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What went wrong for Germany’s train network

Our high-speed intercity train ICE 371 to Interlaken East is rolling at a leisurely 70mph through the southwest German countryside. But we are already 16 minutes late and under new rules imposed by the Swiss will therefore have to end our journey in Basel, just over the border, 90 miles short of our destination in the Alps.

Germans have historically prided themselves on efficiency and punctuality, but their chaotic rail network has long been an exception — and this summer it has turned into a national embarrassment.

The humiliation was summed up last weekend when Stanislav Aseyev, a Ukrainian journalist, tweeted how he was among more than 100 people who had to sleep rough after their train from Copenhagen to Hamburg simply stopped late at


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