Less than half of Deutsche Bahn trains arrive in Basel on time, report finds

Less than half of Deutsche Bahn trains arrive in Basel on time, report finds

Less than half of German long-distance trains reached Basel on time last year, new data from BZ Basel has revealed. Despite promises of investment into the rail network, Deutsche Bahn’s punctuality in both Germany and Switzerland appears to be getting worse.

Majority of Deutsche Bahn trains to Basel cancelled or delayed

According to the data, provided by the Swiss Opentransportdata platform, 36 percent of Deutsche Bahn long-distance trains from Germany to Basel arrived on time in 2023. This compares to the 48 percent of trains that were delayed by more than three minutes and the 16 percent of services that never made it to Basel SBB. For reference, 92,5 percent of public transport services provided by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) were classed as on time last year.

According to 20 Minuten, the delays at Deutsche Bahn - which are typically blamed on a lack of investment in the railways - appear to be getting worse over time. In 2018, for example, 54 percent of German long-distance trains arrived in Basel on time, while just 3 percent were cancelled.

BZ Basel noted that the delays are worse when looking at individual services. For instance, a EuroCity 9 service from Hamburg to Basel, which is meant to arrive in the Swiss city at 3.36pm every day, only arrived on time in just 5 percent of cases, 82 percent of trains were delayed, while 13 percent were cancelled.

Deutsche Bahn punctuality cause headaches across Switzerland

In 11 percent of cases, continual delays at Deutsche Bahn see German trains halt at Basel Badischer Bahnhof instead of Basel SBB. This means that Swiss travellers have to take an S-Bahn to the station in order to board the return train.

The disruption is not isolated to Basel either, with the EuroCity service between Zurich and Munich via St. Gallen having been named the least punctual service in Switzerland last year, largely thanks to delays caused in Germany. In that case, the train was late a whopping three-quarters of the time.

When are the most punctual trains from Germany to Basel?

For those looking to travel to Basel from Germany, the most punctual trains tend to be in the morning. The data noted that ICE 5s (Frankfurt - Basel) and ICE 3s (Karlsruhe - Basel) arriving between 8 and 10am are punctual more than three times out of five.

The continual failure of Deutsche Bahn to make its trains punctual has led Swiss Federal Railways to consider radical alternatives, such as limiting the number of German services that can run on the network. In January 2024, SBB confirmed that it was in discussions with DB over how it can improve its punctuality, with Transport Minister Albert Rösti blaming the delays on “failures in "certain countries" that have neglected their rail infrastructure for at least a decade.”

Thumb image credit: Y. Pieper /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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