Pigeon droppings, urine smell, damage on platforms Google reviews critical of Bonn Central Station

Bonn · Bonn Central Station is described in some online reviews as dirty and smelly. But if you talk to people who are at the train station, a different picture emerges. Where there is room for improvement and how Deutsche Bahn responds to the criticism.

 Foto: A view from Platform 1 at Bonn Central Station.

Foto: A view from Platform 1 at Bonn Central Station.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

A man in an orange reflective vest wipes a garbage can with a blue cloth. He uses a squeegee to remove the remaining soapy water from the surface. Then he reaches for the squeegee to clean the floor around the garbage can again before putting all of his cleaning supplies back in the cleaning cart and walking a few meters away. The man is cleaning up at Platform 1 in Bonn Central Station. He doesn't seem to have much work to do on this Wednesday afternoon. There is no garbage on the platform today.

But people who use Bonn Central Station describe it differently on Google. "It smells of urine" and "the pigeons defecate all over it" writes one person. "Dirty, run-down, just stinks" and "I think it's ugly", writes another user. On Google, the train station receives an overall rating of 3.4 out of five stars from a total of 889 reviews. And yes, there are also positive comments. "There's a food stand to fit every preference in the underground level," writes one person. Another comment: "Clean station". So what is the reality?

Walking through the tunnel system of Bonn Central Station on a Wednesday afternoon, one thing at least is not noticeable: garbage. Apart from a few cigarette butts and a bag of bread rolls, the floors look freshly swept - despite the hubbub of activity. Small holes in the floor and uneven slabs are marked with yellow-green spray paint. Just three people sit peacefully wrapped in blankets in one of the passageways. Pigeons run around and flutter over the platforms. And even though it is reported that there are quite a few rats here, there is not one in sight.

What passenger say about Bonn Central Station

And how do passengers rate the station? Alexander Kukshaus sees Bonn Central Station as "one of the cleanest stations". The student lives in Aachen and commutes to the university in Bonn every day. Even the pigeons on the tracks don't bother him. Kukshaus would give it 3.5 stars. Silke Velten is waiting at Platform 1 for her train to Brühl and sums up her assessment of Bonn's main station in one word: "Good!" The Bonn native describes herself as someone who loves her hometown and is enthusiastic about Bonn Central. "The station is well located, in the middle of the city center, but it doesn't ruin the city center," says Velten and adds: "I think it's nice that tourists are greeted with Beethoven when they arrive." She points to one of the blue signs hanging above the staircase showing a portrait of the famous composer. "There could be more," she says. She always feels comfortable at the station. "I've never been afraid, even at night when I've come in late from an appointment.”

But Velten also sees room for improvement. In her opinion, there is little protection from the wind and cold. "Especially on Platforms 3 and 4." She also finds the elevators a little cramped for people traveling by bike. "There's no room for a family with a bike trailer." This was also confirmed by Deutsche Bahn (DB) when asked. "The elevators have standard sizes and offer space for standard single-seater bikes with two wheels. Unfortunately, there is no room for some e-bikes due to their size," says a spokesperson for the company. And what about the filth? "The employees are very concerned about cleanliness and I don't think it smells unpleasant because a lot of work is done here," answers Velten. Her overall rating: 4.9 stars.

Jürgen-Peter Freudenberg is also waiting at Platform 1, but is less euphoric than Velten. "It's been renovated, but there's still a lot wrong with it," says Freudenberg. He would like to see more cleanliness in the connecting tunnels between the tracks and the city. "The corridors underground are not very inviting." Overall, he awards it three stars.

Anna Berger has a similar opinion. Although she rates Bonn's main station as "quite good" overall, she also notices an unpleasant smell and a lack of cleanliness in the lower passageways. "The unpleasant smells make some people not want to go into the stores," she says. Her rating is 3.5 stars.

Like every train station, Bonn station is cleaned daily by Deutsche Bahn employees, according to a spokesperson for DB. "For some time now, we have had permanent cleaning staff on duty here during the day. This has enabled us to improve cleanliness." DB also points out that passengers can report any dirty areas or garbage to the Service, Security and Cleanliness Center.

Ghasaq Alwan also talks about the cleanliness of the passageways in the underground part of the station and mentions the people who hang out there for long periods of time. "Everything is fine on the platforms, but down in the passageways it's very unhygienic. I don't think enough attention is paid to homeless people, but that's the case in all stations," she says. In addition to her criticism, Alwan also has a lot of praise for Bonn Central Station. For example, the fact that you can walk directly from the platform to the bus station through the underpass or that there are small stores right next to platform 1. She would give Bonn Central Station a total of four stars.

Deutsche Bahn explains that sitting and lying on the floor, on stairs and in entrances is prohibited. "Anyone who sits there and disrupts the station operations or disturbs others can expect to be expelled from the station," says a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson, adding: "Waiting areas, passageways, stairs or escape routes, as well as areas such as lockers, must be kept clear for safety reasons, but also out of consideration for all who use the station." At the same time, DB is also involved with the charity called Bahnhofsmission and the Deutsche Bahn Foundation for people in difficult circumstances and without a permanent address.

(Orig. text: Elena Eggert; Translation: ck)