Cow flees slaughterhouse, stops express train in Germany

An escaped cow delayed over a dozen trains in southwest Germany when it refused to budge from the train tracks. The cow had fled from a nearby slaughterhouse, according to the police.

A cow caused hours of delays on a busy railway route in Germany and prompted a major police response early on Tuesday.

Cars and Transportation | 21.02.2017

The animal was set to be slaughtered in the southwest town of Bühl when it escaped and found its way to the nearby train tracks. The route is a part of a vital railway that links the German city of Karlsruhe with the Swiss city of Basel.

An inter-city express (ICE) train driver was first to report the cow at around 5 am local time. The man halted the train to avoid hitting the animal.

German police shared a pre-dawn photo on Twitter, claiming it showed the cow on the tracks.

The police dispatched several patrols to the scene, but they were unable to drive the animal away.

"The cow positioned itself on the track and did not move," according to a spokesman.

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Eventually, a hunter was called in to shoot the animal, but not before 14 trains were delayed and three redirected during the two-hour disruption.

Over 250 trains, including key cargo transports, travel along the route every day.

Deutsche Bahn: New boss, old problems

Back in the black

The rail operator's 2015 figures were in negative territory. Write-offs and the company's large-scale restructuring had driven the balance sheet into the red. A bottom-line profit of 716 million euros ($772 million) put Deutsche Bahn back on the success track last year.

Deutsche Bahn: New boss, old problems

The new boss: Richard Lutz

New head train driver Richard Lutz (left), formerly chief financial officer, has taken over the company's reins from Rüdiger Grube (right). Grube had surprisingly resigned over disputes surrounding the extension of his contract.

Deutsche Bahn: New boss, old problems

Constant change

The fundamental restructuring of Deutsche Bahn started two decades ago and is to continue under Lutz. Since 1994, the Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Federal Railway), which used to burn through billions each year, has transformed into a global mobility enterprise. The DB corporation now has 300,000 employees in over 140 countries.

Deutsche Bahn: New boss, old problems

Impossible tasks?

Restructuring remains a balancing act, as DB needs to meet political demands and turn a profit. Even the most remote village is to be connected to the railway network, regardless of the number of passengers. Moreover, trains are supposed to be punctual and comfortable, all while keeping ticket prices affordable.

Deutsche Bahn: New boss, old problems

Not confined to tracks

Trains don't suffice to be mobile on a global level. DB Arriva, for instance, operates buses on top of trains in several European countries. Logistics service provider DB Schenker, which employs 66,000 people in over 2,000 locations, manages DB's freight transport.

Deutsche Bahn: New boss, old problems

Freight traffic remains problem child

DB intends to put an end to the crisis of its rail freight operations. In recent years, DB Cargo has logged losses due to inefficiency and failure to modernize its outdated fleet, Only around 17 percent of Germany's freight traffic is handled by rail.

Deutsche Bahn: New boss, old problems

Costly prestige projects - a neccesity?

Large-scale projects like the major modification of Stuttgart's main train station (photo) have caused a big stir. Many residents of Stuttgart have protested against the mammoth project, and costs have exploded. DB is forced to contribute 3.5 billion euros out of its own pocket.

Deutsche Bahn: New boss, old problems

Initial public offerings canceled

The flotations of DB subsidiaries Arriva and Schenker, which were supposed to inject new money into the corporation, were called off in late 2016. An estimated 4.5 billion euros needed for investments are now sorely missing. According to DB, the cancellations were due to uncertainty over Brexit.

dj/rc (dpa, AFP)