DB train chaos leaves passengers walking through forest in 27C heat

DB train chaos leaves passengers walking through forest in 27C heat

1.200 passengers travelling on a regional train in Berlin on Sunday evening were rescued by emergency services after a brake malfunction halted their journey. Some passengers were so frustrated by the delayed rescue operation that they made their own way to the next station on foot.

Berlin emergency services evacuate overheated train

A regional train travelling through Berlin and Brandenburg ground to an unexpected halt on Sunday evening after a brake malfunction. The train - which was packed with around 1.200 passengers - was overcrowded and had no functioning air conditioning to counter the 27-degree heat outside.

After a sudden stop, which occurred between Köpenick and Wuhlheide, passengers began to panic and became exhausted by the heat. According to a Tagesspiegel reporter, who happened to be onboard at the time, the mood changed from annoyance to panic quite suddenly.  

“[The mood] changes abruptly when an angry woman with a face flushed red storms through the train. She screams loudly, not in German, it sounds like Polish - she is in a panic, perhaps under the influence of alcohol or drugs. She grabs the emergency hammer at the neighbouring window, under which three Italian teenage girls are sitting, at starts hitting the red dot on the window."

Unsuccessful in her attempts to break the window, the woman continued to storm through the train. Another frustrated passenger tipped his whole water bottle over his head, soaking his t-shirt.

Deutsche Bahn staff are nowhere to be seen

Looking for help and reassurance, passengers were confronted with a defective emergency call system in the train carriage, and a while after the halt Deutsche Bahn staff were still nowhere to be seen. Though passengers tried to keep calm, a number of elderly people on board began to show signs of heatstroke.

“It felt like an absurd experiment on living people - who will react in panic, who will remain calm, who is there for others, who needs time for themselves,” the reporter wrote. “In the front compartment, a group of elderly people began praying”. 

Eventually, two soldiers on board took the initiative to prize open the doors and go and talk to the train driver. One returned to update the passengers that the train could not continue its journey. 45 minutes later the same update is given through the tannoy. 

After more doors were opened, passengers spilled out onto the tracks and into the surrounding forest area. Once the police arrived they began to coordinate an evacuation plan, but after another two hours had passed without much development, “at their own risk" some passengers began to make their own way through the forest and over motorways, to the Wuhlheide S-Bahn station.

“[The experience] didn’t increase our confidence in the crisis response capabilities of Deutsche Bahn or the emergency services involved,” the Tagesspiegel reporter concluded.

Thumb image credit: Traveller70 /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



Leave a comment