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CRIME

Spectacular car crash near Reichstag only noticed hours later

A driver crashed his BMW at more than 100 kilometres an hour through a barrier near the Reichstag in Berlin, landing in the river on Friday night, swam to the side and walked away – without any security staff noticing, it emerged on Sunday.

Spectacular car crash near Reichstag only noticed hours later
Photo: DPA

The incident only came to light early on Saturday morning when a police officer noticed that a part of the barriers around the parliament building had disappeared, and followed clues which led to the water.

“The officers followed car tracks in the direction of the Spree river bank and saw that a fence along the promenade was also smashed,” a police spokesman told daily Der Tagesspiegel on Sunday.

The fact that the tracks led into the water prompted the officers to call the fire brigade, who had to assume there could be people in the car and sent a team of divers to find the vehicle.

“The vehicle was empty, but we did not know whether those inside had managed to rescue themselves,” a spokesman for the fire brigade said.

A check of the license plates led police to the 20-year-old owner, who had initially registered it as stolen, before admitting that he and a 17-year-old girlfriend had been in it during the crash.

He said they were driving at high speed along the cul de sac by the Paul Löbe Haus next to the Reichstag when he lost control, smashed through the barrier and fence, and flew around 10 metres onto the promenade before crashing into the river.

They both managed to get out of the car and swim to the side before walking to nearby Friedrichstrasse and checking into a hotel to change clothes. Police investigating the case found wet clothes on the balcony of the hotel room.

Apart from a number of bruises, the couple were uninjured. Police and fire spokesmen said they were lucky to be alive.

The driver was tested for alcohol, with a result of 0.8 promille, over the 0.5 promille limit for drivers. He would not make a statement about the time of the accident or the exact details of how it happened.

“The car must have been going at least 100 kilometres an hour,” said fire department spokesperson Jens-Peter Wilken.

Questions are now being asked about how no-one noticed the crash until 6 am, since the Reichstag is one of the most monitored and protected places in the capital.

Der Tagesspiegel said several police units are supposed to be active in the governmental quarter – the Berlin state police, plain-clothes detectives of the state protection unit, federal police, security details from the federal police and members of the parliamentary police which are specifically responsible for the Reichstag and the Paul-Löbe Haus, where much parliamentary work is conducted.

Berlin MP Stefanie Volgelsang said she found the entire incident odd.

“The police officers in the Paul-Löbe Haus are there 24 hours a day. They must have heard something,” she said, although she admitted that due to the parliamentary summer break less security was needed.

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TRAVEL NEWS

What we know so far about Berlin’s follow-up to the €9 ticket

After weeks of debate, Berlin has settled on a new budget ticket to replace the €9 ticket for a limited time. Here's what know about the travel deal so far.

What we know so far about Berlin's follow-up to the €9 ticket

So Berlin’s getting a new €9 ticket? Cool!

Kind of. Last Thursday, the Berlin Senate agreed to implement a €29 monthly ticket from October 1st until December 31st this year. 

It’s designed to bridge the gap between the end of the €9 ticket deal and the introduction of a new national transport deal that’s due to come into force by January 2023.

The Senate still hasn’t fleshed out the details in a written decision yet, so some aspects of the ticket aren’t clear, but we do know a few things about how it’ll work. For €29 a month, people can get unlimited travel on all modes of public transport in Berlin transport zones A and B. That means buses, trains and trams are all covered – but things like taxis aren’t. 

Wait – just zones A and B. Why’s that?

One of the sticking points in planning the new ticket was the fact that neighbouring state Brandenburg was reluctant to support the idea. Franziska Giffey (SPD), the governing mayor of Berlin, had annoyed her neighbours and surprised her own coalition partners by suddenly pitching the idea at the end of August – shortly before the €9 ticket was due to expire.

At the time, the disgruntled Brandenburg state premier Dietmar Woidke (SPD) complained about the lack of advance notice for a proper debate. He had previously ruled out a successor to the €9 ticket in the state. Meanwhile, the CDU – who are part of the governing coalition in Brandenburg – slammed the idea for a new cheap ticket as a “waste of money” and an attempt to “buy votes” for the SPD.

