Sunday, March 27, 2016

Special Compartments for German Women?

This is an oddball German story which the state-run news media haven't really picked up.  Focus and several regional newspapers have done some reporting over the episode.

So, the leadership of the Bahn (our national railway organization) decided for the train network working from Leipzig and Chemnitz (two significant eastern Germany cities)....will have female and children-dedicated sections (no men).

It's a sixty-five to seventy-five minute railway ride, or sixty minutes if you were driving a car.  Why the difference? can't go direct from Leipzig to Chemnitz....even though they are just eighty-four kilometers apart.  You have to go through via a couple of region stops.

These special compartments are supposed to be for unaccompanied women and kids.  Why?  Well, what the MRB folks (the regional management of the line) say is that women complained and wanted better security.  These compartments are supposedly near the conductor's point and if anything arose....the women could immediately get help.  My general impression of German railway conductors is that they are mostly guys with only ten more years to go for retirement, and asking for help in a dire situation.....would only mean they'd blow a whistle and hit the button for the train to halt, while the driver calls the cops (figure 20 minutes for some cop to arrive).

A necessity?  Well, I don't ride in the region of Chmnitz or I can't really say.

I tend to ride the Bahn around Wiesbaden, Mainz, Frankfurt and the Rhine Valley.  I don't feel unsafe in any fashion.  Maybe some women riding the same route as I do.....might feel uncomfortable after the Koln riot episode and feel stressed when some immigrant guy walks through and gives them the 'gaze'.

If you ask the sales people.....they will tell you that tear gas canisters are being sold at a hefty pace, and a lot of German women are arming up with those.

The problem I see is that the Bahn in general has reduced their car-rate and what might have been a three-car arrangement from Wiesbaden to my local 'burg' is now just one single car.  Across Germany, I'm guessing various segments have had cars trimmed.  So, dedicating one section to just women might limit space on the train in general.

As for this safety factor being explained to the public?  Well, you can't explain it.

The curious thing is that if you went back to the era of railway operations in Germany of 1871 to 1920.....the Landerbahn era....then the management folks had compartments for unaccompanied women.  It was a common thing in those days.

Between the 1920s and 1940s....these unaccompanied spaces for German women quietly disappeared.  People felt safe.

I'm not sure if this will be a trend, or spread throughout Germany.  It would be odd if all of the routes went this way.  

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