Motorway service station

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Resser Mark gas station and rest area (below) and rest area of ​​the same name (above) on federal motorway 2 near Gelsenkirchen

A motorway service station (also called motorway service station or rest stop , in Austria service station ) is used by travelers to relax on longer journeys in long-distance traffic . In addition, the long-distance drivers are offered additional parking spaces in order to be able to comply with the legally prescribed driving and rest times.


According to the technical definition in Germany , only the service establishment ( restaurant , possibly with accommodation and sales of goods) is referred to as a service area. Together with a gas station, this forms a service area. Rest Area of the preamble is to roads for all recreational and utilities, including the uncultivated rest areas and the outlying truck stops . In everyday language, the terms service area and service area are mostly used synonymously . The Austrian autobahn operating company ASFINAG calls the rest stops it operates, the restaurants are called rest houses. In Switzerland , rest stops are among the systems for travel interruptions; they include all associated facilities and traffic systems. Outside of the German-speaking area there are sometimes other types and differentiations of rest areas with their own terms.


A petrol station is usually connected to the motorway service station - with washrooms, toilets and baby changing rooms and often facilities for the disabled . This group of travelers can use the euro key . Rest areas also usually have shopping facilities, public telephones and Internet access, and often also a children's playground. The rest stops are usually open all the time.

Many motorway service stations have a separate restaurant . It is often housed in another building away from the gas station. Some facilities also have a tank shop and service area under one roof. In the German-speaking area, rest stops that serve as bridge restaurants across the autobahn and thus serve both directions of travel are seldom found.

There is a motorway church at some rest stops .

Legal relationships and operating licenses

Rest areas and petrol stations are subsidiary companies in Germany and Switzerland ( § 15 FStrG and Art. 6 NSV). In Germany they are part of the federal trunk roads . The rest stops are operated by private companies, for which a license must be granted in Germany . The road administrations of the respective motorway are responsible for the allocation . The operating concessions are usually limited to 30 years, after they expire or when new service areas are built, they are advertised to the public . The concession usually includes the planning, construction and maintenance of the ancillary operations. Details of the operation (such as opening times) are also agreed with the concession contract. The franchisee must pay fees for the operation of the rest area, the amount of which is specified in the BAB Concession Fees Ordinance. For historical reasons, Tank & Rast owns most of the concessions in Germany , but there are also other operators of ancillary companies. It is also common practice for the concessionaire to lease the operation to third parties . Due to the market power of Tank & Rast, many offers are significantly more expensive than usual in retail or catering.

ASFINAG owns all rest stops and rest areas in Austria .

Motorway service stations in Germany

Notice of a rest stop on a German federal motorway


Gas station at the Rhynern Rasthof, built in 1937/1938 as a Reichsautobahn gas station, in operation until 2005

Together with the construction of the Reichsautobahn , the planning and construction of the infrastructure began in Germany in the mid-1930s. On May 1, 1936, the first Reichs-Autobahn filling station was opened at the Darmstadt junction , which, in addition to washing facilities, also had a lounge for ten people. Petrol stations followed later, which also had a kitchen and a dining room for 30 people. With the completion of longer, continuous sections of the route, rest areas were built, which were referred to as rest stops, rest houses or rest stops based on the inn, inn and restaurant.

With the release of the Eisenberg - Schleiz section of what was then Reichsautobahn route 16 , the converted restaurant "Walderholungsheim Rodaborn " on the Wittchensteiner Höhe near Triptis in Thuringia, together with parking spaces on both sides of the autobahn, was put into operation on December 20, 1936 as Germany's first motorway service station. The Rodaborn service area was not operated by the Reichsautobahnen company itself, but by a cooperative . The first larger facility was the " Rasthaus am Chiemsee " with 520 seats that opened on August 27, 1937 , but was not fully completed until 1941/1942 and after 1945 the US Army served as a recreation center. The Hermsdorfer Kreuz rest area was opened to the public on November 5, 1938. During the last days of the war it served as quarters for parts of the Speer transport corps . On November 7, 1938, the "Rasthof Magdeburger Börde" followed. With 200 seats, it was the first and at the same time the only completely completed rest area with overnight accommodation before the start of the war. The facility was in operation until the 1990s, in 1998 with the six-lane expansion of the federal motorway 2, large parts of the service area were demolished.

By the end of construction in 1942, 78 petrol stations and 24 rest areas had been built. During the Second World War , these were used, among other things, as military hospitals .


Motorway service station 1964

In 1951, as a replacement for the “Raststätte Chiemsee”, the “Raststätte Irschenberg” was put into operation as the first new building after the war. On July 6, 1951, the Federal Republic of Germany founded the “Society for ancillary operations of the federal autobahns mbH” (GfN). The company for ancillary operations carried out the preliminary planning for the ancillary operations and assumed the construction costs. She was also responsible for the leasing, administration and maintenance of the properties. In addition, from 1950 to 1952 a sample plan of rest areas was created in the Federal Ministry of Transport. This was characterized by various operational elements. There was a traffic area requirement of 12,000 to 15,000 m², compared to 1000 m² for the pre-war systems, and refueling, parking and resting as a sequence in the operational processing. The filling stations were arranged parallel to the lanes and the filling stations for cars on the left and for trucks on the right side of the building in the direction of travel. The rest stops were divided into separate guest rooms for car and truck drivers, and the kitchen was set up for bus operation. In 1952, a construction program provided for service areas every 100 kilometers and smaller facilities at intervals of around 30 kilometers. Special overnight buildings at the service stations, so-called motels , were built for the first time in 1957. Self-service service stations were introduced from 1962, for which the fast food service station was designed, also as a combination with a gas station building on an island. In 1981 the GfN had 167 rest stops and 267 petrol stations. In the mid-1980s, the rest stops came under heavy criticism due to their outdated furnishings and fittings, poor cleanliness, poor quality of the kitchen and lack of attractiveness. At the end of the 1980s, this led to an extensive program of modernization and redesign of the outdated service areas for 2 billion DM. In 1989, a McDonald's restaurant was set up for the first time at the “Uttrichshausen West” service area near Fulda , but it was closed again on April 30, 2010 due to contractual inconsistencies .

Since 1994

In 1994 the company for ancillary operations was renamed the Tank & Rast stock corporation . A placement of 49% of the shares was originally planned for 1995, but in 1998 the company was completely sold to investors. Following an amendment to the Federal Highways Act, the company was now able to plan and build the service operations itself, which until then had been the responsibility of the state road construction authorities. In 1994 the company was able to acquire the Ostdeutsche Autobahntankstellengesellschaft mbH with 31 gas stations and the Mitropa service stations on the motorways. Tank & Rast now has a market share of around 90% of rest areas on the autobahn and maintains around 390 service stations with around 350 petrol stations and around 390 rest stops, including 50 hotels (not yet linked to a chain, some of which are to be renovated), at around 390 locations 790 service outlets (petrol stations, rest stops, hotels ) on the motorway.

The operator model envisaged by the state provides for a primarily medium-sized tenant structure, which Tank & Rast implements in various models together with the tenants. Motorway travelers will also find products from well-known restaurant chains such as Mövenpick or Wienerwald at many locations, but these companies are usually represented in the form of smaller, integrated modules.

Over the past few years, Tank & Rast has invested over 400 million euros in modernizing its service stations and completely rebuilt a large number of businesses. With the Serways brand, the company has introduced a service brand that encompasses the entire range of services on a motorway rest area (restaurants, shops, other services). At the same time, a new toilet concept was integrated under the name Sanifair, which partially reimburses the usage fee for purchases in shops or restaurants. Branded companies such as Barilla , Nordsee , Lavazza , Burger King , McDonald’s and Segafredo Zanetti also take part in this quality-oriented concept . In addition, the rest areas also offer locally produced and cultivated food and specialties.

On average, there is a motorway service station every 60 kilometers of motorway in Germany. Around 500 million travelers visit the rest stops each year.

Petrol station brands at rest stops

Until 2012, the filling stations at German rest stops were divided among the filling station brands according to the market shares at the other road filling stations. The empirical impression that contradicts this results from further leases and badge contracts. So were z. B. 2012 from 32 Jet filling stations (corresponding to a market share of 32/350 = 9.14% at the time of allocation) leased to 30 rest areas to BP / Aral. This previous awarding practice has been found to be inadmissible due to complex antitrust concerns. Among other things, it is criticized that the pure allocation of quotas keeps competitors away from the market who want to enter the market via the motorway business or that market participants are prevented from being disproportionately involved in it. At the beginning of 2013, therefore, only an increasingly smaller part will be awarded via the old quota system and an increasing percentage of the consignment rights will be auctioned. 5% of the delivery rights remain with Tank & Rast for their own use.

