Deutsche Bahn to double cleaners on trains and make station toilets free

Germany's national rail company is taking a number of measures to improve its cleanliness amid the coronavirus pandemic, including hiring more cleaners and making WCs at some stations around the country free of charge.

The number of cleaning staff on trains is set to double to 500 by July, according to a report on Tuesday by the Funke Media Group. By August, a total of 600 of these “en-route cleaners” will be staffed in trains travelling throughout Germany. 

In total, Deutsche Bahn employs 4,300 cleaners, both on board and on the ground at its stations around Germany.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about exploring Germany by train

The en-route cleaners are tasked with cleaning and disinfecting contact surfaces such as door handles, grips and handrails during the train journey, as well as the toilet facilities, according to the report.

The company also purchased 19 million face masks, which it is selling at the on-board bistro of long-distance trains for €1.50 each.

Cleaner stations

Deutsche Bahn is also planning on cleaning up its act at its train stations, according to the report. It will install disinfectant dispensers at around 180 stations and 150 service stores in the coming months.

In addition, the WCs at the 20 largest stations – such as Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt or Cologne – will also be free to access for anyone. They typically cost 50 cents to €1 to enter.

At stations, ticket and snack machines in particular are cleaned frequently. In addition, all long-distance trains are therefore cleaned and disinfected before they are used in the factories.

“We are cleaning our trains and stations more than ever before,” said Berthold Huber, a member of Deutsche Bahn’s management board, to the Funke Media Group. 

“At the same time, we are asking our passengers for their help. If everyone keeps to the rules of hygiene and masks, everyone will reach their destination healthy and safe.”

Deutsche Bahn has been hit particularly hard by the corona crisis, with the company reporting an 85 percent drop in passenger numbers in April. However, the company has received a multibillion-euro-rescue package from the government to weather the effects of the crisis.


en-route cleaner – (die) Unterwegsreiniger

door handles – (die) Türdrücker

handrails – (die) Haltestangen

cleaned frequently – häufig geputzt

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Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany’s spending in pandemic

The German Constitutional Court rejected challenges Tuesday to Berlin's participation in the European Union's coronavirus recovery fund, but expressed some reservations about the massive package.

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany's spending in pandemic

Germany last year ratified the €750-billion ($790-billion) fund, which offers loans and grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The court in Karlsruhe ruled on two challenges, one submitted by a former founder of the far-right AfD party, and the other by a businessman.

They argued the fund could ultimately lead to Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, having to take on the debts of other EU member states on a permanent basis.

But the Constitutional Court judges ruled the EU measure does not violate Germany’s Basic Law, which forbids the government from sharing other countries’ debts.

READ ALSO: Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The judgement noted the government had stressed that the plan was “intended to be a one-time instrument in reaction to an unprecedented crisis”.

It also noted that the German parliament retains “sufficient influence in the decision-making process as to how the funds provided will be used”.

The judges, who ruled six to one against the challenges, did however express some reservations.

They questioned whether paying out such a large amount over the planned period – until 2026 – could really be considered “an exceptional measure” to fight the pandemic.

At least 37 percent of the funds are aimed at achieving climate targets, the judges said, noting it was hard to see a link between combating global warming and the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany to fast-track disputed €200 billion energy fund

They also warned against any permanent mechanism that could lead to EU members taking on joint liability over the long term.

Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding said the ruling had “raised serious doubts whether the joint issuance to finance the fund is in line with” EU treaties.

“The German court — once again — emphasised German limits for EU fiscal integration,” he said.

The court had already thrown out a legal challenge, in April 2021, that had initially stopped Berlin from ratifying the financial package.

Along with French President Emmanuel Macron, then chancellor Angela Merkel sketched out the fund in 2020, which eventually was agreed by the EU’s 27 members in December.

The first funds were disbursed in summer 2021, with the most given to Italy and Spain, both hit hard by the pandemic.