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New corona measures: Stricter rules for the railways

To protect against infection, train travelers should only be able to book one seat per row from tomorrow. Additional trains should also provide more distance between travelers.

By Iris Marx, tagesschau.de

Trains are not corona hotspots, according to Deutsche Bahn. According to an analysis by the Charité with more than 1000 tested employees, there was no evidence of an increased rate of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. An indication that the risk of infection on the trains may not be that high.

The federal-state summit puts pressure on the railways

Nevertheless, the Prime Ministers and the Federal Chancellor called for rail travel to be made safer in times of pandemics. Not only the mask controls should be strengthened. In order to be able to keep the distances better during the journeys, the railway is requested to create more seating capacities and to limit the reservation of seats. In spite of various proposals, no more specific requirements were agreed upon in the federal-state talks.

Deutsche Bahn is now primarily implementing the requirements formulated by politicians with measures that have already been discussed. “In the coming weeks we will provide even more distance and space. From mid-December we will also be offering thousands of seats and more frequent journeys on many main routes with new trains,” promised DB board member Berthold Huber in the afternoon. Tomorrow it should be the case that only one double seat per row should be reserved in the open-plan compartment on all trains.

Only the window seat should be reserved

Customers who travel alone in an open-plan car should then automatically only be offered a window seat when making a reservation. If you are seated at tables, only the diagonally opposite seats can be reserved, in compartments only two seats. Deutsche Bahn wants to set up special areas for everyone who is traveling with several people. “These also help to protect against infection, since passengers don’t spread out together in the car,” explains Deutsche Bahn.

With the new rules, the group will only offer reservations for 60 percent of all seats. Although this is generally recommended to all travelers, it is not mandatory. The passenger association “Pro Bahn” argued against such an obligation. “Day commuters want to be able to decide at short notice which train to take on the usual commuter routes. An obligation to make a reservation would lead to a switch to regional trains, which would be counterproductive as it would be completely impossible to keep their distance there,” said the association.

Current occupancy at only around 20 to 25 percent

Many people still seem to heed the call to avoid unnecessary travel. The trains are not overcrowded at the moment. The railway itself states that the trains are only a quarter full in long-distance traffic.

“Significantly higher passenger numbers than in the last few months are still to be expected,” explains the transport policy spokesman for Bündnis90 / Die Grünen, Stefan Gelbhaar tagesschau.de. Yellow hair can even imagine other measures, such as an adapted hygiene concept. “The doors on long-distance and regional trains should open automatically at the stops, as has been the case in local transport for months.” In addition, there should be more disinfectant dispensers and free changing masks for longer journeys.

With its package of measures, Deutsche Bahn sees itself initially well equipped for the holiday season. As long as there are no major disruptions in operations, Christmas vacationers should get to their destination safely.

The Tagesschau reported on this topic on November 26, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. and NDR Info at 4:15 p.m.


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