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Mobility in Bonn and the region: This is how commuters experience train travel during the corona crisis

Mobility in Bonn and the region : This is how commuters experience train travel during the corona crisis

Commuters who travel by train or tram in Bonn and the region during the corona crisis are having a difficult time. While Deutsche Bahn is presenting a new cleaning concept, customers complain that the minimum distance cannot be maintained. GA readers describe their different impressions.

Corona restrictions have been eased several times, ensuring that everyday life is returning to normal - more or less, but with special requirements. For example, commuters traveling on regional trains and trams are still subject to some restrictions. First and foremost: the wearing of masks and social distancing.

A commuter told the GA on Twitter that the RE5 train running between Cologne and Bonn was so full on Wednesday evening that the minimum distance could not be kept. In her post, in which the 60-year-old expresses her annoyance, she also asks Deutsche Bahn (DB) whether in such a case 1st class may be used by all customers. The DB's answer was no: "If the train is too full, all you can do is get off and take the next one.”

The customer, who said she belongs to a corona high-risk group, found this response "quite outrageous", she tells the GA. "This means that, as a commuter who wants to get home quickly in the evening, I either have the option of waiting for the next train or the one after that, which is probably just as full, or I take a risk”.

Usually you can always get a seat on the train, but not always with enough space. Recently, a passenger sat down right next to her in a row of two seats. “That has nothing to do with keeping a minimum distance." What bothers her the most: "On Twitter I also asked Bonn politicians about this problem. They refer me to the Bahn (DB). The railways in turn tell me to contact the politicians. As a citizen that annoys me.”

DB wants to win back customers with its cleaning concept

On the same day that the customer posted on Twitter, DB presented a "tailor-made cleaning concept" in Düsseldorf, with which it intends to win back customers during the corona times. "We are working hard to maintain people's confidence even during a pandemic," said NRW Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst on Wednesday. For example, Düsseldorf Central Station is the first station in NRW to have a UV light system installed in some escalators. According to Deutsche Bahn, this new technology uses UV light to kill viruses and bacteria so that the handrails are germ-free. However, not all escalators are yet equipped with this technology.

Responding to GA questioning, DB pointed out that it isn’t easy to grant access to first class (for reasons of social distancing) because of the different ticket tariffs, and that it would hardly offer any additional space on regional trains. Also, according to the guidelines of the state of NRW concerning railways, spacing was urgently encouraged, but not obligatory. In situations where the distance cannot be kept due to lack of space, the general recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute must be implemented all the more strictly, explains a rail spokeswoman.

The regional express RE5 between Wesel and Koblenz is operated by National Express. The company has not yet responded to several inquiries from the GA since Thursday.

Commuters describe their different impressions

Especially with the exceptional situation brought on by the corona crisis, opinions are very subjective. One passenger, for example, cannot confirm to the GA that he has experienced overfilled trains or trams, keeping in mind the social distancing measures. To get to Bonn from the south of Cologne, he regularly uses tram line 18 of the KVB or the regional transport trains RE5, RB48 and RB26. "I don't think the trains are full, you can keep your distance," he says. He also says he has never seen a crowd or two passengers who had to sit next to each other because there was no other seat available. But the trains are definitely not as empty as they were a few weeks ago. "I don't ride at rush hour either, but rather at around ten o'clock or relatively late in the evening," he adds.

Another commuter also tends to disagree with the Twitter post. "On trains, I used to have a row of seats all for myself, so I could keep my distance," she says. Many customers continue to walk through the train cars until they find a seat with enough space. What she does notice, however, is that "when people come too close to me, it's mainly on trams. But that's not so much because there's not enough space. It's more because people are not paying enough attention." She also commutes by train and tram between Cologne and Bonn, but mainly on weekends.

A commuter from Frechen is curious to see whether people stick to the mask obligation in summer when the temperatures are warm: "I take a rather critical view of this and will be surprised if people follow it." In April and May she had switched to using her car for her public service work in Bonn. She also worked a lot from her home office. Soon, however, she would like to do the commute again with the RB48, which is operated by the National Express - which is always busy.

During the corona restrictions, train operators had reduced their services. The National Express company, which operates the RE5 line and the RB48, has been running according to its regular schedule since the beginning of May. Deutsche Bahn regional transport services are currently back to about 95 percent of normal operations.

Orig. text: Sabrina Szameitat, Britta Röös (with material from dpa) Translation: ck