Ms. Münchow, the S-Bahn tunnel under downtown Frankfurt was closed for three weeks. On the first day after the Easter holidays, everything should be rolling again. However, there were many disruptions on Monday – especially in the morning rush hour. How can that be?

Mechthild Harting

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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We have completed the construction work in the S-Bahn tunnel as planned. Since Monday morning, 4.30 a.m., the S-Bahn trains between Frankfurt-Hauptwache and Frankfurt-Süd have been running regularly on their main line again as announced. However, at the start of operations after the construction work in the tunnel section from Konstablerwache to Offenbach-Ost, there was unfortunately initially a malfunction of the signalling system. Our specialists were able to remedy these to a large extent. Since about 12 o'clock, the S-Bahn trains have successively run over the line again.

Is it a coincidence that after the long break in the morning after the resumption of operations, a signalling system does not work as it should? Are there no test runs after such a long break?

Of course, after construction work and before regular traffic rolls over the line again, tracks, switches and systems are thoroughly checked in accordance with specified regulations and then approved for use by experts. This also happened during the work in the tunnel.

Anyone who wanted to find out about S-Bahn traffic on the RMV website on Monday morning came across the headline: partial cancellations at night, diversions, replacement services and changed travel times. What goes through your mind when you are told this or when you have to read this?

We very much regret that we were initially unable to run the entire S-Bahn service between Konstablerwache and Offenbach-Ost due to the signal disruption on Monday morning, and would like to apologize to our passengers for the restrictions. As originally planned, Ostendstraße will now remain closed for the ventilation system until 28 April. Until 8 May, there will also be some night-time rework, for example on switches and gravel. Over the past three weeks, 40 employees of Deutsche Bahn and contracted companies have been working around the clock. They have replaced 4500 tons of track ballast, 3400 square meters of sub-ballast mats and ten switches. There are new rails between the Mühlberg and Kaiserlei stations, and in the Offenbach City Tunnel, platforms and tunnel walls have been renovated, escape and rescue routes as well as the tunnel emergency lighting have been renewed. However, the daily traffic for commuters remains largely unaffected by the night-time rework that is still necessary.

Everyone is talking about the fact that public transport should and must become the backbone of the traffic turnaround in conurbations. In your opinion, what can be done to improve S-Bahn traffic in Frankfurt?

S-Bahn and local public transport in general play a crucial role, especially in the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main transport hub. That is why we have been investing in the rail network and stations for years and will continue to do so in the future. In addition to the modernization of plants and technology, we focus primarily on new construction and expansion. For example, separate tracks are currently being built between Frankfurt-West and Bad Vilbel for the S6, which will be able to run at a denser frequency independently of long-distance traffic in the future. We have bundled a number of other capacity projects in the "Frankfurt Rhein-Main plus" joint programme, which contribute not least to better, more attractive public transport. However, this extensive workload cannot be implemented overnight. And we can't avoid continuing to build for it in the coming years. Ultimately, however, all people here in the region, and especially commuters and schoolchildren, will benefit from better offers on climate-friendly rail.