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Berlin commuters face S-Bahn chaos

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Berlin commuters face S-Bahn chaos
Photo: DPA
11:39 CEST+02:00
Berlin commuters faced a “Black Monday,” as they scrambled to find alternatives to the S-Bahn train service that has been virtually shut down in the city centre due to safety concerns.

Until August 9, Germany's national railway operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) will not be running the S-Bahn lines on Berlin's main east-west axis between the Zoologischer Garten to Ostbahnof stations. To make up for the S-Bahn gap, the Berlin public transit authority BVG is running more metro trains, busses and trams while the Berlin-Brandenburg transportation network VBB is putting more regional trains into service.

Beyond the city centre, S-Bahn service is still running on suburban routes, but many are not going to their traditional end-stations, including the S9 and S45 trains to Schönefeld Airport. Passengers can also take the regional trains to get to the airport and DB is also running bus service in place of the S-Bahn trains.

“All we can do is to ask passengers for understanding,” Schönefeld Airport spokesman Ralf Kunkel told the daily Der Tagesspiegel. “Our advice is to plan for as much time as possible to get to the airport.”

In total, only 330 of the 1,260 train cars are in operation. Many S-Bahn lines have already had reduced services since earlier this month when 380 train cars were removed from the tracks to have their wheel replaced.

Service was further decreased after it was found that more trains needed the upgrade than previously thought.

The two-and-a-half-weeks of chaos stems from a ruling by the EBA, the national rail watchdog, that determined S-Bahn trains in service since the mid 1990s need to have their wheels replaced amid safety concerns. Tighter regulations were put in place after a cracked wheel led to a derailment on May 1. It also found that the train cars were not being inspected weekly as recommended.

The fall-out of the investigation led to the suspension of all four S-Bahn bosses and calls to cancel the city's €225-million contract with DB.

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