Meaning for hitchhikers

Hitchhikers use the motorway service stations as a transfer point on longer routes. This means you don't have to leave the motorway between the start and finish of your route. They can usually be dropped off at the last rest stop before their ride leaves the planned route. At the rest stop, speak to those who are resting or hitchhike in the classic way with your thumb or sign. The number of hitchhikers has been falling for years thanks to car sharing agencies, low-cost airlines and long-distance buses.

Junction points and driveways

In order to increase profitability , rest stops are sometimes only built on one lane in one direction and have additional entrances on the other lane. Two rest stops in Germany, the Dammer Berge rest stop and the Frankenwald bridge rest stop , were built as a bridge restaurant over the motorway so that access is possible from both sides.

Federal motorways are equipped with special junctions for entry and exit ( Section 1 (3) sentence 1 FStrG). Rest areas are often not allowed to be used for entry and exit. Many rest stops still have a traffic connection to the subordinate road network (so-called rear connection ). As a rule, however, this may only be used by delivery traffic and as an emergency driveway for emergency services, such as the fire brigade or rescue service . These rear connections are not released for normal road users, the access roads are therefore provided with appropriate signs, some with barriers as barriers. The former regulation that prohibited the use of entrances and exits via rest stops (Section 1 (3) sentence 1 FStrG) has been removed from the Federal Highway Act. An adjustment to the new legal situation has not yet taken place in most places. The local signs apply.

Motorway service stations are part of the motorway (Section 1, Paragraph 4, No. 5 FStrG) and are always directly connected to the federal motorway through separate entrances and exits. Truck stops , which also serve to supply long-distance and heavy-duty traffic, are, on the other hand, located near motorway junctions and do not have their own connection to the trunk road.

A legal peculiarity is that there is no curfew regulation for motorway service stations ( Section 15 (4) of the Federal Highway Act).


Tank & Rast actively supports the Federal Government's e-mobility initiative on German motorways. The first modern fast charging stations went online in 2015. By May 2016, 50 rest stops are to go into operation. These so-called multi-chargers have three charging outlets, two DC with CHAdeMO and CCS plugs and one AC with Type 2 plugs. This means that all common electric vehicles can be charged in around 20 minutes. Tank & Rast is pursuing the goal of offering the largest interconnected network of fast charging stations on German motorways from 2018. Drivers of e-vehicles should then find an e-charging station about every 30 kilometers on average.

Parking spaces

Scandinavian Park truck stop with parking spaces for trucks on the A7 in Handewitt, near the Danish border

Parking spaces for passenger cars are usually available in sufficient numbers at the rest area facilities, even during the holiday season. The truck parking spaces in Germany, on the other hand, are usually all occupied from 6 p.m., as the statutory driving and rest times must be observed. Unlawful, dangerous parking is often found, and trucks are often parked in the driveways. This situation will not improve in the next few years, it will only worsen.

According to the BAG, there are currently 21,000 designated motorway parking spaces for trucks on 430 motorway rest areas with a restaurant, as well as 1520 in the unmanaged rest areas, which are statistically 180 percent full. There are also around 20,000 parking spaces at the approx. 200 truck stops . According to a study by the Federal Highway Research Institute from 2006, an additional 30,000 truck parking spaces will be required by 2015, since truck freight traffic will increase by almost 40% by 2020, according to the VDA experts . According to the decision of the federal government, 11,000 new truck parking spaces are to be created in Germany directly on the motorways by 2025.

One attempt to increase the parking space capacity for trucks at rest areas is telematically controlled compact parking . This is a pilot project in which the parked trucks are sorted according to departure time using an electronic control system; You can therefore park so close that not just any vehicle, but only the one in front, can drive off. 2016 was approved by the Federal Highway Research Institute , the first nationwide system for the compact parking on the latching system Jura West at A 3 in Velburg in the Oberpfalz put into operation.

