Overcrowded or broken trains, delays, failures in freight transport, a gigantic mountain of debt - Deutsche Bahn is in crisis. Once again. Or still. On Monday evening, CEO Richard Lutz answered questions from presenter Christian Sievers on ZDF's "Heute journal" – and made a promise: "We're getting better," said the manager. Lutz admitted that he himself had many shortcomings when traveling by train. "In terms of quality and reliability, not everything is right at the moment. (...) That hurts."
The most striking indicator: the punctuality rate for long-distance transport, the perennial problem child. It was recently only 58 percent – a negative record. According to railway logic, trains are considered punctual if they are no more than 5 minutes late. Canceled trains are not counted as late.
Lutz claims that the reason for the unreliability of Deutsche Bahn was not a lack of staff. "It's because more and more traffic is on the road on an already scarce infrastructure, which is further restricted by construction sites, resulting in bottlenecks, traffic jams and delays."
So is it a planning error? Why aren't the effects of roadworks included in the timetables? Lutz left that open. He spoke of structural errors: "It is certainly true that the German rail infrastructure was undersized and underfunded for years and decades."
However, Lutz has recently noticed a trend reversal - towards more investments in the German rail network. "We can't avoid building," said the railway boss. He announced that there would be improvements in the coordination of the construction sites (at times more than 800 a day). "We have to organize construction more efficiently and effectively."
For example, construction work should be bundled or postponed - something that railway experts have been calling for for a long time. To this end, investments in maintenance are to be increased significantly. According to Lutz, the rail network should thus be transformed from a "problem" to a "stability anchor".
The head of Deutsche Bahn expects noticeable improvements for the customers of the state-owned company in the "next weeks and months".
Sources: ZDF "Heute journal", Deutsche Bahn punctuality values