Deutsche Bahn, Germany's national rail company, is in damage control mode after a series of incidents which led to minors being ejected off trains miles from anywhere with no means of getting home.
You better have a valid ticket, young man
The company is attempting to contain the growing scandal after the latest in a spate of drastic reaction by conductors towards minors travelling without valid tickets. In the fourth such expulsion in three weeks, a 12-year-old schoolgirl was made to leave a train an hour's ride from home because she could not pay a 40-euro fine.
Passenger groups are leading the campaign to shame Deutsche Bahn after the embarrassing incidents made headlines across the country this week.
Pro Bahn's Naumann is leading the criticism against DB
"It is purely foolish to react in such a way," Karl-Peter Naumann, director of the passenger organization Pro Bahn, told Reuters. "Banishing them from the train is inhumane and causes unnecessary problems."
The first incident of inspectors ordering children off trains because they did not have the right tickets was reported by the German press on Tuesday. In that expulsion, a 14-year-old was told to leave a train because her ticket was only valid later in the day.
But other reports of incidents previous to that soon came to light including the case of a 13-year-old child who had to carry her cello 5 km (3 miles) home in the dark. Another documented incident involved a 12-year-old being dumped on a platform with no money or mobile phone.
Deutsche Bahn has since apologized and stated on Wednesday that all its ticket inspectors would have to sign an agreement promising not to banish children from trains if travelling alone.
"Everybody should know that it is unacceptable to throw children off the train," a Deutsche Bahn spokesman told the TAZ daily.