Poland Travel Planner Logo with striped outline of Poland

urban rail

for when you want to get out of town or when you want to get into town; here's what you need to know.

- which cities have urban rail systems?
- how much does it cost?
- what are urban rail trains like?



contents

dedicated systems

dedicated systems

multiple regular stations

multiple regular stations

tickets

tickets

dedicated systems


Out of all the means of transport covered on Poland Travel Planner, urban rail is definitely the trickiest - namely because it's so different from city to city. Urban rail systems in Poland are similar to S-bahn systems in big German cities. They connect large cities to surrounding towns, suburbs, and villages, or connect two large cities and the towns and villages in between. They are similar to the metro, but depart less frequently, often every 10 or 20 minutes.

To read about the urban rail system in a specific city, go to the dedicated city article.

Currently, there are 8 dedicated urban rail systems in Poland - Warsaw (2 systems - SKM and WKD), Gdańsk (SKM), Cracow (SKA), Katowice (SKR), Łódź (ŁKA), and Bydgoszcz/Toruń (BiTCity).

trains

Urban rail trains in Poland are very comfortable and rarely get filled. There is only one class of travel (unlike regular trains which usually have two travel classes), but there is air conditioning, heating, and, on some trains, free Wi-Fi (though no toilets on most).

SKM train in Gdańsk

SKM train in Warsaw

stations

Urban rail stations somehow resemble metro stations. Urban rail systems in Poland are generally quite modern, and so are the stations. Stations often have toilets, outside seating areas, and inside seating areas. They are, however, not very disabled friendly.

Warsaw SKM station

Cracow SKA station


multiple regular stations


This chapter is dedicated to somewhat of an unusual solution. See, not all cities have dedicated urban rail systems. But many cities which do not still have more than one regular train station in the city. Those train stations are often connected - for example, a train from Eastern Poland to Warsaw Central Station will also pass through Warsaw East Station. This means that you can buy a regular train ticket from Warsaw East to Warsaw Central and have it work almost like public transport - almost like urban rail.

Read more about travel by regular train and buying train tickets in our train article.

cities where this works well

This trick makes no sense in cities with an urban rail system in place. However, it works great in large cities with no urban rail like Wrocław, Poznań, Szczecin, Rzeszów, and Lublin. Connections to smaller stations in big cities are often served by local carriers - read more about them in our train article. For reference, travel within a city will never cost you more than 8-9 zł [2 EUR].

stations

Urban rail stations somehow resemble metro stations. Urban rail systems in Poland are generally quite modern, and so are the stations. Stations often have toilets, outside seating areas, and inside seating areas. They are, however, not very disabled friendly.

small train station in Wrocław

typical local carrier train


tickets


This chapter only refers to dedicated urban rail systems. To read about tickets for regular trains, go to our train article.

In the case of dedicated urban rail system, there is no easy answer as to what tickets to buy. This is because, unlike regular inner-city public transport, there is a very large difference between taking the urban rail 2 kilometers east and 40 kilometers east, which can both be done - quite unlike the metro, where the upper limit is not nearly as high.

types of ticketing systems

zones (Warsaw's SKM & WKD)

In a zone system, you buy a ticket for a specific amount of zones - in Warsaw, it's either 1 (inner city) or 2 (outskirts) - or both. You also have to pay attention to time - for example, you can buy a 75-minute ticket for both zones, which does let you travel freely with any type of public transport, including urban rail, within those zones, until the 75 minutes expire.



Please note that the above applies mainly to SKM. WKD has a three-zone system which is based only on time traveled and with tickets costing up to 7 zł [1.5 EUR] per trip per person.

distance (Gdańsk's SKM, Łódź's ŁKA, Katowice's SKR, Cracow's SKA)

In this system, you must specify what station you are departing from and headed to as you buy the ticket. Then, the price is calculated based on the distance between the two - and it can be as high as 20 zł [4.7 EUR] for ŁKA, though is usually below 10 zł [2.3 EUR] per trip per person.



fixed fare (Bydgoszcz and Toruń's BiTCity)

In the case of the BiTCity urban rail system, there is only one route to take - Bydgoszcz to Toruń, which costs 10 zł [2.3 EUR] each way.

To learn more about the urban rail ticket system in a given city, visit the city's article.


how to buy tickets

This is fairly easy. Tickets can be bought using ticket machines, which can all be set to English and are available at any urban rail station. Of course, you need to know what type of ticket you need, but your options will be presented in the ticket machine system. You can pay by card or by cash, and there is no need to buy a ticket in advance or online.

Here's what you can expect your choices to be: in zone systems, there will be tickets for either 1 or 2 zones and for set amounts of time. In distance systems, you will have to choose your destination and simply buy a ticket to this destination. In fixed fare systems, you will only be able to buy one type of ticket, valid on the entire network.

ticket machine type in Warsaw

ticket machine type in Cracow

validating tickets

In Warsaw, Gdańsk, and Łódź city centre (excluding the surrounding aglomeration and towns), the tickets you buy in ticket machines must be validated using a ticket validation machine already at the platform/station or as soon as you enter the train. In Warsaw and Łódź, where tickets have a time limit, the time starts running as soon as the ticket is validated. In Gdańsk, it is important to validate the ticket because tickets do not specify what time the train departs and arrives, which means that, without mandatory validation, it would be possible to reuse the same ticket over and over.

In Cracow, Łódź's aglomeration and surrounding cities, Bydgoszcz/Toruń, and Katowice, the ticket you buy is already dedicated to a specific train, which means that it does not have to be validated.

You must always have a valid ticket at your disposal while traveling by urban rail.

validated ticket

ticket not requiring validation

ticket validation machine

modern ticket validation machine