The Berlin–Halle railway, sometimes called the Anhalt railway (German: Anhalter Bahn), is a twin-track, electrified main line found in the German city and state of Berlin, and the states of Brandenburg and Sachsen-Anhalt. The railway was originally built and managed by the Berlin-Anhaltische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft.
Early history and construction
The Berlin-Anhaltische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (BAE) was one of the most important railway companies in Germany for about four decades in the 19th century. In addition to the main Anhalt Railway, the BAE built a network of important railway connections between Berlin and the northern parts of the Kingdom of Saxony, the Prussian Province of Saxony, and the duchy of Anhalt, with a total length of 430 kilometers at its apex.
In 1840/1841, the Anhalter Bahn of the BAE, running from the Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin via Jüterbog, Wittenberg, and Dessau to Köthen, was put into service. In Köthen a connection was possible via the Magdeburg-Leipziger Eisenbahn to Halle and Leipzig. In 1859, the trip between Berlin and Halle/Leipzig was considerably shortened with the opening of the direct connection between Wittenberg and Bitterfeld.
Prior to World War I
The Anhalt railway was one of the most important long-distance railways in Germany at the time of its opening. Some of the first express trains traveled from Berlin via Köthen to Halle, Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main and Munich, as well as to Dresden, Prague, and Vienna via Jüterbog-Röderau. The railway also allowed a connection between Berlin, Vienna, Rome, and Athens.
Part of the Deutsche Reichsbahn
Starting in 1923, one of the first long-distance express trains (FD-Zug) traveled from Berlin via Halle and Erfurt to Frankfurt. Starting in 1935, express multiple unit electric railcars provided the same service.
After World War II
The property of the Anhalt railway suffered major damage during World War II, and was only repaired in critical areas. After the partition of Berlin, the Deutsche Reichsbahn (East Germany) ran express-service trains to stations in East Berlin. It was not until 1951, and the completion of the first sections of the Berlin outer ring, that this connection was possible coming from Halle or Leipzig. The connection to Berlin, and the heavily damaged Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin-Kreuzberg, was completed on the 18th of May 1952. The internal East German long-distance traffic ran to East Berlin to the terminus stations in Berlin Ostbahnhof, Lichtenberg or Schöneweide. Regional service trains terminated at Teltow until the construction of the Berlin Wall, where connections to the Berlin S-Bahn using the Anhalt Suburban Line were possible.
After the construction of the Wall, the section to Teltow became a branch line. Some of the regional service trains, coming from Ludwigsfelde, were routed across the Außenring to Schönefeld and Schöneweide, but in general, the passenger service offerings were moderate.
However, in terms of long-distance traffic between Berlin and Halle/Leipzig, the railway was one of the busiest lines in East Germany. For example, in 1989, on the section between Berlin and Bitterfeld, more than 30 express trains ran throughout the year, to which were added trains running only during the summer or on weekends. About half of these trains stopped at Bitterfeld and Wittenberg, some stopped at Jüterbog, and a few stopped at Luckenwalde. Express-service trains, some coming from the Baltic Sea coast, ran via Halle and Erfurt to Meiningen, via Leipzig to Zwickau and Aue as well as to Gera and Saalfeld. Trains also left the network of the Reichsbahn and ran from Berlin to Karlsbad, and from Rostock to Munich. Most of the transit trains from Berlin to West Germany ran on a route via Dessau, and only came onto the Anhalt railway at Bitterfeld; only in rare cases did these trains use the line from the branching point at Dennewitz near Jüterbog.
Starting in 1976, the railway was integrated into the new City Express (Städteexpress) network of the Deutsche Reichsbahn (East Germany) as one of its central sections, especially the section between Berlin and Bitterfeld.
List of City-Express-trains (Ex) on the Berlin–Halle railway (as of: 31 May 1991)
- Ex 100/107 Elstertal Gera–Leipzig–Berlin
- Ex 160/167 Sachsenring Zwickau–Berlin
- Ex 150/157 Rennsteig Meiningen–Suhl–Erfurt–Berlin
- Ex 151/156 Berliner Bär Berlin–Leipzig–Erfurt
- Ex 162/163 Thomaner Leipzig–Berlin
- Ex 166/161 Lipsia Leipzig–Berlin
On the 19th of January 1988, in Forst Zinna (near Jüterbog), an express service train, traveling at 120 km/h, crashed into a tank of the Soviet Red Army, which was sitting on the tracks at a railway crossing, killing 6, and injuring 33.
The Anhalter Bahn lost some of its significance with the German reunification. The transit trains lost their special status with the removal of border crossings between East and West Germany, and the City Express service was discontinued on the 31st of May 1991. The first Intercity and InterRegio trains ran at off-peak times, and did not present a service improvement, and synchronized schedules were not introduced until later years.
After reunification, these trains used the railway:
- Line 8 − Berlin–Leipzig–Nürnberg–München.
- IR-Line − Berlin–Halle–Erfurt–Frankfurt am Main
Long-distance service from Berlin to the south and west was routed from 1998 on the Hanover–Berlin high-speed railway and on the Hanover–Würzburg high-speed railway to Frankfurt, Munich, and Basel. Even the connection between Berlin and Munich was made in a shorter time on these routes compared to the use of the Anhalt railway.
In 1991, the expansion of the Berlin-Halle/Leipzig railway was started as part of a set of transport projects in connection with German reunification (Verkehrsprojekt Deutsche Einheit (VDE)), with project number 8.3. This work resulted in the achievement of top speeds of 160 km/h by the mid-1990s on the line. For a further improvement of speeds up to 200 km/h, it would be necessary to remove numerous railway crossing points on the route. In 1998 it was estimated that at the conclusion of the project, which was supposed to be completed in 1999, 3.5 billion Deutsche Mark were to have been invested, and the trip time between Berlin and Halle/Leipzig was to have been reduced to under one hour. The project was not completed until 2006.
The railway improvements resulted in the conversion in 2002 of the InterCity Line 8 to the use of InterCityExpress trains with tilting technology. The decision to adopt the plan to rebuild the inner city rail lines in Berlin, which was agreed upon by Deutsche Bahn, the federal government of Germany, and the city government of Berlin, meant that the sections of the Anhalt railway in the centre of Berlin were rehabilitated in short order. The new, centrally-located Berlin Hauptbahnhof was to be reached via the section of the Anhalt and Dresden railways in the southern part of the city. In addition, between 2005 and 2006 the line between Berlin and Leipzig, which includes all of the Anhalt railway, was expanded to handle top speeds of up to 200 km/h. The cost of this expansion was put at 1.642 billion Euros as of the end of 2007. A further investment of 6 million Euros is still to be made.
On the new long-distance tracks of the Anhalt railway, which were put into service on 28 May 2006, ICE trains travel to Leipzig, Nuremberg, and Munich, and several Regional-Express trains also use the line.
- ... und ab 1999 in einer Stunde von Berlin nach Halle/Leipzig. In: Eisenbahn-Kurier, Nr. 278, November 1998, ISSN 0170-5288, p. 21.
- Federal Ministry for Transport, Construction, and City development (Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung): Sachstandsbericht Verkehrsprojekte Deutsche Einheit, July 2008
- Anhalter Bahn at bahnstrecken.de - in German
- Bahnstrecken im Süden Berlins (includes historical and actual sections about the Anhalt railway) - in German