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Cars and Transportation

Delay strikes new high-speed train line

Alistair Walsh with dpa
December 9, 2017

Germany's highly celebrated new high-speed rail link between Berlin and Munich ran into trouble on its first day. An ICE train was plagued with technical difficulties and delays on the trip back to Bavaria.

Train running from Berlin to Munich
Image: Deutsche Bahn AG/Claus Weber

A train traveling on the brand new high-speed rail link between Munich and Berlin broke down several times on Friday. Two ICE trains made their first trips to the capital along the new route without issue, but one of the trains made several unscheduled stops on its return to southern Germany and was heavily delayed.

On board, a group of about 150 specially invited journalists, bloggers and guests were there to helpfully document the technical difficulties.

 From Berlin to Munich in just four hours - DW was on the trip to Berlin

"On the return journey: A malfunction in the train control system - we are stuck in the tunnel, somewhere on the new Munich-Berlin ICE line," a reporter for public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk wrote.

"A relaxed atmosphere in the ICE special train despite a 75-minute delay: DB executive Berthold Huber joins his passengers. Previously, the head of DB passenger transport personally distributed mulled wine on the train," a rail blogger wrote.

That's a step up from passengers on DB's other delayed trains who get bottled water when faced with long delays. Had the Berlin-to-Munich passengers been traveling under regular circumstances, the 75-minute delay would have entitled them to receive a refund of 25 percent of what they paid for the trip to Munich. The one-way ticket price is currently set at €132 ($155).

DB statistics show that between January and October of this year, an average of 20.8 percent of long-distance trains were delayed by at least 6 minutes and 8.5 percent were delayed by at least 16 minutes. DB calls trains that arrive with delays of less than six minutes "on time." Some 20,000 trips are taken on DB's long-distance trains each month.

According to those on board, the Munich-bound ICE train stopped at least three times. DB confirmed to German news outlets the train had suffered technical difficulties.

"This is unfortunate," a DB spokeswoman told Berlin paper Tagesspiegel. "That's not what we imagined would happen - and neither did our customers."