Deutsche Bahn boss sets 80 percent punctuality target for 2022
The CEO of Deutsche Bahn has set the rail company a goal of achieving 80 percent punctuality on long-distance trains in 2022. To help accomplish this, the company wants to expand the capacity of its rail routes.
Deutsche Bahn to clamp down on late trains this year
For Richard Lutz, the CEO of the German rail company Deutsche Bahn, punctuality is the name of the game in 2022. "This year we have set ourselves a goal of 80 percent punctuality in long-distance transport," Lutz told reporters. "That will require a great deal of effort over the next few months, as we will once again be building at a record level."
Reaching the 80 percent target will mark a significant improvement on last year, when only 75 percent of ICE and IC trains arrived at their destination on time. In 2021, considerably fewer trains were on time compared to 2020, something that can be explained by strikes and extreme weather like the summer floods.
Lutz also pointed to another reason for the railway company’s tardiness: "Our quality problem is essentially a capacity problem since a lot of traffic runs on a scarce infrastructure," he said. "Then things get backed up and this leads to unpunctuality."
DB plans railway expansion in Germany
Deutsche Bahn is looking at expanding the capacity of its routes, with Lutz conceding that, over the past 20 years, there has been a lack of investment which has gradually built up over time. “We can’t catch up in two or three years,” he said, estimating that the investment backlog into company infrastructure is around 60 billion euros.
Lutz also stressed the importance of improving routes between suburban areas and regions even further away from cities. "Rail must not concentrate on a few high-speed routes, but must also ensure people's mobility over large areas," he said.
The problem with improving rail infrastructure is that numerous construction sites have to be set up, which further slows down traffic, but Lutz hopes that by improving its site management over the coming years, Deutsche Bahn can achieve its target of 85 percent punctuality by 2030.
Lutz eyes technological improvements for German trains
Deutsche Bahn is not just focusing on route maintenance and expansion to improve capacity and punctuality; digitisation is also playing a big part. The rail company has recently tested an automatic coupling system on its long-distance routes, something that should save a lot of time since the coupling of trains is a timely process usually done by hand in Europe. Lutz explained that this type of technology really helps to facilitate the expansion of route capacity.
Technology that improves passengers’ experience is also expected to be implemented. This includes WiFi and signal for mobile phones on trains. "We must and will get better there," said Lutz.
The Germany clock
The improvements to Germany’s railway line are being made to realise the so-called Deutschlandtakt (Germany clock) initiative. This is the goal of providing better-coordinated connections between major conurbations, including half-hourly, more punctual, and more reliable services, and facilitating better connections to rural areas through public transport.
Achieving this goal requires billions of kilometres of railway, but also improvements to the construction and planning processes. "We need more than 1.4 billion kilometres of track for what we have set out to do," Lutz said. "If we do that in Germany at the pace of expansion of the last 20 years, it will certainly not work."
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