 10:33.)

While it is very easy to find translation of these words, I would like to know which are the correct technical word choices and if any of my translations is informal or a word is better suited.

I already posted it on German SE, but they said it might better fit here.

  • 1
    It would be better if your words included a little bit of context. Gleis could be track but could also be platform ("The train currently at Platform 1"); sicherheitsabstand is literally safety distance but might be better translated as "safe distance". These definitely depend on context; the others are almost certainly fine. "Dwell time" is used in railway jargon in the UK. – Andrew Leach Apr 2 '15 at 17:14
  • A 'leg' is usually a punctuated stretch of journey (punctuated by having a rest break, having a meal, changing planes / trains ...). – Edwin Ashworth Apr 2 '15 at 17:59
  • You would probably get more authoritative answers if you asked on some sort of railroad forum (though I don't know of one offhand). At the very least try travel.stackexchange.com. – Hot Licks Apr 2 '15 at 19:14
  • You could take a look here and try your individual terms. – user98955 Apr 2 '15 at 19:25
  • Gleis isn't platform (that's Bahnsteig). What makes it confusing for translation is that in Germany and Austria you'll hear the announcer say the train is arriving auf Gleis such and such, meaning it's coming on that track, or they could say am Bahnsteig such and such, meaning the platform with that number. (in hundreds of train trips in Austria they almost always used Bahnsteig, platform) – bobro Apr 2 '15 at 21:14

From my experience as a translator, sometimes having to go in the "wrong" direction (away from my native language), I can give you a tip -- often, the best way to figure out usage and tone is by googling, to look at the context a particular term or expression is used in.

Then, once you have a draft, run the whole thing past a native speaker. Some translators work in teams for this reason.


Mindesthaltezeit is "minimum stopping time". It is the time needed for passengers to board and disembark plus the time needed to change engines, add cars, scheduled checks, etc etc.

Sicherheitsabstand is literally "safety distance" as you say, but I believe it would be "minimum headway" for trains, as headway is the term for distance between vehicles on the rails. To be sure of that you'd have to consult a technical reference or ask someone who works in rail transport, but at least you have something to go on.

edit- yes, I found "minimum safe headway" and "minimum safety headway" (in academic papers in pdf format). Notice that this specifically refers to the safety distance between vehicles, not to "safety distance" in general.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.