Bonn. At 10:30pm, the doors to Bonn Central Station are closed for the night. Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) advises its passengers that they can go to the underground transportation area if they don’t want to wait outside.
Bonn Central Station on Saturday evening: While the last stands are just closing up at the Christmas market, Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) has already closed up for the night. At 10:30pm, the train station hall is cleared out in a friendly manner and locked shut. Anyone waiting for a train will have to stand outside. This is not communicated officially.
But there is still a lot of train traffic at the main station at this time. According to the timetable, at least 21 trains, including several long-distance connections, stop in Bonn between 10:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays. At least 25 stop here during this time period on the weekends. Hundreds of party-goers, theatergoers, soccer fans or Christmas market visitors commute between Bonn and Cologne on Fridays and Saturdays.
In the press office of Deutsche Bahn (DB) in Düsseldorf, a staff member who did not want to be named, said she wondered why the inquiry only came now as the closing time had been put into effect a year ago already. Because of the construction work at track 1, most travelers are waiting for their trains at platforms 2 and 3. Further, she adds that customer frequency inside the hall is low, with all of the stores closed except for one fast food restaurant. That closes at 11pm and can be reached from platform 1.
The DB employee said that other long-distance operators such as bus companies, also did not provide waiting rooms for customers. Those who are cold can wait in the underground transportation area.
In the evening and at night, the main railway station, which is visited by an average of more than 50,000 travelers per day according to rail estimates, is an uninviting place. The travel center offers heating and seating from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. The information bureau in the hall is open from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The pay-to-use restrooms are also locked during the evening hours. Outside of the official opening times, there is no contact person for travelers.
Hans-Werner Ignatowitz from Bonn is chairman of the Rhineland regional association of the Pro Bahn passenger association. "This situation is not appropriate for a city like Bonn," he said in an interview with the GA. At 10:30 pm, the city is still full of people. And sometimes passengers have to wait longer for delayed trains. "One should expect to be able to wait in an area that is weatherproof during the normal hours."
Helmut Wiesener is the director of urban development in Bonn and he wants to get in touch with DB about the situation: "The city can neither understand nor accept such a closure in any way. Especially when a night-time closure of a central station is not due to operational reasons related to construction, but instead seems to be a pure cost-saving model for DB." But the word from Düsseldorf was that there are no plans to make changes to the restricted opening hours even after the completion of the construction work on track 1 in the summer of 2019.
(Orig. text: Martin Wein / Translation: ck)