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Drunk high speed train driver heavily over the limit misses stop at Wittenberg

A drunk ICE driver who was found to have a staggering alcohol level of just under 0.25% (2.5 per mille) missed a scheduled stop, and was later escorted off the train by police.

Drunk high speed train driver heavily over the limit misses stop at Wittenberg
File picture shows an ICE train. Photo: DPA

Train drivers in Germany are not allowed to consume any alcohol while working. However the driver, who was operating the high speed ICE 993 from Hamburg to Leipzig on Tuesday at the time, was found to be well over the limit by police, according to the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.

The train was supposed to stop in Lutherstadt-Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, around 10:10 p.m. But the driver did not come to a halt to let passengers alight.

Around 10:30 p.m. the train finally stopped in Bitterfeld. 

DPA reported that the train conductor raised the alarm and police escorted the driver off the train at Bitterfeld. The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated. There is no information on the number of passengers who were on the train at the time.

According to the newspaper, the locomotive driver was asked by officials at the police station in Anhalt-Bitterfeld to undergo an alcohol test before he could continue his journey. They breathalyzed him and found an alcohol value of 2.49 per mille, just under 0.25%.

The website Zugfinder.de revealed that the train arrived in Leipzig 65 minutes late.

Passengers who wanted to alight at Lutherstadt-Wittenberg had to take a train back to the town from Bitterfeld. A new driver took over the ICE at Bitterfeld.

'Thorough investigation'

Train operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) confirmed to the newspaper that a stop was missed.

A railway spokesman said that the exact circumstances would be “thoroughly” investigated. “We apologize to our passengers for the inconvenience caused by the situation in Wittenberg and Bitterfeld,” the spokesman said. “In this case, of course, the compensation rules of passenger rights would apply in full.”

The spokesman also made it clear that DB has a zero tolerance approach to alcohol. “Regardless of what the investigation in the current case shows, DB has a zero per mil limit” in place for drivers, the spokesman said.

The train driver’s licence was reportedly immediately taken away and handed over to the Federal Railway Authority. The investigation continues.

Meanwhile, RP Online reported that it’s not the first time a driver has missed a stop. On January 4th, 2017 an ICE also passed Wittenberg without stopping. However, the driver noticed his mistake, stopped the train and was able to return to the station.

A similar case had occurred shortly before in Bitterfeld. Several trains have also mistakenly passed through Wolfsburg, Göttingen and Uelzen (Lower Saxony) without stopping.

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CLIMATE

Germany could ‘lose last glaciers in 10 years’

Germany's glaciers are melting at a faster pace than feared and the country could lose its last ice caps in 10 years, an alarming report said Thursday.

Germany could 'lose last glaciers in 10 years'
The glacier on Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze, covered in snow. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

“The days of glaciers in Bavaria are numbered. And even sooner than expected,” said Thorsten Glauber, environment minister of the southern region, home to Germany’s ice-capped Alps.

“The last Bavarian Alpine glacier could be gone in 10 years.” Scientists had previously estimated the glaciers would be around until the middle of the century.

But the melting has accelerated dramatically over the last years. Located in the Zugspitze area and in the Berchtesgaden Alps, Germany’s five glaciers have lost about two-thirds of their volume in the past decade.

Their surface areas have also shrunk by a third – equivalent to around 36 football fields.

Issuing a stark warning over global warming, Glauber stressed that the glaciers are “not only a monument of Earth’s history in the form of snow and ice”.

“They are thermometers for the state of our climate,” he added.

A global study released Wednesday found nearly all the world’s glaciers are losing mass at an ever increasing pace, contributing to more than a fifth of global sea level rise this century.

An international team of researchers analysing images taken by a NASA satellite said that between 2000-2019, the world’s glaciers lost an average of 267 billion tonnes of ice each year — enough to submerge Switzerland under six metres of water every year.

The report came as meteorologists in Germany said this April has been the coldest in four decades.

Like elsewhere in Europe, Germany has recorded wild weather in recent years. After a winter in which temperatures plunged well below freezing in February, the mercury rose to 25.9 degrees on April 1 before slipping more than 15 degrees for much of the rest of the month.

Environmentalists blame global warming for the shifts and have been urging governments to do more to halt the damaging trend.

READ ALSO: How Germany is reacting to top court’s landmark ruling

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement countries aim to keep the global temperature increase to under two degrees Celsius, and ideally closer to 1.5 degrees, by 2050.

Climate activists scored a landmark victory Thursday in a case against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government as the Constitutional Court ruled Berlin’s environment protection plan insufficient.

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