7 people killed by storm Xavier, rail travellers told to expect further disruptions

After a powerful storm which killed at least seven people blasted across northern Germany on Thursday, rail transport will continue to be disrupted on Friday.

7 people killed by storm Xavier, rail travellers told to expect further disruptions
Travellers at Alexanderplatz U-Bahn station in Berlin on Thursday. Photo: DPA.

The vast majority of long-distance trains in north and northeastern Germany had been cancelled until further notice on Friday morning.

Rail routes between Hanover and Berlin, Hamburg and Berlin, Hamburg and Hanover, and Hamburg and Kiel are closed.

One day after hurricane-force winds swept through the north of the country, cancellations on main rail routes are likely to cause considerable delays and long waiting times for commuters and long-distance travellers on Friday.

A Deutsche Bahn spokesman warned on Friday that the temporary suspension of trains in north and northeast Germany could also have an impact on the national railway network. They have also assured customers that tickets that were not used on Thursday are still valid on Friday.

Many rail travellers expressed their frustration on Thursday, as they were left stranded at railway stations, with Deustche Bahn providing no alternative means of transport.

Storm Xavier killed at least seven people in Germany, five of them in their vehicles, on Thursday. Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania were particularly badly affected by the storm and the consequences of fallen trees.

A fallen tree on Kurfürstendamm in west Berlin. Photo: DPA

A woman in Hamburg was killed on Thursday when a tree blown over by hurricane-force winds fell on top of her car. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania a truck driver died when a tree hit his vehicle as he drove down a state road.

The most tragedies were suffered in Brandenburg, where four people lost their lives. In Berlin a woman was killed by a falling tree in the Tegel area, while several other people were seriously injured.

According to Bild, the woman killed in Berlin was Dr. Sylke Tempel, a political expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), who had just left a meeting at the Foreign Ministry.

While public transport in Hamburg is slowly returning to normal, a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson advised commuters in Berlin who normally travel with the S-Bahn to switch to other means of transport.

“The entire network in the region is massively restricted. We have numerous trees on the tracks, damaged overhead lines and broken masts,” a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson said on Friday, stating that the repairs would probably take all day.

“We couldn't repair all the overhead lines and rail infrastructure at night,” he added.

The S-Bahn was completely shut down running on Thursday because of the storm.

Long-distance travellers will likely not be able to travel on routes today which had been closed last night, according to the spokesperson.

Deutsche Bahn advises travellers throughout Germany to use their app to find out about cancellations and delays.

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EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Germany

The popularity of electric scooters in Germany has exploded in the last few years, but many people still aren't sure what the rules for driving them are. We break them down.

EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Germany

Germany is currently the world’s second-largest market for e-scooter rental after the USA, which might explain why you have the feeling that you’re seeing the electric vehicles everywhere these days, at least in cities. 

According to a recent survey by ADAC,15 percent of people in Germany aged 16 and over regularly use e-scooters. Of these, 45 percent own their own scooter, while 55 percent rent the vehicles from sharing services.

Here are the rules for driving an e-scooter that you need to know.

Who can drive an e-scooter?

Anyone over the age of 14 can ride an electric scooter and you don’t need to have a driving license to use one. However, many of the traffic rules for motorists also apply to e-scooter riders, and misbehaving on a scooter could end up costing you points on your driving license or even getting you a driving ban.

READ ALSO: Driving in Germany: Eight German road signs that confuse foreigners

Can more than one person ride an e-scooter?

No. Only one person is allowed to ride a scooter and if you are caught riding in two, you will get a €10 fine.

Although it might be fun, riding side by side on two scooters is also not allowed and can be punished with a fine of between €15 and €30. Instead, you and your friends have to ride in single file.

Where can you ride an e-scooter?

E-scooters are principally allowed on bike paths and in bike lanes and you can only drive them on the road if there is no bike lane available. If you do drive on the road, you must keep as far to the right as possible and you are not allowed to ride in bus lanes.

It’s also forbidden to ride an e-scooter on the motorway – doing so will get you a €20 fine. 

Riding an e-scooter on the pavement, in pedestrian-only zones, or in one-way streets against the direction of traffic is also not allowed and can land you a fine of between €15 and €30.

However, e-scooters are allowed on one-way or no-entry roads which have a “cyclists free” sign.

A no-entry sign with a “cyclists free” sign underneath. This sign also applies to e-scooters. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jens Kalaene

Which traffic light rules apply to electric scooters?

E-scooter riders have to abide by traffic lights just like motorists, and the fine for ignoring a red light on an e-scooter is between €60 and €180.

However, if there is also a traffic light for bicycles, e-scooter riders can follow this one instead.

Is there an alcohol limit for electric scooters?

Yes, the same alcohol limits for motorists apply to electric scooter riders.

This means that anyone who drives with a blood alcohol level of between 0.5 to 1.09 is liable for a fine of €500, a 1-month driving ban and 2 points on their driving license.

It’s a criminal offence to ride an electric scooter with a blood alcohol concentration of at more than 1.1, as is causing an accident with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.3.

Under 21s must be completely alcohol free – with a blood alcohol level of 0.0 – to ride an e-scooter.

Where can e-scooters be parked?

E-scooters can be parked at the roadside, on the pavement and in pedestrian zones with designated e-scooter parking areas. However, e-scooters must be parked in such a way that they don’t obstruct or endanger pedestrians or other road users. 

Parked e-scooters in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Which rules are there for e-scooter owners?

If you’ve upgraded from renting to owning your own scooter, there are certain requirements you have to be aware of. 

Firstly, it’s mandatory to have liability insurance and a special sticker (similar to a license plate) stuck to the scooter to show that it is insured.

READ ALSO: German words you need to know: Haftpflichtversicherung

E-scooter owners also have to make sure that they have two independently working brakes and lights. 

Which other rules should I be aware of?

As with driving a car or cycling, you are not allowed to use your mobile phone while riding an e-scooter (which is pretty challenging anyway). If you’re caught doing so, you’ll get a €100 fine and a point on your driving license. 

It’s not mandatory to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter, though it is recommended.