Deutsche Bahn is looking for more airliners than train bosses

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Nadine Perlinger dos Santos, former stewardess of the Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings, now works as a train attendant at Deutsche Bahn. © Rolf Vennenbernd / dpa

The corona pandemic has cost many jobs in aviation. But some flight attendants managed to switch from jet to train so well that Deutsche Bahn is now actively promoting many more.

Frankfurt / Main – As a flight attendant, Sarah Charly from Hamburg has already experienced a lot. Your first airline went bankrupt, and after switching to a new company, Corona came along.

“I was wondering what was going to come next and I would rather look for something safe,” says the 28-year-old, who is currently being trained as a train manager in a one-year intensive course at Deutsche Bahn.

Train bosses responsible for operations and safety

The state rail company is constantly looking for suitable applicants, especially among on-board personnel. Until recently, however, only those who had extensive experience in escorting trains could become train bosses with an initial annual salary of around 36,000 euros. While the pilots always have the last word in a commercial aircraft, the approximately 2,000 train bosses on Deutsche Bahn trains are actually responsible for the operation and safety of “their” train.

In the coming year, the railway wants to train at least 300 new train bosses, about half of which could come from outside. Last March, the first pilot classes started in Hamburg, Stuttgart and Munich with a total of around 30 participants who were employed at the beginning of the course. “We are looking for new colleagues with management experience who are willing to take on responsibility,” says Alexander Thies, who is responsible for on-board service at DB Fernverkehr. For example, branch managers from retailers, restaurateurs or the so-called purser from aviation, who have already led service teams in the aircraft cabin, are well suited.

Profession has a lot to do with technology

“You will get to know our tariff system, our service standards and the safety regulations,” it says in a somewhat flowery way in the Deutsche Bahn’s job advertisement. This means that the newcomers have to delve deeply into the complex system of rail and train. Even if all relevant information can be called up on a tablet later on in the train, a lot of cramming has to be done first. Sarah Charly didn’t really suspect that her new job would have so much to do with technology. “If you want to get on the train, you should be prepared for it.”

Nadine Perlinger dos Santos also experienced the change from the plane to the ICE as a challenge. “The tasks on the train are more extensive and varied.” In October 2020, she was one of the first female airliners to take the safe route, initially as a train attendant. “That was absolutely the right decision,” says the former Germanwings stewardess, who a year later is about to take the next step in her career. As an internal applicant now, she also wants to become head of the train, maybe work as a coach in the medium term or aim for another position. “In such a large corporation, there are completely different possibilities,” says the Siegburg woman optimistically.

Lufthansa supports the change

The Lufthansa Group supports Deutsche Bahn’s recruiting for its employees, for example by enabling video calls and other advertising campaigns, as a spokeswoman confirmed. At the Lufthansa core company with its shrinking fleet, a large severance pay program is currently underway, for which around 2,000 flight attendants are still being sought in the cabin. Despite the sometimes significant wage reductions, the move to the railway could be worthwhile for many. Anja Bronstert, Vice-Chairwoman of the cabin union Ufo, has a lot of understanding for the changers, even if airlines like Eurowings or Eurowings Discover are already looking for people again. To low starting salaries, as she adds. dpa

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