When Sergio Almeida messaged me this morning about the cancellation of direct passenger trains between Cheb (Czechia) and Nürnberg (Germany) from December, it was news to me.
I’d taken this very train in May this year, and suddenly this train that ran every 2 hours is no more. From December a change in Marktredwitz will be necessary.
The news about the ending of the service is in Czech here. Having checked both DB Reiseauskunft and ČD’s site I can confirm there are no longer any direct trains after mid-December.
The offer on the route – given the poor quality of the infrastructure – was not too bad until now. The Cheb-Nürnberg diesel tilting trains used at least ran at a decent speed.
Then – as so often – the rail community sprang into action to try to work out what was happening.
I spoke to a contact in ČD who confirmed they had no idea why this decision had been taken, German side. Edmund Lauterbach pointed me towards a 2021 press release announcing the new operators of the routes in that part of Bavaria from December 2023 – and the promise of a stepping up of services – to hourly. The opposite of what is actually happening. Moritz Krähe said he had heard the introduction of hourly trains had been delayed by a year – due to a problem with a signal somewhere, and that the timetable of the every two hours direct train would be changed, but we struggled to confirm this – only finding this.
I meanwhile contacted BEG’s press spokesperson to ask what was going on, but at the time of writing this had not heard back from him, so have nothing official from the Bavarian side. I will update the post as and when I hear something.
I also decided to have a look at the route these trains take – and confirmed that the line between Cheb and Nürnberg is part of the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). But when you zoom in on the region in the Commission’s mapping tool (click Rhein-Danube corridor) you get this:
That the status of the German section is “completed”.
But the TEN-T core network foresees 160km/h electrified lines for the TEN-T core, and OpenRailwayMap lists it as 120km/h and I can confirm there is no electrification anywhere in sight.
So here we have a worsening passenger service on a cross border line, and no one knows why, let alone having any solid idea as to how to put right the obvious wrong. Passengers lose out, and there is no accountability. And the infrastructure is in a quite poor state, but the European Commission lists upgrades as completed.
[Update 3.11.2023, 10:00]
So it turns out that the Bayerische Eisenbahngesellschaft (BEG) has known about a signalling problem in Marktredwitz station – that will prevent the new timetable being implemented – since at least February this year, as the email to Martin Stránský (first published here) shows. DB Netz has to upgrade the signalling, and has not. How hard or time consuming this is we do not know.
But this leads me to the conclusion that this has been poorly handled by BEG – the problem was known, and was not dealt with. And the relations between BEG and DB Netz clearly need some improvement. And last but not least the BEG press office ought to have had an answer to what was going on when I called them yesterday, as the problem has been long known. But it seems the comms people are not talking to the technical people.