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Teen kicked off train on coldest night of the year

The Local · 29 Jan 2010, 08:00

Published: 29 Jan 2010 08:00 GMT+01:00

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At 10 pm on Wednesday night, the girl identified as Jennifer found herself standing outside the closed Königs Wusterhausen station - where the temperature had dropped to -18 degrees Celsius, daily Bild reported on Friday.

The girl had been in Berlin visiting a friend, and assumed that the cost of her trip home to Groß Köris would equal that of her ticket into the city. But the train conductor informed the teenager that she had to pay an additional €2 to buy her ticket on board.

When Jennifer failed to produce the extra cash, the conductor forced her to disembark, refusing to speak with her mother on her mobile phone.

“This approach is totally unacceptable, we are very shocked,” a spokesperson for national rail provider Deutsche Bahn told the paper, adding that the woman has since admitted her mistake.

“There will be consequences,” the spokesperson added, explaining that all employees have been informed they should “on principle not throw children off the trains.”

The company said it plans to apologise to the girl’s family and has suggested meeting in person.

Train customer association Pro Bahn said it was disgusted by the incident.

“This can’t be,” leader Karl-Peter Naumann told the paper. “It’s about humanity and also the image of Deutsche Bahn.”

Story continues below…

As a result of two similar incidents in 2008, the rail company instituted a new rule forbidding employees from forcing children from their trains.

In October of that year, a conductor forced a 12-year-old girl on her way to cello lessons to get off a train at dusk in a remote rural area because she forgot her ticket. She was forced to walk five kilometres with her instrument despite protests from adult passengers who offered to buy her ticket and complained that it was irresponsible to leave her alone so far away from home.

In November 2008, a 13-year-old was forced off a train in Wittstock for forgetting her train fare with no way to contact her family for help.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:41 January 29, 2010 by dcgi
"... and *assumed* that the cost of her trip home to Groß Köris would equal that of her ticket into the city."

Well she learned a pretty important lesson, if you don't want to get kicked off a train next time bring more than enough to cover the cost of the fare or actually bother to find out exactly how much its going to cost.

If you're going to let this slide and have people just ride the full way having paid *most* of the train fare, you'll have people exploiting the train staff in no time.
12:00 January 29, 2010 by ovbg
Year, the kid should have been fined the €40 or so, but should never have been thrown off the train.

Sadly, these things do happen in other countries as well. I have read similar situations in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. So, it's not only Germany here. But these train guards who do things like this must be really pathetic people.
12:15 January 29, 2010 by OkieinBerlin
dcgi, you sure are a tough one! Are you by any chance a colleague of this conductor? Or just one of the few who never makes a mistake?
12:44 January 29, 2010 by dcgi
@OkieinBerlin, no I'm a person that sucks it up if I make a mistake I know was my fault; I'd expect to get a hefty fine or to get thrown off the train.

I don't think just because I'm 16 years old that is an excuse and I should get a free ride because its cold & I'm €2 short.
12:45 January 29, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Once again German rigidity about obedience to arbitrary rules trumps common sense and basic human decency. What if the girl had suffered frostbite or worse after being dispatched into the -17 degree night? What form of discipline would have been appropriate then? Are these knuckleheaded martinets completely immune from legal liability in this land of lockstep ordnung?
14:28 January 29, 2010 by LancashireLad
OK so DB told its staff not to chuck children of a train. Fair enough. But what did they say should have been done? The article doesn't tell us that. What makes most sense is:

1. Get details from ID card

2. Parents get a letter explaining the situation and a bill for €40 plus missing amount

3. Kid still travels home

I certainly agree that the difference must be paid. Children of whatever age must still learn that the law cannot be negated by "but I thought it worked like this."

Prufrock - it's not an arbitrary rule and the conductor did *NOT* obey the new DB rule. I agree that what happened was wrong and no I don't believe the conductor is immune from some form of punishment. Please be a bit more objective.
15:15 January 29, 2010 by LancashireLad
Whether or not she really did assume that the cost was the same, or she just said that she did and was actually trying it on - that's irrelevant.

estam. Little Policemen?

For example - do you ride a bicylce? How many times have I met people riding the wrong way who expect me going in the right direction to get out of their way? Or ride on the footpath and ring there bell expecting you to get out of their way.

Queing - enough said.

Driving .. yeah. There are rules ....

I remember once discussing this sort of thing with my German wife and made the comment that in Germany I generally see "I'll obey those rules that make sense to me". She reluctantly agreed.

