Germany 15.7.06-17.7.06 <  >

With the Berlin area alterations done there was new track to do, so I put the completion project on hold briefly while I went to catch up. Realistically, I’m going to be going back to Germany for as long as I can afford it – they just keep opening lines!

Saturday 15.7.06

World Cup over, so off to Berlin to do the new lines. Pity I didn’t check on the Love Parade… [the Love Parade hadn’t been held for a couple of years and I thought it had faded away. Wrong!] Anyway, a classic UK start to the proceedings, Network Rail having decided to close Coventry – Birmingham every Saturday for the summer. [Which, of course, includes a busy regional airport with arguably the best rail connections. Sigh.] I elected to leave plenty of time and get the 0843 ATW from Telford. Large crowds at Telford and a 4 car set rostered, so of course in comes an already packed Central Wales line dogbox. [A single car 153] Staff persuaded some people to wait behind but given the unreliability of the Shrewsbury-Wolves line I wasn’t up for that so stood to Wolves, then had a seat. The SEV at 0945 to Irrational (a WM double decker) left on time and arrived on time at 1005 so I had plenty of time to kill for my 1210 flight!

A pleasure to report that G-EMBF pushed back at 12:00:30, 9½ minutes early. It was similarly (no, in fact about 15 minutes) early into Tegel and I missed the 1500 bus (scheduled flight arrival 1505) only because I couldn’t persuade the ticket machine to work. Not wishing to get get caught in the traffic (ever again) [See 22.5.00! With the Love Parade in full swing I could see the same thing happening, and I hadn’t that much time to spare.] I baled out at Jakob-Kaiser-Platz and took U7 to Wilmersdorferstrasse and thence S7 from Charlottenburg to Warschauerstrasse. It was getting pretty hot and sticky by now and as I walked up Warschauerstrasse it became evident that an M10 tram was imminent so I used that for two stops and soon found the Hotel Comenius which had my reservation with no problem.

Berlin Hbf(tief), the lowest level of the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof

That dealt with [although HRS are extremely reliable I’d been (unnecessarily) worried about pressure on hotel space over the Parade weekend and wanted to make sure that if anyone got bumped, it wasn’t me!] I walked back to Warschauerstrasse S-Bahn (25 minutes for safety tomorrow) then S7 to Ostbahnhof for a check on tomorrow’s train and an abortive effort to get a timetable CD (queue too long). A late running RE (air-con, you see) took me to the staggering new Berlin Hbf (né Lehrter Bahnhof) for another abortive effort to get a timetable CD (queue too long). Lots of phots and I was so taken by it all that I nearly missed the RE to Spandau (but not quite). The new low level station has 8 platforms, with a rectangular section alloy tube instead of the contact wire for the OHLE. We left from P7 on the easternmost island, subsequently diving under the curve round to Gesundbrunnen (which is double track, the curve in the Spandau direction is the one which splits). The lines from Hbf then dive (As double track) under the Gesundbrunnen – Jungfernheide DB lines, surfacing between them and the S-Bahn lines. Jungfernheide has no platforms on the Gesundbrunnen lines. We stayed in that configuration to Spandau, arriving on the northernmost of the four DB tracks there.

Off then on the U7 for one stop to Altstadt Spandau, whence it is but five minutes walk to Brauhaus in Spandau, which is in the former Spandau barracks laundry! A large and pleasant pub, quiet enough that I was able to sit on the outside terrace to enjoy 0.4 litres of unfiltered pils. Very nice, if a little expensive at €2.80.

As there was a fairly limited menu I took the opportunity to leave earlier and pick up a second hour by getting 1826 from B-Spandau (original plan being 2026, then 1926 courtesy of BA). This I did, continuing through to Ludwigsfelde. The line is in tunnel from Berlin Hbf (tief) to Potsdamer Platz and on south, surfacing just before the former Papestrasse, now another all concrete two level interchange, renamed Südkreuz. The S-Bahn lines remain separate all the way to Lichterfelde Süd where the new (reopened) single line to Teltow Stadt diverges, passing either side of the turnback siding before becoming single. The main line has a new station at Lichterfelde Ost, and at Teltow where there are platform loops (which allowed a southbound ICE to overtake us). Grossbeeren does not have loops. The Genshagener Heide West-North loop is well used, carrying the REs to Zossen etc.

