In entertaining rounds, the conversation revolves mostly around retail topics such as the weather or the holiday, maybe even to the diesel scandal – or Deutsche Bahn.

Hardly one who had not to report a story, part whimsical, part outrageous. On the sidelines of a football game, the local D-youth-such as a reported in the parental fan club on a trip that ended involuntarily at the Wolfsburg Central station. He had been sitting in a bursting full of ICE, the driver wanted to continue the journey only if a significant part of the passengers had got off in Wolfsburg – if you were there or not. On another occasion, someone told of a late-night taxi ride from Hannover to Berlin, together with two fellow passengers from a train that was not able to continue his journey due to Exceeding the service time of the Zugbesatzung.

No question: No companies in Germany (apart from Volkswagen, maybe), and heated currently, the minds as to the railway. Passionate about rail passengers losing patience.

Tricks for the fining of statistics

The cast-iron rail fans reject it, of the “individual experience” to draw conclusions on the company as a whole derive. The statistics, however, allow more of the view from the distance, evidence of the experiences of the critic, as the recently published annual balance sheets for 2018. Accordingly, every fourth long-distance train was delayed be – with all those trains excluding, the to the schedule less than six minutes afterwards. Just as little as the, do not reach your goal.

On the connection Berlin – Düsseldorf ICEs to drive with a big delay since the summer, to the actual destination station, but one or two stations earlier so that they are on the way back, at least back in the clock. Even the aborted trip is not more then as too late in the statistics.

And yet in other respects, the Figures do not represent the whole of the dreary reality of Everyday life. In front of the countless so-called ease-of-stay, for example. They do not affect the operational readiness or safety of a train, and therefore the background, and if the time is in the workshop just. The passengers get to feel more clear – if the toilets, air conditioners or heaters to fail, the supplies are in the on-Board bistro is empty, or the Wi-Fi network fails.

Outside, the conditions at peak hours, where trains are so crowded, that in the case of pass care act comes up, how to create it at the destination station of the wagon. Or the reverse-car sequences, from which the passengers know until shortly before departure on the platform. Then it is on a regular basis to hasten the long train along with full of Luggage, and against the current of the other passengers.

Difficult conditions

if you Ask in the group headquarters according to the reasons for the variety of the most frustrating travel experiences, comes the reference to the bad weather, and the many construction sites, the modernisation of tracks and interlockings. And the strong increase in passenger numbers compared To the record year of 2017, it had been in long-distance traffic alone, in the first half of 2018, once again, to 3.9 percent more passengers.

the reference to the Prime examples from Japan, where the long-distance trains to achieve a punctuality rate of 99 per cent (with the smallest delay is detected), Switzerland or the Netherlands (approximately 90 percent), to counter the rail-people with completely different frameworks. Finally, the Japanese bullet train Shinkansen services on a private rail network. In Germany, however, have to share the high – speed trains, a railway Track with Regional and freight trains. Only a few routes are reserved for ICEs.

The Problem has created the railway, however, even through the clearing of the track network in the past 25 years. Approximately 5400 kilometers were mined tracks. The result is that There are opportunities to overtake slow moving trains hardly exist any more. Any disturbance, therefore, pulls a whole range of other.

A second equally serious error also goes back far into the past. The newly formed Bahn AG, after the reunification of fit for the stock exchange to be prescribed, the former railway boss Hartmut Mehdorn to the company, a strict austerity course, associated with the removal of thousands of jobs. With the “retirement at 63” was the Federal government of 2014 to the aggravation of the Situation. Many experienced staff acknowledged the service, without offspring.

late effects of Mehdorn management

let The vein, the railway has not coped with this until today: It is train drivers, train conductors, interlocking technicians and mechanics for repair and maintenance are missing. Reserves, in order to avoid failures in service offset plan, are no longer practically available. Over the years, continually overwhelmed staff members are meticulously on the correct compliance with the working time, many people have inwardly resigned.

In the melee of the wet-brash management style, the Mehdorn together with business consultants at the railway has introduced, all the more devastating. Departments, who felt obliged to once the Whole, are striving only for their own Performance. The work for a unit to do, is out of the question. “No one feels more responsible, if trains are not provided in a timely manner”, describes Christian Böttger, Professor at the Berlin University of Economics and technology, the everyday life of railroaders. A closely synchronized flow of work device so quickly to a Halt.

in Order to improve the cooperation within the company, wool rail chief Richard Lutz with his program “for a better railway,” the chief of the freight subsidiary Cargo, long – Distance and regional traffic in the six-member group Executive Board graduating, it is stated in well-informed circles.

Supervisory Board doubts plans

The consequences of decades of mismanagement, however, will be so easy and not to fix, especially in the short term. Already alone, because the necessary qualified labour is lacking. The labour market is currently swept up virtually empty. And even if someone for the moderately paid stress jobs should decide on the train – so many people, how in the short term, would be needed to achieve tangible improvements, not forming the group even once.

the high debt burden, which prevents a short-term turnaround. In the opinion of railway experts Böttger around 80 billion euros up to the year 2030 is needed to make the necessary renovations and future Finance tasks, such as network expansion and digitalization. The Federal government have as an owner, but so far, only 20 billion euros. Additional money is now to bring the sale of the foreign subsidiary, DB Arriva, the value of which experts estimate to be around four billion euros.

Whether Lutz’ program brings the solution, doubts Böttger. As well as the railway Board, the railway chief, presented the plans on Tuesday. He was with the versions of the group Board of management “not satisfied,” said the Parliamentary state Secretary in the Ministry of transport, Enak Ferlemann after the Meeting. This Thursday, the track will get-in-chief the opportunity to clarify his plans. It could be one of his last chances.

In Video: A week as a conductor

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Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.