Delays, broken toilets, an on-board bistro without hot drinks – all of this is easier to endure when there is improvement in sight. In this respect, it is tactically smart to hope for Christmas. Both the managers of Deutsche Bahn and Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing are likely to mark this date in their calendars - not because they are hoping for supernatural support, but because things will finally be noticeably better on Germany's rails: mid-December is on the Riedbahn Although only the first stage of a year-long general renovation was completed, it was still a central one. However, that does not mean that Swiss standards in terms of punctuality and reliability will break out in this country.

The wear and tear has already eaten too deeply into the rail network. It will take years and cost billions until it is eliminated. But reliability is also guaranteed by forward-looking planning and good communication - and rail customers don't necessarily have to wait until Christmas for this.