Many delays, technical problems and too little money: in view of the numerous construction sites at deutsche bahn, the management of the state-owned company is coming under heavy fire.
"This has become one big catastrophe event," scolded railroad supervisory board member klaus-dieter hommel, who is also vice head of the railroad and transport union (EVG). "If the german railroads were a car manufacturer, the steering wheels would be mounted on the back and the wheels on top," hommel told the "welt am sunday" ("wams").
Vice chairman of the supervisory board and head of the EVG, alexander kirchner, warned of growing frustration among employees. "Quite a few think: it won’t get any better anyway. Many colleagues have lost hope," kirchner told the editorial network deutschland (saturday). "The colleagues in the trains and in the stations are directly confronted with the rage of the travelers about delays. They constantly have to justify themselves for problems that they neither caused nor can prevent."
Rail chief richard lutz and network chief ronald pofalla must, according to "wams" on 15. On january, he will present the federal ministry of transport with key points for measures to improve the situation, which he will then present to the supervisory board.
"I expect the management board to explain in a comprehensible way how the additional financial requirements are to be covered," michael odenwald, chairman of the supervisory board, told the paper. "The board of management must now work out a viable solution with the federal government as the owner and present an appropriate concept to the supervisory board at its meeting in march."According to earlier statements, the railroad wants to invest an additional five billion euros in trains and the rail network from its own funds over the next five years. Four billion euros of this has not yet been financed, as was heard in circles of the control body.
Most recently, transport minister andreas scheuer (CSU) warned that the quality of rail travel must be improved as quickly as possible. "This is a huge task for the top management of the railroad," emphasized scheuer. As the owner, the federal government also has representatives on the supervisory board and thus controls the management.
"The railroads have been run at a sluggish pace for years," said EVG boss kirchner. There is a lack of capacity in the infrastructure, in the trains and in the personnel. The result is that the system gradually collapses."
Calls for renationalization are being heard from the left in the bundestag. "What the highly paid board of directors, the managers and the supervisory board can do, the heads of the departments have been able to do for a long time. And they don’t collect million-dollar salaries for it," wrote parliamentary managing director jan korte in a proposal to his parliamentary group. The letter is available to the german press agency. The railroad has been a joint stock company since 1994, the shares are all owned by the federal government. "No one can tell us that the railroad, as a government agency, was run worse than it is now," korte said.
The first parliamentary secretary of the FDP, marco buschmann, rejected the demand as "grotesque. "The cause of the problems is poor management and inadequate supervision. That’s why it’s now up to transport minister scheuer and the board of management to come up with a solution, not a recipe out of the mothballs," he said on sunday.
Union boss kirchner did not just blame the current management board and its predecessors for the difficult situation: "politicians are also responsible for the desolate state we are in now: they have failed for years to provide the necessary funds for modernizing the infrastructure."
The grunen transport politician matthias gastel accused the CSU of having contributed significantly to the crisis of the railroad by taking the wrong political decisions. "It is not enough to entrust DB with a structural reform and otherwise leave everything as it is in terms of rail policy," gastel told dpa. The CSU has been the transport minister since 2009.
German railroad employees are increasingly the victims of violent attacks. This year, according to the railroad, 1981 bodily injuries have already been reported in the first nine months alone. This is the result of a response from the federal ministry of the interior to a question from the left-wing parliamentary group in the bundestag. According to the report, there were a total of 1876 physical injuries in 2015. In 2016, he said, the number rose to 2374 and last year to 2550. Previously, the "passauer neue presse" (saturday) had reported that.