Travel by train in summer: concentrate on ailing routes

Status: 07/16/2022 09:49

The railroad network is said to be worse than the known one. And with the increase in the number of passengers with a EUR 9 ticket, the shortage of rail transport becomes even more important.

Delays or cancellations of trains and a partially destroyed rail network: Deutsche Bahn has faced this criticism many times over. But now – due to the increased number of trips during the summer, and also thanks to the 9-euro ticket – the weaknesses of the state-owned enterprise are becoming particularly visible, the unions emphasize. According to media reports, there are more gaps than previously known.

The group itself talks about the so-called low-speed sections for sections of track where rail traffic is particularly unreliable. At the beginning of last month, there were 331 throughout the country, as evidenced by the “Spiegel” assessment of data on internal routes for drivers on 3 June.

Consequently, there were defects such as faulty signals, damaged bridges or track damage on the 60 affected rail sections. Construction sites delayed works in 123 sections. According to Spiegel, 225 such slow-moving sections have existed for more than a month, some even for more than five years.

Bund does not know about all “free episodes”

And apparently the federal government is far from being aware of all these issues. In response to a request from the Greens in the Bundestag, the Federal Ministry of Transport announced that Deutsche Bahn had identified 189 such slow-moving sections for April. Last year, there were a total of 476 of them – almost the same number as in 2016 on the 485 sections with delays.

Deutsche Bahn itself justified the discrepancy between the data reported to the federal government and the data mentioned in the Spiegel study by saying that the federal government was only informed about slow-moving sections due to defects where modernization and maintenance of the infrastructure was necessary.

Further investments planned in the coming years

Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing is also aware that the condition of the rail network is not the best. At a joint press conference with Bahn chief Richard Lutz about three and a half weeks ago, the FDP politician himself admitted that the infrastructure had been “neglected for years and brought to its absolute limit due to under-financing and political failures.”

Therefore, the federal government also wants to invest more – the nationwide railway network is to be completely renewed in 2024-2030. This year, the federal government has already announced investments of around 1.9 billion euros for railroad extensions and new constructions. This sum is to be increased to three billion euros annually by 2027.

According to figures from the lobbying group Allianz pro Schiene, the federal government increased spending on the railroad last year. The federal government has invested an average of € 124 in rail infrastructure per German citizen – and, according to the association, more than ever before. For comparison: in 2020, the federal government’s per capita expenditure on railways was still € 88. According to Allianz pro Bahn, in 2021, for the first time, more money was spent on maintaining and expanding the rail network instead of the road network.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before”

The GDL train drivers’ union also criticized that Deutsche Bahn’s condition was “devastating due to years of spoiled austerity.” GDL chief Claus Weselsky sees this as the cause of the “chaos this summer” he has never experienced before. The chairman talked about the “absolute supercry”.

Because especially from the beginning of June, the shortcomings at Deutsche Bahn have become all the more apparent in the face of the increased number of passengers thanks to a ticket for 9 euros, according to the rail and transport association (EVG). “I have never experienced conditions like this summer,” said vice president Martin Burkert in an interview with Welt am Sonntag. There were signs of wear on the railroad: “The lifts are out of order, the toilets on the trains are not working anymore, everything is just very busy.”

Deutsche Bahn employees feel it too: “Many colleagues are already on the verge of breaking down,” warned Burkert. Disease rates are already high and will continue to rise.

Punctuality muffler

The effects of the 9 euro ticket and construction are also reflected in the statistics on the punctuality of trains. In June, only 58 percent of all long-distance trains were still on schedule, compared to 88.5 percent in regional traffic. Both are the weakest monthly values ​​since the end of 2010.

According to railroad statistics, all trains delayed by no more than six minutes are considered punctual.

Railway investments go into reverse gear

Johannes Frewel, ARD Berlin, July 7, 2022 1:15 pm

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