Migrant Crisis Halts Rail Traffic Between Germany, Austria and Hungary
Photo via Twitter/cleacaulcutt
It’s a move that could throw a wrench in the plans of tourists traveling through Europe by train, but the situation seems to be getting desperate. The overwhelming flood of migrants and refugees streaming into Europe from Syria and Iraq has led Germany to put temporary border controls in place as well as suspend train traffic entirely to and from Austria until Monday morning, CNN reported. Austria rail officials have also stopped service to and from Hungary.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere announced Sunday, according to CNN, "The focus will initially lie on the border with Austria… The goal of this measure is to restrict the present inflow of migrants into Germany and return again to an orderly process upon entry."
Austrian Federal Railways said in a tweet that German train service to and from Austria has been halted. This stoppage began 5 p.m. Sunday local time, and will last for 13 hours until 6 a.m. Monday.
The Austrian rail company has itself suspended rail service to and from Hungary due to the influx of migrants, according to a press release.
The release stated this made it “possible to stabilize the situation at Vienna’s major train stations, which is essential to maintaining railway operations. Just one overcrowded station can bring the entire rail transport system to a standstill.”
Austrian Federal Railways was not specific as to when service would resume — only saying that the stoppage would span the weekend.
This past Wednesday saw train service stopped between Germany and Denmark after 100 refugees refused to leave a train in the latter country, as they wanted to officially seek asylum in Germany.
Germany is cited as the “preferred destination” of migrants by the Associated Press, and the country is straining under the hundreds of thousands streaming in unabated.
The AP also quoted De Maiziere’s Sunday statement to reporters, and the interior minister said border controls were crucial for “security reasons.”
He did not say how long the border controls would last or give details on how the migrants would be handled, just saying that “Germany would observe national and European rules on protecting refugees,” according to the AP.
In principle, the AP stated, border checks would entail officials turning back anyone who did not have valid entry papers.
Travel without a passport through much of Europe under the “Schengen agreement” is “considered one of the EU’s signal achievements,” the AP said, but controls can be reinstated in “exceptional circumstances.” The European Commission said via the AP, that this crisis "appears to be a situation covered by the rules."
De Maiziere’s declared, via the AP, that the border checks are "a signal to Europe: Germany is facing up to its humanitarian responsibility, but the burdens connected with the large number of refugees must be distributed in solidarity within Europe."
This was a reference to the conflict amongst the European Union countries regarding the fair division of the refugee burden. This is an ongoing battle, which will only grow more heated as the number of migrants entering Germany for 2015 climbs to 800,000-plus, an estimate made by officials, according to the AP.
Deutschland stellt den Zugverkehr von und nach österreich ein. Auch Korridorzüge betroffen, fahren über Zell am See.— öBB (@unsereOEBB) September 13, 2015
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