What happens when a train is diverted

In the train Responsibility in the driver's cab

Time pressure on the rails

The RegionalExpress has meanwhile taken the route in the direction of Düsseldorf. We constantly encounter trains in oncoming traffic, which are well filled and rush over the rails. Pleuger raises his hand in greeting, then leans back in the large armchair in the driver's cab and gazes concentratedly through the wide windshield at the tracks. "Due to the time delay, we are now in the wake, there are other trains behind us," he says. The route between Essen and Cologne is particularly affected, as there are many freight and long-distance trains in addition to the high-speed local passenger traffic. “Every overhaul is decided on a case-by-case basis, but of course you can't always please all passengers. Especially if this results in more delay minutes for the train concerned, ”explains Pleuger. Above all, the “Düsseldorf Flughafen” and “Leverkusen Mitte” stops are overtaking hubs where the RE 1 sometimes stands longer and lets fast trains pass by. But Pleuger is also familiar with the other side of the coin: "If a freight train is traveling at 90 kilometers per hour in front of me, I have to adjust to its speed until there is an opportunity to overtake." If everything goes according to plan, the RegionalExpress roars over the rails at speeds of up to 160 kilometers per hour. In the future, improvements should be made at this point thanks to the RRX - the laying of new tracks will enable a separation between slow and fast trains.

Hope for the RRX

Depending on the possibility, passenger trains are currently often diverted over parallel S-Bahn tracks, for example in the event of personal accidents on the route. "That is of course annoying for the passengers, who then sometimes have to change at other stops," says Pleuger, and adds with a laugh: "But driving is always better than standing!" Today the train driver is lucky, he can continue without one having to let another train overtake you. Outside fields and meadows pass by, we have left the deep Ruhr area behind. Pleuger sits relaxed in front of the dashboard and enjoys the ride. “That's one of the nice things about this job: You get around a lot and see something of the area,” says the 61-year-old. Only in bad weather is he no longer so easy-going. Namely when a lubricating film forms on the rails due to moisture and dust. Pleuger explains: “Then we often cannot fully extend our speed in the affected sections and have to brake and start more carefully. These are driving time losses that we have to accept, after all, we can't change the weather either. ”This and technical problems such as door malfunctions are among the reasons for delays that usually cannot be influenced by the train drivers. While the RegionalExpress drives over the Hohenzollern Bridge to Cologne Central Station, Pleuger remembers positive experiences in his previous shifts. With a mischievous smile, he tells of a birthday when the passengers serenaded him in front of the driver's cab door. “The contact with the travelers is mostly good, and we also have a great community with our work colleagues,” enthuses the train driver, pulling the brake lever down. The RE 1 hissing stops at Cologne Central Station. The biggest problem areas are behind us, for Pleuger it goes on to Aachen. To say goodbye, he waves from his window and slowly switches the power back on. The RRX will take care of the fact that the journey between Essen and Cologne will soon always be as smooth as it is today.