I took the train again. it’s my old love And now I remember why we once broke up. I fear now we have no chance of ever getting back together.
This is certainly the 1,000,000th and first story about rail travel in Germany and I had resolved never to write one. But since I have so much time because I’m sitting in an ICE that hasn’t arrived for a few hours, I’m writing it with the intention that all of us, who have loved the railway since our Märklin days, now on this beautiful track watch. And it reminds us of a child who unfortunately got lost in the course of its growth and who still belongs to us, although it fights against it as best it can.
My little trip was supposed to lead from Düsseldorf to the lovely Tegernsee, where I sometimes have things to do and sometimes just like to watch older people spend money. My personal ICE started punctually and we rushed along quietly. I enjoyed the quiet and a conductor came and apologized that the train manager couldn’t speak to me personally because the intercom was broken. I didn’t think it was that bad, because I had found this personal conversation to be quite one-sided on earlier trains. No train chief had ever listened to me, so these conversations had no effect on my life.
But the intercom system was broken, because it meant that the two trains that had been linked to form a single railway in Frankfurt were separated. Then the intercom worked again and the first announcement from the train manager was: “We are now on our way in one piece”, which made me smile because I imagined a one-piece train manager to be somehow like a Michelin man. At that time I didn’t know what to expect.
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However, I saw that many people were now streaming from the first part of the train to the second part. I had to defend my seat and give up that for my bag. I looked over to the first class, which carried a lot of cold air, because the air conditioning worked at 120 percent. Otherwise there were few, because despite the surprisingly one-piece train, the train manager, who was also one-piece, had not released first class for his now twice as many passengers. Nevertheless, I arrived at Tegernsee happily and left it again after two days to start the return journey, which is still occupying me nine hours after departure.
Because my train, which was supposed to leave Munich, was completely cancelled. Nobody knew where he had fallen, it was a ghost train, the information desks at the main train station were not accessible due to overcrowding, the people walking around in uniform shrugged their shoulders and the app did not update. On my own, I took the next ICE northbound, accepting that the wifi was down, and just a little uncomfortable that the toilet sink had stopped flushing too. I told this in a humorous tone to a conductor who handed me two drink vouchers and looked as if she would have liked to have a beer with me and philosophized about sports cars, but her work called.
My train spat me out in Frankfurt before it was supposed to make a sharp turn towards Fulda and thus in the wrong direction. I had the chance to catch an ICE to Düsseldorf that was 45 minutes late. It was the one over Limburg, Montabaur and Siegburg and in Siegburg I had the opportunity – because of animals on the track bed – to take a close look at a noise protection wall. The two vouchers for drinks were only for cocoa and soft drinks, as the landlady in the dining car explained to me, which is why I paid for the two beers I had drunk in cash. At the next table, a conductor and a young conductor were talking about their holiday plans. He wants to go to the Baltic Sea. By car, he adds. After all, he only has a week’s vacation.
I thought of India, where train drivers are relaxed and trains leave when they are full and timetables are unknown. I thought of my grandparents who rolled into Ticino half a century ago in sleeping and dining cars. I thought I could blast some real motherfucking rap through the intercom right now. If I’m then arrested for rascally, I have a real chance. Because as the saying goes: In the Deutsche Bahn and in court you are in God’s hands. And maybe God is an Indian.