The blockade meant that plans for a Berlin-Brandenburg ticket run by transport operator VBB had to be scrapped, and the monthly ticket has instead been restricted to the two transport zones solely operated by Berlin’s BVG. Since zone C stretches into Brandenburg, Berlin couldn’t include this zone in the ticket unilaterally. 

Berlin transport zones explained

Source: S-Bahn Berlin

The good news is that zones A and B cover everything within the city’s borders, taking you as far as Spandau in the west and Grunau in the southeast. So unless you plan regular trips out to the Brandenburg, you should be fine.

However, keep in mind that the Berlin-Brandenburg BER airport is in zone C, so you’ll need an ‘add-on’ ticket to travel to and from there. It’s also not great for the many people who live in Potsdam in Brandenburg and commute into Berlin regularly. 

READ ALSO: Berlin gets green light to launch €29 transport ticket

How can people get hold of it? 

Unlike the €9 ticket, you won’t be able to buy it at stations on a monthly basis. Instead, the €29 ticket is only for people who take out a monthly ‘Abo’ (subscription) for zones A and B. If you’ve already got a monthly subscription, the lower price will be deducted automatically, while yearly Abo-holders will likely get a refund. 

You can take out a monthly subscription on the BVG website here – though, at the time of writing, the price of the ticket hadn’t been updated yet. According to Giffey, people will be able to terminate their subscription at the end of December without facing a penalty. 

What types of ‘Abos’ are eligible for the deal? 

According to Berlin transport operator BVG, people with the following subscriptions are set to benefit from the reduced price from October to December: 

  • VBB-Umweltkarten with monthly and annual direct debit
  • 10 o’clock tickets with monthly and yearly direct debit
  • VBB-Firmentickets with monthly and yearly direct debit 
  • Trainee subscriptions with monthly direct debit

People who already have reduced-price subscriptions, such as over-65s and benefits claimants, aren’t set to see any further reductions. That’s because many of these subscriptions already work out at under €29 per month for zones A and B. 

Passengers exit an U-Bahn train in Berlin

Passengers exit an U-Bahn train at Zoologischer Garten. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

Can students with a Semesterticket get it as well?

That’s one of the things that still needs to be clarified. It’s possible that universities will choose to refund part of the Semesterticket price like they did with the €9 ticket. The Local has contacted BVG for more information. 

Can I take my bike/dog/significant other along for the ride? 

Once again, this doesn’t appear to have been ironed out yet – but we can assume that the usual rules of your monthly or yearly subscription will apply. So, as with the €9 ticket, if your bike is included in your subscription, you can continue to take it with you. If not, you’ll probably have to pay for a bike ticket.

In most cases, monthly BVG subscriptions allow you to take one dog with you for free, and also bring one adult and up to three children (under 14) with you on the train on evenings and weekends. These rules are likely to stay the same, but we’ll update you as soon as we know more. 

How much is this all going to cost?

According to regional radio station RBB24, around €105 million is set to be put aside in order to subsidise the temporary ticket. However, this still needs to be formalised in a supplementary budget and given the green light in the Senate. 

An S-Bahn train leaves Grünewald station

An S-Bahn train leaves Grünewald station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

OK. And what happens after the €29 ticket?

That’s the million – or, rather, billion – euro question right now. In its latest package of inflation relief measures, the federal government said it would be making €1.5 billion available for a follow-up to the €9 ticket.

The ticket is set to be introduced by January 2023 and will rely on Germany’s 16 states matching or exceeding the federal government’s €1.5 billion cash injection. So far, it looks set to be a monthly ticket that can be used on public transport nationally, with the price set somewhere between €49 and €69.

However, the Greens continue to push for a two-tier model that would give passengers the option of buying either a regional or national ticket. Under their proposals, the regional tickets would cost €29 and the national tickets would cost €69.

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