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Germany: Bundestag and Berlin Senate Administration Argue About Tunnel

The Berlin Bundestag is afraid a new ‘S-Bahn’ train tunnel under the government quarter might endanger the Reichstag, which accommodates the German parliament. Now there is an argument between the Bundestag and the Senate Administration of the City State of Berlin.

If there is anything the Berlin Bundestag rejects, it is any project which might endanger the heavy building it is housed in. Erected from 1884 to 1894, set on fire by the Nazis in 1933, renovated in the 1960, and redesigned during the last years of the 20th century, the Reichstag is one of the most important historic buildings in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Bob the Builder

When the President of the Bundestag at the time, Wolfgang Thierse, received the key to the building in 1999, once it was transformed and got it glass dome, he thought it was going to last forever, without being rattled by underground construction projects, and without sinking into the ground just because Bob the Builder wants a new tunnel.

Just days before Santa Claus is expected in Berlin, the ‘Tagesspiegel’ daily reported, the ‘S-Bahn’ tunnel, which is supposed to connect Potsdamer Platz and Berlin’s central station, would be delayed by several years because the Bundestag did not play ball.

The newspaper quoted an official from the Senate Administration of the city state of Berlin who said the Bundestag feared damage to the Reichstag and interference during the Bundestag’s sessions. Therefore, the tunnel could not be completed by 2030, but it would take until 2035. Initially, the tunnel was supposed to be ready for use in 2022.

‘Inaccurate Claims’

Construction projects in and around Berlin are not always being completed on time, as the entire world knows by now. But the Berlin Senate does not want ‘S-Bahn’ train passengers to wait quite that long. At the same time, the Bundestag just rejected the Senate’s accusations.

The German parliament’s Vice President, Wolfgang Kubicki, just shot back by saying the Berlin Senate was spreading inaccurate information. He was quoted in German-language media, saying there would not be any tunnel that might endanger the Reichstag. But negotiations were taking place.

Kubicki said Deutsche Bahn and the Bundestag were in the process of finding a solution that did not include any risk. The talks were about to be completed. It was unfortunate that the Senate Administration had worried the public with inaccurate claims, Kubicki stated.

Two Complicated Tunnel Projects

The construction project is rather complicated, because the new tunnel for the ‘S-Bahn’ train line no. 21 is neither supposed to come too close to the Reichstag, nor should it hit an operational tunnel in the area. The new one will have to bypass the Reichstag in a big curve. And it needs to meet an existing tunnel stretch which is supposed to be integrated without touching the river Spree above.

Berlin is also working on another, even more complicated tunnel project. That one is supposed to merge the ‘U-Bahn’ train lines 5 and 55, under Alexanderplatz Square, Red City Hall and Museum Island.