Deutsche Bahn is aiming for a punctuality rate of 80 percent for its long-distance connections in a few years. “Our goal is to have 80 percent punctuality in long-distance transport again by 2028. That is demanding, but it is important,” said Lutz to the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”.

The last time the railway achieved an annual average of more than 80 percent was in the Corona year of 2020: 81.8 percent of all ICE and IC/EC trains were running according to schedule at the time. Before that, the last time long-distance trains reached exactly 80.0 percent punctuality was in 2011.

Fault-prone rail network as the main reason

The main reasons for the high number of delays are the growing train traffic on a rail network that is prone to disruption. Main routes will be renovated in the next few years, but the construction sites are currently causing new bottlenecks.

The railway wants to achieve a turnaround in punctuality this year, said Lutz. “We can’t be satisfied with the first four months. Only around 65 percent of the long-distance trains were on time. We want to achieve an average of 70 percent in 2024.” Below this threshold, customer dissatisfaction increases particularly sharply. The so-called operational punctuality, which Lutz is referring to here, looks at how many stops are reached less than six minutes late. These stops are counted as on time.

“Passengers don’t get upset about a five or six minute delay. They rightly get upset when they’re half an hour or an hour late, when they miss connections and the entire travel planning becomes unpredictable,” explained the railway boss.