Snow and ice to slow train travel in Germany during peak travel weekend | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 24.12.2009
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Snow and ice to slow train travel in Germany during peak travel weekend

Freezing temperatures have disabled so many of Deutsche Bahn's high-speed trains that every second trip between Berlin and Munich has been cancelled as people across the country try to get home for Christmas.

A train station and empty tracks covered in snow

Snowy conditions have led to ICE breakdowns, delays and cancellations

This year, many Germans may get to enjoy a white Christmas. But on the down side, travelers could experience delays in getting home to celebrate.

Germany's rail operator Deutsche Bahn announced on Wednesday that only one out of two regularly scheduled trains would be running on the high speed ICE route connecting Berlin, Leipzig and Munich until after Christmas.

German Transport Minitser Peter Ramsauer, portrait

Ramsauer says delays are 'more than annoying'

The reason: Excessive snow and ice have taken too many trains out of action.

Trains 'not built for these temperatures'

"The trains are not built to withstand these Siberian temperatures," Deutsche Bahn spokesman Joerg Boehnisch said, referring to temperatures dropping to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit).

According to Boehnisch, the technical failures on the ICE trains are similar to those that brought Eurostar trains, which run between London, Brussels and Paris, to a standstill this past weekend.

"A series of trains have broken down because, as with the Eurostar trains, dry powder snow is drawn through the ventilation grill into the train and can affect the electrical components," he explained.

Transport minister acknowledges problem

Travelers whose trains are delayed up to an hour will receive a 25 percent reduction of their fare while those who must wait two hours will be given 50 percent of their ticket price back.

Passengers who are unable to complete their journey because their train has been cancelled will be reimbursed completely.

German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer told daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that for many passengers the timetable issues were "more than annoying."

Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn

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