Berlin–Lehrte railway

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Route number: 202 Berlin–Stendal
301 Stendal–Wolfsburg
300 Wolfsburg–Lehrte
Line number: 6107 Berlin–Oebisfelde
1950 Oebisfelde–Lehrte
Line length: 239,3
Track gauge: 1435
Voltage: 15 kV 16,7 Hz AC
Maximum speed: 200
from Hanover
from and to Celle
239.3 Lehrte
old route to Hildesheim
to Hildesheim, to Brunswick
231.1 Immensen-Arpke
223.9 Dollbergen
219.7 Dedenhausen
Plockhorst junctionto Plockhorst (high level)
216 Plockhorst(low level) Brunswick–Celle
213.7 Meinersen
211.8 Oker
206.3 Leiferde (b Gifhorn)
205.7 Leiferde (b Gifhorn)
from Uelzen
from Brunswick, to 1913
198.4 Gifhorn
to Brunswick, ab 1913
Elbe-Seitenkanal Tunnel (970 m)
192.1 Calberlah
Mittelland Canal
186.3 from Brunswick, since 1942
185.6 Fallersleben
to Brunswick, to 1942
180.9 Wolfsburg
176.5 Vorsfelde
to Schandelah, 1955–75
Lower SaxonySaxony-Anhalt state border
from Schandelah, to 1945
from Helmstedt
from Wittingen
167.3 Oebisfelde
to Magdeburg, to Salzwedel
157.7 Miesterhorst
151.6 Mieste
145.2 Solpke
137.5 Gardelegen
to Haldensleben
131.3 Jävenitz
124.8 Uchtspringe
117.8 Vinzelberg
116.0 Nahrstedt junctionfrom the HSL
112.4 Möringen (Altm)
from Salzwedel
from Wittenberge
105.1 Stendal
to Magdeburg
to Tangermünde, to Borstel
100.4 Staffelde/Bindfelde junctionto HSL
Hannover–Berlin HSL
97.2 Hämerten(station to 1998)
Elbe bridge, Hämerten (812 m)
92.3 Schönhausen
to Jerichow, to Sandau
from Sandau
92.0 Göhrener Damm
86.5 Schönhauser Damm
Saxony-AnhaltBrandenburg State border
79.4 Großwudicke
Havel (230 m)
from Brandenburg
70.3 Rathenow
to Neustadt
Bamme junctionfrom HSL
160,5 Nennhausen
152.4 Buschow
Ribbeck junctionto HSL
43.5 Groß Behnitz
Osthavelland District Railway
from Ketzin
35.4 Neugarten
35.1 Neugarten junctionfrom Nauen
30.5 Wustermark
Havel Canal (86 m)
to Berlin outer ring
Berlin outer ring
from Berlin outer ring
26.3 Elstal
22.3 Dallgow-Döberitz
BrandenburgBerlin state border
18.6 Berlin-Staaken
16.1 Nennhauser Damm junctionfrom Wittenberge
Berlin-Spandau,termini of Berlin S3.svgBerlin S75.svg
S-Bahn line to Stadtbahn Berlin S3.svgBerlin S75.svg
Berlin-Ruhleben freight yard
to Westkreuz
from Westkreuz Berlin S41.svgBerlin S42.svg, from Gartenfeld
from/to Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Berlin S41.svgBerlin S42.svg
Lehrter Bahnhof
Berlin HbfBerlin Stadtbahn Berlin S3.svgBerlin S5.svgBerlin S7.svgBerlin S75.svg
to Berlin Südkreuz

The Berlin–Lehrte railway, known in German as the Lehrter Bahn (Lehrter railway), is an east-west line running from Berlin via Lehrte to Hanover. Its period as a separate railway extended from its opening in 1871 to the nationalisation of its owner, the Magdeburg-Halberstadt Railway Company on 1 July 1886. The company’s Berlin station, the Lehrter Bahnhof was finally torn down in 1958.

The 239 km long route, which is still open, runs from Berlin Hauptbahnhof in a westerly direction to Spandau. From there it runs through Rathenow, Stendal, Oebisfelde, Wolfsburg and Gifhorn to Lehrte, where it connects with the Hanover–Brunswick line to Hanover.

The Lehrter railway has a maximum speed of 200 km/h on the busy line between Hanover and Oebisfelde, which forms part of the Hanover–Berlin high-speed line. Between Oebisfelde and Berlin, the new line runs largely parallel with the Lehrter line. The Lehrter line is mostly unelectrified between Wustermark in the western of the suburbs of Berlin and Vorsfelde, near Wolfsburg, as long-distance passenger services use the new line.


In 1867, Adolph von Hansemann's Magdeburg-Halberstadt Railway Company (German: Magdeburg-Halberstädter Eisenbahngesellschaft, MHE) obtained the concession for the construction of this line, and a branch from Stendal via Salzwedel to Uelzen, the so-called America Line. The route would reduce the distance between Berlin, Hanover and the Rhine Province compared to the already existing line via Potsdam, Magdeburg and Brunswick. It went into service in the following stages:

  • 15 March 1870: Stendal–Salzwedel
  • 1 February 1871: Gardelegen–Stendal–Spandau
  • 15 July 1871: Spandau–Berlin
  • 1 November 1871: Lehrte–Gardelegen for freight; 1 December 1871 for passengers
Lehrter Station and Moltke Bridge in 1900

The government of Prussia bought the MHE in December 1879 and thus acquired the Berlin–Lehrte railway and it became part of the Prussian state railways. From 1884 the operations in Berlin of the Lehrter Railway were united structurally and operationally more and more with the nearby Hamburg Railway. This was accompanied by the separation of passenger and freight transport in Berlin with the building of the relief line between Wustermark and Nauen, the construction and refurbishment of the Spandau station and the opening of the Wustermark marshalling yard completed before the First World War.

