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Why so many long-distance trains in Germany were delayed in April

The Local Germany
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Why so many long-distance trains in Germany were delayed in April
People get on a train in Berlin in April during the Easter holidays. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Monika Skolimowska

If you took a train in Germany in April there's a high chance that it was late. That's because almost every third Deutsche Bahn long-distance train didn't arrive on time.

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ICE and Intercity trains arrived on time just 69.1 percent of the time in April, Deutsche Bahn (DB) said on Tuesday. It's the lowest rate since July 2015.

A train is considered punctual in Germany if the scheduled arrival time is not exceeded by more than six minutes.

So just why are trains getting delayed so often in Germany?

A DB spokesman attributed the deterioration of punctuality mainly to construction work on the lines. Around €13.6 billion is being spent to upgrade tracks and stations this year, the spokesman said.

"In April, the Bahn focused on building on particularly busy lines," he said. DB had announced in advance that journeys around Easter could therefore take longer.

READ ALSO: Delayed train? Germany's Deutsche Bahn to give online refunds for the first time

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According to the report, there were major works between Berlin and Munich, Fulda and Frankfurt, Frankfurt and Cologne, Karlsruhe and Basel as well as Stuttgart and Ulm. "In addition, the ongoing border controls also had a negative impact on punctuality," the spokesman said.

It came as the number of customers increased following a hit in the last two years because of Covid. During the Easter holidays, DB counted as many passengers as before the Covid pandemic.

From Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday alone, 1.8 million people travelled on long-distance services, 20 percent more than last year. On average, ICE and IC trains were 54 percent full, according to the company, with additional special trains being used.

For the year as a whole, DB has set itself the goal of achieving a punctuality rate of 80 percent in long-distance transport. In 2021, an average of just over 75 percent of ICE and IC trains were on time.

However, the group expects that more construction sites will slow down trains for several years to come. It estimates the investment in infrastructure to cost almost €60 billion. The punctuality target for 2030 is 85 percent.

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