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Rail chaos more severe in December than first thought

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Rail chaos more severe in December than first thought
Photo: DPA
16:54 CET+01:00
Fewer than half of Deutsche Bahn's long-distance trains were running on schedule during most of December, according to statistics cited in a news report Friday. The figures point to the extent of last month's travel chaos due to heavy snowfall.

According to information obtained by the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung from the company's infrastructure subsidiary DB Netz AG, only 40.3 percent of all long-distance trains were running on time during the week of December 13 through December 19. The following week, the figure dropped to just 29.8 percent.

But in his report to the parliamentary transport committee on Wednesday, Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer cited a far less drastic figure for the month of December, with the report stating that “punctuality fell below 70 percent” on some days. According to the newspaper, the 70-percent figure created the impression that delays were the exception, not the rule.

Statistics published by the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung show that punctuality did not exceed 56.5 percent on any single day between December 13 and 26. Only two days during the month were more than half of Deutsche Bahn's ICE and IC trains running on schedule.

On seven days, fewer than 30 percent of trains were on time, with the figure reaching rock-bottom – 20.5 percent – on December 26.

Some 110,000 Deutsche Bahn passengers have since demanded damages for late or cancelled trains.

“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 this week.

Ramsauer's report detailed the company's inability to handle the tough winter weather, but the transport minister also defended the company against criticism on Friday. He noted the company was made to unexpectedly cope with the stresses of providing alternative transportation for plane and automobile passengers stranded due to heavy snow.

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.

DAPD/DPA/arp

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