German rail to replace thousands of defective sleepers

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German rail to replace thousands of defective sleepers
A Deutsche Bahn train travels near Triberg in Baden-Württemberg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Philipp von Ditfurth

The German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said Tuesday it will have to carry out large-scale works to replace thousands of defective railway sleepers and assure the safety of its services.


After a deadly accident in southern Germany at the beginning of June, Deutsche Bahn carried out an exhaustive inspection of sleepers across its network.

The search concluded that "about 137,000, or two-thirds, of the inspected railway sleepers must be replaced", Deutsche Bahn said in a statement.

The major works, which will drag into next year, add to the list of repairs and upgrades to be made to the German rail network, which has suffered from years of underinvestment.


The cost for the replacement of the defective sleepers would run to a "three-digit-million-euro sum", Deutsche Bahn said.

Where issues had been uncovered, Deutsche Bahn trains were "going slower", the operator said, while in some cases, some tracks had to be closed to assure safety.

An independent report pointed the finger at "production faults" in the sleepers, where the concrete showed irregularities.

"Our customers should not suffer unduly from a possible manufacturer error," said Berthold Huber, Deutsche Bahn infrastructure chief.

READ ALSO: Five dead after German train derails near Bavarian resort

The derailment of a train in the Bavarian Alps in June, which resulted in the death of five people and injuries to more than 40 others, was a visceral reminder of the poor state of German rails.

In connection to the accident, "sleepers of a certain type were inspected by authorities", Deutsche Bahn said.

A criminal investigation into railway employees, which began shortly after the incident, is still open.


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