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Full platforms at Hamburg Central Station: Train traffic between Hamburg and Berlin is likely to be disrupted until Saturday


Gregor Fischer / dpa

Trains are cancelled, delayed, passengers stranded at stations: After the allegedly politically motivated arson attacks on the infrastructure of the railway in Hamburg, there are considerable disruptions to train traffic – and the anger is great.

Long queues formed in front of the travel center at Hamburg's main train station on Friday. "I don't understand vandalism at all," said a 60-year-old from southern Germany who wanted to go home: "I'll say this much: it's pure chaos."

The fact that the crimes could be politically motivated was incomprehensible to many travelers: "Trains are good for the environment. I don't understand," said one man.

On Friday night, cable shafts on railway lines had burned in three places in the Hamburg city area. The investigators assume arson and a political motive. The police are looking for witnesses. The fires were discovered between 2:30 a.m. and 3:40 a.m.

A letter of confession is circulating on the Internet, according to which the crimes are supposed to be an act of sabotage and criticism of capitalism. The Hamburg police announced: "The letter of confession is known to us and will of course be included in the investigation or is already part of it." From security circles, it was said that it was not yet clear whether the letter was authentic.

The letter refers primarily to freight transport. According to the report, the attacks were supposed to involve sections of the route "that are not used for passenger transport". Nevertheless, passenger traffic between Berlin and Hamburg was severely disrupted on Friday.

Long-distance and local traffic are disrupted

The head of security at Deutsche Bahn condemned the alleged attack on the infrastructure in Hamburg "in the strongest possible terms": "People who want to travel with us, with one of the most climate-friendly means of transport, are massively affected by train cancellations and delays and do not reach their destinations," said Hans-Hilmar Rischke. We are in close contact with the security authorities and hope for quick successes in the investigation."

In view of the alleged attacks and similar acts of sabotage in the past, railway expert Markus Hecht, a scientist at the Technical University of Berlin, spoke out in favour of fencing off significantly more railway lines. "In France, the railways are in the process of doubly fencing high-speed lines," Hecht said. Many routes are also fenced off in Great Britain, as well as in Norway. "That would increase operational stability," says Hecht.

After the alleged arson attacks, the route between Berlin and Hamburg was closed on Friday morning. According to the railway, long-distance trains will be partially diverted via Uelzen. As an alternative, journeys via Hanover are also possible, but this significantly increases the travel time.

More on the subject

  • Berlin-Hamburg line closed: Train cancellations after fires – investigators assume a political motive

  • Investigations after fires: Train traffic on the Berlin-Hamburg route is completely cancelled

  • After overhead line damage: Train traffic in Munich is starting up again – faster than planned

Eleven trains have been completely cancelled so far, 19 more in part. So they only interrupted their journey on the way. Dozens of other trains were delayed. According to the information, ICE and IC trains between Hamburg – Rostock – Stralsund (– Ostseebad Binz) were also affected by the damage – trains were also cancelled here.

According to a railway spokeswoman, train traffic between Hamburg and Berlin is likely to be disrupted until Saturday. Traffic on the route is not expected to resume until Saturday morning, she said. Even after that, it is likely to take some time for long-distance traffic to fully regain its grip.