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WEATHER

UPDATE: Storms across Germany spark travel chaos and power cuts

Extreme winds and rain wreaked havoc across Germany on Thursday, causing major travel disruption and power cuts.

Strong rain and gales in Hanover, Lower Saxony.
Strong rain and gales in Hanover, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

Train passengers faced severe disruption in many parts of the country due to the high winds and stormy weather. In Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, regional rail services were suspended until further notice on Thursday afternoon, according to Deutsche Bahn (DB). 

There were also lots of train cancellations and delays in Saarland, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

“Hundreds of employees are on duty to clear trees and other obstacles from the tracks, repair overhead lines and record damage,” a DB spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, fallen trees and branches also resulted in power cuts in parts of Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, according to a spokesperson for Mitteldeutsche Netzgesellschaft Strom. Around 50,000 customers were affected.

A fallen tree in Berlin.
A fallen tree in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfram Steinberg

Passengers can change tickets

Passengers who want to postpone their journey due to the storms are able to redeem their booked ticket from now up to and including seven days after the end of the disruption. People can check the DB site for current issues in their area.

In North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), long-distance trains were temporarily suspended in the morning. 

By early afternoon, long-distance trains were getting back on track through NRW. But on the Düsseldorf-Cologne line, the clean-up work was still ongoing, and the ICE line to Wuppertal was still out of service, a spokesman said. 

The German Weather Service (DWD) on Thursday morning issued an orange (level 2) storm warning for most of Germany – and a more serious red (level 3) warning in some areas in a central strip across the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany braces for severe storm and high winds

The low pressure system moved over Germany, bringing with it strong gusts, thunderstorms and rain.

Motorists hit by storm

The storm has been causing major damage elsewhere.

A fallen tree seriously injured a 59-year-old motorist in the Harz Mountains. The tree hit the man’s car in the morning near a village in Saxony-Anhalt, a police spokesperson said.

A 22-year-old woman was also involved in an accident on the Autobahn near Wietmarschen in Lower Saxony.

Throughout the Harz Mountains, numerous trees toppled over and blocked some roads. The State Forests and the Harz National Park warned people not to enter these areas. 

The DWD tweet below shows some of the strongest gusts. 

“Going into the forest now is absolutely irresponsible. Even if the storm has subsided, trees can still fall at any time,” warned Friedhart Knolle of the Harz National Park. 

Meanwhile, a goods train collided with a fallen branch in the Bonn district of Bad Godesberg on Thursday night

The Tweet below by the German Weather Service shows wind speeds recorded in parts of Germany on Thursday morning. On Mountains the maximum wind speed reached 166 km/h. 

In the state of Hesse, police and emergency services received several reports of fallen trees – and even a trampoline that was lifted and hurled across streets. There was some minor damage to property.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, there were several traffic accidents due to branches, trees or bins blown onto the roads. The Rhine bridge near Speyer, which is part of Autobahn 61, was closed due to a truck overturning. The police believe gusts of wind caught the trailer of the lorry and caused it to overturn.

An overturned truck on Autobahn 61.
An overturned truck on Autobahn 61. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Pr-Video | Rene Priebe

In Thuringia and Baden-Württemberg, trees were uprooted. In Delmenhorst, Lower Saxony, a man was hit by a falling branch on Wednesday evening but luckily he was not injured seriously, police said.

In the northern half of Germany, the weather service warned of eastward-moving storms with gale-force winds of up to 105 kilometres per hour. Forecasters said it would also be particularly stormy on the Baltic Sea coast. 

The DWD warned of falling branches and roof tiles, and recommended that people try and stay indoors, particularly in badly-affected areas.

Forecasters say the wind will decrease from the west over the course of the afternoon. It is set to get cooler overall. Temperatures on Thursday will be between 15 and 18C, in the west and north between 12 and 15C.

Vocabulary

Storm – (der) Sturm 

Thunderstorm or storm – (das) Gewitter

Gale-force winds – (die) Orkanböen

Diverted – umgeleitet

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Who benefits from Germany’s €9 public transport ticket offer?

With Germany set to roll out the €9 monthly transport ticket soon, we looked at how it could benefit you (or not) - whether you're a car owner, tourist or a day tripper.

Who benefits from Germany's €9 public transport ticket offer?

For just €9 a month, passengers will be able to travel by bus, train and tram on local and regional transport throughout Germany over summer.

The ticket, which is in place for three months from June, is an unprecedented attempt to relieve German residents financially amid spiralling inflation, and to convince car owners to switch to more climate-friendly choices.

