Did Deutsche Bahn think it was an April Fool’s joke that the SJ night train from Stockholm was coming to Berlin for the first time on April 1? – No timetable, no track displays, no information: Back-on-Track Germany e.V. criticizes the extent to which DB continues to thwart night trains operated by other railroads and scares away their customers.
The operator of a train needs: a track slot. The passengers of a train need: a departure track. Deutsche Bahn was initially unable to provide this and more for the premiere trip of Euronight 346 to Stockholm, despite days of warnings and requests from Back-on-Track, a Europe-wide initiative for more night trains. After all, it should have been a public holiday that the Swedish SJ now connects Berlin with Stockholm all year round. But DB only made a route available a few hours before departure – although the start has been known since mid-January.
Consequence at Berlin central station: perplexed DB staff. Information on the departure track first none, then alternating displays “Train passing through,” then “Observe display on train.” Chaos with anticipation. Even the day before, the DB quality officer was told that the platform info was missing: “What information will the staff at the information desk at the main station have tomorrow and what will be shown on the corresponding display media for departure?”
According to information from Back-on-Track Germany, the timetable was created only a few hours before departure, and was previously returned three times by the operator as “not operable”: DB planned with a 10-minute change of direction at Berlin Hbf (lower level), which is impossible for sleeping cars with locomotive. Already at the arrival in the morning, there were misdirections: The train was supposed to be diverted via Stendal, because there was no space on the direct route – which there suddenly was. “DB’s very own task is to send trains over the tracks in a plannable manner, even during construction works, including those of other operators. This has failed to the detriment of passengers,” said Juri Maier, executive chairman of Back-on-Track.
In Hamburg’s main station on the evening of April 1, 2023, chaos like that in Berlin (resulting in a 30-minute delay in departure) was avoided because a dedicated DB employee personally collected all passengers. However, loudspeaker announcements were just as absent as in Berlin. From Hamburg, the SJ train has been running daily since September, but DB does not mention it on its timetables: saying that it were an occasional service.