Thick snowfall brings severe travel restrictions to Hamburg

Unexpectedly heavy snowfall has it commuters in Hamburg hard, with the city autobahn closed in one section and S-Bahn and U-Bahn lines also affected.

Thick snowfall brings severe travel restrictions to Hamburg
Snow at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. Photo: DPA

The port city's transport authorities were caught off guard on Thursday morning when heavy snowfall defied milder predictions by weather forecasters, the Hamburger Morgenpost reports.

The German Weather Service had predicted light snow or rain to fall over night, but locals woke up to find their city lying under a thick coat of snow.

Deutsche Bahn was caught off guard by the late winter weather, with the S1 line hit by delays. Meanwhile intercity trains from Hamburg to Berlin were not running early on Thursday after the lines was blocked by a fallen tree between Schwarzenbek and Büchen. Services resumed later in the morning but significant delays are still expected.

Regional trains around Hamburg were also hit hard. The line between Kiel and Lübeck was one of several completely closed down due to fallen trees.

Underground services in Hamburg were also running irregularly on the U2 and U6 lines. Both had been impacted by fallen trees on overground sections and were running rail replacement services.

Meanwhile Hamburg’s fire service have warned drivers to show particular caution on the city's roads.

With drivers picking their way through the slushy streets, traffic jams built up around the Elbe tunnel and on the A255 autobahn.

The worst delays were to be found on the A1, which was closed after a truck driver lost control of his vehicle near Wildeshausen. Commuters driving into Hamburg on the busy motorway were stuck in a long tailback.


Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.