ROUNDUP: The federal government allows employees two train seats – but entitlement expires | message
BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – To protect against the coronavirus, federal authorities and ministries should be able to book their employees two seats for business trips – so that the next seat remains free. The catch: this is not possible, as the railway said at the request of the German press agency. The conditions of carriage state that the right to a seat expires 15 minutes after departure if the seat is not taken. This not only applies to reservations, but also to tickets.
The “Sddeutsche Zeitung” (Tuesday) first reported on the plans, citing a letter from the Federal Ministry of the Interior to the highest federal authorities. An additional neighboring seat can not only be reserved for train journeys, it can also be booked, according to the letter. In order to protect against infection, this should ensure a greater distance from fellow travelers. The extended reimbursement option is therefore initially limited to the end of March 2021 in the Federal Travel Expenses Act.
The fact that the Federal Ministry of the Interior wants to make the double seat possible at all does not quite fit with repeated statements by Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) that the railway is not a hotspot. Scheuer also rejects a reservation requirement for travelers that prevents overcrowded trains in other countries.
In response to a dpa request, his ministry made it clear on Tuesday that it is not planning any double bookings for its employees: they do not intend to use this “can rule”. Corresponding inquiries from employees have so far been rejected, “since travel by public transport does not pose an increased risk of infection,” it said. However, these only existed in isolated cases.
Mouth and nose protection is compulsory on the train. Overall, the trains are much less busy than usual. Nevertheless, there is always criticism that passengers are traveling without a mask and that trains are sometimes quite full.
The railway announced on Tuesday that safe travel was guaranteed, because the long-distance trains are currently only around 20 to 25 percent full. “That means: four out of five seats are not occupied.” Window seats are preset for reservations so that the aisle seat remains free. In addition, the train staff ensure that the passengers on the train are evenly distributed.
According to SZ, the authorities are also accommodating when it comes to air travel. A middle seat can be booked to provide more distance. In addition, the federal government also recommends the car to employees: The use of a rental car can be recognized because the risk of infection is lower due to the lack of passengers, the newspaper quotes from the letter.
Business trips by federal officials should be avoided in principle because of the corona pandemic. According to dpa information, the number of business trips is currently around 70 percent below the level of last year./ted/DP/fba