7 people killed by storm Xavier, rail travellers told to expect further disruptions

After a powerful storm which killed at least seven people blasted across northern Germany on Thursday, rail transport will continue to be disrupted on Friday.

7 people killed by storm Xavier, rail travellers told to expect further disruptions
Travellers at Alexanderplatz U-Bahn station in Berlin on Thursday. Photo: DPA.

The vast majority of long-distance trains in north and northeastern Germany had been cancelled until further notice on Friday morning.

Rail routes between Hanover and Berlin, Hamburg and Berlin, Hamburg and Hanover, and Hamburg and Kiel are closed.

One day after hurricane-force winds swept through the north of the country, cancellations on main rail routes are likely to cause considerable delays and long waiting times for commuters and long-distance travellers on Friday.

A Deutsche Bahn spokesman warned on Friday that the temporary suspension of trains in north and northeast Germany could also have an impact on the national railway network. They have also assured customers that tickets that were not used on Thursday are still valid on Friday.

Many rail travellers expressed their frustration on Thursday, as they were left stranded at railway stations, with Deustche Bahn providing no alternative means of transport.

Storm Xavier killed at least seven people in Germany, five of them in their vehicles, on Thursday. Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania were particularly badly affected by the storm and the consequences of fallen trees.

A fallen tree on Kurfürstendamm in west Berlin. Photo: DPA

A woman in Hamburg was killed on Thursday when a tree blown over by hurricane-force winds fell on top of her car. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania a truck driver died when a tree hit his vehicle as he drove down a state road.

The most tragedies were suffered in Brandenburg, where four people lost their lives. In Berlin a woman was killed by a falling tree in the Tegel area, while several other people were seriously injured.

According to Bild, the woman killed in Berlin was Dr. Sylke Tempel, a political expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), who had just left a meeting at the Foreign Ministry.

While public transport in Hamburg is slowly returning to normal, a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson advised commuters in Berlin who normally travel with the S-Bahn to switch to other means of transport.

“The entire network in the region is massively restricted. We have numerous trees on the tracks, damaged overhead lines and broken masts,” a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson said on Friday, stating that the repairs would probably take all day.

“We couldn't repair all the overhead lines and rail infrastructure at night,” he added.

The S-Bahn was completely shut down running on Thursday because of the storm.

Long-distance travellers will likely not be able to travel on routes today which had been closed last night, according to the spokesperson.

Deutsche Bahn advises travellers throughout Germany to use their app to find out about cancellations and delays.


Bavaria hit by severe snowstorms and gales

The German Weather Service (DWD) issued a severe weather warning in several parts of Bavaria on Thursday as the southern state was struck by heavy snowfall and 100km-per-hour winds.

Bavaria hit by severe snowstorms and gales

The heavy snowfall and high winds, which began on Wednesday, caused multiple accidents and delays on roads overnight in several parts of the state, according to police.

Since the early hours of the morning, there were “considerable traffic obstructions throughout Lower Bavaria due to the weather”, a spokesperson for the police said, adding that emergency services had been called out to around 100 incidents in the region.

“There have already been numerous traffic accidents and traffic disruptions due to the weather. Several vehicles have already had to be rescued from ditches and trees removed from the roadways.”

The extreme weather is expected to continue on Thursday across southern and eastern Germany, with “no end in sight” to the heavy snowfall, according to DWD. 

In districts near the Alps and the Bavarian Forest, gusts of up to 100 kilometres per hour and drifting snow are expected, meteorologists reported. 

In the eastern districts and along the Alps, meanwhile, DWD has forecasted severe snowstorms and thunder. In parts of Franconia, Lower Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate, torrential rain will continue throughout Thursday and potentially lead to flooding. 

On Thursday morning, DWD issued a stage 4 weather warning – the highest possible – for multiple districts in the state. Forecasters warned of icy roads, heavy downpours and thunderstorms throughout the day and into the evening.

Berchtesgadener Land, Rosenheim, Passau and Regensburg were among the 13 districts where warnings of severe storms were issued. 

READ ALSO: IN PHOTOS: Germany hit by sudden snowstorms and temperatures as low as -10C

Drivers were urged to take caution on icy roads and DWD also warned of potential avalanches in mountainous areas where up to 1.5m of fresh snowfall was expected.

The rain and snow is set to die down on Friday, but freezing temperatures could lead to icy and slippery conditions for drivers. 

Central and eastern German states – and parts of the Baltic coast – have also been experiencing turbulent storms in recent days, which meteorologists expect to last into Friday. 

By the weekend, however, the high winds and stormy conditions are expected to have largely died down, with overcast skies, patchy rainfall and highs of around 11C.