This Thursday, the Bundestag (German federal parliament) will make a final decision on the financing aspect to it, and on Friday it will go to the Bundesrat, which represents the 16 states.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block €9 ticket

Supporters see a great opportunity for more climate-friendly transport, while critics fear a flash in the pan and warn that overcrowded buses and trains are more likely to scare off potential new users. Of course, people with less disposable income will be helped most by this offer. But which other groups will actually benefit from the €9 ticket?

Long-term public transport customers (ÖPNV-Stammkunden)

If you have a subscription – known as an Abo in Germany – for local transport with a monthly or annual ticket, the ticket is a huge boost. That’s because you will only be charged €9 for the months of June, July and August or you’ll receive a refund or credit note. Many transport associations even hope to gain permanent subscription customers with the the lure of three low-cost months.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

Car commuters (Auto-Pendler)

In a survey by Germany’s KfW, three quarters of households that use a car said they would consider switching regularly to buses and trains. So those who are well served by public transport, and who have suitable bus and rail connections to work, may well decide to make the switch because of the cheap offer. This will especially benefit people in large and medium-sized towns. 

If this is you, you’ll definitely save cash by leaving your car at home and taking public transport. The €9 monthly ticket costs less than 50 cents per working day. You won’t get back and forth by car to your destination that cheaply, even if the cut on fuel tax comes as planned.

READ ALSO: How many people will use the €9 ticket?

People driving to and from Cologne.

People driving to and from Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser

Day trippers (Ausflügler)

For many day trips and weekends away, and even for some longer holidays in Germany, it can be worth buying a car. But the €9 ticket does hold the promise of offering excursions throughout the country, as long as you use regional trains since long-distance trains – like the high speed ICE – are not included. 

The Local has even gathered some of the best trips possible with the ticket, and tourism is expected to see a big boost. However, at the start and end of long weekends, such as the upcoming Whitsun (June 5th and 6th) and Corpus Christi (June 16th) in some states, the passenger association Pro Bahn expects chaos on trains heading for the coast and mountains. So perhaps choose your times to travel wisely. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

Residents in villages and small towns (Dorfbewohner)

As some Local readers have pointed out, the low-cost ticket for public transport is not so much use if buses – or even trains – rarely stop at the place you live. This is the case in many villages across Germany. According to calculations by the railway subsidiary Loki, many rural stops don’t even have an hourly service. 

Drivers can save on fuel and parking fees with a €9 ticket, but you need the transport connections to be able to benefit from it. Otherwise you’ll have to shell out more on taxis on top of the public transport cost. 

Cyclists (Radfahrer)

First thing first, the €9 ticket does not include a bike ticket, so you’ll have to buy one if you want to board a train with your bicycle. However, even if you buy a ticket for your bike to carry alongside your €9 ticket, the quality of your trip will very much depend on the day and time of travel, as well as the route you’re going on.

It often gets cramped on trains for passengers with bicycles, plus the number of bike parking spaces is limited. If it gets too crowded, train staff can decide not to let any more people with bikes on – even if you already have a ticket.

Trains are expected to be very busy during summer because of the low-cost ticket offer. Some operators are asking people not to take bikes on board. Berlin and Brandenburg operator VBB, for instance, urged all passengers to refrain from taking bikes with them during the campaign period and recommends travelling outside of rush hours. 

A cyclist enjoys a break in Ingelheim, Rhineland-Palatinate.

A cyclist enjoys a break in Ingelheim, Rhineland-Palatinate. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

Tourists (Touristen)

A group that will definitely benefit form this ticket is people visiting Germany. The ticket costs €9 per calendar month (so €27 in total). But a single day ticket in Munich costs €8.20 normally (and even more depending on the zone). In Berlin, a single day ticket costs €8.80. So even if you’re staying in Germany for two days, if you plan to be on public transport, you’ll get a good deal. 

READ ALSO: What tourists to Germany need to know about reduced-price public transport

Families (Familien)

According to Deutsche Bahn, 6-to 14-year-olds need their own €9 ticket or another ticket; as free transport is excluded from the cheaper transport offer.

Children under six do, however, generally travel free of charge. If you have a lot of children and only want to make a one-off trip, you may be better off with a normal ticket; it includes free travel for children up to the age of 14. For this one, it’s best to check on the local public transport provider’s options before you commit to the €9 ticket. 

Long-distance travellers and commuters (Fernreisende und Fernpendler)

As we mentioned above, the €9 ticket is not valid for long-distance travel, whether on ICE, Intercity and Eurocity, or the night trains of different providers, or on Flixtrain or Flixbus.

The DB long-distance ticket also includes the so-called City Ticket in 130 German cities: free travel to the station and on to the destination by public transport. So if you have this ticket, the €9 ticket is probably not needed.

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