November 2020


Die Bahn: Lügner

I realize that I am about to sound a bit like J, from Germany Doesn’t Suck, when it comes to German Trains, and to most people who live in places that do not even remotely have reasonable public transit, my ranting might seem a bit pedantic, but… oh well.

What I really do not like about the Die Bahn is how they casually lie to the riders.

Now, in general as long as a train is within 5 minutes of its schedule, I am not especially worried—essentially it is on time and five minutes seems like a reasonable variance to me—it’s hard to predict when people in wheel chairs are going to need to get on and off the train, or any of the myriad of small delays can add up to a total delay of around five minutes. Really, five minutes is not a big deal.

However, this morning I was on the platform in Weimar at 7:02, waiting for the 7:06 train to Jena West when they announced that the train was going to be 5 to 10 minutes late. This was the first indication that the train was going to be late—they had not yet put up the sign that the train was late until the verbal announcement was made.

Now it doesn’t matter what kind of train (ICE, RE, RB) you take from Erfurt to Weimar: the vast majority take between 14 and 16 minutes to go this distance. There are a few that do it in 11 minutes, some as long as 18, but in general, it’s a stately 14 minutes long. Now when you tell me that my train is going to be 5 to 10 minutes late coming from Erfurt, I will assume that the train has already left Erfurt.

But no, it had not. In fact, my train, a regional express, was sufficiently late, that it was behind the next train from Erfurt. So my Regional Express (RE) train, scheduled to depart Erfurt at 6:50, in fact did not leave Erfurt until after the Regional Bahn (RB) (think: “local train”), schedule to leave at 7:01. The RB arrived in Weimar on time at 7:16, and my RE to Jena West arrived four or five minutes later—so it was, in fact something on the order of 20 minutes late.

In other words, they lied to the passengers when they first announced a five to ten minute delay.

It’s the lying that annoys me.

If they had simply told the truth up front (because surely when they made that first announcement, the train hadn’t even left Erfurt), then we all wouldn’t have been on the edge of our toes waiting for the train to arrive. We could have popped downstairs for a coffee or whatever. They also could have informed us much earlier that the train would be departing this one time from platform five—because there’s nothing quite like joining a massive crowd of 200 people changing platforms at the last second.

Annoyingly, this kind of misinformation is not just limited to Die Bahn, but also other forms of transportatoin. I’ve suffered lies about late planes: there’s nothing like a gate agent telling you that the flight will be on time, and then looking out at the gate behind them and noticing that there is no plane there for the flight leaving “on time” in 20 minutes.

2 comments to Die Bahn: Lügner

  • B.

    I have yet to use the bahn. And by the sound of it, I’m not missing much…

  • […] Thursday morning as I got off the train, it was apparent that a cute guy was interested in me. Unfortunately I had to go to the office and I couldn’t follow him downtown, so I lost him. I’d noticed him before, and I am hoping that I see him on the train again. Unfortunately this was the extremely delayed train that had more passengers than usual, as people hoping to catch a later train to Jena caught the earlier (yet really late) train. I have been hoping to see him on my way home, but haven’t. He wasn’t on the train on Friday morning. Monday is my last chance to spot him until January. […]