Berlin Termini -History – 3


The Stadtbahn and four new stations

 1882 – Berlin Stadtbahn

Even whilst the Ringbahn was still being constructed around the city, planning was underway for a railway through the centre.  Opened in 1882, the Stadtbahn (literally “city railway”) provided an east-west link across Berlin enabling long-distance trains that had previously terminated to pass through. The new line helped to relieve congestion at the overworked terminals and enabled some of them to close.

Berliner_Ringbahn1885 ssr

The line, which still exists today, is 12km long and is elevated through the centre of the city for most of its length. The Stadtbahn was constructed with four tracks, two (southern) for long distance services and two (northern) for local services.  From the east the line commenced at the pre-existing Schlesischer Bahnhof (former Frankfurter, now Ostbahnhof) which was rebuilt as a through station.  It then ran west through nine intermediate stations to Charlottenburg where it connected with the new Kanonenbahn Railway to Wansee, Blankenheim and beyond. There was also a connection to the existing lines to Hamburg  & Hannover.

Stadtbahn Map / Creative Commons / 3.0 

The Stadtbahn was linked to the Ringbahn in the east and west (currently Westkreuz and Ostkreuz) and this enabled local trains to provide half-ring services that crossed the city and then circled the upper or lower part of the ring.  It also meant that long distance services from different points could be routed through the centre.


Whilst most of the new stations on the Stadtbahn only served as local stops, four of them; Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Zoologischer Garten and Charlottenburg also had platforms on the long-distance tracks and thus they became the final four of Berlin’s main line stations to open in the 19th century.

Sometimes known as the “longest platform in Europe” the new stations were usually treated equally with trains stopping at all of them.  This meant that a train could take around 40-45 minutes between arriving from the west at Charlottenburg and departing for the east from Schlesischer Bahnhof.

10) Alexanderplatz (1882)

The first station going east from the rebuilt Schlesischer Bahnhof was Alexanderplatz.  The station was opened at the same time as the other stations of the Stadtbahn on 7th February 1882. Although, like the other stations, it was a few months before long distance trains began to serve it.


The station featured two platforms for local traffic and two for long-distance trains. It was rebuilt in 1926, damaged in the war but had been rebuilt again by 1951.  It is still in use today for S-Bahn and regional trains, but long-distances services no longer call.


11) Friedrichstrasse (1882)

Opened on the same day as the other Stadtbahn stations, Friedrichstrasse originally had two platforms for local services and two for long distance trains.



It was enlarged in 1926 and the number of platforms increased.  In July 1936, just before the 1936 Summer Olympics, the underground S-Bahn station was opened. It escaped major damage during the bombing of Berlin in World War II.


The station became an important crossing point during the cold war.  Services ran to both West and East Berlin and customs and immigration facilities were built into the station.


Until 1990 it was an important stop for all long-distance services transiting through the city.  It is still in use today, but like Alexanderplatz only for S-Bahn and regional trains.


12) Zoologischer Garten (1882)

Like the other original Stadtbahn long distance stations Zoologischer Garten originally had 2 local platforms and 2 for main line trains.  It was extensively rebuilt in the 1930s for the Berlin Olympics and gained an extra pair of long-distance platforms. The station was damaged in the war but eventually rebuilt.


After the final closure of the Anhalter Bahnhof in 1952, it gained an extremely important role as the only terminal (operated by the Deutsche Reichsbahn of the DDR) within West Berlin.  When the Berlin Wall came down it became one of only two stations, with Ostbahnhof, to be served by long-distance trains.


When the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof opened in 2006 it was reduced to a role serving only S-Bahn and regional trains


13) Charlottenburg (1882)

The station was opened, like the others in 1882, at the western point of the new Stadtbahn line in the then independent town of Charlottenburg. From here the line continued to Blankenheim railway ran, part of a military rail route all the way to Metz in Alsace-Lorraine.


The old station hall was damaged in World War II and only partially repaired afterwards.


Today it is served only by regional and S-Bahn trains.


Service Pattern

A short while after the opening of the Stadtbahn, three of the original termini, Kustriner (1882), Dresdner (1882), and Hamburger (1884), closed. This left the five-remaining dead-head termini; Potsdamer, Anhalter, Stettiner, Lehrter and Gorlitzer, and the five “through” stations of the Stadtbahn; Schlesischer, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Zoologischer Garten and Charlottenburg to deal with all of Berlin’s long-distance traffic for the next 60 years right up to the end of the Second World War.


The Stadtbahn was initially served by trains that had previously terminated at the various termini. By the end of the 19th century congestion meant that it was mainly being used by trains arriving via Hannover, and Dessau in the west and via Frankfurt (Oder) and Kustrin in the east.  Although there were many trans-Berlin trains including the famous “Nord Express” heading from Paris to St Petersburg, there were also services that began in Berlin itself; those heading east usually originating at Charlottenburg, and those travelling west beginning their journeys at the Schlesischer Bahnhof.

By the late 1930s, the breakdown of the main long-distance destinations served by Berlin’s termini was roughly as follows:

Anhalter Halle, Dresden, Leipzig, Frankfurt (M) Saarbrucken, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Munich, Budapest, Vienna, Athens, Prague, Basel, Zurich, Cannes, Ventimiglia, Rome
Potsdamer Magdeburg, Hannover, Wuppertal, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Aachen, Frankfurt (M), Basel
Stettiner Stralsund, Stettin, Danzig, Konigsberg, Copenhagen, Malmo, Stockholm, Oslo
Lehrter Hamburg, Kiel, Hannover, Bremen, Wilhelmshaven, Dortmund, Koln, Dusseldorf
Gorlitzer Cottbus, Gorlitz, Breslau
Stadtbahn (Eastbound) Konigsberg, Danzig, Frankfurt (O), Breslau, Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul, Posen, Warsaw, Riga, Bucharest
Stadtbahn (Westbound) Dessau, Frankfurt (M), Hannover, Dortmund, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Aachen, Hook of Holland, Amsterdam, Brussels, Ostend, Calais, Paris


Link to Berlin Termini – History / Part 4