Deutsche Bahn’s punctuality rates are at an all-time low. A query by the Union faction in the Bundestag shows the extent. On some routes, every second train in 2022 will be late.
Have you already traveled with Deutsche Bahn this year? And did everything go according to plan? More and more rail passengers in Germany are likely to answer this question with no. Recently, things have been getting more and more chaotic on the tracks and stations of the Federal Republic. And that affects the punctuality of the train. According to the federal government, the rate will be worse than ever in 2022. And December is yet to come.
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As the “Rheinische Post” reports, people are even frustrated in traffic light circles: “In the opinion of the federal government, the current punctuality development is not satisfactory,” says the answer to a small question from the Union faction, which the newspaper has received. And the numbers are sobering.
As can be seen from the answer, only between 50 and 60 percent of long-distance trains reach their destination on time. According to the government in the west of the country, in September only 55 percent of the ICEs and ICs ran according to plan, in August it was only 48 percent. The south and north achieve a somewhat higher rate (September: 63 percent, August: 56/59 percent). In the east of the country, the punctuality rate for the railways is just under 68 percent (August: 63 percent) and in the center of the country it is 58 percent (August: 53 percent). According to the information, the punctuality of DB trains has fallen for three years in the individual parts of the country in the comparison months and on the annual average.
A look at Deutsche Bahn data for long-distance transport for 2022 shows that more than 80 percent of the trains reached their destination with a maximum delay of 5.59 minutes in January. Over the course of the year, delays increased sharply, both in the 5-minute range and in the range of around 16 minutes.
The reason: the ICE and IC trains have been slowed down by the freight train collision near Gifhorn since mid-November, the railway writes. The accident severely damaged a main rail route in Germany. In November, only around 61 percent of long-distance trains reached their destination on time, a deterioration of more than 2 percent compared to the previous month.
The punctuality of trains also decreased in the course of the year in the area of regional transport. With a delay of around six minutes, around five percent fewer trains reached their destination in November than in January (95.5 percent). Nevertheless, the situation in local transport looks much better. According to the federal government, the quotas here are almost consistently over 90 percent.
According to the Bahn data, in November 2022 almost 90 percent of the trains in passenger transport arrived at the scheduled arrival time plus a maximum delay of 5.59 minutes. Almost 98 percent of the trains made it to their destination with a delay of around 16 minutes. Compared to the previous year, Deutsche Bahn recorded a deterioration in terms of punctuality. According to the company, the problems that caused dissatisfaction with rail passengers as early as 2021 can be attributed to the flood of the century and tariff conflicts, among other things.
Railway boss Richard Lutz revealed to the “Tagesspiegel” at the beginning of December that “less than 70 percent of long-distance trains will be on time this year”. Well over 70 percent have been set for 2023. Deutsche Bahn’s self-imposed punctuality target was 80 percent. According to Lutz, the biggest problems are caused by the “highly loaded railway hubs” of Hamburg, Cologne and Mannheim. Delays are also part of everyday life for rail passengers on the routes through the Ruhr area and between Frankfurt and Fulda. “We are currently a long way from our own standards.”
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As a countermeasure, more new employees were hired in 2022 than originally planned. Deutsche Bahn is planning a total of 26,000 new employees by the end of the year. A trend that should continue in 2023. At the same time, more trains are to be deployed in order to achieve punctuality targets. The ICE fleet is to be increased from 270 to 360 trains by the end of 2023, and heavily used routes are to be completely renovated.
Thomas Bareiß, traffic policy spokesman for the Union faction, told the newspaper that “the punctuality rates of the train have reached a historic low”. The company is losing “trust every day”. If something doesn’t change soon, “the high loads in rail traffic will also have serious consequences for Germany as a business location,” said the politician.