As temperatures are expected to hit 38 degrees in the shade on Wednesday, train passengers are being advised to check schedules after Deutsche Bahn was forced to cancel several departures on Tuesday due to defect air conditioning.
The company has previously admitted its trains are only designed to cope with temperatures of up to 32 degrees.
Six high-speed ICE and intercity EC trains stopped mid-journey on Tuesday when overwhelmed air conditioning systems broke down, said a Bahn spokesman. Passengers were told to leave trains and change onto replacement vehicles for their own protection.
And as Germany’s heatwave seems set to last until the end of the week at least, passengers may have to reckon with similar disruptions over the coming days, said Deutsche Bahn.
“We’re not talking about big problems here, since we put on about 1,400 long distance trains a day,” said the spokesman.
But if the hot weather returns, the rail network may yet feel the heat. During the heatwave summer of 2010 Deutsche Bahn came under fire when the air conditioning in an ICE train between Hannover and Bielefeld broke down and nine people were sent to hospital.
Meanwhile, Bahn head Rüdiger Grube told Bild tabloid on Wednesday that Germany’s recent catastrophic flooding had caused hundreds of millions of euros in damage to the rail network, adding that normal service won’t be resumed for at least another four weeks.
Around 19,000 train journeys had been affected by this year’s flooding so far, said the paper, 10,000 of which had been cancelled entirely.
In the worst affected regions, said Grube, delays, diversions and cancellations would continue for another “four to six weeks.” In the floods of 2002 the network suffered damages of around €1 billion.