On time 1916 arrival at Ludwigsfelde (where terminating trains use bay P3, north of the through platforms, so track in a small way) just gave me time to dash across to P1 for 1920 to Stralsund. This seems a useful way to use up my extra time as I can go through to Oranienburg on it, getting the ex freight line from Gesundbrunnen to Karower Kreuz, and the SW-NW curve thereat.

Leaving Berlin Hbf (tief) northwards we took the flyover line towards Gesundbrunnen, which joins the line from Jungfernheide at a flat junction just west of Wedding. Gesundbrunnen has three pairs of main line platforms in addition to, and south of, its two pairs of S-Bahn platforms. Although the main line curve round to Bornholmer Strasse is level, a real purist might regard the two tracks as separate alignment. Certainly there is a split level junction north of Bornholmer Strasse where the Karow line diverges.

Out to Oranienburg for what is becoming the traditional 45 minute wait. This time I didn’t bother looking fo a pub, just went into the Turkish ‘bistro’ next door for a Berliner Kindl! Route into Oranienburg was the direct curve at Birkengrund, reasonably enough. Route back was the south – east curve, parallel to the S-Bahn – also a separate alignment at Karow NW-SW as expected, so worth waiting the 45 minutes. Still can’t quite figure the Bornholmer Strasse – Gesundbrunnen curve – on the way back it looked like a proper burrowing junction. I’ll get another chance going out to Bernau tomorrow. Back into Hbf (tief) on 3 having gone through on 7 northbound, not that it makes much difference.

With a hideously early start tomorrow, getting to bed seemed a good plan, so ‘twas 2117 RE Hbf – Ostbf, another abortive attempt to get a timetable CD (Reisezentrum closed), quick dash to McDonalds then Lidl for an emergency beer for tomorrow (50p worth of Budvar) and (by the skin of my teeth) M10 to the hotel.

Sunday 16.7.06

Up at 0400, it was surprising to find an electrician working on a fusebox at such an hour. I heeded the 'gypsy’s warning' and took the stairs! Out in the street I was surprised again at how busy it was; three trams observed during the short walk down Warschauerstrasse, kebab bars and coffee establishments doing a roaring trade and the station busy too. Presumably some were Love Paraders – but why hanging about at Warschauerstrasse?

A CD class 371 shunting the Praha portion of NZ40482 1900 München Hbf-Binz and Praha hl.n. at Berlin Lichtenberg

The ticket machine didn’t want to know about my cards, not a great surprise at 0420 on a Sunday, but fortunately I had enough coins so all was well. S-Bahn to Ostbahnhof which was full of young persons, many stretched out on benches, floors etc. The purpose of all this [for me, not the young persons] was 0507 NZ to Binz and Praha, to be taken as far as Lichtenberg. It went via the single line from Rummelsburg yard to Biesdorfer Kreuz and into Lichtenberg from the east, giving me a short stretch of new line parallel to the Aussenring. Dividing at Lichtenberg, a 120 took the Binz portion and a Czech 371 the Praha one.

Back to more mundane stuff then, on 0536 S75 to Wartenberg, which is mostly separate alignment from the main line so worth doing even if rather short on interest! Back at 0610 on the same set as far as Springpfuhl, a fairly desolate spot serving large blocks of flats. Out of town again then, on an S7 to Ahrensfelde, basically a waste of time as the Tiefensee line is right alongside all the way. No real loss though as I had nothing better to do until the hotel started breakfast at 0800!

Well, nearer 0810 before it all appeared, but that was enough time to have breakfast, collect my gear from the room and get the 0840 tram back to Warschauerstrasse. I just made the 0844 S-Bahn so should be at Hbf in good time. I might even be sad enough to go out to Potsdamer Platz to get a different (maybe) through line…

I was sad enough (hiding it by the pretence of going out to look at Südkreuz) - and also stupid enough to forget that S1s go to Wannsee and don’t go as far as Südkreuz before heading west. Luckily I realised in time to bale out at Anhalter Bahnhof with no harm done. Even more luckily there was an S2 a couple of minutes behind – I’d forgotten the 10 minute stop the REs have at Berlin Hbf and was cutting it quite close. In the event I had 6 minutes (0913-0919) at Südkreuz, another impressive if bleak development.

The tunnel section appears to be 4 tracks throughout, widening to 8 at Berlin Hbf. Nothing of great note out to Bernau other than to note the removal of the ‘down’ line across Karower Kreuz (west to east). The ‘up’ line remains as a bi-di single line. The situation around Bornolmer Strasee/Gesundbrunnen is now a bit clearer. The up Bernau line dives under the Oranienburg ‘direct’ line north of Bornholmer Strasse. South of Bornholmer Strasse the down Bernau/Oranienburg line flies over the DB ‘Ring’ goods lines just east of Gesundbrunnen. Purists should therefore do Bernau REs both ways – and I just have!

