Sabotage on the German railway: police examine the possibility of a political motive

Marketa Horpeniakova, Published on 12/10/2022
Sabotage on the German railway: police examine the possibility of a political motive
@hpgruesen on Pixabay

Rail traffic in northern Germany was paralyzed on Saturday. The case is being examined by security authorities on suspicion of sabotage.


Due to the sabotage of cables that are essential for train traffic, Deutsche Bahn had to stop train traffic in the north for almost three hours last Saturday. The sabotage caused a widespread failure of the GSM-R radio, a radio network used by the railroad in northern Germany. The network is not only used for radio communications between control centers and trains, but also for the digital transmission of timetable data. The GSM-R wired connections were cut which are used for communication between the control centers that control the train traffic and the trains and are, therefore, an indispensable part of smooth train traffic. The responsible security authorities have started investigations.

According to information available to investigators, the cables were severed near Berlin and in North Rhine-Westphalia, sites that are 440 kilometers apart. It is currently unclear who was behind the sabotage or what his motivation was. Police are therefore looking into various possibilities in their investigation. "The fact that an attack on critical infrastructure requiring a considerable amount of inside information took place almost simultaneously at two different locations in Germany shows a level of organization on the part of the attackers that we have not yet encountered in this form,” commented to RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland Thorsten Frei, CDU/CSU parliamentary faction leader.

One of the options examined was the possibility of a targeted attack by a foreign power, as in the case of the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline. The critical infrastructure of EU Member States could thus be threatened in the context of the war in Ukraine, and Russia might have an interest in causing panic in Europe. However, German criminal police said on Monday that terrorism or a foreign state was not behind the incident. The police said that their state protection unit is conducting the investigation as a political motivation is also being examined. They did not elaborate on what the specific motivation might be.

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