"Are you ScotRail, are you ScotRail, are you ScotRail in disguise?" was the cry from Cologne's main train station as thousands of Tartan Army footsoldiers attempted to make their way to the city's stadium for the Euro 2024 clash with Switzerland.

It was funny, and filled with the good humour for which Scotland's travelling support is famed, but actually severely underselling the situation - Deutsche Bahn wishes it could be ScotRail.

Euro 2024 was sold as a tournament of rail travel, talking up the green credentials of Europe's largest economy, with free travel offered to fans on regional services for the duration of the event.

Instead it has shone a harsh spotlight on something German residents have been complaining about for several years - the rail network is a mess.

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A report last year by the Bundesrechnungshof, Germany's public audit office, found that more than every third long-distance train in the country was delayed.

Train cancellations have increased tenfold since 2017, punctuality is at an all-time low and debts have grown by €5m per day since 2016, with total debts of over €30bn.

Deutsche Bahn considers a train to be "operationally punctual" if it's less than six minutes late, something just 52% of services managed in the worst month, November, last year.

The famously punctual Swiss produced a report that stated that just 36% of DB trains arriving in Basel were on time in 2023, while 16% never made it at all.

That's a story a number of Scotland fans will be familiar with. One example would be the 09.23 service from Prague to Munich on June 13, the day before Scotland's first fixture.

Due to arrive in Munich just after 3pm, the service terminated at Regensburg - explained only in German, not English or even Czech - and saw the healthy contingent of Tartan Army pile off to get another service.

Passengers try to make it to MunichPassengers try to make it to Munich (Image: Newsquest)

That one made it as far as Neufahrn when, half an hour after the original train had been due to arrive, it too was cancelled mid-journey.

A third service eventually arrived 45 minutes late, was standing room only and at least one carriage had a broken toilet door which made the whole coach smell of urine.

It was not an isolated incident. In Gelsenkirchen, England and Serbia fans reported having to walk back to the city centre due to issues with the train services, Dutch coach Ronald Koeman said his team were unable to travel on high-speed trains as they'd have preferred due to the unreliability of the service.

He said: "Germany is claiming to be hosting a sustainable European championship. But it is not managing it."

Even bona fide German football legends have been caught out by the country's rail service.

Phillip Lahm, capped 113 times and captain of the 2014 World Cup winning side is a tournament director for Euro 2024 but couldn't make it to Ukraine vs Slovakia in Düsseldorf in time for kick-off.

He told Germany's top-selling newspaper Bild: "We are in contact with Deutsche Bahn, they will continue to do everything they can to ensure that people get from A to B on time. But that's not a problem that should be happening now, during the tournament. You should have worked on it well before.

"I think we've failed to work on our infrastructure in Germany in recent decades.

"Overall, I've been on the train for ten days now, I've been very, very punctual for most things. Of course, I had a delay, which is certainly annoying and especially for fans who take on long journeys, who spend money - a lot of money - on it."

There's little agreement on who is to blame for the state of Germany's railways.

Many blame an aborted attempt at privatisation, announced in 2008 then quietly dropped in 2014. The theory goes that, to make the service more attractive to private capital, costs were cut and efficiencies found to show the service making a profit.

Other argue the opposite, that Deutsche Bahn's monopoly over the railway means there's little incentive to improve a service which faces no competition.

Compare these woes to the latest ScotRail statistics.

For May 26 to June 22, 91.% of services met what is dubbed the Public Performance Measure (PPM), meaning they arrived at their destination within five minutes of the scheduled arrival time.

This varied across the country, with a speed restriction on the West Highland Line meaning just 48.9% of trains terminating at Oban arrived within the PPM, but 92% made it to Glasgow Central within that time, 87.3% to Edinburgh Waverley and 81.9% to Aberdeen.

ScotRail defines 'On Time' as arriving within 59 seconds of the booked arrival time, and it fared less well here - just 27.9% of trains to Crianlarich on the aforementioned West Highland Line arrived within the timeframe - but lengthy delays were minimal.

For Tartan Army members returning to work after their German sojourn, Scotland's trains likely seem a lot more reliable by the comparison.

Michael Peterson of Deutsche Bahn told Bild: "We understand the dissatisfaction and criticism from fans.

"Deutsche Bahn is not currently offering the quality that everyone deserves. But at the same time we are doing everything possible to bring passengers reliably to their destinations."