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Berlin’s entire S-Bahn train network shuts down

The Local · 15 Dec 2011, 14:50

Published: 15 Dec 2011 13:44 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Dec 2011 14:50 GMT+01:00

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Initial information suggested that a central electronic control box had broken down, though it remained unclear what caused it, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported.

The breakdown even meant the drivers could not be reached by radio.

Passengers are currently being advised to use the rest of the city’s public transport system - underground U-Bahn trains, buses and trams are consequently filling up fast.

According to S-Bahn operator Deutsche Bahn, a large proportion of the signals and points are operated by a single control centre near the Halensee station in the west of the city. This appears to have lost its power supply.

Initial reports suggested a malfunction during maintenance work.

A brief statement on the S-Bahn website said, "A power cut at the electronic control centre in Halensee has caused a complete failure of the S-Bahn system."

Irregular connections have already been re-established on some of the outer lines.

The S-Bahn's press service was also apparently been caught completely off guard. According to the Tagesspiegel, the press communications team were out on a holiday "advent trip" Thursday. The newspaper was not told what means of transport they took.

Berlin Transport Minister Michael Müller told Der Tagesspiegel, "I hope that the S-Bahn solves its technical problem today, and as quickly as possible. It's almost impossible to imagine that all the S-Bahn's trains could break down because of a single control centre defect."

Story continues below…

The S-Bahn network – operated separately from the city’s underground trains - stretches from the city centre all the way into the state of Brandenburg. Several regional trains have also been affected by the breakdown.

The S-Bahn system currently transports around 1.3 million passengers daily. It has around 160 stations and 330 kilometres of track. It has been plagued with maintenance problems in recent years, frequently forcing Deutsche Bahn to scale back service.

DAPD/The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:27 December 15, 2011 by Dizz
Happy that it didn't result in trains crashing and people getting hurt.
15:00 December 15, 2011 by vonSchwerin
How can the ENTIRE rail network be dependent on one electrical connection? This is absurd. And it's asking for trouble.
15:19 December 15, 2011 by steve_glienicke
None of my business of course, but even my 4 year old daughter would have figured out that if you have only 1 central control centre, the least you have to invest in is a back up generator to keep the ruddy system running!!!!!
15:44 December 15, 2011 by Omufu
I got stuck at Gesundbrunnen and had to be evacuated. The driver was very good at keeping everyone calm and informed, but it took me a few hours to get home after that.

I agree with Steve - there's NO redundancy?! I was joking with someone yesterday, "There's no snow, so the S-Bahn is still running!" Spoke too soon. But ya, good no one got hurt.
15:57 December 15, 2011 by catjones
In later news it was found that the cleaning lady tripped over the extension cord and thus, pulled the plug. In addition to the s-bahn, the coffee was cold that morning, the office xmas tree went dark and Frau Blick's cellphone wasn't charged which is why she could not be reached for comment.
16:31 December 15, 2011 by jlambert
DB is so cheap it's absurd!

They overcharge for a service that rarely works properly. Overcrowded trains, no redundancy and absolutely no care of the customer.

DB = Doch Blöd
16:51 December 15, 2011 by storymann
Disgraceful, The Berlin S bahn is not dependable, especially during the winter months, you may stand on the platform for 30 minutes , waiting for the next train that is not only filthy but way overcrowded.

Berlin is the capital city and these S-bahn problems need to be addressed.I was in Munich and the S-bahn was clean and always on time.

I would like to send my children to school via Berlin's S-bahn but cannot because of it's undependability.
17:12 December 15, 2011 by jlambert
"Germany's rail operator Deutsche Bahn is expecting to record its biggest-ever profits in the coming year, despite the threat of an economic downturn hanging over the country, a leaked report shows."

20:22 December 15, 2011 by Shiny Flu
I'm just glad that a cycled to work today.

Putting up with cars illegally in the bus lane getting is nothing compared to getting stranded @Omufu
20:41 December 15, 2011 by wood artist
In other S-Bahn news, the maintenance department announced they have now completed the required repair/replacement/inspections on nearly 30% of the trains that were taken out of service two years ago. They were unable to supply information on when all the work might be completed, stating that " the only guy who knows that is stuck on a train that stalled between Humboldthain and Nordbahnhof."

09:35 December 16, 2011 by freechoice
man's fault is much more crippling than any terrorists attacks!
18:54 December 16, 2011 by Jeffvm
>How can the ENTIRE rail network be dependent on one electrical connection?

Systems like this are increasingly complicated and dependent on IT/communication, and a small mistake can have big consequences. Remember that big blackout in the US?

I for one suggest firing the many hundreds of people DB employs to stand around and bark "zurueckbleibeben'', as the BVG shows that can also be done using a recorded message. The saved money can be used for better trains.
22:42 December 16, 2011 by franconia
Engineering and science is not very known by expats? You can not run the system with a Generator like at your Camp. When the system fails it can have a Domino effect on the whole Country. Its not like the US, when AMTRAK fails, who gives a S--t
13:31 December 17, 2011 by strahlungsamt
All this happened because they privatized the S-Bahn. The bean counters at the top figured that closing repair shops and laying off staff would save money. They're right, it did. Problem is, we now have s***ty service. The S-Bahn and RE/RB trains break down all the time now. Expect at least one delay per day if you commute by them regularly. Recently I saw a sign saying the heating in the car isn't working.

Germany has really fallen from its glory days.
16:51 December 17, 2011 by berfel
After investing billions and employing the brightest of the bright for decades to rebuild the artery that feeds a vast metropolis, the Germans have built a single point of failure.

Centralised _control_ has been traling-edge for at least 20 years because of it's vulnerability and intolerance of faults. They have no resilience.

Resilience allows the parts of the system without faults to keep working. Unlike redundant systems, where parts are duplicated (often expensively) to handle situations where there is a foreseeable problem, a resilient one simply does its best to work with whatever resources are available to it.

Resilience is based on all functioning parts haveing sufficient awareness of their surrounding; by their own sensors and, if it's not broken, communications with the network, If that sounds vaguely like how people work together in day-to-day situations, then that's no coincidence.

Remember the day when the boss was off sick? The place didn't stop working. In lots of places, it runs a great deal better.

Control locally. Communicate widely. Supervisory control is only necessary if there is an "argument" about access to a particular resource. And "flipping a coins" is often good enough if a decision-maker when all contenders are seen as equal.
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