Berlin’s station with no trains

Look into the history of Berlin’s railways and you will inevitably uncover a trove of information about the Geisterbahnhöfe or “Ghost Stations” that existed during the Cold War era. These stations were unfortunate victims of geography; situated in East Berlin, yet served by lines that mostly ran in West Berlin. After the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, these stations were closed; for the next 28 years, trains rattled through without stopping.

Thankfully such nonsense is in the past. However, for the past decade, Berlin’s transport network has had a ghost station of a different kind. This is the story of Waßmannsdorf station, whose first train arrived on 26 October 2020, a full nine years after it was built.

Waßmannsdorf Station Platforms
(Photo by Global Fish – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38739583)

Continue reading “Berlin’s station with no trains”

The Bahn Association

Sign reading "zum Museum" with arrow pointing

Saturday 9th November 2019 was a momentous day in the history of Berlin. Yes, it was the one day a month that the Berlin U-Bahn Museum is open. By pure luck, its opening day coincided with my weekend in Berlin, so it was a natural choice to while away a few hours on Saturday afternoon.

I arrived at Olympia-Stadion station on the U2 line, to find stands of football scarves and fast food being set up in the ticket hall. Hertha Berlin were due to play at home later that day, and some fans were arriving early. While most made a beeline for the nearby stadium, I headed for the welcoming doorway to the museum, sandwiched between two replica train cabs.

Berlin U-Bahn Museum entrance between two train cabs

Continue reading “The Bahn Association”

Botanic, Guards then (#TågFärjetur Part 8)

Sign reading "Sweet but Prickly"

Tuesday 22nd October
Copenhagen Metro lines M2 and M3
1850 Manchester Airport to Liverpool South Parkway

It was our LAST DAY (wah) in Copenhagen. Time and expense meant that taking the train back home was not a practical option, so we had a flight from Copenhagen Airport to Manchester booked for later on Tuesday afternoon.

Before that, though, we had just a little bit more time to check out Copenhagen. Bags were safely stowed in the hotel’s left luggage room, another day ticket purchased, and we descended into the Metro for the millionth time that trip.

Photo of Copenhagen Metro station

Continue reading “Botanic, Guards then (#TågFärjetur Part 8)”

Malmö-ments (#TågFärjetur Part 7)

Monday 21st October
11.47 Copenhagen Hovedbanegård to Malmö centralstation

Our previous hotels had the arrangement with a double bed that can be pulled slightly apart to make two single beds (that six inch gap instantly removing any suggestion of sexual intimacy).

Our Copenhagen hotel, however, had a double bed with a bunk bed precariously above. Paul immediately volunteered to be on the bottom, leaving me to clamber up to the bunk – which had NO railings to prevent falling out should I toss during the night.

Bunk Beds at the CabInn City Hotel

It only occurred to me later that this arrangement was probably intended for a small child, with parents in the double bed below. Thankfully, the bed was still able to support my not insignificant weight – I doubt Paul would have appreciated me on top of him.

Thankfully there were no incidents during the night, and we awoke on Monday refreshed and ready to go. The plan for the day was to cross the Øresund Bridge into Sweden and visit Malmö. Before that, though, we decided to spend a little more time on the Copenhagen Metro.

Continue reading “Malmö-ments (#TågFärjetur Part 7)”

A Ferry Enjoyable Journey (#TågFärjetur Part 5)

Day 3 (Sunday 20 October)
09.28 Hamburg Hauptbahnhof to Copenhagen Hovedbanegård

We were back at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof on Sunday morning for the next leg of our journey, the EuroCity train from Hamburg to Copenhagen. As I mentioned in part 1, this was the centrepiece of our whole trip, and our chance to experience one of the few remaining train ferries in the world.

Photo of Customer Information Screen at Hamburg showing train EC33 to Copenhagen

Continue reading “A Ferry Enjoyable Journey (#TågFärjetur Part 5)”

InterCity Interlude (#TågFärjetur Part 4)

Sign reading "zu den Zügen" (to the trains)

Day 2 (Saturday 19 October) continued:
13.16 Wuppertal Hauptbahnhof to Hannover Hauptbahnhof
15.59 Hannover Hauptbahnhof to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof

I had told Paul all about the train information posters that most German railway stations have. On each platform, a list of every train that will stop there, with a diagram showing how many coaches it will have, and exactly where on the platform you need to stand for your coach. DB can do this, I said confidently, because they are well-organised and it is rare for platforms and train formations to change at short notice.

