Those who travel by train already need strong nerves.

The trains are so often late that it's just an impertinence - says even Deutsche Bahn.

Now freight trains are to be given priority over passenger trains.

Namely when they have loaded coal, gas, oil or transformers - in other words, everything that keeps power plants and factories running.

Because the Rhine has too little water, the freight can hardly get through there.

But that does not necessarily mean that the train chaos for the passengers will be even greater.

Why is the train so unpunctual?

There are more trains on the road than ever before.

At the same time, however, construction is going on at a record level so that the rail network, which is in need of rehabilitation, can hold out.

Currently, masses of 9-euro ticket customers are still flooding the regional trains;

the train has to use additional staff to speed up boarding and alighting.

Less than 60 percent of long-distance trains were recently on time - and that includes delayed departures of up to six minutes.

Also in regional traffic, at less than 90 percent, exceptionally few trains are punctual.

Why should coal, gas and oil be given priority?

Freight trains are also late.

Because at times more than 200 freight trains stood still, the industry has been complaining about the railway for months.

In addition, there are now two crises at once: the energy crisis as a result of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the climate crisis in the form of drought and low water in the Rhine.

Hence the proposed regulation.

"The aim is to ensure the operation of power plants, refineries, power grids and other vital operations," says a paper by the Federal Ministries of Economics and Transport that was distributed over the weekend.

So that coal can continue to go to power plants and oil to refineries, they want to give priority to energy transport by rail for six months.

How much coal, oil and gas is already transported by rail today?

As the market leader, Deutsche Bahn runs 50 trains a week, each carrying 3,000 tons of hard coal.

A large coal-fired power plant like Gelsenkirchen-Scholven needs 20,000 tons a day under full load.

Compared to the 20,000 cargo trains in total, the 50 coal trains are not that significant, even if their number were doubled.

Coal can also be easily stockpiled - so it doesn't necessarily have to go to the power plant at certain times of the day.

The competitors are better at transporting oil and gas than DB, but their Association of European Railways does not give any figures.

Deputy Managing Director Neele Wesseln points out that companies can already have their freight trains pulled ahead.

You would only need to pay an express surcharge on the rail usage fee.

The freight railways are therefore skeptical about the planned ordinance.

What do passenger representatives say?

They don't think much of the priority for trains with coal, oil, gas or transformers either.

"No local or long-distance train must be canceled for these transports," demands chairman Detlef Neuß.

All the problems of the railways in Germany were revealed in the 9-euro ticket campaign.

"In the last three decades we have slept on the expansion and even criminally dismantled infrastructure." Now even more delays?

That would drive people off the trains back into the car, says Neuss.

"That's exactly what we don't want."

Will the trains be even less punctual for passengers?

If in doubt, passenger transport will have to wait, explains Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP).

According to the government paper, delays for passengers should be avoided “as far as possible”.

It could help that the 9-euro ticket campaign expires at the end of August and the summer travel wave is gradually ebbing away.

According to information from the industry, not all possibilities have been exhausted to lengthen existing freight trains or to run more at night.

In any case, not all transport can be shifted to rail in the short term, because wagons are scarce throughout Europe.

Neither the federal group nor its goods competitors are currently registering a higher demand for energy transport.

"The statutory ordinance to prioritize supply-relevant trains is a sensible precautionary measure by the federal government," says Deutsche Bahn.

"It remains to be seen whether it will even have to come to fruition."