An overcrowded train ride through Germany shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg was taken by many as a swipe at Deutsche Bahn’s service, but the railway company soon shot back, reminding Greta about her seat in first-class.
Returning home from a tour of protests, marches and speeches, the Swedish climate activist traveled as she always does: on public transport and in emissions-free vehicles. However, public transport occasionally brings with it delays and overcrowding, even in uber-efficient Germany, as Thunberg discovered on Saturday.
Tweeting a picture of herself sitting in a passageway beside a mountain of luggage, Thunberg described her ride through Germany as “overcrowded.”
But then a spokesperson for Deutsche Bahn, Europe’s largest railway operator, stepped in to give his company’s side of the story. “We were pleased that you were on the ICE 74 with us on Saturday, and with 100 percent green electricity,” DB tweeted.
“It would have been even nicer had you acknowledged how well and competently our team treated you in your First Class seat,” the company continued, the sarcasm barely concealed.
Thunberg swiftly offered up an explanation. “After Göttingen I got a seat,” she replied. “This is no problem of course and I never said it was. Overcrowded trains is a great sign because it means the demand for train travel is high!”
The unlikely standoff has caused a Twitterstorm, with Greta’s supporters wishing her safe travels and lashing out at DB, while her critics jeered.
To the average German commuter, overcrowding is likely not seen as a great sign. German commenters chimed in to complain that they too regularly face delays and discomfort. Her photo is an “honest representation of the way they treat their customers,” one tweeted.
Thunberg is returning to her native Sweden after spending much of 2019 traveling from country to country to lecture adults on climate change. Her carbon-neutral journey across the Atlantic ocean in August (in a multimillion euro racing yacht), her speech before UN leaders in New York the following month, and her protest marches outside the COP25 climate summit in Madrid in recent weeks all captured headlines and earned her Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year.’
However, her lack of solutions to the world’s climate woes and her insistence on using apocalyptic and doom-laden imagery in her speeches have earned her the scorn of not just fossil fuel fans, but scientists too, who say her movement hampers realistic debate on the issues.