Motorway service stations in Austria

In Austria there are currently (2013) 89 rest stops on the motorways and expressways. Usually there is a petrol station with an attached shop and a separate rest house, rarely there is only one petrol station with a small café (e.g. Kapfenberg S6). Often attempts were made to build the rest house in the style of the region (e.g. Landzeit Loipersdorf an der A2 in the style of a Burgenland farm). In the rest houses there are either full-service restaurants or a self-service area (market restaurant). The stations are set up for mass visits and have correspondingly large rooms and toilet facilities. In the case of very large rest stops, a hotel is sometimes also connected.

In Austria , most rest stops are operated by the companies Rosenberger (19 locations), Landzeit (16 locations), the Italian Autogrill (13 locations), Wienerwald , Oldtimer (4 locations), Mövenpick (3 locations) and Servus Europa (3 locations) . There are also some companies that only have a service area.

Austria also has its own regulations that regulate, for example, the minimum distances between rest stops. In between, there may be a few rest areas with kiosks , but these may not have the same offers as the neighboring rest areas. One example is the Triestingtal rest area on the south motorway (A2) between the Wöllersdorf and Guntramsdorf rest areas . Only individual organic foods may be sold here.

Problems arose again and again at rest stops that demanded toilet fees from motorway users. However, these charges were judged to be illegal in 2012.

Motorway service stations in Switzerland

In Switzerland , 36 service stations are currently operated by various companies along the national road network. With nine systems, the highway can be crossed by car and the direction of travel can be changed. With nine systems, the motorway can be crossed or crossed under on foot (e.g. Rheintal service area ). The first motorway service station in Switzerland opened in 1967 in Kölliken , on what was then the N1 . The existing ban on the sale of alcohol is to be lifted at the end of 2020.


Web links

Commons : Motorway Service Station  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Research Society for Roads and Transport - Cross-Sectional Committee Definitions: Definitions - Part: Traffic planning, road design and road operation . Edition 2012 edition. FGSV, Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-86446-024-1 ( [accessed on April 3, 2020]).
  2. Duden | Motorway service station | Spelling, meaning, definition, origin. Retrieved April 3, 2020 .
  3. ↑ Rest stops. ASFINAG , accessed on April 6, 2020 (Austrian German).
  4. Federal Roads Office FEDRO : Technical information sheet for components: systems for travel interruptions (21 001-11511) . In: Technical Guide Trassee / Environment (FBH T / U) . January 2019, p. 2 f . ( [PDF]).
  5. BMVI - ancillary companies / rest areas. Retrieved April 28, 2020 .
  6. Rolf-Herbert Peters: Around 150 percent more expensive: travelers are being exploited more and more shamelessly at motorway service stations. In: [[Stern (magazine) |]]. July 21, 2019, accessed April 6, 2020 .
  7. ^ Frank-Thomas Wenzel and Jan Sternberg: Thick minus business. Catering and using the toilet at German motorway service stations are extremely expensive. Nevertheless, the operator's concession fees are not enough to cover the federal government's costs. In: Frankfurter Rundschau, November 19, p. 14
  8. Germany's first motorway service station “Rodaborn”.
  9. Hermsdorf regional.
  10. Rasthof Magdeburg. Retrieved April 28, 2020 .
  11. Carpaccio instead of French fries: Rest areas on the motorway are changing Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, July 28, 2014
  12. accessed July 7, 2020
  13. Tank & Rast Homepage, April 25, 2016 .
  14. ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: Verkehrsrundschau )@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  15. List of rest stops in Austria ( memento of February 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) or their mapping
  16. Oldtimer rest stops and motor hotels . Retrieved July 31, 2013
  17. Motorway restaurants and petrol stations in Switzerland PDF 1 page, 34 kB
  18. 50 years ago, Kölliken had the first service area in Switzerland - including a dining car. In: , August 17, 2017, accessed on December 7, 2019.
  19. Simone Morger: When the first Swiss motorway petrol station opened in Kölliken - and why there was a train car next to it. In: , December 6, 2019, accessed on December 7, 2019.
  20. Various new traffic regulations. Alcohol sales allowed at rest stops. In: . May 21, 2020, accessed May 21, 2020 .