Deutsche Bahn reports highest punctuality rate in 15 years

A total of 81.8 percent of all long distance and regional trains through Germany's Deutsche Bahn arrived at their destination on time in 2020, the highest number in 15 years.

Deutsche Bahn reports highest punctuality rate in 15 years
An ICE 4 train with a symbolic red mask in Berlin. Photo: DPA

The year before the rate stood at 75.9 percent. Deutsche Bahn considers a train to be on time if it arrives less than six minutes after the scheduled time.

The company reported particularly high punctuality in regional transport, with 95.6 percent of all DB Regio trains reaching their stations on schedule. 

According to DB, about half of the increase in punctuality was due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic. 

Fewer passengers meant that the stopping times at the stations were reduced. In the otherwise busy Christmas travel season alone, only half as many people as usual were traveling by rail. 

At times, there were also slightly fewer trains in operation, also in freight traffic. As a result, the route network was less congested, especially at major rail hubs.

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Deutsche Bahn's new long-distance timetable

Fleet no longer so prone to breakdowns

According to Deutsche Bahn, the “Strong Rail” (Starke Schiene) strategy program, through which the Group has been working on boosting its punctuality, has also had an impact since it was introduced in 2019. 

Despite having at times more than a thousand construction sites per day, the number of delays caused by construction fell by five percent in 2020. 

Photo: DPA

Damage caused by weather conditions also continued to decline. Because more and more new long-distance trains are in service, the average age of the fleet is declining and becoming less susceptible to breaking down.

By 2026, Deutsche Bahn plans to invest around €8.5 billion in modernizing its long-distance fleet alone. The company will roll out a new high-speed ICE 4 train every three weeks, and more than 50 ICE 4s are already in service. In addition, DB Fernverkehr (long distance trains) put nine new double-decker trains into service last year.

Possible FFP2 Masks on all trains

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn is reportedly considering the introduction of mandatory FFP2 masks in regional and long-distance trains. As reported by Bild am Sonntag, the company has already ordered ten million masks by April as a precautionary measure. 

So far, only the obligation to wear a mouth-nose-covering – even if a scarf or one made of cloth – applies to staff and passengers in DB Bahn.

On Monday, a regulation mandating the masks – said to have a higher safety standard – went into effect in Bavaria

READ ALSO: Will the rest of Germany follow Bavaria's lead in tightening Covid-19 measures?

Deutsche Bahn expects a daily demand of 80,000 masks for its 40,000 employees based on customer contact alone, or two masks per day per employee.

The company is also considering selling or issuing FFP2 masks to travellers, or up to 6.6 million per day.


The fleet – (die) Flotte

Declining – rückläufig

Introduction/implementation – (die) Einführung

Obligation – (die) Verpflichtung

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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?