Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Infobox DB station

name = Berlin Hauptbahnhof
caption = Station building as seen from the river Spree
state = Berlin
locale = Berlin
borough = Mitte
coordinates = coord|52.52493|13.369181
code = 1071
category = 1
ds100 = BH
type = Bf
start = 26 May 2006
street = Europaplatz 1
10559 Berlin

Audio|Berlin_Hauptbahnhof.ogg|Berlin Hauptbahnhof, or "Berlin Central Station", is the main railway station in Berlin, Germany and the largest crossing station in Europe. It began full operation two days after a ceremonial opening on 26 May 2006. It is now Europe's largest two-level railway station. It is located on the site of the historic Lehrter Bahnhof, and until it opened as a main line station, it was a stop on the Berlin S-Bahn suburban railway temporarily named Berlin Hauptbahnhof–Lehrter Bahnhof. The station is operated by DB Station&Service, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, and is classified as a Category 1 station, one of 20 in Germany and three in Berlin, the others being Berlin Südkreuz and Berlin Ostbahnhof.


"Lehrter Bahnhof" (Lehrte Station) opened in 1871 as the terminus of the railway linking Berlin with Lehrte, near Hanover, which later became Germany's most important east-west main line. In 1882, with the completion of the Stadtbahn (City Railway, Berlin's four-track central elevated railway line, which carries both local and main line services), just north of the station, a smaller interchange station called Lehrter Stadtbahnhof was opened to provide connections with the new line. This station later became part of the Berlin S-Bahn. In 1884, after the closure of nearby Hamburger Bahnhof (Hamburg Station), Lehrter Bahnhof became the terminus for trains to and from Hamburg.

Following heavy damage during World War II, limited services to the main station were resumed, but then suspended in 1951. In 1957, with the railways to West Berlin under the control of East Germany, Lehrter Bahnhof was demolished, but Lehrter Stadtbahnhof continued as a stop on the S-Bahn. In 1987, it was extensively renovated to commemorate Berlin's 750th anniversary.After German reunification it was decided to improve Berlin's railway network by constructing a new north-south main line, to supplement the east-west Stadtbahn. Lehrter Stadtbahnhof was considered to be the logical location for a new central station.

Lehrter Bahnhof history

Between 1868 and 1871, a 239 kilometre railway was built between Hanover and Berlin via Lehrte by the Magdeburg Halberstädter railway company. Lehrter Bahnhof was constructed as the Berlin terminus. It was adjacent to Hamburger Bahnhof, just outside what was then Berlin's boundary at the Humbolthafen port on the river Spree. Its architects were Alfred Lent, Bertold Scholz, and Gottlieb Henri Lapierre.

In contrast to earlier railway stations, built with brick facades, and in keeping with then-current trends, Lehrter Bahnhof was designed in the French Neo-Renaissance style. Its originally planned stone facade was replaced with glazed tiles to save money. With its magnificent architecture, the station was known as a "palace among stations."

The train shed was 188 metres long and 38 metres wide. Its roof was a long barrel vault with steel supports. As was common for the period, the station was divided into an arrival side on the west, and a departure side on the east. Originally there were five tracks, four of which ended at the side and the central platform; the fifth track had no platform and served as a turnaround for the locomotives. At the turn of the century this track was removed to accommodate the widening of the central platform.

Although the front of the building was ornate and had a grand entrance, most passengers entered and left via the east side, where horse-drawn carriages were able to stop.

In 1882 the metropolitan railway, predecessor of the S-Bahn, began service along two of the Stadtbahn tracks; long-distance traffic commenced in 1884 along the other two. With the expansion of Lehrter Bahnhof, it was able to take over the functions of Hamburger Bahnhof. A 300 m connector line was built; on October 14, 1884, traffic towards Hamburg, northeast Germany, and Scandinavia was diverted to Lehrter Bahnhof, and Hamburger Bahnhof closed.

In 1886, the Berlin-Lehrte railway, and with it Lehrter Bahnhof, was nationalized and subsequently came under the control of the Prussian State Railways.

(Flying Hamburger), which whisked passengers to Hamburg at 160 km/h.

In the Second World War the station was severely damaged. After the war, the shell was repaired to the point where it could be used temporarily. However, the postwar division of Germany spelled the end for most of West Berlin's mainline stations. On 28 August 1951, the final train departed from Lehrter Bahnhof, headed for the Wustermark and Nauen. On 9 July 1957 demolition began, and on 22 April 1958 the main entrance was blown up. The biggest challenge in the demolition of the station was to preserve the viaducts of the Stadtbahn, which ran directly overhead. Work was completed in the summer of 1959.

