Almost every third passenger on Deutsche Bahn's long-distance transport was affected by delays this year. That was roughly as many as in the whole of 2022, as can be seen from a response from the railway to a request from the Green transport politician Matthias Gastel. This is available to the German Press Agency. According to this, around 69.6 percent of rail travelers reached their destination on time between January and November of this year. Everyone else was late.
The so-called passenger punctuality differs from the punctuality statistics that Deutsche Bahn publishes online every month. The latter only shows how many trains were late in the respective month, i.e. how many trains arrived at their destination at least six minutes late. In November this affected almost every second long-distance train. The railway is a long way from its self-imposed goal of train punctuality of more than 70 percent for the whole of 2023.
Traveler punctuality, on the other hand, measures when individual passengers arrived at their destination. It also takes train cancellations or replacement services into account. A passenger is considered to be late in these statistics if he arrives at his destination at least 15 minutes later than the timetable stated. According to the railway, between 2017 and 2020 passenger punctuality was always over 80 percent. Since then she has lost a lot of weight. The railway has so far only published these figures once a year, in the annual report of its subsidiary DB Long-distance transport.
Dilapidated rail network and numerous construction sites
MP Gastel is therefore calling for more regular information. “This information says more about the extent to which passengers are affected than simply counting trains,” he said. "If 30 percent of passengers arrive late at their destination, then well over three million people were affected in November alone." A clearly recognizable strategy is needed. In its daily operations, the railway must ensure that trains with high capacity utilization or those with scarce connections receive more attention.
The high level of unreliability of the railway is primarily due to the rail network, which has been neglected for decades and is dilapidated, outdated and completely overloaded in many places. Numerous construction sites are slowing down train traffic nationwide. The federal government has therefore pledged billions of euros more to fundamentally renovate the existing network in the coming years. Dozens of heavily polluted corridors are to be tackled by 2030, completely closed for around six months each and completely renovated.
It starts next summer on the so-called Riedbahn between Frankfurt and Mannheim. From the New Year onwards, the route will be completely closed for a few weeks in order to carry out preparatory measures for the general renovation in the second half of the year.