Railway chaos in Germany: trains in the north stand still for hours. It quickly becomes clear that this is sabotage. However, many questions are still open.
Berlin – Thousands of travelers are stranded in Berlin, Hamburg and Hanover. Trains can no longer depart. The radio is disrupted. The problem for the widespread disruption: Cables have been severed at two locations. According to Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), cables were “willfully and intentionally severed”. After the train chaos in Germany, the police and the train also spoke of sabotage. State security is investigating. The background is initially unclear. There is no official information on possible perpetrators.
Railway chaos in Germany: The chronology of a momentous act of sabotage
- 9 a.m. – Saturday (October 8, 2022): The digital train radio GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communications – Rail) failed, Deutsche Bahn announced at 9 a.m. on Saturday (October 9, 2022). “It is used for communication between the control centers that control the train traffic and the trains and is therefore an indispensable component for smooth train traffic.”
- 1 p.m. – Saturday (October 8, 2022): “Due to sabotage of cables, which are indispensable for train traffic, Deutsche Bahn had to stop train traffic in the north for almost three hours this morning,” Deutsche Bahn said in a press release . The train radio system had failed in Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.
Deutsche Bahn target of sabotage act: crime scenes in North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin
Unknown persons had destroyed important communication cables in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia on Saturday, paralyzing train traffic in large parts of northern Germany for three hours.
“We have a crime scene in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen,” a spokesman for the Federal Police Directorate in Berlin told the dpa news agency on Sunday (October 9). “Another one is in North Rhine-Westphalia.” From security circles it was said that so-called fiber optic cables had been deliberately damaged in Berlin and in Herne in North Rhine-Westphalia. The backup system also failed. Between Herne (NRW) and Hohenschönhausen (Berlin) there are around 519 kilometers by car and depending on the route, as a look at the Google Maps route planner shows.
- Crime scene in North Rhine-Westphalia Herne
- Crime scene in Berlin-Höhenschönhausen
Train chaos: Unknown people paralyzed large parts of train traffic in Germany
According to Spiegel , a cable duct near Herne (NRW) was opened on a railway line at around two in the morning. According to this, unknown persons would have lifted the heavy concrete cover and then cut through an important line for railway communication with a flex. Another shaft was opened in Berlin and the cable for the train radio system there was severed. At that time, this line served as a back-up for the data line that had been severed at Herne.
After this sabotage, the entire communication system collapsed. The railway then stopped a large part of the train traffic for three hours for safety reasons.
Who is behind the train sabotage? “Insiders”, “State Sabotage” or “Russian Attack”
What is certain is that it is a targeted attack. Investigators are working hard to find possible perpetrators and a motive. This is how it was on Sunday – one day after the train chaos. No further details were initially known on Sunday.
According to estimates from security circles, the procedure requires insider knowledge about the railway, reports the dpa news agency. As an indication against perpetrators from the left-wing extremist scene, to whom attacks against the railways have been attributed in the past, is that no confession letter has appeared so far. ARD terrorism expert Holger Schmidt assumes a new group of perpetrators. There would be a number of actors who would be capable of such an act. It was difficult to say so shortly after the sabotage. The goal is clear, however, to attack the infrastructure of Deutsche Bahn. Schmidt does not believe that left-wing extremists are responsible for Saturday’s attack. The procedure looks much more professional.
Media reports BKA consider “state sabotage” to be conceivable
The picture reported on Sunday that the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) considers state sabotage to be conceivable in an internal assessment. Accordingly, the action also requires “the outflow of sensitive information about the route network of Deutsche Bahn AG”. The BKA and the Federal Ministry of the Interior did not comment on the picture report when asked.
Security expert “Russia is already interested”
Security expert Peter Neumann considers a Russian attack on the critical infrastructure in Germany to be conceivable. “Russia has an interest in causing panic in Europe and signaling that it can severely paralyze life,” the researcher told RTL TV. It takes significant knowledge to attack these nodes. “It was probably not amateurs or individuals, it was something that was carried out by professionals.” However, Neumann cautions: “But of course there is no clear evidence. That’s why you have to be careful. It’s still a theory at the moment.”
The chairman of the European Committee, Anton Hofreiter (Greens), went one step further: “We cannot rule out that Russia is also behind the attack on the train,” he told the newspapers of the Funke media group on Sunday. In any case, “very precise knowledge of the radio system of the railway” was necessary for this.
Bundeswehr general warns of further attacks
Bundeswehr General Carsten Breuer warned of further attacks on critical infrastructure in Germany. “Every substation, every power plant, every pipeline” could be attacked, the commander of the new territorial command of the Bundeswehr told Bild am Sonntag .
There have been discussions about protecting critical infrastructure since the explosions on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea. A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bahn told the weekly newspaper Die Zeit just a few days ago that “it is not possible to protect the rail network over the long term. (ml/ with material from the dpa)