Then our ICE train to Hannover arrived in a completely different formation to that shown on the poster, and stopped in a completely different position. Oh well.

Continue reading “InterCity Interlude (#TågFärjetur Part 4)”

Suspended until further notice (#TågFärjetur part 3)

Photo of "Schwebebahn" station totem sign

Day 2 (Saturday 19 October):
09.13 Cologne Hauptbahnhof to Wuppertal Hauptbahnhof

“That’s an interesting connection,” remarked the guard on train IC2441, as he checked our ticket. It was a masterpiece of understatement; I imagine it’s not every day he sees a ticket for a journey lasting nearly two days, artificially lengthened with an extended stop in Wuppertal, of all places.

Paul and I both tried to explain, but how to communicate what we were doing? This is the third blog post in a series, and I’m sure many of the people reading this still don’t really understand.

DB Doppelstok (double decker train) at Cologne Hbf

I was childishly excited to be on the top deck of a Doppelstok train from Cologne to Wuppertal, although disappointed that we would only be on board for 30 minutes. I suppose I could have stayed aboard to the train’s ultimate destination of Dresden, where we would have arrived a mere seven hours later, at 16.39, but I suspect the novelty might have worn off by then. Nevertheless, it was thrilling to have an elevated viewpoint as we glided across the Hohenzollern Bridge out of Cologne to our next stop.

Continue reading “Suspended until further notice (#TågFärjetur part 3)”

Cologne again, naturally (#TågFärjetur part 2)

Photo of St Pancras station entrance

Day 1 (Friday 18 October) continued:
15.04 London St Pancras to Brussels Midi
18.25 Brussels Midi to Cologne Hauptbahnhof

As we approached St Pancras, Paul was excited at the prospect of seeing the Spice Girls’ Entrance.

That’s not some weird euphemism – the video for their debut single Wannabe was filmed in and around the station’s Grand Hotel. Even if you don’t recognise it, the caption “St Pancras Grand Hotel” appearing 6 seconds in gives the game away.

Incidentally, while writing this blog post, I looked up when this song came out, and it turns out it was in NINETEEN NINETY SIX, which is impossible because I remember it from when I was young, and I’m STILL YOUNG NOW, DAMN IT.

Continue reading “Cologne again, naturally (#TågFärjetur part 2)”

Trains of Thought (#TågFärjetur part 1)

Day 1 (Friday 18 October):
10.47 Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston

Some appropriate music to accompany this blog post:

Europe’s high-speed rail network is a thing of beauty. Trains zip passengers across the continent and through multiple countries in mere hours, with no tacky duty-free shops or requirement to decant your shampoo into tiny bottles.

It’s a network I have taken advantage of multiple times in the past – a trip to Amsterdam with my friend Ian, a sleeper train from Berlin to Paris, zooming across Germany on the sexy InterCityExpress. I was “flight shaming” before Greta Thunberg made it cool.

My last Euro train trip was in 2016. That was far too long ago, and in the summer of 2019, I started to feel the railway itch again. I often found myself at idle moments with multiple browser tabs open on the Eurostar, Deutsche Bahn and Man in Seat Sixty One websites, looking for inspiration for my next trip.

Then, online chatter revealed that one celebrated European railway route was to undergo major changes. The Hamburg to Copenhagen EuroCity service, one of the few remaining lines in the world where the entire train is loaded onto a ferry to cross a body of water, was being rerouted to avoid that messy procedure. After December the opportunity to enjoy this unusual train journey would be gone forever. Naturally, a ride on this train quickly became the centrepiece of the plan.

Continue reading “Trains of Thought (#TågFärjetur part 1)”

The Trains in May Are Mainly Now Explained

Last year (at least six or seven blog posts ago) a massive timetable shakeup was announced on train services across the north of England, promising faster journeys, new connection opportunities and an all-round better experience.

To say the changeover didn’t go smoothly would be an understatement.

Passengers endured weeks of disruption before an emergency timetable was introduced, drastically thinning out the service on some lines. It was months before things got back to some semblance of normality, and the lasting damage to the railway’s reputation (and Northern in particular) will take some time to recover.

Now, one year later, the train companies are gearing up to try again, with a new timetable due to start on Sunday 19th May. It’s not the “big bang” of May 2018, but perhaps that’s just as well.

Sadly, for passengers travelling out of Lime Street, a lot of the promised improvements have been deferred yet again. But there are some big changes going ahead, so let’s look at what’s happening. As always, I focus on the Liverpool area, because… that’s where I live, and it’s boss.

Continue reading “The Trains in May Are Mainly Now Explained”