Lehrter Stadtbahnhof

On 15 May 1882, Lehrter Stadtbahnhof opened, situated on the Stadtbahn viaduct at the northern end of Lehrter Bahnhof concourse.This four-track station on the Stadtbahn was used mainly by suburban trains. The main purpose of the Stadtbahn was to connect central areas of Berlin with the Lehrter Bahnhof, the Schlesischer Bahnhof (Silesia Station) termini with nearby Charlottenburg, then still a separate city. It was also providing an East-West railway connection across the centre of Berlin.

Because of steadily increasing traffic to Lehrter Stadtbahnhof and its location on a bridge crossing the north end of Lehrter Bahnhof, elaborate changes were made to the track structure in 1912 and again in 1929. On 1 December 1930, the newly electrified suburban trains were given the designation S-Bahn, making the Lehrter Stadtbahnhof an S-Bahnhof.


Berlin’s 750-year anniversary celebration in 1987 saw the station, now under West Berlin control, renovated at a cost of about DM 10 million. Because it had largely been preserved in its original condition, it became a listed building.

However, in 2002, Lehrter Stadtbahnhof was demolished to make way for the new central station, despite its listed status. The argument was that Bellevue and Hackescher Markt stations were architecturally similar. Hackescher Markt, in former East Berlin, had been restored in 1994-1996, after German reunification.

Hauptbahnhof – Lehrter Bahnhof

Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, city planners began work on a transport plan for reunified Berlin. One element of this became the "Pilzkonzept" (mushroom concept), in which a new north-south railway line intersecting the Stadtbahn was to be constructed. The name derived from the shape formed by the new line and existing lines, which vaguely resembles a mushroom.

In June 1992 the federal government decided that the new station should be built on the site of Lehrter Bahnhof. While close to the centre of Berlin and government buildings, the area was still not heavily populated. The following year, a design competition for the project was held, which was won by the Hamburg architecture firm Gerkan, Marg and Partners.

The design called for traffic on five levels. The highest is the main deck, including two S-Bahn platforms, on a bridge 10 metres above street level, and the lowest comprises four platforms 15 metres underground. New tunnels to Potsdamer Platz under the Spree and the Tiergarten, Berlin's central park, form a new north-south line running to the northern part of the S-Bahn ring around central Berlin. Platforms for the planned extension to U-Bahn line 5 are also included, as were platforms for the cancelled Transrapid maglev train. The short line U55 should open in late 2008.

The building work took place in several stages. In 1995 the construction of the Tiergarten tunnels began, and this work was finished in 2005 with the completion of the last station tunnel. The tunnels provide four tubes for long-distance and regional services and two tubes in a separate alignment for the U-Bahn, in addition to a road tunnel ventilated by a 60-m-high tower completed in 2004. During its construction, the course of the Spree had to be diverted (1996-1998). Water leaks in the tunnels caused over one year's delay to the construction work.

Construction of the bridges for the new S-Bahn route began in 2001. These needed to span not only the entire length of the station, but also the adjacent Humboldthafen port, and are 450 metres long. Because of the alignment of the S-Bahn they are curved, and each pair of tracks has a separate bridge. Bridges of this type had never been built before, and represented a special challenge for the engineers.

The main station hall is spanned by a similarly curved glass roof with a surface area of about 85 metres by 120 metres, which was installed in February 2002. A photovoltaic system was integrated into the glass surface. The steel and glass construction was a difficult task for the engineers, particularly as the glass roofs were shortened by approximately 100 metres to speed up construction.

Over the first weekend of July 2002 the bridges and main station hall were brought into service so that traffic could be diverted onto the new alignment. The old Lehrter Stadtbahnhof S-Bahn station was closed and rapidly demolished to make way for further new building. On 9 September 2002 the station was renamed "Berlin Hauptbahnhof – Lehrter Bahnhof".

The main concourse, supported by two towers, will provide roughly 44,000 m² of commercial space. Construction of the towers began in 2005. On two separate weekends, 29 July and 13 August 2005, structural frames were installed, supporting the structure above the east-west tracks. This was built using a new technique: the frames, each weighing 1250 t, were lowered by ropes at a rate of six m per hour; the remaining 20-mm gap between the bow frames upon completion of the lowering process was subsequently closed.

