Coronavirus: German rail operator rolls out plan for ′safer′ Christmas travel | News | DW | 02.12.2020
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Coronavirus: German rail operator rolls out plan for 'safer' Christmas travel

Despite the pandemic, Deutsche Bahn is expecting a surge in holiday travelers — and beefing up its fleet to cope. The German rail company also plans to only reserve 60% of train seats and carry out regular mask checks.

To handle an expected increase of Christmas passengers as coronavirus cases remain high, Deutsche Bahn (DB) announced on Wednesday it will run special trains over the holidays to allow more room onboard to maintain social distancing.

Taking advantage of the timely receipt of 15 new high-speed ICE trains, the German rail company plans up to 100 additional journeys, especially on main routes between large cities from December 18 to 27th.

That is twice as many special trains as would normally run during Christmas.

The extra trains increase DB's daily long-distance capacity by 13,000 seats, almost 10% above current levels, according to the company.

This year, "we have more capacity than ever before," said Berthold Huber, the head of DB's passenger transport board, in a statement.

Social distancing and mask checks

To ensure that passengers can be seated as far apart as possible, DB has also updated its reservation system.

Overall, only 60% of seats on each long-distance train will be able to be reserved, though passengers are not required to do so.

With the expected increase in trains and passengers, Deutsche Bahn also intends to increase checks to ensure that all passengers are wearing masks.

In total, some 4,000 security forces are being deployed along with 5,000 federal police officers for this purpose.

"It's our responsibility to make travel as safe as possible ahead of Christmas," the head of DB's infrastructure board, Ronald Pofalla, said in a statement.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, DB expects ridership to be significantly lower through the holidays. One consumer survey suggests passenger volume will fall some 60% over normal levels, reported news agency DPA.

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