Lack of staff at German railway stations raises safety concerns
More than 90 percent of railway stations in Germany have no service staff, new research reveals.
Passengers at 5,213 stations throughout the country do not have access to service personnel. That means no one is are available to answer questions, or assist passengers such as those with mobility difficulties.
In total, Deutsche Bahn (DB) operates 5,663 passenger stations.
The numbers came to light after The Left party (die Linke) submitted a query to the German Transport Ministry.
It comes as Germany considers how to improve safety at railway stations following high profile incidents where passengers were pushed onto railway tracks.
In Frankfurt an eight-year-old boy died after being pushed under a train last month by a man. Earlier in July a woman was killed after being pushed onto the rail tracks in an attack near Duisburg.
Dietmar Bartsch, parliamentary leader of The Left party, said the lack of staff at stations was a huge problem.
"If there are no service personnel at more than 5,000 stations - and not a single regional station, then something can go wrong.”
It’s not just about passengers being able to get information, but it's also about safety, he said. "The principle must apply: a station that is in service must also be manned by DB personnel."
A passenger waits for a regional train at Berlin's Ostkreuz station. Photo: DPA
No change in staffing
Deutsche Bahn pointed out that the number of service employees has remained at the same level - around 3,000 - for 10 years. Staff are deployed at all major stations where there are many passengers and visitors, as well as at large transfer points, major events and at stations that are important for holidaymakers.
"Service at stations is an important factor for DB," a spokeswoman stressed. There are also around 2,300 travel consultants in travel centres and around 2,000 cleaning staff at stations, the spokeswoman added.
In addition to 5,000 federal police officers, 4,000 security guards are deployed at various times across railway stations. "At all stations - even without personnel - we always provide information on notices, timetables and electronic displays.," said the spokesoman.
More and more customers are also using the Internet and apps to obtain information, DB added.
'We can't get people enthusiastic about using railways'
Bartsch went on to accuse accused DB of raising its prices unreasonably in recent years. In DB's local transport network, ticket prices had risen by about 50 percent since the turn of the millennium.
"Due to this we can't get lots more people enthusiastic about using the railways," said Bartsch, commenting on the price development.
Bartsch said Germany needed a railway system that is "reliable, clean, safe and inexpensive".
He called on Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, of the centre-right CSU, to ensure there was a price reduction for train tickets.