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EURO 2024: Bogeyman on the tracks again: Railway under criticism after start of European Championship

EURO 2024: Bogeyman on the tracks again: Railway under criticism after start of European Championship
EURO 2024: Bogeyman on the tracks again: Railway under criticism after start of European Championship

The European Championships have started with great football, fans from all over Europe are enjoying their time in Germany. Only the railway is causing trouble from time to time – and surprise for some guests.

Philipp Lahm grinned into the camera for the snapshot, the landscape rushing past the window in the background. The head of the European Championship organization was once again traveling by train on the second weekend of the tournament. Only two days earlier, he had arrived in Düsseldorf significantly late for the Ukraine – Slovakia match due to train problems. The ex-professional couldn’t resist a little dig with a winking smiley on the X platform: “PS: @db_bahn as you can see, I remain a loyal train customer.”

Such Lahm-like leniency was demanded of many train passengers in the first week of the European Championship in Germany. While the continental tournament was generally very smooth, peaceful, interesting in sporting terms and characterized by infectious fan euphoria, the train caused trouble. The Germans are used to trouble in this regard, but many foreign guests were astonished or even stunned by the train breakdowns of the Germans, who for decades have been celebrated as world champions in organization and thoroughness.

“Horrible scenes” on the platform

After the first few days of the European Championship, a reporter from the renowned “New York Times” wrote to readers about the alleged German efficiency: “Forget everything you thought you knew.” The article then mainly reported on the congested subways in Munich before the opening match and the hours-long waits on Gelsenkirchen train platforms. The organization of the walkways at the stadiums and the resulting long queues at the entrance were also negative.

The “New York Times” was not the only foreign media outlet to pounce on such mishaps. The English “Daily Mail”, for example, reported on “horrific scenes” when thousands of fans had to wait for hours for trams to take them from the Schalke stadium to their hotels after the England-Serbia match early in the morning.

Outrage among Scots, Austrians and Thomas Hitzslperger

Fan groups also complained, including an association of Scottish supporters (Atac). Germany had given them a warm welcome as host, Atac wrote in a Facebook post. However, they had had “bad experiences” with public transport. The trains in Munich and Cologne were “unreliable and sweltering hot” and were also packed with passengers beyond any kind of limit.

Former German national player, official and TV expert Thomas Hitzlsperger taught his English-speaking followers at X a new word when he was stuck on a train. “A disgrace,” he recently wrote in capital letters.

Austrian fans who travelled by train to their team’s opening match of the European Championship against runners-up France (0:1) last week were particularly badly affected. The “Kronen” newspaper told the story of a father who set off from Vienna with his son early in the morning, then got stranded in Passau and Würzburg, had to switch to taxis and buses and finally arrived at the stadium in Düsseldorf several hours late. By the time the two reached their seats, 70 minutes had already been played. “It was all as if it were bewitched,” said the Viennese.

Bahn apologizes – and gives out more beer

Deutsche Bahn has little choice but to apologize. “We are sorry that Philipp Lahm did not make it to the game on time. At least he was able to watch the second half in the stadium. Sorry, dear Philipp Lahm!” said a Deutsche Bahn spokesman when asked.

There had been repeated disruptions on the main rail routes, the company said at the weekend. “DB would like to thank all fans for their patience and caution.” At the same time, it was pointed out that three million passengers travelled across the country on IC and ICE trains during the week. “There has never been as much rail traffic at an international football tournament as at the European Championships in Germany,” it said.

Before the tournament, Deutsche Bahn’s long-distance transport director Michael Peterson announced that the company would be offering 10,000 additional seats per day on long-distance routes. Upcoming construction work had also been brought forward to prevent delays and disruptions on important routes during the tournament. Deutsche Bahn is also offering special Euro 24 tickets, with which the journey to the venue costs just 29.90 euros.

Beer and bratwurst in the on-board bistro

And in fact, not all rail passengers have reason to complain in this EM summer of 2024: While some are surprised by unpunctuality and overcrowded carriages, others are pleasantly surprised by what DB on-board bistros have to offer. The railway confirmed a report by “Bild am Sonntag” and listed: Between June 14 and 19, 44,588 liters of beer were sold, twice as much as usual. In addition, around 7,105 bratwurst rolls were ordered, which is 63 percent more than without the EM. Butter croissants, chili con/sin carne and focaccia also sold significantly more often than usual.

Incidentally, Philipp Lahm, who travels frequently to the European Championships, did not reveal whether he and other fans grabbed a snack and a drink on the way to Frankfurt on Sunday.

Source: Stern

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