Long-distance trains start running again after hurricane

After Deutsche Bahn (DB) cancelled all long-distance trains across Germany on Thursday for safety reasons against hurricane “Friederike,” it resumed operations on Friday.

Long-distance trains start running again after hurricane
A hotel train at the central station in Hanover. Photo: DPA

“The first long-distance trains are on their way,” a DB spokesperson told the German Press Agency (DPA) early in the morning on Friday. At 3.25 am a high-speed train from Munich departed for Frankfurt Airport.

But there will “still be restrictions,” the spokesperson added.  

In North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony in particular, important routes are still closed, DB said on its website. The rail company advises all travellers to check the status of their train online.

Due to restrictions on routes further north, long-distance lines in Bavaria will initially experience interruptions and delays. Regional transport is already operating again without restrictions.

In the south of Germany, trains are to operate normally from Friday morning onward, DB announced in the evening on Thursday.

“In the north of Germany, trains will start as soon as further lines have been cleared of damage. We expect that in the course of the morning all major German cities – though with restrictions – will be accessible again by long-distance traffic. For the weekend, we expect a largely normal traffic flow,” DB stated.

At least eight people have been killed due to the hurricane, adding to an earlier toll of six which included two firefighters deployed to attend to emergencies.

A 64-year-old man fell eight metres while he was working to secure the roof of a house. He later died in hospital, police from the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt said. Another man, 34, also succumbed to his injuries after he was crushed by a falling tree, added police.

In many regions, wind speeds of over 117 km/h were recorded. Several airports also cancelled flights for safety reasons. In the north, slippery roads caused problems for motorists.

Regional train services were also disrupted on Friday, particularly in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.

Hundreds of rail staff worked through the night to clear the tracks of branches and trees.

Many trees were uprooted by the force of the storm while others worked to repair damage to the lines, DB said.

It was the first time in ten years that DB had cancelled all long-distance trains on its network. The last time was during hurricane 'Kyrill' in 2007.

German insurers estimated that the hurricane caused €500 million in damages, although it was only a quarter of that inflicted by the storm in 2007, which cost some €2 billion.

Meanwhile the weather has calmed down. At midnight, the German Weather Service (DWD) took down the last severe storm warnings.

On Friday during the day, it will be windy by the sea and in the mountains. But there is still the issue of slippery roads as rain and sleet showers are possible, DWD warn.


‘Heat February’ likely to follow Germany’s warmest January on record so far

After seeing the hottest January so far since records began, meteorologists in Germany are now predicting a warmer-than-usual February, which could bring about problems for winter sports resorts.

‘Heat February’ likely to follow Germany’s warmest January on record so far

Germany is getting hotter. Every decade since the sixties has been warmer than the previous one and the pace is continuing to increase, the German Weather Service (DWD) said in its final climate assessment for the past year released on Monday.

“We are now experiencing hot spells and intensities that we would actually not have expected from climate models for a few decades,” said Andreas Becker, head of the DWD’s climate monitoring department.

READ ALSO: More floods, droughts and heatwaves: How climate change will impact Germany

“Since the year 1881, we now have an increase in the annual mean temperature in Germany of 1.7 C,” Becker said. He added that this increase can only be explained by man-made climate change.

The first half of January – usually considered to be the height of winter – was warmer than ever before this year, at 8.2 C above average. 

But while temperatures are expected to sink and bring some frost and snowfall later this week, meteorologist Dominik Jung from, has said that there is no real prospect of a severe cold spell or a deep onset of winter. Meteorologist Alban Burster from, meanwhile, said that he expects January to remain mainly foggy and wet.

Looking ahead to February, it seems likely that there will be no change in the warming trend. Meteorologist Jung said that he expects the second month of 2023 to be “almost a kind of ‘heat’ February” – at an average of two to three degrees warmer than the climate average.

Good news for some

For the winter sports season, the warm temperatures are  “a disaster”, Jung said.

READ ALSO: How heatwaves in Germany have led to thousands of deaths

The meagre snowfall is bad news for sports enthusiasts and ski lift operators, many of which have had to resort to using artificial snow – at a significant cost. 

However, for those hoping to save on their home heating bills, the warm winter months, for now, are good news.