The Anonymous Widower

Riding The Berlin U-Bahn And S-Bahn

Berlin has a population of approximately 3.7 million. Only London is a more populous city in the European Union.

So it has an extensive U-Bahn and S-Bahn network as this map shows.

Thjs picture shows the system map.

Superficially, it does not look unlike the London tube map will look. with the addition of Crossrail and Thameslink!

Berlin’s basic layout consist of a North-South and East-West route, whih are mote like Thameslink than Crossrail, with a circular route going round the city centre, in much the same way the London Overground does.

A network of other lines, which are both U-bahn and S-bahn cross in a random manner all over the place.

I didn’t find it as easy to navigate as some cities, like say Paris. But then it may be that I know Paris better than Berlin.


Ticketing is based on trust and I bought a forty-eight hour pass for my stay in the city.

There are no gates and you just walk on, unlike in London, Birmingham, Paris or Glasgow.

My ticket was checked just once in the forty-eight hours.

When I bought the ticket, I had a brief discussion with the guy in the Tourist Office, who spoke excellent English.

I asked if I got a discount for my Bahncard. He said various cities have different systems and many Germans carry some form of Bahncard.

But as every city is different, there seems to be little cross-benefits. Certainly, the guy in the Tourist Office wished the system was simpler.

Despite the fact, that a Bahncard is a National discount and the S-Bahn is run by Deutsche Bahn, there is no discount.

Riding the S-Bahn

This paragraph describes some of the unique features of the Berlin S-bahn.

While in the first decades of this tariff zone the trains were steam-drawn, and even after the electrification of large parts of the network, a number of lines remained under steam, today the term S-Bahn is used in Berlin only for those lines and trains with third-rail electrical power transmission and the special Berlin S-Bahn loading gauge. The third unique technical feature of the Berlin S-Bahn, the automated mechanical train control, is being phased out and replaced by a communications-based train control system, but which again is specific to the Berlin S-Bahn.

So the London Overground with its mix of 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail electrification is more of a standard railway than the Berlin S-bahn.

These are a few pictures.

Note how several stations on the main East-West route have impressive train sheds.

Riding The U-Bahn

These are a few pictures.

Note how most stations seem to have an island platform between the two lines.

A Sensible Place For A Full S-Bahn/U-Bahn Map

Travel on the London Underground/Overground and most Mational Rail stations and versions of Harry Beck’s iconic map are everywhere.

Not so in Berlin, where maps tend to be small and fairly unreadable.

However, they dp put maps on the articulated section between cars on the S-bahn.

It certainly allowed this visitor to stand by the map and read it.

Step-Free Access On The U-Bahn and S-Bahn

Lifts are provided at some stations, but German railways in particular don’t score highly on step-free access. A lot of their trains also have a couple of steps up into the train.

Using a wheel-chair on most German trains would be a nightmare.

Interchange Between U-Bahn And S-Bahn

The U-Bahn is run by the city of Berlin, whereas the S-Bahn is run by Deutsche Bahn.

And in some stations it shows, with a walk of perhaps a hundred metres between separate S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations.

London would definitely call them Out-of-Station-Interchanges (OSI).

My local OSI between Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction stations is about a hundred metres with step-free access at the Junction end.

It’s not good, but it’s certainly better than most interchanges between U-Bahn and S-Bahn in Berlin.


If you’re thinking about a holiday in Berlin, choose your hotel carefully, near to a station with good step-free access.

You may also be better off if you have special mobility needs to use the trams, which mostly appeared to be step-free.




February 12, 2018 - Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , ,

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