Deutsche Bahn says track theft delayed 3.200 trains in 2023

Deutsche Bahn says track theft delayed 3.200 trains in 2023

Across Germany, there were 450 cases of metal theft from train tracks last year. Deutsche Bahn has said that the thefts were responsible for delaying 3.200 trains in 2023.

Deutsche Bahn blames train delays on metal theft

Deutsche Bahn has said that cases of metal theft resulted in 3.200 trains being delayed across Germany in 2023. According to the nationwide rail provider, 450 cases of metal theft delayed these 3.200 trains by a collective 40.000 minutes.

Speaking to the dpa, a spokesperson from Deutsche Bahn said, “Where possible, alternative materials will be used, and existing facilities and construction sites will be protected and better guarded." A combination of the increased value of scrap metal and rising costs across the country in 2023 means that such thefts may have become more inviting for potential thieves.

In response, Deutsche Bahn has said that it is working closely with the German police and that many thieves are already caught after they steal the materials. However, they admitted that it is not possible to monitor all 34.000 kilometres of track.

Metal theft incidents have fallen by 90 percent since 2013

In comparison to 2022, these 450 cases amount to a slight increase in metal theft from the network’s tracks, but while Deutsche Bahn highlighted how the thefts were responsible for thousands of delays, a longer-term comparison reveals that metal theft from train tracks has decreased by 90 percent since 2013.

Overall, 2023 proved to be yet another year of poor punctuality performance at Deutsche Bahn: just 64 percent of long-distance trains run by the company reached their destination on time, meaning that they were on time or less than six minutes late to arrive. 

These chronic delays are largely a result of the failure to repair Germany’s deteriorating track network, which is required if the country wants a return to punctual services. Back in 1994, the year that Deutsche Bahn was privatised, over 90 percent of long-distance trains arrived on time.

As recently as 2017, 86 percent of passengers were arriving at their destination with a delay of 15 minutes or less. Now, with the German government partially scrapping funding for track renovation after its 2023 budget crisis, it is already expected that delays in 2024 will be worse again. To fill the funding gap, Deutsche Bahn will sell off Schenker, a logistics and freight transport subsidiary of the international company.

Thumb image credit: ON-Photography Germany /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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