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

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.

People get on a train in Berlin in April during the Easter holidays.
People get on a train in Berlin in April during the Easter holidays. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Monika Skolimowska

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

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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EXPLAINED: How will Berlin’s new €29 transport ticket work?

Germany’s capital launched its follow-up to the €9 ticket on Tuesday, but the ticket will only be valid for those with subscriptions. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will Berlin’s new €29 transport ticket work?

Tickets for the new €29 Berlin city ticket went on sale on Tuesday and eager passengers will be wondering how they can get their hands on the discount offer. However, unlike the nationwide €9 ticket, Berlin’s travel deal will only be valid in the AB fare zone of Berlin and for customers with a yearly subscription.

Why has Berlin brought in the ticket?

The Berlin state government and transport companies in Berlin developed the ticket to set an example for climate protection and make public transportation more attractive for Berliners. The state of Berlin is financing the offer which will bridge the gap between the end of the €9 ticket offer and a nationwide successor which should arrive in January.

READ ALSO: Berlin gets green light to launch €29 transport ticket

Where and when will the ticket be valid?

The €29 ticket will be valid on all buses, trams, U-bahns and S-bahns within the AB fare zone in the city of Berlin. Those wanting to travel into the C zone will need to buy an extension ticket.

Who is the ticket for?

Some people might be disappointed to find out that the ticket will only be available as part of a yearly subscription. All other tickets will retain their usual prices.

That means that people won’t be able to buy a monthly ticket for €29 unless it’s part of a yearly package, so certain groups of people, such as tourists, may not benefit from the offer.

From October 1st to December 31st, 2022, the monthly price for the following subscriptions in the Berlin AB fare zone will be reduced to €29:

–   VBB-Umweltkarten subscriptions with monthly and annual payments

–   10 o’clock ticket subscriptions with monthly and annual payments

–   VBB company tickets with monthly and yearly payments

–   Education monthly subscription ticket with monthly payments

The offer will not apply to ABC semester tickets. 

How will payment for the ticket work?

According to information from BVG, subscribers who pay monthly will automatically be charged the lower amount, while compensation for those who pay annually is expected to arrive at the end of the promotional period.

Can I get a yearly subscription starting from October and still benefit?

Yes. If you sign up for a yearly subscription on the BVG or VBB website, starting from October, you will be charged the lower price for the first three months of the subscription. If you start in November or December, you will pay the lower price for just those months. 

What happens once the promotion is over?

For those who don’t cancel their subscription by December 31st, their subscription contract will run for a total of 12 months. However, passengers can also switch to another VBB fare product, to another fare zone or to the successor product to the €9 ticket, which is expected to be valid throughout Germany from January 1st.

READ ALSO: Germany to set out plans for €49 transport ticket in October

When can the subscription be cancelled?

It seems that people will be able to cancel their yearly subscriptions. The BVG website says: “If we were not able to convince you of our performance and you decide not to continue the subscription beyond the promotional period, you can cancel your subscription at any time at the end of the month without any disadvantages.”


Subscription – (das) Abonnement

Extension ticket – (der) Anschlussfahrausweis

Yearly – jährlich

Monthly – monatlich

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