In 2022, almost one in three long-distance rail travelers reached their destination at least 15 minutes late. Only 70.6 percent of passengers arrived at their destination less late, according to a response from the Federal Ministry of Transport to a representative's office. It was available to the German Press Agency in Berlin. The so-called traveler punctuality has deteriorated by ten percentage points from 2021 to 2022. In 2017, a good 86 percent of passengers arrived at their destination less than 15 minutes late.
The railway publishes monthly how many stops were reached with less than six minutes delay (in August 63.4 percent for long-distance transport). However, it cannot be concluded from this how often connections were missed or trains were completely canceled. Traveler punctuality is therefore closer to the passengers' actual travel experience because a missed connection also influences the statistics. It is also recorded by the railways, but is not published regularly.
The railway has been criticized for months because of its poor punctuality figures. In 2022, the values plummeted, among other things because many construction sites affected traffic. The railway infrastructure is considered dilapidated and has hardly been renewed in recent years, but at the same time the demand for train traffic has increased. There is hardly any capacity for additional trains on the existing network.
This is also reflected in the causes of the delays. According to the ministry's response, 60.9 percent of "delay events" between January and July 2023 can be traced back to "strain-related delays" - compared to 46.4 percent in 2015. This type of delay includes, in particular, train sequence conflicts. Because the railway dismantled many rails and switches in the 1990s, trains cannot overtake each other in many places on the network.
“The many passengers affected are suffering from an infrastructure that can no longer handle an increasing number of trains,” says Matthias Gastel, rail policy spokesman for the Greens in the Bundestag. “Increases in supply are currently only possible to a limited extent. Especially in local and passenger transport Better offers can only come when additional infrastructure is completed," said Gastel. It is in the interests of passengers that not only more renovations and expansions are carried out, but also new construction.
The railway is planning numerous general renovations on particularly important routes over the next few years. The aim is to improve punctuality and increase the capacity of the network through newer railway technology. The new building initially plays a subordinate role.