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WINTER

Damning report rules out Deutsche Bahn share sale

German rail provider Deutsche Bahn must give up plans to sell shares on the stock market due to grave service failures this winter, according to a Transportation Ministry report to be released this week.

Damning report rules out Deutsche Bahn share sale
Photo: DPA

Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer is set to present the unflattering report on the country’s beleaguered rail service Wednesday, detailing how the company’s inability to handle the tough winter led to travel chaos for passengers.

“Reasons for this were snow drifts, frozen junction plates, and ice at crossings,” according to excerpts from the report provided to a parliamentary transport committee. Some 110,000 Deutsche Bahn passengers have demanded damages for late or cancelled trains.

Ramsauer’s ministry has spent the last several weeks researching the report on how the icy weather affected all forms of transportation in the country, including salt and de-icer shortages endangering roads and airports, but the most damning details focus on Deutsche Bahn.

In the report, Ramsauer also criticised his predecessor Wolfgang Tiefensee and former Deutsche Bahn CEO Hartmut Mehdorn for leading the company into its current state.

Last summer Ramsauer alleged that spending cuts ahead of the planned public offering to boost the company’s bottom line were partly to blame for major technical problems on trains during a heat wave.

With even greater problems this winter, Deutsche Bahn must now concentrate indefinitely on improving its core business services instead of aiming to float part of the company on the stock market to fund expansion, the report said.

Investment in new and existing trains must be increased, Ramsauer added in the report.

“Additionally capacity at workshops must also be increased,” he said.

Meanwhile 14 new high-speed ICE trains expected by 2012 will no longer be sold abroad, instead being put to use at home. Another 10 trains currently in use by the Netherlands national rail service will be also be bought back, while others will be rented from Swiss and French rail companies.

The details of the report emerged a week after Deutsche Bahn boss Rüdiger Grube faced angry questioning from state officials and the parliamentary transportation committee for the company’s failures. He promised €44 billion in investment on upgrades over the next five years – though some state transport ministers insisted that would not be enough and Grube admitted he could not guarantee services would be back to normal next winter.

Still the centre-right federal government, backed by conservative state ministers, refused to waive the €500 million it is owed by Deutsche Bahn as a dividend on profits.

DPA/DAPD/ka

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STRIKES

How to navigate the Deutsche Bahn train strikes in your region of Germany

A standoff between the GDL train drivers’ union and Deutsche Bahn means that rail services will be crippled nationwide in Germany for five days. Here’s the information you need to navigate the strikes in your region.

How to navigate the Deutsche Bahn train strikes in your region of Germany
Berlin central station on Thursday morning. Photo: dpa | Paul Zinken

Deutsche Bahn is encouraging travellers to download the DB Navigator app and to use it immediately before they travel in order to see which services are currently running.

There is some information in English but the detailed lists of which lines are still running are in German. We provide links here to those pages and a brief overview of the main lines that have been affected. (tip: if it says Linie eingestellt, trains aren’t running on that line. 20-Minuten Takt means they’re running every 20 minutes).

SEE ALSO: What you need to know about the German rail strikes

Berlin

In the capital, S-Bahn services and regional train services have been severely impacted by the strike but the U-Bahn is not run by Deutsche Bahn so is running normally. That means that trying to get around by bus and U-Bahn (both run by BVG) should help you avoid the strikes.

If you’re happy to do plan ahead, there are still some S-Bahn services running. This website (in German) details which lines have been completely closed and which ones still run a train every 20 minutes.

In terms of the key lines: the Ringbahn is not running at all in either direction. Nor is the north-south S26 line, the S45 to the airport (the S9 to BER is still running), and the S75 from Wartemberg in the north-east into the city.

All other S-Bahn lines are running every 20 minutes with the exception of the S8 which is running every 40 mins. Not all of them are doing the full route though.

You can plug your journey into this English page run by Deutsche Bahn and it will show you how to best avoid the strike action.

In terms of regional trains to and from satellite towns, there is a detailed list of which lines have been completely halted for the strike and which have a form of replacement service.

The following lines are not running at all: FEX, RB10, – RB11, RB13, RB20, RB21, RB22, RB23, RB31, RB49, RB55, RE/RB66

Other lines connecting Magdeburg, Dessau, Eberswalde, Stralsund, Rostock and Cottbus with the capital are running reduced services.

Frankfurt

The German finance capital is also seriously affected by strikes on both its S-Bahn and regional services.

A full list of the lines that are not running reduced services can be found in German here.

Be careful to check for updates, as the page is updated every day at 11 am for the following day. 

Here are the current services for Thursday and Friday: The S2, S4, S7 and S9 are not running at all. Other lines are running on basic services but often only every hour.

NRW

A large number of regional and S-Bahn services in the west of the country have been completely stopped. These include the RE8 over Mönchengladbach, Cologne and Bonn, the RE9 between Aachen, Cologne and Siegen, and the RB33 between Essen and Aachen.

The S4 through Dortmund, the S8 through Düsseldorf and the S68 to Wuppertal have also been completely stopped. See here for further details.

Updates will be posted daily at 10:30am on the www.bahn.de website.

Bavaria

In Munich, a replacement S-Bahn timetable has been put in place for the duration of the strikes, with long delays expected on most lines.

The S1, which normally runs between the city and the airport, will be running every 20-40 minutes, but won’t go as far as the airport. The S2, S3, S4 and S6 will equally be running a partial service every 20-40 minutes and won’t stop at all stations. 

The S7 will only be running on an hourly basis, while the S8 will be running every 20 minutes between Pasing and the airport, and will also be running every 40-60 minutes to stations further along the line.

The S20 will not be running at all during the strike.

DB has not yet published a detailed list available of which regional trains have been affected in Bavaria, but cross-border services into Austria, Italy and Hungary and likely to be heavily impacted.

However DB say that they will update the travel planner website for Bavaria every day at 12:00 for the following day. You can plug your departure point and destination into that site here or check for general travel updates on here.

Other areas of the country

Various other parts of the are facing impediments to travel due to the strike. The east of the country is particularly affected. For an exhaustive list of all of the regions of the country where lines are not running according to schedule you can peruse this web page (in German).

READ ALSO: Germany’s train strikes: What rights do you have as a passenger?

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