The railway and its owner, the federal government, have so far refused a guaranteed minimum distance on long-distance trains for all passengers. For its own employees, however, the federal government wants to minimize the risk of infection.
WITHIn order to protect against a possible corona infection, the federal government wants to pay employees of authorities and ministries an empty neighboring seat for business trips on the train in the next few months. This was reported by the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (SZ), citing a letter from the Federal Ministry of the Interior to the highest federal authorities. According to the letter, an additional neighboring seat can be booked (not just reserved) for train journeys. This should ensure a greater distance to the fellow travelers in the sense of infection protection. According to the report, the extended reimbursement option is initially limited to the end of March in the Federal Travel Expenses Act.
The railway and its owner, the federal government, have so far rejected a guaranteed minimum distance in long-distance trains for all passengers, despite the increasing number of infections. The railways and the Ministry of Transport point out that there is no evidence of a particular risk of infection on trains. The federal government and the group want to stick to the open system without any reservation requirement.
The federal government’s plans to pay an empty seat are causing irritation among the opposition. The FDP transport politician Christian Jung told the SZ: “This bizarre development confirms that a reservation requirement would be correct.” The railway had had months to introduce a digital solution, but failed to do so. The transport policy spokesman for the Greens, Stefan Gelbhaar, told the newspaper: “The question arises why the federal government guarantees a minimum distance on trains only for employees and not for all passengers.”
According to SZ, the authorities are also accommodating when it comes to air travel. A middle seat can be booked to provide more distance. In addition, the federal government also recommends the car to employees: the use of a rental car can be recognized, since the risk of infection is lower due to the lack of fellow travelers, the newspaper quotes from the letter.
At the weekend, “Bild” reported that this year 72 million passengers had traveled in long-distance trains so far, 53 million fewer than in the first ten months of 2019. The capacity utilization of the trains is currently between 20 and 25 percent.