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WEATHER

UPDATE: Storms across Germany spark travel chaos and power cuts

Extreme winds and rain wreaked havoc across Germany on Thursday, causing major travel disruption and power cuts.

Strong rain and gales in Hanover, Lower Saxony.
Strong rain and gales in Hanover, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

Train passengers faced severe disruption in many parts of the country due to the high winds and stormy weather. In Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, regional rail services were suspended until further notice on Thursday afternoon, according to Deutsche Bahn (DB). 

There were also lots of train cancellations and delays in Saarland, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

“Hundreds of employees are on duty to clear trees and other obstacles from the tracks, repair overhead lines and record damage,” a DB spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, fallen trees and branches also resulted in power cuts in parts of Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, according to a spokesperson for Mitteldeutsche Netzgesellschaft Strom. Around 50,000 customers were affected.

A fallen tree in Berlin.
A fallen tree in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfram Steinberg

Passengers can change tickets

Passengers who want to postpone their journey due to the storms are able to redeem their booked ticket from now up to and including seven days after the end of the disruption. People can check the DB site for current issues in their area.

In North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), long-distance trains were temporarily suspended in the morning. 

By early afternoon, long-distance trains were getting back on track through NRW. But on the Düsseldorf-Cologne line, the clean-up work was still ongoing, and the ICE line to Wuppertal was still out of service, a spokesman said. 

The German Weather Service (DWD) on Thursday morning issued an orange (level 2) storm warning for most of Germany – and a more serious red (level 3) warning in some areas in a central strip across the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany braces for severe storm and high winds

The low pressure system moved over Germany, bringing with it strong gusts, thunderstorms and rain.

Motorists hit by storm

The storm has been causing major damage elsewhere.

A fallen tree seriously injured a 59-year-old motorist in the Harz Mountains. The tree hit the man’s car in the morning near a village in Saxony-Anhalt, a police spokesperson said.

A 22-year-old woman was also involved in an accident on the Autobahn near Wietmarschen in Lower Saxony.

Throughout the Harz Mountains, numerous trees toppled over and blocked some roads. The State Forests and the Harz National Park warned people not to enter these areas. 

The DWD tweet below shows some of the strongest gusts. 

“Going into the forest now is absolutely irresponsible. Even if the storm has subsided, trees can still fall at any time,” warned Friedhart Knolle of the Harz National Park. 

Meanwhile, a goods train collided with a fallen branch in the Bonn district of Bad Godesberg on Thursday night

The Tweet below by the German Weather Service shows wind speeds recorded in parts of Germany on Thursday morning. On Mountains the maximum wind speed reached 166 km/h. 

In the state of Hesse, police and emergency services received several reports of fallen trees – and even a trampoline that was lifted and hurled across streets. There was some minor damage to property.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, there were several traffic accidents due to branches, trees or bins blown onto the roads. The Rhine bridge near Speyer, which is part of Autobahn 61, was closed due to a truck overturning. The police believe gusts of wind caught the trailer of the lorry and caused it to overturn.

An overturned truck on Autobahn 61.
An overturned truck on Autobahn 61. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Pr-Video | Rene Priebe

In Thuringia and Baden-Württemberg, trees were uprooted. In Delmenhorst, Lower Saxony, a man was hit by a falling branch on Wednesday evening but luckily he was not injured seriously, police said.

In the northern half of Germany, the weather service warned of eastward-moving storms with gale-force winds of up to 105 kilometres per hour. Forecasters said it would also be particularly stormy on the Baltic Sea coast. 

The DWD warned of falling branches and roof tiles, and recommended that people try and stay indoors, particularly in badly-affected areas.

Forecasters say the wind will decrease from the west over the course of the afternoon. It is set to get cooler overall. Temperatures on Thursday will be between 15 and 18C, in the west and north between 12 and 15C.

Vocabulary

Storm – (der) Sturm 

Thunderstorm or storm – (das) Gewitter

Gale-force winds – (die) Orkanböen

Diverted – umgeleitet

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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TRAVEL NEWS

German states threaten to block €9 ticket in Bundesrat

Germany's cut-price transport ticket is supposed to go on sale next Monday - but a battle over financing is threatening to torpedo the government's plans.

German states threaten to block €9 ticket in Bundesrat

An feud between the federal and state governments intensified on Monday as state leaders threatened to block the government’s most recent energy package when it is put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Friday. 

The battle relates to the government’s plans for a budget transport ticket that would allow people to travel on local and regional transport around Germany for just €9 per month.

Though the 16 states have agreed to support the ticket, transport ministers are arguing that the low-cost option will blow a hole in their budgets and lead to potential price hikes once autumn rolls around.

They claim that current funding promised by the Federal Transport Ministry doesn’t go far enough.

READ ALSO: 

“If the federal government believes it can be applauded on the backs of the states for a three-month consolation prize and that others should foot the bill, then it has made a huge mistake,” Bavaria’s Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter (CSU) told Bild on Monday.

The government has pledged €2.5 billion to the states to pay for the measure, as well as financial support for income lost during the Covid crisis. 

Transport Minister Volker Wissing. of the Free Democrats (FDP), said states would also receive the revenue of the €9 ticket from customers who take advantage of the offer. 

“For this ‘9 for 90 ticket’, the €2.5 billion is a complete assumption of the costs by the federal government,” said Wissing on Thursday. “In addition, the states are also allowed to keep the €9 from the ticket price, so they are very well funded here.”

Transport Minister Volker Wissing

Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) speaks ahead of a G7 summit in Düsseldorf.

However, federal states want a further €1.5 billion in order to increase staff, deal with extra fuel costs and to plan for the expansion of local transport in Germany.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Reinhard Meyer (SPD), told Bild that there would be “no approval (on Friday) as long as the federal government does not provide additional funds.”

Baden-Württemberg’s Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens) also warned that “the entire package of fuel rebate and €9 euro ticket could fail in the Bundesrat” if the government doesn’t agree to the state’s demands on funding.

The Bundesrat is Germany’s upper house of parliament, which is comprised of MPs serving in the state governments. Unlike in the Bundestag, where the traffic-light coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) has a majority, the CDU is the largest party in the Bundesrat. 

What is the €9 ticket?

The €9 monthly ticket was announced early this year as part of a package of energy relief measures for struggling households.

With the price of fuel rising dramatically amid supply bottlenecks and the war in Ukraine, the traffic-light coalition is hoping to encourage people to switch to public transport over summer instead. 

The ticket will run for three months from the start of June to the end of August, and will allow people to travel nationwide on local and regional transport. Long-distance trains like IC, EC and ICE trains will not be covered by the ticket. 

It should be available to purchase from May 23rd, primarily via ticket offices and the DB app and website. 

Some regional operators, including Berlin-Brandenburg’s VBB, have also pledged to offer the ticket at ticket machines.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get hold of the €9 travel ticket in Berlin

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