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Trouble on social media: Drachenfelsbahn advertises reopening with aircraft banner

Trouble on social media : Drachenfelsbahn advertises reopening with aircraft banner

At the weekend, an aeroplane with an advertising banner for the Drachenfelsbahn circled over Königswinter, indicating the start of operations. The action sparked resentment on social media.

An advertising campaign by the Drachenfelsbahn has caused anger on social media. At the weekend, a plane with an advertising banner flew over Königswinter, which was met with incomprehension by some users.

"All over the country, popular excursion destinations are being closed off because snow and nature lovers, despite appeals on radio and television, still haven't grasped the idea of spreading out elsewhere or simply taking a breath of fresh air in their own town. And we have an aeroplane circling over the villages, with a banner in tow that says 'Drachenfelsbahn fährt wieder' in bold print," wrote one user on the Facebook page "Du kommst aus Königswinter", who also posted a photo of the aeroplane.

"I seriously wonder why they are allowed to open when the Siebengebirge, especially the Drachenfels, are completely overrun anyway. We love the Drachenfelsbahn, but currently it should remain closed," said another user.

Mayor Lutz Wagner intervened

Mayor Lutz Wagner spoke on the phone on Monday with railway executive Klaus Hacker and Fiona Achenbach of the Streve-Mülhens family, which owns the mountain railways. "We have to do everything we can to prevent hotspots from forming in the Siebengebirge. Promotional campaigns like this are counterproductive there," Wagner said.

Both had assured him that it was a one-off, long-planned action to announce the end of the operating holidays. "The mountain railway and most of the parking spaces are private. We have to have good reasons if we want to close something like the Drachenfels on New Year's Eve," Wagner said.

The railway had resumed operations on Whitsun after the first lockdown in spring 2020, when it got the green light from the state government. The latter followed the company's argumentation that it was a matter of local public transport.

Passenger numbers down 50 per cent in 2020

On the three Whitsun days, the railway carried 4,000 of a total of 16,500 visitors to the Drachenfels. Achenbach said that such numbers are now a long way off. From 1 to 3 January, 591 passengers were transported, which corresponds to an average of 20 to 40 people per hour.

In 2020, the number of passengers had dropped by 50 per cent, he said. "We are trying to walk a tightrope," said Achenbach. The distance rules in front of and in the valley station are strictly adhered to, masks are compulsory and the cars are occupied to a maximum of half their capacity, although the regulations allow for more guests.

(Original text: Hansjürgen Melzer, Translation: Mareike Graepel)