Train drivers in Germany are not allowed to consume any alcohol while working. However the driver, who was operating the high speed ICE 993 from Hamburg to Leipzig on Tuesday at the time, was found to be well over the limit by police, according to the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.
The train was supposed to stop in Lutherstadt-Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, around 10:10 p.m. But the driver did not come to a halt to let passengers alight.
Around 10:30 p.m. the train finally stopped in Bitterfeld.
DPA reported that the train conductor raised the alarm and police escorted the driver off the train at Bitterfeld. The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated. There is no information on the number of passengers who were on the train at the time.
According to the newspaper, the locomotive driver was asked by officials at the police station in Anhalt-Bitterfeld to undergo an alcohol test before he could continue his journey. They breathalyzed him and found an alcohol value of 2.49 per mille, just under 0.25%.
The website Zugfinder.de revealed that the train arrived in Leipzig 65 minutes late.
Passengers who wanted to alight at Lutherstadt-Wittenberg had to take a train back to the town from Bitterfeld. A new driver took over the ICE at Bitterfeld.
Train operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) confirmed to the newspaper that a stop was missed.
A railway spokesman said that the exact circumstances would be “thoroughly” investigated. "We apologize to our passengers for the inconvenience caused by the situation in Wittenberg and Bitterfeld," the spokesman said. "In this case, of course, the compensation rules of passenger rights would apply in full."
The spokesman also made it clear that DB has a zero tolerance approach to alcohol. "Regardless of what the investigation in the current case shows, DB has a zero per mil limit" in place for drivers, the spokesman said.
The train driver’s licence was reportedly immediately taken away and handed over to the Federal Railway Authority. The investigation continues.
Meanwhile, RP Online reported that it’s not the first time a driver has missed a stop. On January 4th, 2017 an ICE also passed Wittenberg without stopping. However, the driver noticed his mistake, stopped the train and was able to return to the station.
A similar case had occurred shortly before in Bitterfeld. Several trains have also mistakenly passed through Wolfsburg, Göttingen and Uelzen (Lower Saxony) without stopping.