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Deutsche Bahn Apologizes for Disruptions Affecting Euro 2024 Football Fans

Berlin, June 26, 2024, The Europe Today: Michael Peterson, the Deutsche Bahn (DB) board member responsible for long-distance travel, issued a formal apology in Germany’s top-selling newspaper, Bild, for the delays and cancellations that have plagued thousands of football supporters during the opening phase of the Euro 2024 championship.

“We understand the dissatisfaction and criticism from fans,” Peterson told Bild. “Deutsche Bahn is not currently offering the quality that everyone deserves. But at the same time, we are doing everything possible to bring passengers reliably to their destinations.”

The problems with delayed, overcrowded, and canceled trains have caused many fans to arrive late to games or miss matches entirely. On Monday, during the Netherlands’ match against Austria in Berlin, the issue drew public comments from the Netherlands’ coach, Ronald Koeman.

Koeman, who has previously expressed a preference for traveling by high-speed trains over private planes, lamented that this was only possible in one direction on Monday. “We can’t get back after the game because there are no more trains taking us to Wolfsburg,” Koeman said. “Germany is claiming to be hosting a sustainable European Championship. But it is not managing it.”

Austrian television captured footage of frustrated fans on a train that had stopped several times during its journey, chanting derogatory remarks about Deutsche Bahn to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Many Netherlands supporters crowded Berlin train stations well ahead of kickoff, despite the searing heat, hoping to avoid possible delays.

The issues with Deutsche Bahn’s service have been noticed both in Germany and internationally. The New York Times ran a feature titled “In Germany, a Tournament Runs Smoothly, but the Trains Do Not.” International football journalist Miguel Delaney commented on travel issues in Munich for Scotland and Germany fans on the tournament’s opening day, stating he was “now beginning to see why the German population is so critical of DB.”

German diplomats have also noted and apologized for the disruptions. Philipp Lahm, former Germany captain and current tournament director for Euro 2024 with the German football association (DFB), criticized the performance of Deutsche Bahn. “I think we have failed as a country to work a little on infrastructure in recent decades,” Lahm said after arriving late for the game between Ukraine and Slovakia last Friday.

Lahm also shared a hopeful message online: “P.S., dear Deutsche Bahn, on Sunday we must arrive on time in Frankfurt with our [Germany] team, we are confident that we will manage that.” Fortunately, Lahm made it to that game punctually.

Deutsche Bahn’s challenges during Euro 2024 have sparked widespread criticism, highlighting the need for improvements in the country’s rail infrastructure to support major international events.