Apparently these sets are EMU - I just plain didn't know.
Moderators: Komachi, David Benton
Germany’s once-efficient trains have become a byword for lateness. The public administration’s continued reliance on fax machines became a national joke. Even the national soccer teams are being routinely beaten.Well, "the rest of the story" regarding my daytrip from Salzburg to Nurenberg, is that there is foundation to these reports.
Your next excuse is on platform 5 – German train travel has become an experience worthy of Kafka
I have never played in an orchestra. But when 200 musicians had to delay the start of a prestigious concert in Berlin recently because their train was late, I, along with many other longsuffering German rail travellers, reacted by thinking: “Typical, welcome to the club.”
The Munich Philharmonic was on tour and due to perform Mahler’s Second Symphony. It is a demanding piece for a large orchestra. Like many Germans these days, the orchestra prefers to travel by train for environmental reasons. In theory, it’s a sound decision. Germany is blessed with a splendid railway network and a fleet of intercity (ICE) high-speed trains. Deutsche Bahn, the state-owned German rail company, is so proud of running on green power that it makes a point of informing passengers that every ticket bought protects the climate.
The orchestra had booked to travel in the morning, which on arrival in Berlin, should have left the musicians enough time for a walk in the Tiergarten near the concert venue, the Berliner Philharmonie; a coffee in the Einstein cafe on Unter den Linden; or at the very least a bit of time to tune up before launching into the first movement. But at Cologne, their connecting train did not show, nor did the one after that, nor the next one either. The exhausted musicians arrived in the capital more than four hours after they had planned.
This is how it is today with German railways. According to its own statistics, this September only 58.4% of Deutsche Bahn’s long-distance trains ran on time. You need only enter a station to know things have gone badly wrong. There is a constant drone of Tannoy announcements; indeed this is the melody that now accompanies all rail travel in Germany. Even when your train isn’t mentioned as late or cancelled in the announcement, it doesn’t mean you are safe. Once there is a slight delay, the minutes begin adding up, as if any train can lose its slot on the overcrowded tracks and be forced to wait its turn in the system.
The extent of Deutsche Bahn’s problems is not just anecdotal. Official figures showed record delays in 2022, when more than a third of long-distance trains ran late, and delays to regional and freight trains became more frequent.
But things have got worse in recent months: more than 36% of long-distance trains were delayed in August, along with almost 9% of regional trains. This was blamed on the high volume of building work across the rail network – despite the company giving itself the buffer of saying passenger trains are on time if they are less than six minutes late.
The company, formed from the existing West and East German railways, was freed from previous debts with the idea that it would be able, in time, to become profitable, with the goal of boosting Germany’s GDP and floating on the stock market.
Except it did not quite work out that way. Unlike other similarly privatised companies such as Deutsche Telekom and the postal service Deutsche Post, which successfully went public, Deutsche Bahn remains in government hands.
Its company structure is unusual in that it has one sole owner, shareholder and financial backer: the German state. Indeed, the German constitution requires the government to retain majority ownership of the national railway infrastructure.