• Germany's news in English

Teen fined for sitting on train's first class stairs

The Local · 14 Dec 2011, 12:30

Published: 14 Dec 2011 12:30 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

According to Cologne's Express newspaper, 18-year-old Alexander Güldenring recently had nowhere to sit on a very full North Rhine-Westphalian Regional Express train, so he decided to sit on the steps.

But a Deutsche Bahn conductor told Güldenring that, although he had a valid second class ticket, the stairs he was sitting on were for first class customers only. That meant a €40 fine.

“She said she had to be tough, otherwise the first class customers would feel annoyed,” Güldenring told Express.

Güldenring told the newspaper that he appealed for common sense from Deutsche Bahn but officials only offered to reduce the fine to €20, but not dismiss it completely.

A Deutsche Bahn spokesman told Express that the fine was appropriate because the car was only for first class.

But Karl-Peter Naumann, a spokesman for the Pro-Bahn consumer rights organisation, said the incident was ridiculous.

“Legally this might be in order. But Deutsche Bahn really shouldn’t deal with its customers like this,” he said.

Güldenring has not yet paid the fine and is weighing whether to pay-up or challenge it in court.

Story continues below…

The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:39 December 14, 2011 by guerito
The DB should be fined for selling so many 2nd class tickets that there is not enough room for the passengers.
12:59 December 14, 2011 by Maschinenbau
Sometimes its very depressing if you have to stay face to face with 100 of other people in front of the 1st class door where one guy siting in the whole room reading a newspaper ... but you know if you enter this room you have to pay for it.

in my opinon a 1st class room in local traffic is not necessary
14:09 December 14, 2011 by freechoice
What's next, breathing First Class Air is chargeable offence too?
15:30 December 14, 2011 by murka
man this conductor needs some decompression

@freechoice - you gave me a laugh
16:40 December 14, 2011 by Ruhetag
First Class customers might want to sit on the first class stairs. Seems fair to me.
16:40 December 14, 2011 by berfel
Funny how airlines can cope with overbooking by upgrading select passengers to e.g. business class; and DeutscheWahn can't.

There are safety issues as well. Passengers should be seated on high-speed trains. Is there some exemption from Duty of Care?

I stopped using DB as a preferred method of travel in Germany because there were too many people standing on express trains, or seated on stairs, in gangways, etc. That and the fact that it'd become unreliable in terms of getting me to where I had to be by the scheduled time.
19:13 December 14, 2011 by Ludinwolf
Germans love acting like police, like authority, this is just another excuse.

There s no friendly action in here, is all about rules to be followed.

"my warn to you is when the police officer is at your door".
19:21 December 14, 2011 by Tharwat
I would like to chip in to help Guldeuring pay this off. No one should be fined for setting on the stairs - specially teenagers ( we should talk to them and make them understand)- on the other hand did she think that if he had a seat for his money he would trade it for the stairs of first class!!.... lets all go set on the stairs :P just kidding :)))
19:21 December 14, 2011 by catjones
Whta happens when 1st class sit on 2nd class stairs? Refunds? OMG total and complete chaos. all germans must have the 'common sense' gene removed at birth...it's the Rules.
20:00 December 14, 2011 by ovalle3.14
The moral of the day: seats on 2nd are worse than the floor on 1st.
20:02 December 14, 2011 by vonSchwerin
We must have Order! What if Chaos breaks out!

Rules, rules, rules!
20:03 December 14, 2011 by nadom
Oh my, I hope that these first class passengers were not contaminated from breathing the fumes coming from this low class individual. May the god above bless them with a larger mansion when they get to get to meet him.
20:27 December 14, 2011 by yourkeau
Don't like stereotyping, but it seems that the number of idiots in West Germany (I mean western states, not former BRD states) is higher than average in the country. I was sitting on the similar stairs in regional train while travelling in Southern Germany and nobody objected to it including the conductor.
20:41 December 14, 2011 by quiller
Alexander - for you the war is over. Ask for the charges in writing and in detail, backed up by the appropriate by laws, pay the fine and ask for an official receipt. Then combine all the papers inside a picture frame and advertise the product on the internet for sale. It should fetch more that €20. The product should be worth a few euro. Mind you the few euro might not be worth that much. Good luck - you may be able to lecture Deutche Bahn executives at an annual general meeting as regards customer service - at a duly inflated fee. As an apropos, did the stairs have appended a bye law notice stating that 2nd class, 3 rd class or steerage passengers were not permitted to put their bottoms on the tread part of the step.

