Climate activist Greta Thunberg has been involved in an online spat with Germany’s national railway company after she shared an image of herself sitting on the floor of a carriage during a lengthy journey across Europe.
Deutsche Bahn hit back online, suggesting that Ms Thunberg had insinuated she spent her entire journey sitting on the floor surrounded by several large items of luggage.
“Traveling on overcrowded trains through Germany. And I’m finally on my way home!” Thunberg initially tweeted on Saturday.
The railway company later suggested that Ms Thunberg may not have spent the whole time sitting on the floor and spent a part of her journey in first class.
The 16-year-old Swedish activist later sought to draw a line under the matter by tweeting that she eventually got a seat and that overcrowded trains are a good thing.
Some Twitter users expressed pity for Ms Thunberg for not being able to get a proper seat on the train for the long ride home from Madrid, where she was attending the UN climate change conference.
Others wished her a safe trip home after months of travelling by trains and boats to different climate events in Europe and the United States.
The teenager chooses not to fly on planes because it is considered harmful to the climate.
Traveling on overcrowded trains through Germany. And I’m finally on my way home! pic.twitter.com/ssfLCPsR8o— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 14, 2019
Our train from Basel was taken out of traffic. So we sat on the floor on 2 different trains. After Göttingen I got a seat.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!— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 15, 2019
Deutsche Bahn, which used to be famous for its punctuality, has come under fire in recent years for delays, last-minute train cancellations and expensive ticket fares.
In Deutsche Bahn's first reply to the teenager's initial tweet, the company wished her a good trip back home and adding that “we continue working hard on getting more trains, connections and seats.”
Later, however, the railway company wrote in a statement to the media that Ms Thunberg had a seat in first class between Kassel and Hamburg and that other members of her team were already sitting in first class from Frankfurt onwards.
In the photo on Twitter, Thunberg is sitting on the floor at the end of a rail car with her back leaning against a suitcase, staring out of a window. There's an empty food box next to her and more suitcases and backpacks piled up by her side.
Deutsche Bahn call out Greta Thunberg over tweet
Later on Sunday, Deutsche Bahn tweeted twice more in regard to Thunberg's train travels through Germany.
In the first tweet, the company thanks the teenager for supporting Deutsche Bahn's battle against climate change and pointed out that the train she used had been running 100% on eco-friendly electricity.
In the second tweet, however, Deutsche Bahn seemed to suggest that Ms Thunberg hadn't spent the entire train ride sitting on the floor.
The company pointed out to the teenager that “it would have been even nicer if you had also reported how friendly and competently our team served you at your seat in first class.”
Several responses from Twitter users honed in on Deutsche Bahn’s recent woes, and criticised the company for starting the spat.
“From Basel to Göttingen, Greta sat on the floor in 2 different trains. No complaints from her side, no reason for you to demand compliments either,” one person said.
Ms Thunberg later tweeted that the fact she didn't first sit in a seat wasn't meant as a knock against Deutsche Bahn.
She wrote that “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!”
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