Germany's railway operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) registered its worst punctuality record for long-distance journeys in eight years, a DB spokesman told told the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
Last month, every second long-distance train operated by the state-owned company was late, and in November, only 52% of fast Inter City Express (ICE9) and InterCity (IC) trains arrived at their destination on time, the spokesman said.
The main cause cited for the delays was short-term construction work, which has significantly increased year-on-year.
Some 75% of long-distance trains were slowed down by at least one construction site. Due to the considerable refurbishment backlog, DB has had to significantly increase the construction volume in the current year.
According to DB, this year an additional €2 billion have been invested. From next year, "many smaller construction measures will be bundled into compact corridor refurbishments."
According to Germany's Transport Minister Volker Wissing, the rate is due to decades of neglect of the infrastructure. "There is no way around the general refurbishment of the railway if we want to have more punctual trains again," he told the Funke Mediengruppe newspapers.
Next year, the railway line between Mannheim and Frankfurt — one of the main arteries of the rail network — will be completely renovated: "This will have a positive impact on reliability and punctuality throughout Germany," the politician said.
A train is considered on time if it is less than six minutes late. Cancelled trains are not included in the statistics, nor are missed connections.
In October, the Group's ICE and IC trains only reached 58.6 % of their stops without major delays. "The punctuality does not meet our own standards and does not do justice to the services that our passengers expect from us," the railway spokesman said.
The railway company will miss the target it had set itself for punctuality this year. At the beginning of the year, it had set itself the target of punctuality in long-distance transport of well over 70 %.
"With a punctuality rate of around 66 % in the first ten months, it is clear that the punctuality target of around 70% for 2023 can no longer be achieved," the company said in November.
The railway has had a problem with punctuality for years, especially in international comparison. The problem has recently worsened: the figure fell from 75.2% in 2021 to 65.2% last year.