It appears that such bye laws do not apply in Greece, Ireland, Portugal or Spain. Backward countries, I suppose.
22:53 December 14, 2011 by wood artist
I would love to present this "case" to a court.

My client bought a ticket. My client purchased the right to sit in the train for the duration of the trip. DB failed to provide that seat. DB failed to provide that seat because they knew, or should have known, that they sold more tickets than they had seats available.

My client was, therefore, entitled to either a full refund (assuming he didn't travel) or some other accommodation due to the errors made solely by DB. He took it upon himself to make some reasonable, non-threatening, friendly accommodation by sitting on the stairs. He didn't complain about the lack of seating...which he certainly was entitled to do.

Instead, DB complained about which set of steps he was sitting on. He was not accused of creating a safety hazard, or endangering any other passengers.

So...exactly which party in this contract (the ticket representing a contract) failed to perform? It's pretty clear that 100% of the failure belongs to DB. If anyone should be fined or punished, it should be DB.

End of discussion.

00:04 December 15, 2011 by zeddriver
@wood artist

Well said. DB apparently stands for D-Bag.
10:17 December 15, 2011 by Small Town Boy
@Wood artist: I hope you're not a lawyer. A ticket does NOT give you the right to a seat; it merely gives you the right to travel. As there are no reserved seats on regional trains, DB in fact does not know how many people will be on any given train. I'm confused as to why people are applying airline logic to a completely different industry.
10:51 December 15, 2011 by CensorThis
I think the misunderstanding most the commentors on here have is there is a reason for these first class cabins.

First class people do not sit coach. The only way to make it socially acceptable for these people to use public transportation is to enforce the caste system. I am often surprised at how few people see this.

There is a caste of people here who are content to live their entire lives renting apartments until their parents die and leave them theirs. These people do not care because they have healthcare and vacation days.

Meanwhile you have a group of people that get around the high taxes by having their company pay for their car, gas, and first class bahn tickets. All of these taxes on energy do not affect those that they were meant to tax the most. They hurt the working class Germans.

I just hope all of you are enjoying your cake, you are paying for it.
10:59 December 15, 2011 by hankeat
I have two questions regarding second class ticket. Can I use first class toilet? Can I walk through first class car?
11:00 December 15, 2011 by wood artist
@small town boy

I don't claim to have a bunch of knowledge regarding DB, but I do know that I purchase my tickets on-line before I come to Germany, mainly because it's less expensive but I can't print them off while "on the road." In every case, including regional trains, I have been able to purchase "a seat" and the printout includes that seat number. Now, having said that, I know I pay a little bit extra for that...so non-seat tickets are also available. I also know that the seat numbers often don't match the tickets, so you get on Wagen ** and discover that seat 109 doesn't exist on that car.

In any case, the ticket does represent a contract, and if DB doesn't reasonably honor the contract, then they're at fault. If they "know" they might not have that many seats, then they have offered (and accepted) a contract they cannot honor. In this case, they went to far as to "amend" the contract by saying you can't sit "here." which was not in any written document.

With the S-Bahn or U-Bahn it's a given that trains will be "over-sold" because there are no tickets for a particular train. As I understand it, that is not true of regional trains.

16:42 December 15, 2011 by jlambert
DB knows the trains are overcrowded and traveling at dangerous capacity. They really need to put more double deckers into use to solve the problem or start using longer trains. I once was told by a DB conductor that the platforms are only so long. So I asked him why they dont use a double decker instead. They dont have many of them. BS, build some! DB is as cheap as you can be and doesnt care about the customer. They use old rolling stock until the wheels almost fall off before they put in a new train.
13:58 December 17, 2011 by raandy
I assume this is the entire story. If the conductor had said "Sir, I am sorry but you are in a first class wagen with a second class ticket, would you please return to second class" and the person refused then a fine might be appropriate,however if there was no prior dialogue then the conductor is a dic**.and should seek employment with the ordungsamt.
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd