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A third of trains 'may be cancelled' this winter
Photo: DPA

A third of trains 'may be cancelled' this winter

Published: 25 Oct 2012 10:49 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Oct 2012 10:49 GMT+02:00

Millions of train passengers in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) could be faced with disrupted journeys this winter if a regional coal plant is shut down as planned - causing power shortages, a rail boss warned on Thursday.

Up to 30 percent of trains in the northwestern state could be cancelled in very cold weather over the next few months, Deutsche Bahn (DB) chairman Rüdiger Grube told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper on Thursday.

Currently the Datteln coal plant - scheduled to be decommissioned at the end of December - delivers three quarters of the electricity used DB trains in the state.

Electricity from the old coal plant guaranteed the smooth running of the rail network, especially on cold days, when its electricity demand skyrockets, said Grube.

"If decommissioning goes ahead and nothing happens, there's a big danger that the rail [network] could have bottlenecks in supply on very cold winter days in the morning," he warned.

"In such cases we have to take trains out [of service] to avoid the network collapsing. We discussed it with the board: it could be up to 30 percent of the train operation in NRW," he said.

The connection of Datteln IV, a replacement power plant, to the grid has been delayed by planning problems and has become stuck in a legal battle.

Meanwhile, Grube said DB was working on building converters to smooth out electricity supply from other sources for use by trains - which require a different frequency than households and industry.

But they would not be ready before until early 2014 and Grube has demanded plant operator E.ON be given an exceptional permit to continue running the older coal plant beyond the end of the year.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:56 October 25, 2012 by lucksi
So, on paper you decommission an old power plant right when a new one goes online. Perfect. Missing from that was of course reality, because no big construction gets done on time anymore.
12:05 October 25, 2012 by chicagolive
That is what I was thinking, from the Berlin Airport to Stuttgart 21 I don't see any big project in Germany ending even close to own time more like a year or more after the time.
13:01 October 25, 2012 by freechoice
And this is happening in one of the world's developed country/economy?
16:10 October 25, 2012 by catjones
germany: the land of threats, intimidation, fear-mongering, bullies and litigation.
16:50 October 25, 2012 by raandy
Necessity is the mother of invention.
17:19 October 25, 2012 by hech54
"The connection of Datteln IV, a replacement power plant, to the grid has been delayed by planning problems and has become stuck in a legal battle." - a legal battle where a coal company is involved at one end I'd venture to say.
22:41 October 25, 2012 by trommlers
when will the Germans stand up and put an end to the Deutsche Bahn monopoly???
23:37 October 25, 2012 by truth is treason
I wonder if the "The connection of Datteln IV, a replacement power plant, to the grid has been delayed by planning problems and has become stuck in a legal battle." is due to the Greens and the UN agenda21 supporters. So all the wind turbines and solar panels installed cannot replace a single power plant. Just to place our hopes in these useless experiment will lead to the break down of life as we know it. Build your own power plant to run your own home ,business and community. Ask your commune to plan and build local power plant and companies
14:45 October 26, 2012 by Voice
I see someone here believes that ending the DB monopoly and having private rail companies would somehow solve such problems. In actual fact it would be far worse as a collection of smaller companies would have far less clout. And most people wouldn't want a repeat of Britain's nightmare either - with fares three or four times higher than on DB, significantly more delays, and everything pared back to the bone, while still having to pay subsidies through taxes to the rail companies who in turn hand over dividends to their shareholders. Crazy, crazy, crazy. Germany, please don't do it. As for the power crisis, that's down to politicians screwing things up not the fact that DB has a monopoly.
14:53 October 26, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
I hope the third that are cancelled are the ones that break down and don't run anyway in winter.
08:33 October 29, 2012 by strahlungsamt
Germany used to be a great nation that performed engineering feats and got things done. Now, they've gone the Neoliberal American way and sold out to bean-counters and consultants and let the system go to hell to save a few euros.

I was recently in Berlin and I had to wait 90 minutes for a train from Schonefeld airport. Then a 20 minute wait for an S-Bahn from Alexanderplatz to Friedrichstrasse, 2 stations away in the city center on a track where about 6 different lines travel. All because they chose to cut back on repair facilities for the trains to save money. In 2009, almost the entire S-Bahn fleet had to be taken out of service for safety reasons, all because they chose to save money. Recently, someone's arm got stuck in the door and was snapped off because the safety in the doors didn't work, all to save money.

Oh, and it's not like they don't have the money. The DB gets the most cash from the German govt of any agency and they had no problem building the ridiculous, unneeded Berlin Hauptbahnhof or destroying the Stuttgart inner city for Stuttgart 21.
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