German rail to replace thousands of defective sleepers

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.

Deutsche Bahn train
A Deutsche Bahn train travels near Triberg in Baden-Württemberg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Philipp von Ditfurth

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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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

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.