Deutsche Bahn is planning hundreds of long-distance connections in Germany with longer transfer times for passengers. The group is thus reacting to the many delays in rail traffic. In the timetable information and in the booking system, a few more minutes are set as standard, as the company announced.
"We no longer indicate scarce connections that are difficult to achieve in the current operational situation during planning and booking," said board member Michael Peterson. According to Peterson, the longer transfer times are stored for around 800 connections. Depending on the connection, this could now be ten, twelve or 14 minutes instead of the previous eight minutes, he explained.
Individually longer or shorter transfer times
Peterson assured that anyone who, contrary to expectations, catches an earlier connecting train than planned will not have any problems with the ticket inspection despite possible train connections. Passengers can also individually set shorter or longer transfer times in the system.
"We want to make travel more predictable," said Peterson. "The fastest connection is not always the most reliable." The trains are currently less punctual than they have been in years. Peterson spoke of an imposition on passengers and employees.
Impact on passenger rights
In the current situation of shortage management, the longer transfer times do bring something, says Karl-Peter Naumann, honorary chairman of the Pro Bahn passenger association, to tagesschau.de. The knowledgeable train driver has not yet counted on getting a connecting train in five minutes. If you now have to expect a delay, it makes sense to indicate this in the information.
Naumann assumes that the longer transfer times will be offered until the construction measures announced for 2024 start – with corresponding construction timetables. In his view, the longer transfer times have little impact on the train's delay statistics. However, they affected compensation and passenger rights.
If the DB Navigator shows a transfer time of six minutes, but the first train is eight minutes late, you miss your connecting train and therefore arrive at your destination an hour later, you get a 25 percent refund of the ticket price today. But if the connection is no longer displayed and you take it anyway, you do it at your own risk, says Naumann. Then you won't get the money back.
1000 additional employees
Deutsche Bahn also announced today that it would employ almost 1,000 additional employees on long-distance trains and at stations. 750 additional workers are now planned on the trains and 130 on particularly crowded platforms. In addition, 100 so-called guest attendants are to come. They are intended to help passengers, for example, when boarding and alighting and when looking for their seat. The long-distance service team has around 8,000 employees.
Peterson spoke of a "historic run on the rails". This year, the number of long-distance passengers will be slightly below the record value of 2019, when it was around 151 million. According to Bahn, traffic performance, i.e. the number of kilometers covered, reached a new high between May and July. Compared to the pre-crisis year 2019, the increase was three percent. "People travel longer distances by train than before the pandemic," the company said.
Seating should increase
The group intends to invest around ten billion euros in new trains and more seats by 2029. By the end of the year, the ICE fleet is set to grow to more than 360 trains, with the number of seats to be increased by 13,000.