There are indeed "little policemen" but I think they came about because of the rest who don't follow the rules.
15:55 January 29, 2010 by berlinski
Yet again, German authority shows its true colours. Simply taking the fare the child had on her and billing her for the rest would have been the easiest and safest solution. But, Oh no! The wannabe führer decides to exercise arbitrary authority. And we wonder how there were so many willing participants in the "Final Solution" all those years ago?
16:28 January 29, 2010 by HAW
You have a problem! for 2euro not paid in advance for the ticket,and payment refused to be accepted from other passengers,the life of a teenager was put in grave danger by a nice warm heartless official. I had a rail pass for six days of travel and only used four and was over charged 28eros by officials who did not know what a rail pass was! I was given a letter from the office at the station to carry if I had the problem again!! Take the 2eros from what I was overcharged by incompetent Rail officials
18:09 January 29, 2010 by zeulf
The Article lists this as a Female conductor, and its CRAZY to put anyone off a train in -18 Weather.
19:13 January 29, 2010 by dpcjpm

"If you're going to let this slide and have people just ride the full way having paid *most* of the train fare, you'll have people exploiting the train staff in no time."

Yeah right dcgi, I'm sure this particular regional line would have been crawling with evil teenage girls trying to get home with not enough money in their pockets this time next year if the DB hadn't thrown this one off the train at ten at night on the coldest night of the year. A sixteen year old girl. Coldest night of the year. Ten at night. (repeated because maybe you didn't get all the details first time round.) Obviusly the DB and the conductor are the victims here. You gobshite.
19:45 January 29, 2010 by daithioconaill
@royp Very good story and I truly believe you. I also study law at the moment, albeit UK Common/Case law as opposed to the civil law system as used in Germany. I often wonder about how often officials overstep their powers in Germany and nobody stops it. Even last week, I had a problem when ISTA (the water company) came to read my water meter. The guy who came in was annoyed that I wasn't up and ready to answer the door at 07:20 in the morning and delaying him on his busy schedule. He then proceeded to try to open the little door in the wall of the bathroom where the water meters are held. He didn't have the tool to do it and demanded (not ask) me for one of my knives to open the door with. I told him he couldn't have one because I have a nice set and I do not want them used and marked/scratched by being used as a work tool. It is up to him to be able to do his own job. What struck me is that this guy is probably used to having people jump to attention when he arrives to do his mundane simple job.

There is very little customer service in Germany because these company employees such as the DB conductor are used to being let be a law unto themselves. In my book, the customer should be more demanding here in Germany and not let these upstarts with an official cap on their heads rule the roost.
22:13 January 29, 2010 by Chanaka Lloyd
..hmm...i'm thinking...wasn't there a single passenger onboard who overheard the discussion? couldn't he/she have paid the extra 2 euros for the teenager? if not, it's fine. if yes, well... it's a damn shame!
00:58 January 30, 2010 by PhotosByStephan
This would make a most excellent story for a modern version of the Struwwellpeter featuring stories of naughty adults.

I know it's proper to not coddle German children but this is ridiculous.
02:37 January 30, 2010 by berlinski
Look, for F***s sake. In a lot of countries this would amount to a breach of duty on DB's behalf. They have a duty of care to their customers which they have breached here in regard to a minor. The girl had her fare, just not the admin charge for paying on board.

I myself have been dropped in the middle of nowhere by the S bahn service in Berlin without warning, even though I have a valid ticket. The train service does not look after or care of its customers. We have all seen this over the last year with all the scandal with DB and how the scammed the breaking systems on the S Bahn trains not needing repair. When will all this stop?

Duty of care guys, Duty of care! It is embedded in Case law in the UK.
12:42 January 30, 2010 by Ceven
It's really silly to turn this into a "german" thing. Give a redneck a gun and a badge (or even a presidency) and see what happens. GIve anyone in a position of having to deal with tons of people all day everyday and eventually they aren't looking at people anymore, but these things that need attention. That said, there were several lapses in judgement here working against each other. Under no circumstance should anyone be thrown out into -18, that's just wrong. Why she wasn't written up with a ticket or somehow otherwise dealt with is a good question. I wonder4 what her demeanor was like. It's not like ever teenager riding the train is a quiet andpolite bookworm, perhaps there was some bad attitude involved. Perhaps the conductor was just an a**hole too and this was a clashing of personalities. Whatever the case it was clearly the wrong way to go about it. Still it's not a German thing, come on!
06:58 January 31, 2010 by mike short
The conductor is a "Nitwit". What if this happen to you or your child?
23:00 January 31, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, according to the article, the Conductor disobeyed company policy. The article states that a new rule was stablished in 2008, in an effort to prevent such a thing from happening again. Therefore, the Conductor was at fault.

The truth is, the more emotional we are, the less discilpine we have. And without discpline, we lack the ablility to do what we know is right.
19:57 February 19, 2010 by bugger
We get this in the UK as well, particularly with bus drivers. Rip-off scum.
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