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Berlin: ‘S-Bahn 21’ Project to Include ‘Maritime Design Concept’

Initially, Berlin’s ‘S-Bahn 21’, a project also known as ‘City S-Bahn’, was supposed to be completed in 2026. But there are delays. At least the new station beneath Central Station will look fancy once the line is in service.

Berlin, November 30th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — In the past years, Berlin has completed several big construction projects. In cooperation with Brandenburg, BER Airport was inaugurated in 2020, with a delay of nine years. On its own, the city state erected a new version of Berlin Palace. On top of it all, a new ‘U-Bahn’ line, the U5, was completed in 2020. Its station ‘Museum Island‘ followed in 2021.

Blue Dots

While ‘Museum Island’ has a star-spattered sky, the new ‘S-Bahn’ line is supposed to get a station with a “maritime design concept” at ‘Hauptbahnhof’, Berlin’s elegant Central Station, according to Deutsche Bahn (DB). Passengers will feel as if they were in the water. DB intends to achieve this effect by applying countless blue dots to the station’s walls. It will look stunning, without doubt.

The ‘S-Bahn’ is an important part of Berlin’s public transport network. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

The S21 is a second north-south connection in Berlin’s public transport system. It will connect the northern ‘S-Bahn’ train ring to the southern one, via Central Station, Potsdamer Platz, Gleisdreieck and Yorckstrasse. That way, getting to Central Station and the government quarter from Kreuzberg (and vice versa) is supposed to be a lot easier. Many Berliners will have shorter travel times, thanks to the S21.

Absolutely Necessary

But big projects take time. Once the first trains go all the way from ‘Südkreuz’ to ‘Wedding’ or ‘Westhafen’, children born today will be first-graders, if things go well. If not, they might be living in retirement homes by the time the new line is operational. Deutsche Bahn says the original completion date in 2026 is “not realistic”.

Berlin is growing. The more residents and visitors there are, the more passengers will be counted in the city’s public transport system. On the S2, S25 and S26 lines from Teltow and Blankenfelde in the south via Friedrichstrasse to Hennigsdorf, Waidmannslust and Bernau in the north is already working to capacity, with 120,000 passengers per day. That is another reason why a second north-south connection is not just good to have, but absolutely necessary.

Supply Shortages

The construction work for the ‘S-Bahn 21’ project commenced eleven years ago, when some of the parents of today’s newborns still went to 5th grade. It is separated into three construction stages the first of which was going to be completed in December of 2022, a month that begins as soon as tomorrow. It will not happen. The Corona pandemic caused issues, including supply shortages. Besides, problems keep on arising, both under and above the ground.

Adding an additional S-Bahn stop to Central Station is a big task. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

In late 2023, the northern part of the S21 is supposed to be in service, provided there are no additional delays, for some reason. As the S15, the new line will take passengers from Westhafen or Wedding to Central Station and back.

New Station

Before the second part from Central Station to Potsdamer Platz can be completed, there are lots of problems to resolve. For instance, the Memorial to the Sinte and Roma Victims of National Socialism might have to be removed and rebuilt somewhere else. The Central Council of German Roma rejects the idea and says the plans for the ‘S-Bahn 21’ project needed to be changed instead.

Finally, the third and last part is the stretch from Potsdamer Platz to Südkreuz. It will connect Potsdamer Platz to Südkreuz. All in all, hundreds of thousands of metric tons of soil need to be moved. Up north, the new station Perleberger Brücke needs to be completed and bridges have to be built, checked and renovated, not to mention the construction of some 8 kilometers (5 miles) of train tracks in both directions, mostly in tunnels.

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