Germany's most populous states – Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia – all start their summer school holidays within several days of one another around the end of July, which is set to cause clogged roads.
“Motorists in Germany are threatened with mega-jams at the start of holidays,” ADAC president Peter Meyer told daily Bild's Monday edition. “On the last weekend of July alone, we expect 160 jams with a total length of 2,000 kilometres. That is 25 percent more than last year.”
North Rhine-Westphalia's holiday begins on July 25, while Baden-Württemberg's kicks off on July 28 and Bavaria's on July 30.
ADAC called on education ministers to adjust school holidays. This would make sense economically, he said. Unbearable autobahn delays might otherwise encourage people to leave Germany for their holidays, putting their tourist money into other economies.
“After all, if it takes someone longer by car from Frankfurt to the Baltic Sea than to Anatolia by plane, they'll carefully reconsider their next German holiday,” Meyer said.
ADAC made a similar demand last year. The federal Education Ministry pointed out that summer holidays were already set until 2017.
According to various media reports, train failures because of overheating have already begun to plague Deutsche Bahn, reviving horror-memories of last summer, when air-conditioning systems broke down during a heatwave, in one case ending with the hospitalisation of dozens of passengers.
One high-speed ICE train had to be completely evacuated on Sunday. At least 20 trains were delayed by broken-down cooling systems, forcing many passengers to change trains.
A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bahn told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung: “We will compensate the passengers for the inconvenience.”
The paper reported that an ICE train from Berlin to Cologne was complete cleared out at Bielefeld in North Rhine-Westphalia, with 500 passengers being forced off the train, which took 50 minutes to repair.
The ICE 1509 from Stralsund to Munich suffered breakdowns on three of its carriages, forcing passengers either to move to other carriages or get off and wait for the next train.
About 50 passengers had to get off the ICE 1650 from Dresden to Wiesbaden at Eisenach because the air-conditioners broke down.
“It is understandable that this is met with incomprehension,” the Deutsche Bahn spokeswoman said.
Given there were 3,300 air-conditioners operating on long-distance trains, breakdowns were inevitable, she said.
“You have to expect that about 2 percent of the equipment can fail for a short time,” she said.
The head of Deutsche Bahn's passenger transport division, Ulrich Homburg, announced in May that the likelihood of breakdowns would be “very considerably reduced” through various improvements. It planned to guarantee that air-conditioners would operate smoothly in outside temperatures up to 38 degrees Celsius.
However he admitted this target would not be flawlessly met this summer: “There will be breakdowns of air-conditioners.”