• Germany edition
 
Train boss begs staff to return from holiday
Photo: DPA

Train boss begs staff to return from holiday

Published: 14 Aug 2013 16:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 14 Aug 2013 16:34 GMT+02:00

In a crisis which is threatening to engulf other areas of Germany, head of Deutsche Bahn Rüdiger Grube has abandoned his holiday to tackle the embarrassing mess which has left Mainz central station cut off from the rest of the network.

The chaos has been sparked by a lack of signal box operators to guide trains in and out of the station.

On Wednesday Deutsche Bahn confirmed that Grube had personally called some staff to ask if they would mind breaking off their holidays to come back to work and help solve the immediate crisis.

"In the interests of our customers, the company and all our 300,000 staff, he called a handful of colleagues in Mainz and asked them to consider whether they could delay their holidays," said Bahn spokesman Oliver Schumacher. "But he stressed they should sleep on it."

This infuriated rail workers' union EVG. "That workers who urgently need a holiday were personally phoned by the most senior company manager is just incredible,” said union leader Alexander Kirchner.

He said there were some staff at Mainz signalling centre who had not had three days off in a row since December, adding that everyone working there had already built up what he described as a mountain of overtime.

It was not just Mainz, and not just the signallers where Deutsche Bahn was approaching a critical mass of overtime and under-staffing, he said. "Things could crash at any time," he said. The company currently had eight million hours of overtime and nine million hours of owed holiday, he added.

This week it emerged that three signallers who were on holiday could hold the key to the chaos - all the others who were not already scheduled to work were off sick.

And while Mainz was closed, with trains being routed around the central station there, politicians attacked the staffing policies of Deutsche Bahn, which has over the past few years made significant cuts. These were to reduce costs ahead of a mooted sale, which never happened.

The most acute situation is in Mainz, but Deutsche Bahn workers have warned that many other stations around the country could easily follow suit and become in effect inoperable due to a lack of qualified staff.

DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Doctor arrested over medical test rape photos
The Bamberg Clinic, where purported false research was conducted. Photo: DPA

Doctor arrested over medical test rape photos

Police in Bavaria have arrested a 48-year-old doctor for allegedly drugging and abusing several medical test volunteers, they announced on Wednesday. READ  

German of the Week
Nuts and bolts of being a piercing king
Rolf Buchholz, world's most pierced man. Photo: Caro von D Photografie

Nuts and bolts of being a piercing king

The world's most-pierced man, Rolf Buchholz, was just deported from Dubai, for fear of 'black magic', he says. But as shocking as many people find his body modifications, it is a genuine passion, our German of the Week explains. And who knows, he may just enchant you yet. READ  

Amazon 'should not endanger diversity'
State minister for culture and media Monika Grütters. Photo: DPA

Amazon 'should not endanger diversity'

A German minister on Wednesday threw her weight behind the authors battling US online retail giant Amazon over its alleged strong-arm negotiating tactics with publishers. READ  

Opposition calls for arms export debate
Photo: DPA

Opposition calls for arms export debate

Green Party leader Katrin Göring-Eckhardt is calling for a special session of parliament following Wednesday's announcement that Germany will break its rules and deliver weapons to an active conflict zone. READ  

Families find solace and help with seniors
Photo: DPA

Families find solace and help with seniors

When Verena Herz found out she was pregnant with twins, she had no idea what she was in for. Luckily, she was able to borrow a grandmother. The Local learns the advantages of welcoming a new grandparent into the family and why Omas and Opas say: "I tell everybody about it!" READ  

Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech
Chancellor Angela Merkel opens the 2014 Lindau meetings. Photo: DPA

Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech

Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened an economics conference in Lindau, Bavaria, with a call for more regulation of so-called shadow banks. READ  

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure
A senior couple walk down Delmenhorst's main pedestrian promenade, amid a string of empty shops. Photo: Tomas Urbina

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure

Home to two-thirds of Germany's population, many of its small cities and towns are struggling to revive their declining centres. The Local's Tomas Urbina reports from Delmenhorst in Lower Saxony, as it tries to dig its way out of the economic doldrums. READ  

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver
Signs warning drivers against entering a motorway off-road. Photo: DPA

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver

Erich Mairleitner thought Tuesday would be another ordinary day hauling a load along the A3 motorway, but found himself the hero of the hour after stepping in to stop an accident. READ  

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds
Usula van der Leyen and Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds

Germany is ready to send weapons to support Iraqi Kurds in their battle against the "barbaric" jihadist militants of the Islamic State, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Wednesday. READ  

The Local List
10 things to do before summer is really over
Photo: DPA

10 things to do before summer is really over

The German weather service (DWD) is blaming "Wild Wilma" for blanketing the country in cooler temperatures, but we know it's going to get a lot colder before the end of summer. This week's Local List challenges you to take advantage before autumn really sets in. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should.
Photo: DPA
Society
A German journalist shares the story of his US arrest in Ferguson
Photo: DPA
National
Berlin's senate puts the brakes on Über
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: DPA
Culture
How I deal with my German Hausmeister
Photo: Ingrid Eulenfan/flickr
Gallery
Nine German treats you'll want to eat right now (and one you won't)
Photo: DPA
Society
Who's getting German citizenship?
Photo: DPA
Culture
How World War I changed Germany forever
Photo: APA/DPA
Gallery
The 12 best words in Austrian German
Photo: DPA
Society
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,347
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd