Strikeseeing

A map by Deutsche Bahn shows the normal route Munich - Berlin (dotted) and today's alternatives.

Route

From
Vias
Destination
Distance
954 km
Distance (BC)
945 km
Lines

Service achievements

Total time Avg. speed Delay Boarded Wi-Fi pledged Wi-Fi fulfilled Wi-Fi overall
8.5 hours 112 km/h 2 % 100 % 94 % 75 % 71 %

Damage totals

Trains/cars Notably damaged Defect rate
3 0 0 %

Details

The last time German train drivers were on strike, I consequently decided to purchase my “Bahncard 100” all-in subscription. Now, some half year later, the impressions I had back then seem to be somehow confirmed.

Taking into account that about half of their driving personnel is off their posts, the long-distance connections do actually work better than you would expect, however, few people realize it. The reasons for this are manifold, the most important being disastrous, plan-less and arbitrary communication - if any:

While the working union causing the strike had already announced their rough plans on Monday morning, it took until Tuesday until they announced any fall-back plans at all.
It took until even Wednesday before they informed subscribers to what they call “delay alert” (an email informing you about any changes regarding your chosen connection) on their trains being canceled; in my case this happened less than four hours prior to scheduled departure (the train was completely canceled).
Until Tuesday night, they did not have anything ready except a confusing, arbitrarily ordered list of train numbers to ride, however, they did not list any time-related information in that document.
Still on Wednesday, their (standard) online travel planner did not contain any strike-related updates except for all trains being marked as “canceled” (this information was also missing until Monday morning).
A half-way acceptable way to retrieve actually existing connections was not announced at all, at least not in a way that I would have discovered it. Except for accident, which happened Wednesday morning, by randomly checking some “real-time” option in their “Navigator” app, that suddenly revealed this apparently confidential information.

The last item, to be honest, is a quite sympathetic one: Until this moment of typing here, I have another compartment on my own, undisturbed by all the poor guys out on the Autobahns or in buses. Although I still wait whether we will actually get to Berlin…

Seen from a relaxed and optimistic point: A quite nice Germany-all-in ride: Somehow-some way-best effort delivery, combined with a huge sightseeing trip through Bavaria’s corn fields, the Swabian Alb, hitting both Mannheim and Frankfurt, the Taunus and the Kassel mountains, and finally through Saxony-Anhalt’s and Brandenburg’s flat Tundra (the latter unfortunately lacking proper illumination) – still under the uncertain signs of probably having no more train driver after Frankfurt. And having to re-write this article in greater parts.