Out to Dahlewitz to do the new connections at Genshagener Heide Nord and Glasower Damm (W-S) both of which are single line. Approaching Dahlewitz, with 41 minutes to wait there, I was sitting on the left side of the train and could see shops but no evidence of anything more hopeful. I was the only one to detrain at Dahlewitz and I plodded along the platform in search of the yellow sheet, resigned to a 40 minute fester. Imagine my delight when I found, just by the level crossing, a little wooden bothy with neat little beer garden and a big green Wernesgrüner sun umbrella! Imagine my delight when it was open, too. Half a litre of Wernesgrüner went down admirably, 1110 on a Sunday or not.

Back to the station in good time for 1148 to Berlin Hbf which was looped for an IC on the Aussenring. [More track!] As a result of the looping we were a couple of minutes late, stretching to just over 3 at Berlin Hbf (tief). A connection under 5 minutes should not be attempted here – but was, and I made it by a whisker on to 1233 RB to Senftenberg via Schönefeld and Königs Wusterhausen. This satisfactorily did the W-S curve at Grunauer Kreuz (which seems to be a bi-di single line, though as I was juggling a nosebleed and an accidental mobile phone call from a friend at the time, I’m noit 100% sure!). It also gave a small bonus by being diverted into P3 at Königs Wusterhausen, giving the physical connection on to the Frankfurt(Oder) line.

The Berliner Parkeisenbahn's 0-6-0 diesel, 'Siegfried' at the Wuhlheide terminus

A chance encounter with E03.001 on (I believe) a charter heading west at Wuhlheide

Back on the RB to Karlshorst, just missing an S3 but they’re every 10 minutes so I ended up on the planned 1417. Off again at Wuhlheide to visit the Berliner Parkeisenbahn (former Pioneer Railway). A little disappointing as although it has all its original equipment quite a lot is out of use. €2.50 got me a half hour ride round the eastern loop which was quite entertaining. Got back to the S-Bahn platform just in time to catch E03.001 coming through Berlin-wards on a motley assortment of semi-preserved (e.g. Rheingold) and PKP Inter-City stock. Was it a Warsaw Express? If so, why E03.001? If not, why the flash PKP stock?

Then by S3 and tram 60 to Müggelseedamm in Friedrichshagen and the Berliner Bürgerbräu brewery tap. Nice little beer ‘garden’ (wooden decking, three chestnut trees and a concrete tram pole), slow but willing service and really, really, excruciatingly dreadful, awful ‘music’, The beer was really quite nice though.

And so to the Schlossplatz Brauerei of Köpenick (by the no 61 tram to Rathaus Köpenick, not that it matters). Claims to be the world’s smallest brewery, and considering the ‘pub’ is around 8m square amd the brewery is in one corner, they may have a point. Staff were nice, and spoke English. Beer was rubbish. I had the pils, which looked like Schweppes pineapple juice but tasted worse; I noticed someone else with a red substance of similar opacity. One for the records, really.

114 026 on RE38220 1910 to Wismar, seen here at the new Berlin-Südkreuz station,

Back from Köpenick by no. 61 tram to Adlershof, then S-Bahn to Warschauerstrasse purely because I’d noticed a number of internet cafés while walking back and forth. The first one I came to was open and charged me a princely €0.50 for enough time to check in and print my ‘boarding card’ for tomorrow’s flight. Left at a loose end for an hour or so it was either the pub or go for a ride so I elected to go out to Südkreuz again, this time checking timings and train routes in advance! Out from Friedrichstrasse on an S25, back from Südkreuz on the 1910 RE to Potsdamer Platz (rather than trust the 1919 RE) and thence on an S1 to Gesundbrunnen (ditto).

Also noted at Gesundbrunnen – the diveunder lines from the east are accessed from platforms 7 (westbound) and 8 (eastbound). Both platforms also have access to/from Bornholmer Strasse.

101 051 runs into Gesundbrunnen slightly late with IC 1932, 2000 SuO to Oldenburg.

Successful grice on a slightly late IC1932 which duly went straight on after Wedding. For an obscure once weekly PSUL service it had quite a large and appreciative crowd of normals at Gesundbrunnen, too.

Here 101 051 rides off into the sunset from Berlin-Spandau.