The railway line became increasingly important for passenger and freight transport between Berlin and Hanover, the Ruhr and Bremen. With the division of Germany after the Second World War, the line lost most of its long-distance passenger trains. Because of the need to make reparations, the rail networks in the Soviet occupation zone were reduced to a minimum, partly due to strange, time-consuming operating procedures for rail movements that resulted. In Berlin, the remaining traffic was concentrated on other routes and stations, so that the Lehrter station ceased operation in 1952. In 1974 a 970 m long cut and cover tunnel was completed under the newly constructed Elbe lateral canal.

Starting in 1976 the line between Wustermark and Berlin began to be used for transit trains between Berlin and Hamburg. New passport inspection facilities were set up in Berlin-Staaken station. After German reunification in 1991, long-distance trains from Berlin to Hanover returned to the line.


In the 1980s, planning was untaken on upgrading the Lehrter railway for high-speed transit traffic between West Germany and West Berlin. It was planned to build a new track parallel with the Lehrter railway for transit traffic, with the existing tracks used for the domestic services within the German Democratic Republic. This plan is reflected in the line as built with the old railway, which is still largely not electrified, being used for regional services.

Connection of the Hamburg and Berlin Lehrter railways[edit]

The first connection to the new Berlin Ringbahn was built in 1879 when a connection was built in Fürstenbrunn to the Charlottenburg-Westend freight yard (now Westend). This connection was further developed in 1882 to create a link for passenger trains between the Lehrter railway and the Berlin Stadtbahn to connect with Charlottenburg station. For the same purpose a connection was also built in 1882 between the Hamburg railway and the Stadtbahn between Ruhleben and Charlottenburg station.

With the nationalisation of the Hamburg railway in 1884, its operation was further integrated with the Lehrter railway in Berlin and Spandau:

  • Transfer of Hamburg passenger services to the Lehrter station in Berlin and closure of the Hamburger Bahnhof in October 1884
  • Merger of their goods yards in Berlin in May 1893
  • Restructuring between 1888 and 1892 of the two company’s stations in Spandau, with the station west of the Havel river (formerly the Lehrter station, now Spandau station) becoming the freight yard and station east of the Havel (formerly the Hamburger station, now Stresow S-Bahn station) becoming the passenger station. In 1885 a freight rail had been built here to create a link between the two lines.
  • At the same time, the two pairs of tracks between Berlin and Spandau were rearranged to operate as passenger-only and freight-only tracks, with the Lehrter tracks being used for freight trains. As part of development of the Ringbahn with four tracks Moabit station was rebuilt.

Putlitzstraße Station opened in 1898 allowed for the first time transfers between trains on the north ring and suburban trains between Spandau and Lehrter station. More stations were opened on the Lehrter railway:

Reconstruction of Spandau railway[edit]

Berlin-Spandau Station

The steadily growth of long-distance, suburban and freight services made necessary the radical transformation of the Spandau railway between 1905 and 1912. It was also necessary to relocate freight services, for which the Berlin railway had become too congested, to outer areas.

Between Ruhleben and the Spandau freight yard the old freight line, originally the route of the Lehrter railway was closed in order to create a new eight or six track railway on an embankment on the alignment of the Hamburg railway. Long-distance passenger, suburban and freight services each gained their own pair of tracks.

West of Spandau goods yard (Spandau West), new passenger train tracks were created in 1908 for the Lehrter railway. As previously, east of Spandau the original tracks of the Lehrter railway were available only for freight. In 1909 Wustermark marshalling yard opened, replacing the Spandau marshalling yard and part of the function of several inner Berlin goods yards. In 1911, the Ruhleben goods yard (east of Spandau) opened to traffic with several connecting routes.

At the same time, in order to cope with the increasing commuter traffic, tracks were built connecting the Berlin Stadtbahn with the new Spandau West suburban station west of the Havel, which was opened in 1910. In 1911 the Spandau suburban line was completed, branching off the connection between the Hamburg line and the Stadtbahn at Heerstraße station and passing through Rennbahn (opened in 1909) and Pichelsberg.

With the relocation of the Stadtbahn link between Heerstraße and Charlottenburg in 1928 to the southwest to make room for the new Exhibition Ground separate tracks were built for long-distance and suburban services between Heerstraße and the Stadtbahn. From August 1928, the electrified S-Bahn services were extended to Spandau.


  • Bley, Peter (1996). 150 Jahre Eisenbahn Berlin-Hamburg (150 years of the Berlin-Hamburg railway) (in German). Düsseldorf: alba-Verlag. ISBN 3-87094-229-0. 
  • Kuhlmann, Bernd (2006). Bahnknoten Berlin (Berlin railway junction) (in German). Berlin: Verlag GVE. ISBN 3-89218-099-7. 
  • von der Leyen, Alfred, ed. (1982). Berlin und seine Eisenbahnen (Berlin and its Railway)—1846-1896 (in German). Berlin: Verlag Aesthetik und Kommunikation. ISBN 3-88245-106-8. 
  • Philipps, Wolfgang (2014). „Die beste Verbindungslinie zwischen dem Osten und dem Westen.“ Politische Hintergründe der Berlin-Lehrter Eisenbahn. (The best connection between East and West. Politicial backgrounds of the Berlin-Lehrte railway) (in German). In: Lehrter Land & Leute: Magazin zur Geschichte, Kultur und Heimatkunde, Vol 42, p. 14–16. ISBN 3-927359-20-8