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Berlin docks S-Bahn payment for poor service

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Berlin docks S-Bahn payment for poor service
The abbreviated train service on Monday. Photo: DPA
08:04 CEST+02:00
After another safety scandal at Berlin's S-Bahn rail service created massive delays and cancellations this week, the Berlin city government has said it will give the company just a quarter of its monthly payment.

The ongoing chaos for commuters means the S-Bahn will receive just €5 million of its usual €20 million payment, Berlin Transport Minister Ingeborg Junge-Reyer told daily Berliner Zeitung on Wednesday.

“Those who run only a quarter of the scheduled transportation receive a payment docked accordingly,” she said.

Her comment came after a Tuesday evening meeting with S-Bahn's parent company, Deutsche Bahn, where she discussed the most recent safety problems that cut 75 percent of service on Tuesday in the capital city. Reduced service is also expected for Wednesday.

Such a situation is “not acceptable,” Junge-Reyer told the paper, adding that she demanded Deutsche Bahn make fundamental changes to its maintenance plans.

Paperwork problems and faulty communication within the company apparently led to the latest blunder.

Tens of thousands of Berlin commuters faced heavy delays for several weeks in July, when federal railway regulators ordered national railway operator Deutsche Bahn, which manages the service, to pull nearly three-quarters of all the commuter trains for wheel repairs after a train derailed.

Maintenance problems re-emerged for the company on Monday evening, when it said new safety concerns mean that brake cylinders need to be immediately replaced in the majority of their trains.

Meanwhile Berlin state prosecutors are investigating S-Bahn executives over the mismanagement that led to the chaos. S-Bahn boss Tobias Heinemann and other members of the company's executive board were accused of consistently ignoring train maintenance schedules and allowing damaged wagons to return to service unrepaired. He and three others were replaced on July 2.

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