Back to Jungfernheide on an RE, then an interminable ride on a crowded U7 to Südstern for the brew pub. I’m currently ploughing through the weiss which is quite dark in colour and has a very distinctive taste of … hanged if I can remember but I will in the end! I never did [3 months later, I still can’t] but quite enjoyed the schnitzel with paprika sauce and bratkartoffelen. Made a change from the standard Wiener.

Just managed to stay on plan and make all the connections, returning to the hotel via 2215 U7 to Herrmanplatz, 2218 U8 to Kottbusser Tor, 2225 U1 on the elevated section to Warschauerstrasse, and 2235 M10 tram! The whole thing took about 25 minutes, pretty good for such a complex journey.

Monday 17.7.06

Despite (or because of) the fairly horrific mix of odd beers and paprika sauce, not a bad night despite noisy neighbours again. Breakfast at 0745 – same bloke (the proprietor I guess) but different system. Still, nice enough. Caught the 0832 tram, missing my stop due to a serious fight with the ticket machine! The next one is the terminus and only a few metres beyond the S-Bahn station so it didn’t matter.

A general view of the new S25 S-Bahn terminus at Teltow Stadt, looking west.

Having been asked the way, or train times, six times yesterday it came as no surprise when a young lady at the station asked me to how to get to Schönefeld Airport! And so to my last bit of Berlin track, for the foreseeable anyway. S7 to Friedrichstrasse, then 10 minutes or so wait for 0903 S25 to Teltow Stadt. As noted before the T-Stadt branch is single beyond the turnback siding at Lichterfelde Süd. It’s very short, 2 km or so and runs on a 20 minute interval with 14 minutes layover at T-Stadt. The station is a simple island in a cutting and looks to have been aligned so that it could continue if ever required. And that was Berlin – though there might be a few odd curves and bits, notably Halensee Kurve and ‘over the top at Golm’ to do in future.

Ah but – conscience was twinging. Was S7 to Potsdam separate alignment? It was only done inwards from Wannsee, and a terminal platform at that! Off I went to Potsdam Hbf on an RE1 to Brandenburg – and yes, it is quite seriously separate in places. A quick swap over at Potsdam had me on the way back in an S7 at 1110 with conscience quiet again!

The overall roof of Berlin Hbf dwarfs a westbound ICE in platform 13.

Off at Hbf for (hopefully) the master shot of a 140 going out of P11 (it wasn’t) then to Charlottenburg with the plan of a few more photos. It was not to be, as it took me so long to find somewhere (not) to buy a bottle of water. Also the 109 bus stop is at the west end of C-burg and took quite a lot of finding. Accordingly I went straight to Luisenbräu, and what a good decision. Super beer (at least the Hell), nice food (meatballs) and cheerful service from an ‘older person’. Good on ‘im. The bus stop is, ooh, easily 6 metres away (and 11 minutes from the airport) so it’s the perfect stop en route to the airport.

Arrived at Tegel around 1433, to find 1505 arrival from BHX not expected! Enquiries elicited that it was en route and it eventually appeared on the board as arriving 1448. All loaded on and ready to go at 1537 (1540 scheduled departure) with captain advising a 5 minute delay. In fact pushed back at 15:40:00 and pulled up at BHX at 1630 – on time, despite a circuit round Honiley. Route up the Thames all the way to Heathrow, then Brackley, Silverstone and Leamington! Haulage was G-EMBE.

Usual anarchy at Irrational. ‘Ticket please’. ‘I’ve got a Berlin area day ticket – will that do?’. ‘As long as it’s a ticket’. You couldn’t make it up. [I had a valid ticket – just making frivolous conversation to give me time to find it!] 1658 Pendo to Wolves was the next on offer, then 1637 CT 323 to Walsall appeared and left (with me) at 1648. The usual total farce was evident at Wolves too. I eventually squeezed myself into the luggage rack of a 3 car 170 which I fondly believed to be the 1809 arrival at Telford, running 20 or so late. It was in fact the 1743 arrival, running around 45 late. Oh, what the hell. Welcome to England.

Considering the potential folly of trying to visit Berlin during the Love Parade weekend I was lucky to have escaped with no interruptions to my plans. DB rarely fail to impress me with their general competence and they ran true to form this time. I now had only a few lines in Bavaria left to 'ink in', so Herself (who's done a very respectable amount of DB track for one not particularly interested) and I set off at different times to rendezvous in Munich in August and finish the job!








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