© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A logo of German railway Deutsche Bahn is pictured outside the railway station of the Cologne-Bonn Airport in Cologne, July 28, 2020. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo
By Sarah Marsh and Andreas Rinke
BERLIN (Reuters) -Sabotage was behind a nearly three-hour halt in all rail traffic in northern Germany on Saturday morning, state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) said, without identifying who might be responsible.
Authorities have launched an investigation into the incident, DB said. The interior ministry did not immediately reply to request for comment.
The disruption immediately raised alarm bells after NATO and the European Union last month stressed the need to protect critical infrastructure after what they called acts of “sabotage” on the Nord Stream gas pipelines.
“We can’t say much at the moment, it is too early,” said a security source who declined to be named. The source said an intensive investigation into the incident had begun and a there were a variety of possible reasons for it, ranging from simple cable theft which was frequent at the moment to a targeted attack.
DB said in a statement: “Due to sabotage on cables that are indispensable for rail traffic, Deutsche Bahn had to stop rail traffic in the north this morning for nearly three hours.”
DB had earlier given the cause of the network disruption as a technical problem with radio communications. Rail traffic was still patchy on Saturday afternoon after being restored, it said, warning of train cancelations and delays.
Citing sources in the security services, Der Spiegel magazine reported that cables for DB’s communication network had been cut in two places.
The disruptions affected rail services through the states of Lower Saxony and Schlewsig-Holstein as well as the city states of Bremen and Hamburg, with a knock-on effect to international rail journeys to Denmark and the Netherlands.