Rail chaos more severe in December than first thought

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.

Rail chaos more severe in December than first thought
Photo: DPA

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.


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Weather: Germany sees extreme heat and storms

An extreme heat warning was in place for eastern Germany on Monday, while storms were also set to hit the country.

Weather: Germany sees extreme heat and storms

The German Weather Service (DWD) said temperatures could reach 36C on Monday. 

In the morning, the DWD issued an extreme heat warning for eastern regions, as shown below in the map. 

Map of Germany shows the heat warning in the east on Monday June 27th.

Photo: German Weather Service (DWD)

Forecasters said later on Monday, the south and east of the country would be hit by thunderstorms as well as large hailstones, strong winds and heavy rain.

READ ALSO: Germany sees record temperatures

In the north, west and centre of Germany, forecasters predicted clouds and some showers. Over the course of Monday, heavy thunderstorms with heavy rain, hailstones and strong winds are also possible in the north.

“Thunderstorms have occurred in the past few days and will continue in the coming days, as the established weather situation will remain virtually unchanged,” said a spokesperson from the DWD. 

However, the large temperature differences are striking: in the west of Germany, the mercury will only reach just above 20C in places.

Overnight to Tuesday, the DWD predicts thunderstorms – some of them heavy – from the Baltic Sea to the Alps, and later there is set to be more showers. It could still reach 28C in some places, especially in the east.

The DWD said: “The risk of thunderstorms will remain in the southern half of the country, while the northern half will calm down after the last thunderstorms have moved to Poland.

“This will change again on Wednesday night, when showers and thunderstorms, some of them thundery, as well as heavy rain will make their way north. On Wednesday, it will be quite unsettled with muggy temperatures almost all over the country.”

Forecasters said the weather will remain changeable for the rest of the week, but it should become more settled from next weekend.