German railways are learning how to screw up

The common myth is that German railways are efficient and reliable. I’ve been using Deutsche Bahn for many years. The InterCity services are brilliant. The coaches are roomy, there’s Wifi, sockets, etc. The Regio Bahn is also pretty good, especially if you have a bicycle – well designed and accessible platforms in most cases. However, some of the routes are being privatised/franchised. So, yesterday we used the BOB – Bayerische Oberlandbahn, a subsidiary of Transdev, itself formed out of the former operation of Connex and Veolia.

BOB is a curious network. It leaves Munich Hauptbahnhof as three,  two-car units – each unit detaches at various points and completes journey to Lenggries, Bayrischzell and Tegernsee. The return journey is made of attachments that are completed at Holzkirchen. Yesterday, however, the service left Hauptbahnhof in short formation arising out of a failure of a unit and no suitable replacements. The train was absolutely packed and left elderly passengers standing for over one hour. As is normal in the UK when this happens, there are no conductors to be seen. The chaos had to be self-organised. To be fair, buses were provided for those going to stations towards Lenggries on arrival at Holzkirchen. Whether this is symptomatic of the hollowing-out of the network, it is difficult to say. But what chance that if Deutsche Bahn had operated the service, there would be a possibility of an additional unit being available? Is this just a case of “sweating the assets”?

But if that were not enough, on Monday arriving back from Neuhaus (on the Bayrischzell route), the Munich S-Bahn (short-haul network of 8 routes each passing through the centre of the city), not for the first time, collapsed. Not clear why, but chaos nonetheless and very little information other than platitudes.

Then it is reported that the line between Rastatt und Baden-Baden is now out of commission due to tunnelling operations. This might seem trivial, but this Rhine route south of Karlsruhe is a significant part of the German railway network linking the north to Switzerland.

Photo BOB: Big87 – http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Integral_der_Bayerischen_Oberlandbahn.JPG

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