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Berlin S-Bahn woes plague commuters

The Local · 4 Jan 2011, 11:16

Published: 04 Jan 2011 11:16 GMT+01:00

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Since the onset of wintry weather last month, more than 1,000 of the S-Bahn’s trains have broken down.

With the S-Bahn running infrequently or not at all on some lines, commuters have been forced to switch to buses and the U-Bahn metro where they can.

The latest S-Bahn setback is another chapter in a long saga of mismanagement and shoddy upkeep of part of the German capital’s once proud public transportation network. Operated by national railway provider Deutsche Bahn, the S-Bahn is distinct from the BVG, the company running the city’s metro, buses and trams.

But with an extra 400,000 passengers cramming alternative means of transportation each day, there a few illusions among city transport officials.

“The BVG cannot replace the S-Bahn,” a BVG spokeswoman told daily Der Tagesspiegel on Tuesday.

Berlin’s politicians have regularly accused Deutsche Bahn of chronically underfunding S-Bahn maintenance, but have appeared largely helpless to remedy the situation.

Berlin Transportation Minister Ingeborg Junge-Reyer has demanded Deutsche Bahn present solutions to the S-Bahn crisis by this Wednesday. However, the city still rejects ending the company’s contract to operate the S-Bahn before it ends in 2017.

“They know what they have to do,” Junge-Reyer’s spokesman Mathias Gille told Der Tagesspiegel. “We’d have to buy (Deutsche) Bahn’s services right back for lack of an alternative.”

Story continues below…

Adding insult to injury to Berlin's commuters, fares for public transport in the city were hiked by 10 percent at the start of the year.

The Local/DPA/mry

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Your comments about this article

11:58 January 4, 2011 by tallady
When you are standing there with 2 young children and its been 30 minutes since the last train and cold,it is very frustrating and irritating. Last year was the same..Berlin is the Capital city,with all the Economic positive news fix the damn thing.
13:27 January 4, 2011 by majura
We were in Muenchen the other day and asked the receptionist if there were any issues with the S-bahn there, since we were headed to the airport from the city. She said that there were some problems and that we should take the earlier train.

We arrived at the airport 2 min behind schedule. My wife then turned to me and said: "I guess Muenchen S-Bahn problems aren't like Berlin S-Bahn problems."

Not only were the trains clean and new, they could actually travel quickly. It took the scheduled 40min from Muenchen Hbf to the airport. The S-Bahn trip in Berlin (SXF-Schoenhauser Allee) which is meant to take same 40min took 1.5 hours. Yet the train had a 2cm layer of slush on the floor and stank only like a Berlin S-Bahn train can.

I wouldn't be that bothered by price hikes if Berlin's public transport was of the same standard, which it obviously isn't. The city doesn't want to cancel the contract and add the S-Bahn to their BVG portfolio because we're already steeped in so much debt. Even though it's obvious the BVG could run the S-Bahn well. Deutsche Bahn? Who the hell knows anymore. They lie, pretend to care, make promises and just don't keep them time and time again. Something's rotten in that decrepit organisation and no one cares to do anything about apart from make a few press releases to ensure re-election.
14:42 January 4, 2011 by tallady
majura..Thank you for the information,interesting ,I have never ridden on the Muenchen S-Bahn,,8 years ago when I first came to Berlin, the price of an AB ticket was 39 euros,now it is 72..and as you mentioned the service is outdated and ignored by the BVG,DB or whoever. It is an embarrassment to the City of Berlin.
16:01 January 4, 2011 by twisted
And Deutsch Bahn can't wait to go public so it it use the money from the IPO to give management a huge raise. Wait and see.
17:27 January 4, 2011 by catjones
When management sees real problems as 'poor but sexy' what do you expect? In the near future, Chinese engineers will come to the rescue.
17:32 January 4, 2011 by OkieinBerlin
Hey tallady, why should we expect the Berlin trains to run in the snow when Berliners can't be bothered to shovel it off the sidewalks? And a Happy New Year, by the way...
19:12 January 4, 2011 by loveencounterflow
""" ¦quot;They know what they have to do,¦quot; Junge-Reyer¦#39;s spokesman Mathias Gille told Der Tagesspiegel. ¦quot;We¦#39;d have to buy (Deutsche) Bahn¦#39;s services right back for lack of an alternative.¦quot; """

is that supposed to be a joke? they have been pulling tax money out of the service that directly went to the deutsche bahn, to be registered as profits there. this is theft, on a large and ongoing scale. i say disappropriate deutsche bahn of the entire s-bahn operation, and form or find another organization to do the job.

""" I wouldn't be that bothered by price hikes """

are you joking, too? i and millions of berliners would be very bothered. apart from that, prices *have* --- in the midst of a period of decrepit service levels unheard of in this city ever since 8th of may, 1945 --- been raised, from 2,10€ to 2,30€ for the single ride. bingo, another precious 20c per ride going directly into the pockets of a gang of railway robbers that pose as managers. this is like world hunger: money there is enough, ways to do it right there are, but a corrupt system is hanging on the collective body like leeches. high time to kick them neoliberal brainsuckers out of town.
19:15 January 4, 2011 by tallady
Happy New Year to you,,but we expect the best of German engineering in the Capital City not the standards of Munbi
09:32 January 5, 2011 by majura

I said that I wouldn't be that bothered by the price hikes - now this is where one should actually continue reading - if Berlin's public transport was of a similar standard to that of other German cities where in fact, a one-way 120min fare costs €2,50 (Muenchen for example, of course wages on average there are higher than in Berlin).

To make this more simplified for your over-reactionary mind, this means that if having to pay €2,30 instead of €2,10 meant that trains were clean, faster and simply ran on time it would not as such, be harder pill to swallow.

Do I like the price hikes? Of course not, who on earth likes paying more!? I also understand that many Berliners see a 10% price hike as something that significantly impacts their quality of life. As inflation has slowly risen, wages have not and the sinking unemployment rate here is mostly due to part-time employment. I am in no-way excessively wealthy, however in my opinion the idea of paying an extra €0,20 for better service isn't a bad one. I was simply expressing disdain at the fact that we are paying more and getting less.

Did you manage to read and comprehend that? I sure hope so.
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