The “rail delay scarf” came to prominence when Sara Weber, a journalist, posted a photo of it on Twitter earlier this month. Her mother, a commuter in the Munich area, knitted two lines a day in 2018 to represent how long she was delayed for, she explained.
The scarf is color-coded: grey wool meant her delay had been less than five minutes, pink signified delays of between five and 30 minutes, while red meant she was delayed for more than 30 minutes or had been delayed both ways.
The scarf, approximately 1.5 meters long, represented many Germans’ frustrations with train delays, despite their country’s reputation abroad for efficiency and punctuality.
After it went viral on social media, Weber and her mother decided to auction the scarf off for charity; as of Monday morning, bidding for the scarf had reached more than €3,600, before more than doubling in its final hours on the site.
The continuing delays have led the German railway company Deutsche Bahn to appoint Ronald Pofalla, DB’s head of infrastructure, as crisis manager to improve its punctuality record.
Roughly one-quarter of all trains and one-third of long-distance trains were late in 2018 — a far cry from the days when 95% of German trains ran on time. For 2019, Deutsche Bahn has set an on-time goal of 80% of all trains and 76.5% of long-distance trains.