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.

Lack of staff at German railway stations raises safety concerns
A train passes through Neuhof in Hesse. Photo: DPA

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.

Safety concerns

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.

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How to navigate the Deutsche Bahn train strikes in your region of Germany

A standoff between the GDL train drivers’ union and Deutsche Bahn means that rail services will be crippled nationwide in Germany for five days. Here’s the information you need to navigate the strikes in your region.

How to navigate the Deutsche Bahn train strikes in your region of Germany
Berlin central station on Thursday morning. Photo: dpa | Paul Zinken

Deutsche Bahn is encouraging travellers to download the DB Navigator app and to use it immediately before they travel in order to see which services are currently running.

There is some information in English but the detailed lists of which lines are still running are in German. We provide links here to those pages and a brief overview of the main lines that have been affected. (tip: if it says Linie eingestellt, trains aren’t running on that line. 20-Minuten Takt means they’re running every 20 minutes).

SEE ALSO: What you need to know about the German rail strikes


In the capital, S-Bahn services and regional train services have been severely impacted by the strike but the U-Bahn is not run by Deutsche Bahn so is running normally. That means that trying to get around by bus and U-Bahn (both run by BVG) should help you avoid the strikes.

If you’re happy to do plan ahead, there are still some S-Bahn services running. This website (in German) details which lines have been completely closed and which ones still run a train every 20 minutes.

In terms of the key lines: the Ringbahn is not running at all in either direction. Nor is the north-south S26 line, the S45 to the airport (the S9 to BER is still running), and the S75 from Wartemberg in the north-east into the city.

All other S-Bahn lines are running every 20 minutes with the exception of the S8 which is running every 40 mins. Not all of them are doing the full route though.

You can plug your journey into this English page run by Deutsche Bahn and it will show you how to best avoid the strike action.

In terms of regional trains to and from satellite towns, there is a detailed list of which lines have been completely halted for the strike and which have a form of replacement service.

The following lines are not running at all: FEX, RB10, – RB11, RB13, RB20, RB21, RB22, RB23, RB31, RB49, RB55, RE/RB66

Other lines connecting Magdeburg, Dessau, Eberswalde, Stralsund, Rostock and Cottbus with the capital are running reduced services.


The German finance capital is also seriously affected by strikes on both its S-Bahn and regional services.

A full list of the lines that are not running reduced services can be found in German here.

Be careful to check for updates, as the page is updated every day at 11 am for the following day. 

Here are the current services for Thursday and Friday: The S2, S4, S7 and S9 are not running at all. Other lines are running on basic services but often only every hour.


A large number of regional and S-Bahn services in the west of the country have been completely stopped. These include the RE8 over Mönchengladbach, Cologne and Bonn, the RE9 between Aachen, Cologne and Siegen, and the RB33 between Essen and Aachen.

The S4 through Dortmund, the S8 through Düsseldorf and the S68 to Wuppertal have also been completely stopped. See here for further details.

Updates will be posted daily at 10:30am on the website.


In Munich, a replacement S-Bahn timetable has been put in place for the duration of the strikes, with long delays expected on most lines.

The S1, which normally runs between the city and the airport, will be running every 20-40 minutes, but won’t go as far as the airport. The S2, S3, S4 and S6 will equally be running a partial service every 20-40 minutes and won’t stop at all stations. 

The S7 will only be running on an hourly basis, while the S8 will be running every 20 minutes between Pasing and the airport, and will also be running every 40-60 minutes to stations further along the line.

The S20 will not be running at all during the strike.

DB has not yet published a detailed list available of which regional trains have been affected in Bavaria, but cross-border services into Austria, Italy and Hungary and likely to be heavily impacted.

However DB say that they will update the travel planner website for Bavaria every day at 12:00 for the following day. You can plug your departure point and destination into that site here or check for general travel updates on here.

Other areas of the country

Various other parts of the are facing impediments to travel due to the strike. The east of the country is particularly affected. For an exhaustive list of all of the regions of the country where lines are not running according to schedule you can peruse this web page (in German).

READ ALSO: Germany’s train strikes: What rights do you have as a passenger?