At the first door, nothing works at all, in this area bicycles are lined up like in a wholesaler’s sales room, with the two-wheeler owners squeezing in between. The second door is also hopeless, because a man with his trolley case almost falls backwards onto the platform due to lack of space. Third door, hit, there the young woman with her big, black suitcase can at least enter the regional express 4/62163 to Rathenow. However, she has to do without a seat, everything is occupied.
It looked like the Berlin Central Station in many places on Saturday morning. The wave of travel at Pentecost and the 9-euro ticket led to overcrowded trains all over the country, dense crowds on the platforms and delays. In Berlin and Brandenburg, travelers spoke of “cramping full trains”, especially in the direction of the Baltic Sea. In the DB Navigator app, for regional lines to Rostock or Stralsund, for example, an “extraordinarily high utilization is expected”.
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Even on Sunday the rush didn’t stop. Although it wasn’t quite as busy as the day before, there were again full regional trains to the Baltic Sea. “Because of the exceptionally high number of passengers”, it is not possible to transport or take bicycles, Deutsche Bahn said. Travelers were asked to choose another connection. This also applied to the regional express between Cottbus and Magdeburg, which runs via Potsdam and Berlin.
There was already a dense crowd on platforms 5 and 6 of the main station on Saturday morning. Because the RE5 regional train to Rostock was overcrowded, people with bicycles could not get on. Travelers at Gesundbrunnen station also reported completely overcrowded trains and sometimes chaotic situations.
According to a spokesman for the Berlin Federal Police Directorate, federal police officers had already supported railway employees there on Friday. Trains to Stralsund and Rostock were overcrowded and travelers were asked to get off. According to the RBB, an apparently overcrowded train had to be stopped at Berlin-Gesundbrunnen station on Friday afternoon. The RE5 to Rostock stood in the station for about an hour and then continued.
As the “Berliner Morgenpost” reported, the first train towards Rostock had to stop involuntarily in Kratzeburg in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Saturday morning due to a door malfunction. The train was also overcrowded, the staff could not reach the control cabinets. Here, too, the federal police were requested to clear the regional train if necessary, the newspaper wrote.
Federal police officers were also increasingly on the platforms on Saturday. A high number of travelers was recorded, said the spokesman for the Federal Police Directorate in Berlin. The trains were very busy. “We are in constant contact with the employees of the railways in order to support their measures – if necessary,” said the spokesman.
According to Deutsche Bahn, trains to tourist destinations were in particularly high demand. For example, numerous tourists and day visitors arrived on Sylt by train on Saturday. The trains are packed, and the car trains are fully booked, a dpa photographer reported at noon. Many train passengers arrived in a party mood. A police spokesman emphasized that the situation on Sylt was calm.
In a regional express from Berlin towards the Baltic Sea, a train attendant fought her way through the overcrowded train on Saturday morning. She climbed over children, suitcases and small dogs, cursing. The humidity felt like it was tropical 100 percent.
The mood of the inspector, on the other hand, was at zero. With a Berlin snout, she let out her frustration about the 9-euro ticket because of the stressful situation on the train. “I can’t help this situation either. I don’t like the rules either. But we don’t do them. It’s the fault of those up there.”
And from a regional train from the main station to BER Airport, a young man who wanted to go on a trip to the Spreewald texted his girlfriend: “It’s hell.”
Those who opted for long-distance traffic could consider themselves lucky on Saturday. Just like Tim Bendixen and his wife Lisa, who wanted to take the ICE train from Berlin Central Station to Hamburg – a good idea, after all they had a stroller with them. The journey of her friend, whom they wanted to meet there, was less relaxed. She was traveling on a regional express and had called her friends from the train. “They’re standing there,” said Tim Bendixen, stretching and hugging his thighs tightly.
Basically, he and his wife like the idea of the nine-euro ticket. “Our democracy must be able to withstand this,” said Lisa Bendixen. Her husband nodded. But he also added, “Is now the right time for this?”
In other parts of the country, things didn’t necessarily look any different than in Berlin. In Baden-Württemberg, the utilization of regional trains, especially to tourist destinations, was high. As the operator Go-Ahead Baden-Württemberg reported on Saturday, it was not possible to take passengers everywhere on its own route network. Deutsche Bahn had announced that it would also expand capacities in the southwest.
The S3 between Karlsruhe and Heidelberg: On Saturday morning, the whole region seemed to want to use their 9-euro ticket, the train was so full that no more passengers could get on from Sandhausen.
“I have to go to work,” complained a woman and squeezed herself into the wagon. At each station it took half an eternity before the train could start again. A group of bachelors took it with humor over canned beer. “Next time we’ll take the handcart again.”
“As expected, regional trains, especially to tourist destinations, are in very high demand today,” said a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn on request. Passengers should find out more from the local transport associations or via the DB Navigator shortly before starting their journey. In view of the high occupancy rate, it cannot be guaranteed that travelers will be able to take their bicycles with them. “Anyone who can should therefore do without the bike.”
“The chaos was to be expected,” said Karl-Peter Naumann from the Pro Bahn passenger association on Saturday. The situation in the regional trains towards the Baltic Sea as well as in Hamburg and Bremen is particularly dramatic. In Hamburg, the Metronom Eisenbahngesellschaft announced that it was not possible to take bicycles with you until Whit Monday.
At the start of the cheap ticket on June 1st, demand in Berlin alone had skyrocketed again. While the BVG had sold 450,000 of these tickets by last Sunday, it was already 930,000 by Saturday. However, the nine-euro ticket had no effect on bus and subway operations in the capital. According to a BVG spokesman, the control center registered “regular operation”. The number of passengers was therefore completely normal and corresponded to the usual level at the weekend.
And even at the capital’s airport, otherwise notorious for turbulence, there was no chaos. The operator described travel at BER as regular. After a stable start on Friday, the “morning wave was mastered well” on Saturday, said a spokesman. The operators expect a total of almost 280,000 passengers from Friday to Monday, around 1800 take-offs and landings are planned. At peak times, queues could form, the spokesman said. It is therefore advisable to be at the airport at least two hours before departure.
For Whit Monday, Deutsche Bahn expects a stronger rush due to the first return journeys. A spokeswoman again recommended passengers to get information from the local transport associations or via the DB Navigator shortly before starting their journey.
The Pro Bahn passenger association sees its criticism confirmed after the first endurance test for the 9-euro ticket on the Pentecost weekend. “During peak travel times, demand on the main routes was so high that trains could not depart. And some railway companies – such as the Metronom in northern Germany – have excluded bicycle transport because they could not handle the rush,” said Naumann from the passenger association on Monday of the dpa.
The chaos was foreseeable and the result of a political offer without having the necessary rail traffic capacities.
“Not everything that is well meant is also well done,” said Naumann. The good thing about the 9-euro ticket is that it has brought local public transport back into the conversation.
“But it only works if the capacities are available,” emphasized Naumann. Pentecost was the first endurance test for the discount campaign.
Naumann expects further problems in the coming summer months. He therefore advised rail travelers not to travel at the weekend if possible, but to switch to days in the middle of the week and to reconsider the destination.