German station resorts to window access after mix-up

A passenger in Bad Bentheim climbs through a station to window to get onto the platform. Image copyright NDR
Image caption The higher platforms are designed to provide level access to trains for wheelchair users - but at the moment they're blocking everyone

Rail passengers in a German town are flabbergasted after being told to climb through their local station's windows to get onto the platform because of a planning mix-up.

Locals at Bad Bentheim station, in the northern state of Lower Saxony, are taking the unusual route because national rail company Deutsche Bahn - which is responsible for the platforms - raised their height by 41cm (16in), regional broadcaster NDR reports. But the town, which owns the station, has been unable to do the work needed to raise the building's floor to the same level, meaning the new, higher platform is blocking all the access doors from opening.

The town says it's still waiting for a 1.1m-euro (£0.9m) state grant to carry out the work, but that's been delayed by the building's sale to its future operator, Bentheimer Eisenbahn, according to the Focus news magazine. Deutsche Bahn say they were unable to delay the scheduled platform work.

Somewhat ironically, the aim of the platform heightening was to provide wheelchair access. "It does seem like a foolish thing to do," Bentheimer Eisenbahn official Joachim Berends tells NDR apologetically. But mayor Volker Pannen is more philosophical. "It is what it is. I can't - and couldn't - do anything to change this," he tells Focus. "With this in mind, I just see it as one of those funny things that happen in life."

Passengers are less relaxed. "Through the window? I don't believe it - that's a joke," says one man buying his ticket. It is possible to access the platforms from outside the station building, but as one woman points out, it's a long way round when a train is about to leave. Apparently the mismatch can't be rectified before 2017. Until then, Mr Berends says, "we just have to get through this".

Image copyright NDR
Image caption When rail operators close a door, they open a window

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