The Berlin S-Bahn ("Stadtschnellbahn", literally "city fast train") is a rapid transit system in and around Berlin, the capital city of Germany. It consists of 15 lines and is integrated with the mostly underground U-Bahn to form the backbone of Berlin's rapid transport system. Unlike the U-Bahn, the S-Bahn crosses the Berlin city and state border into the surrounding state of Brandenburg, e.g. to Potsdam.
Although the S- and U-Bahn are part of a unified fare system, they have different operators. The S-Bahn is operated by S-Bahn Berlin GmbH, a subsidiary of the Deutsche Bahn, whilst the U-Bahn is run by BVG, the main public transit company for the city of Berlin.
The S-Bahn routes all feed into one of three core lines: a central, elevated east-west line (the Stadtbahn), a central, mostly underground north-south line (the Nord-Süd-Tunnel), and a circular, elevated line (the Ringbahn). Outside the Ringbahn, suburban routes radiate out in all directions.
Generally speaking, the first digit of a route number designates the main route or a group of routes. Thus, S25 is a bifurcation of S2, while S41, S42, S45, S46, and S47 are all Ringbahn routes that share some of the same route. So S41, S42, S45, S46 and S47 are together S4. However as such the S4 does not exist.
|Wannsee||Wannsee - Nikolassee - Mexikoplatz - Schöneberg - Yorckstraße - Potsdamer Platz - Friedrichstraße - Gesundbrunnen - Schönholz - Wittenau - Frohnau - Hohen Neuendorf - Birkenwerder - Oranienburg||Oranienburg||RAL 4003|
|Blankenfelde||Blankenfelde - Lichtenrade - Südkreuz - Yorckstraße - