Friday, March 23, 2018

The Bahn Story

There is a long piece on ARD (public TV, Channel One, in Germany) with heavy criticism of the Bahn (the railway service in Germany) today.

You can walk up to a hundred Germans and get a hundred opinions over the Bahn.  People regularly use it.  People will hype its's failures, and it's limitations. I would take a guess that about a third of Germans have used rail services beyond the country and will report on better or worse railway systems that exist in Europe, or throughout the world.

As ARD does chat about what they consider the better railway systems (Japan, Switzerland, and China)'s worth a read.

Punctuality?  If you stand around the Mainz or Wiesbaden station.....what you tend to observe are long-distance trains which might run three to ten minutes late....maybe a quarter of the time.  I got on a train once that was supposed to deliver me from the Frankfurt Airport to Kaiserslautern in about 90 minutes (I could have driven it in 60 minutes).  The trip....because of delayed and missed connections....turned into a four-hour journey (240 minutes).  I wouldn't say it was normal, but you have to expect this with the use of the railway.

A lot of this revolves around construction projects, renovation delays, bureaucratic planning, and just plain bad luck.

Why everyone hypes the Swiss model?  Some doe credit the timetable concept that came in the stipulates that the trains run the same way every hour in the stations.

Another plus-up for the Swiss is money put into make them look appealing, modern, and up-to-date. 

Course, you'd have to review the ticket cost and note that the Swiss pay slightly more.

My 'dream' railway is the one that the Dutch run, and the best station to discuss or admire is the one at the Dan Haag.  You can go to any part of the city and admire the connectivity, and long-range planning.  Even as a tourist, it takes less than five minutes to grasp the network and the ticket-structure. 

Does the Bahn deserve the criticism?  I always compare it against AMTRAK and the DC Metro system....which seems to me to make the Bahn a much more appealing system.  Other than ageing stations....I don't really dump much of criticism on the Bahn network.  I will admit....the AC system on ICE trains barely functions in the summer, and the toilets on almost all trains today seem to be broke half the time.  But overall all?  It works.

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