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WINTER

Damning report rules out Deutsche Bahn share sale

German rail provider Deutsche Bahn must give up plans to sell shares on the stock market due to grave service failures this winter, according to a Transportation Ministry report to be released this week.

Damning report rules out Deutsche Bahn share sale
Photo: DPA

Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer is set to present the unflattering report on the country’s beleaguered rail service Wednesday, detailing how the company’s inability to handle the tough winter led to travel chaos for passengers.

“Reasons for this were snow drifts, frozen junction plates, and ice at crossings,” according to excerpts from the report provided to a parliamentary transport committee. Some 110,000 Deutsche Bahn passengers have demanded damages for late or cancelled trains.

Ramsauer’s ministry has spent the last several weeks researching the report on how the icy weather affected all forms of transportation in the country, including salt and de-icer shortages endangering roads and airports, but the most damning details focus on Deutsche Bahn.

In the report, Ramsauer also criticised his predecessor Wolfgang Tiefensee and former Deutsche Bahn CEO Hartmut Mehdorn for leading the company into its current state.

Last summer Ramsauer alleged that spending cuts ahead of the planned public offering to boost the company’s bottom line were partly to blame for major technical problems on trains during a heat wave.

With even greater problems this winter, Deutsche Bahn must now concentrate indefinitely on improving its core business services instead of aiming to float part of the company on the stock market to fund expansion, the report said.

Investment in new and existing trains must be increased, Ramsauer added in the report.

“Additionally capacity at workshops must also be increased,” he said.

Meanwhile 14 new high-speed ICE trains expected by 2012 will no longer be sold abroad, instead being put to use at home. Another 10 trains currently in use by the Netherlands national rail service will be also be bought back, while others will be rented from Swiss and French rail companies.

The details of the report emerged a week after Deutsche Bahn boss Rüdiger Grube faced angry questioning from state officials and the parliamentary transportation committee for the company’s failures. He promised €44 billion in investment on upgrades over the next five years – though some state transport ministers insisted that would not be enough and Grube admitted he could not guarantee services would be back to normal next winter.

Still the centre-right federal government, backed by conservative state ministers, refused to waive the €500 million it is owed by Deutsche Bahn as a dividend on profits.

DPA/DAPD/ka

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ZURICH

Swiss rail to close ticket counters in Zurich, Bern, Vaud, Ticino and Zug

Switzerland’s Federal Railways (SBB) will be removing the ticket counter from nine stations in the cantons of Zurich, Vaud, Bern, Zug and Ticino

Swiss rail to close ticket counters in Zurich, Bern, Vaud, Ticino and Zug

The SBB made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the decision was made due to a lack of demand. 

Instead, commuters will need to buy tickets from automated machines. 

In the canton of Zurich, the ticket stations in Dietlikon, Hinwil, Kloten, Männedorf and Oberwinterthur will be closed. 

In neighbouring Zug, Cham’s ticket counter will be closed, while the Herzogenbuchsee station in Bern will also go fully automated. 

MAPS: The best commuter towns when working in Zurich

In Latin Switzerland, Pully in Vaud and Biasca in Ticino will see their ticket counters closed. 

The SBB told Swiss news outlet Watson that approximately 95 percent of ticket sales are now made via self-service machines or online. 

The advent of navigation apps has meant the need for personal advice on directions and travel has fallen, particularly in smaller areas or stations with lower traffic. 

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