Bonn It might get tight at Bonn Central Station starting on Monday. Platforms 1 and 2 will be closed off for two weeks so workers can complete remaining tasks. Some passengers express irritation that they cannot keep at a safe distance from other passengers.
Passengers need to be prepared for major restrictions at Bonn's Central Station in the coming weeks. Because of work still to be completed, Deutsche Bahn (DB) reported that platforms 1 and 2 will be closed off to passengers beginning Monday morning, November 30 until and including December 12. Pavement work is scheduled during this time and there is still electronic work that has to be finished. Earlier, the tracks had been closed off from Monday to Wednesday. It allowed workers to remove construction materials and to restore the overhead line. Passengers traveling in the direction of Cologne during this period were diverted to Track 4. Many passengers were irritated by this move, as the smaller platform meant it was not always possible to maintain the correct social distance.
Annette Schäfer-Haas, who commutes between Bonn and Brühl during the week, reports seeing a "much too crowded" platform. "Passengers heading for Cologne were crowding around platform 4, and social distancing could not be maintained, partly because the stop was much too small.” Another commuter, who was also traveling in the direction of Cologne, reports that he had to stand close together with other travelers. Björn Oligschläger, who travels daily towards Koblenz, had a good view of the situation from Track 3. "It was getting really crowded at track 4," he observed.
Asked about the issue with space at Bonn's Central Station, Deutsche Bahn confirmed that it had been more crowded due to the other platforms being closed. However, it was not alarmingly crowded, a spokesman emphasized and mentions that they had employees on site. "According to the station manager's assessment, safe distances could be maintained in such a way that there was no need to intervene," he says. Because of the remaining work, passengers will be redirected to Track 4. The situation will be monitored and further possible measures will be assessed. "Travelers could be instructed to spread out further along the platform.” A final decision on how to deal with the situation has not yet been made, according to the spokesman.
A further source of irritation for Schäfer-Haas is the cancellation of the RB 48 line for several weeks: "In November, several construction projects were carried out on the Bonn-Cologne section of the line, which resulted in operational restrictions on the RB 48 line," confirms Cansu Erdogan of National Express. Further, she says, "The line will not serve any Bonn stops even in the period from November 30 to December 12.” Passengers were informed of those restrictions. "The passengers were redirected to lines RE 5 (RRX) and RB 26. That led to an increased volume of passengers, particularly during peak travel periods, which is unfortunately not to be prevented,” says the spokeswoman.
"This means that people will have to keep switching to the RE 5," concludes Schäfer-Haas. "Some relief is needed here, because at peak times the train is always so full that there is definitely no room for safe distances in the train cars," she says. "If there is only half a train and another train is completely out of service, the people in the aisle have to stand close together," warns Schäfer-Haas.
On the same day, Jule Müller had to switch to a tram, since there was no regional train to Cologne at noon. "Except for the ICE, no train was running," the student reports. But Müller cannot confirm that the trains are too full on a regular basis. "It's okay in terms of space.”
National Express, which is responsible for a large part of the local transport between Bonn and Cologne, shares this point of view. "The passenger volume on the RE 5 line has been reduced by the current corona light lockdown," Erdogan assures. The rail company also has "positive experiences” with compliance with the mask requirement. "This is also checked by staff and security personnel," says Erdogan, but admits that the correct social distances cannot be maintained at peak times in buses and trains "for technical reasons”.
A spokesman for the Rheinmittelbahn, which operates the RB 26 line between Bonn and Cologne, promises that the company intends to offer three more lines. A spokesperson said they are trying to offer more capacity for passengers but longer trains were often unhelpful because the platforms were too short.