During summer 2003 a survey commissioned by Peter Strieder, Berlin’s Senator for City Development and Traffic, and Deutsche Bahn director Hartmut Mehdorn was conducted among Berlin residents with the intention of selecting a name for the station. Of the three possibilities listed on the survey, the majority of participants opted for Lehrter Bahnhof; nevertheless, the station remained "Berlin Hauptbahnhof – Lehrter Bahnhof", an option that was not listed. It was decided early in 2005 that the station would be renamed "Berlin Hauptbahnhof" on the date of its opening, May 28, 2006, to avoid confusing rail passengers. On the same day, Berlin Papestraße station, which was rebuilt as the city's second-largest station, opened officially under its new name, Berlin Südkreuz (South Cross), similar to the existing Ostkreuz and Westkreuz stations. It is also on the new north-south route. Although it was intended to open a further station as Berlin-Nordkreuz (North Cross), they remained the name Berlin-Gesundbrunnen and build it as Berlins fourth biggest railway station for commuter and long distance trains, located in a more northern part of Berlin, where the circle and north-south-line of the S-Bahn cross each other.

The architect Meinhard von Gerkan filed a complaint against Deutsche Bahn in October 2005 after Deutsche Bahn altered the station construction timeline without proper authority (16th Berlin Superior Court of Justice, AZ 16 O 240/05). The complaint was upheld in late 2006. There may therefore be further construction on the station in the future.

In addition, Deutsche Bahn decided to implement a slightly different version of the "Pilzkonzept" by running intercity trains through the new Tiergarten tunnels rather than via the Stadtbahn. This move was unpopular for its effect on Berlin's two previous main stations; Berlin Zoologischer Garten (Zoo Station) was downgraded to a regional railway station, and the number of main line services to Berlin Ostbahnhof (East Station) was drastically reduced.

Opening ceremony

On 26 May 2006 the station was ceremonially opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived together with transport minister Wolfgang Tiefensee in a specially chartered InterCityExpress from Leipzig. A "Symphony of Light" was performed immediately following the dedication. Reamonn and BAP performed at Hauptbahnhof, and there were also events at the other new stations: Gesundbrunnen, Potsdamer Platz and Südkreuz. Berlin Hauptbahnhof officially went into operation on 28 May 2006.

The opening ceremony was marred by an attack by a drunken 16-year old youth wielding a knife, who stabbed members of the public leaving the ceremony. Forty-one people were wounded [cite web| author=RP Online Author| url=| title=Mutmaßlicher Amokläufer bittet Opfer um Verzeihung| work= [ RP Online] | accessdate=2006-05-30| ] , six seriously, before the youth was arrested [cite web| author=Erik Kirschbaum and Claudia Kade| url=| title=Man stabs 28 after opening of Berlin train station| work= [ Reuters] | accessdate=2006-06-03| ] . According to police, the youth says he cannot remember his act of violence and is still denying it. One of the first stabbing victims was HIV-positive, leading to worries that other victims may have been infected, although this did not prove to be the case. The youth was charged with attempted murder, [cite web| url=| title=HIV fears after teen's stabbing spree in Berlin| year=2006-05-28| accessdate=2006-05-30| work=Radio New Zealand| ] and was sentenced to seven years in prison for attempted manslaughter in 33 cases in 2007.

Operational usage

The upper level of the station has six tracks (two of which used for the Berlin S-Bahn) and eight on the lower level (two more are reserved for the U55). There is no rail connection between the upper and lower level track in the station area (or anywhere else nearby). 1,800 trains call at the station per day and the daily number of passengers is estimated to be at 350,000.

As of 2006, the station is used by InterCityExpress, InterCity, RegionalExpress, RegionalBahn and S-Bahn trains. The upper part of the station, with the east-west tracks, is part of the Berlin Stadtbahn, with trains leading to locations like Hanover or Cologne. The subterranean station, which lies in the north-south Tiergarten tunnel, offers long distance services to Hamburg, Leipzig or Munich.

The station has also lot of international trains, and the most distant cities reached are Novosibirsk (Russia) and Astana (Kazakhstan), with an express named "Sibirjak".

The station is not presently served by any U-Bahn lines. The U55 shuttle, which is not connected to the rest of the network, is scheduled to start operations in 2008, and construction of the connection to line U5 may start in 2009.

On 18 January 2007, two supporting beams of the structural frame tore loose during European windstorm Kyrill, one of them dropping down onto the pavement and the other impacting with and damaging a third beam. The station had suffered some flooding and been evacuated due to the complete cancellation of train service in Germany. Consequently, nobody was injured and the station was cleared for reopening the following day, although more time is needed to assess the damage.


External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Station plan] (in German)
* [ Main Station Berlin] - Interactive panorama in front of the station
* [ BBC Website pictures of the station and opening]
* [ Pictures & Videos of the opening]

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