New Berlin Main Station: Wunder-Bahn

Reply Wed 24 May, 2006 12:11 pm
Germany will take the wraps off its newest attraction on Friday when Berlin's five-storey steel and glass central rail station is finally opened after 10 years and around 10 billion euros -- just in time for the World Cup.

An imposing landmark of superlatives that dwarfs the nearby Reichstag and Chancellery, the "Hauptbahnhof" that Berlin always wanted will be Europe's biggest station.


More than 1,100 trains will pass through each day and 300,000 passengers are expected to get on or off at Europe's biggest rail crossing hub, just a few metres west of the no man's land where the Berlin Wall once stood.


Destined to become a symbol of reunited Berlin and modern Germany, the massive station will also showcase the country's best in technology, engineering, infrastructure, efficiency and architecture during the soccer World Cup
(source: Reuters)
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 24 May, 2006 12:11 pm

Der Spiegel (English site - full report) headlines:

A Glass Armadillo for Germany's Capital

By Frank Thadeusz

Berlin's new main train station -- the biggest in Europe -- opens this week. The €700-million railway project has several innovations including extra quiet tracks and high-tech loudspeakers, but for many its construction remains contentious.

The Times: The glass cathedral where England fans will find themselves in limbo

EUROPE'S largest railway station, one of the most controversial and ambitious projects since the fall of communism, will be opened this week in Berlin in time to transport the hundreds of thousands of fans travelling to Germany for the World Cup.
"We expect that the station will be handling 300,000 passengers a day," Helmut Mehdorn, head of German National Railways, said. The biggest test will come on and around July 9, the day of the World Cup final, when up to a million fans are expected to be on the move. Trains will arrive and depart at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof every 90 seconds.

New Zealand Herald: It's kick off for railway wunder-bahn

The station's translucent tubular roof, made up of 9117 glass panels, rises above the rest of the government quarter and its 46m-high twin towers are about 10m higher than the Reichstag Parliament and Chancellery.

The station has 80 shops on five levels between east-west lines connecting Paris to Moscow, 12m above street level, and north-south lines linking Copenhagen to Athens, 15m under ground.

History of building up the Berlin's new main station (click on WEITER for the next photo)
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Reply Wed 24 May, 2006 12:14 pm
So, like, all the hookers who come to Berlin for the World Cup, they'll arrive there first?
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 24 May, 2006 12:41 pm
Eh, yes. And the two or three others as well.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 26 May, 2006 12:09 am
'Glass cathedral' rail station puts Berlin at Europe's crossroads

By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Published: 26 May 2006

It cost €200m (£140m) more than planned and provoked a furious legal dispute with its chief architect, but after eight years of construction work, a brand new main railway station, known as the glass cathedral, is to open in Berlin today, and just in time for Germany's World Cup event.

The Hauptbahnhof, the capital's blandly named main station, is a vast, 340-meter-long, arching steel-and-glass hall encompassing twin towers. The building dominates the former no-man's land that once made up part of the Berlin Wall fortifications.

It is Europe's biggest railway junction and it has succeeded where both the last German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, and Adolf Hitler's Nazis failed, by creating a major east-west and north-south rail intersection in the heart of Berlin.

Hartmut Mehdorn, the chairman and chief executive of Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company, praised the €700m project. "It is probably the most beautiful yet most functional railway station in the world," he insisted yesterday. "It is a demonstration of what has been done since German unification to overcome the divisions between east and west."

The rail crossroads has been realised through the construction of a giant north-south tunnel beneath the city centre through which 12 railway lines connect Berlin with Hamburg and Munich and beyond.

On the upper level of the five-storey station, six tracks link the capital on an east-west axis with Paris and Moscow.

More than 300,000 passengers are expected to use the new station each day, with trains departing every 90 seconds. Even in its bowels, the Hauptbahnhof lives up to its glass cathedral reputation, as the underground concourse is flooded with shafts of daylight that penetrate its 9,000-pane roof.

Yet the mammoth project has been surrounded by dispute and protest.

Meinhard von Gerkan, the station's chief architect, took Deutsche Bahn to court after the builders decided to install a cheaper steel ceiling in the underground station sections instead of the elaborate, and more expensive, series of glass domes he had planned. Mr von Gerkan lost his case.

Critics have also argued that the station is far too big for Berlin as it was planned in the early 1990s, when the city's population was expected to increase by at least a million instead of shrink to its current 3.4 million inhabitants. Residents also complain that inter-city trains will now no longer stop at the city's famous Zoo Bahnhof that functioned as West Berlin's main station throughout the Cold War.

Not everything is perfect in the Hauptbahnhof either, despite the party that will celebrate its opening today. Scores of cleaners shackled in mountaineering harnesses were yesterday busy removing the last vestiges of dirt from the glass cathedral's 9,000 window panes - by hand.

"We are still working on a device that will do the job mechanically," a German rail spokesman admitted.

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Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 26 May, 2006 11:36 pm
From the BBC The biggest railway station in Europe has been inaugurated in Berlin by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.



(Photos above via 'Tagesspiegel' as of today, frontpage and page 9)

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