Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB) has been forced to delay and cancel a number of trains on its Frankfurt to Mannheim line after a metal theft on the railway line was discovered on Monday morning. 

The national rail operator said its technicians discovered the vandalism on the section of the line between Mannheim station and the town of Lampertheim, leading to the cancellation of around twenty percent of the usual long-distance services on the Frankfurt route. 

A DB spokesperson said: “A delay of around 20 minutes is to be expected [for passengers]. There may be occasional cancellations of long-distance trains. 

“Our staff on site is working tirelessly on the removal of the disruption, which is expected to last until Tuesday evening.” 

All ICE trains between Frankfurt and Stuttgart on the Berlin-Frankfurt-Stuttgart route were cancelled as a result of the theft, along with the S8 trains between Biblis and Mannheim-Waldhof, highlighting the significant impact the crime can have on rail services. 

According to German press organisation Deutsche Welle, copper thefts cost DB around €6.6m ($7m) in 2022 and have led to delays for thousands of trains in recent years. 

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The theft near Mannheim comes only shortly after a similar situation on 2 February saw the delay of DB trains between Frankfurt and Cologne and is also the second theft in recent months near Mannheim after DB reported vandalism in the area in the run up to Christmas. 

The latest event will be especially unwelcome for DB which had only recently struggled with significantly limited services during a train driver strike lasting six days at the end of January amid disputes over wages and working hours.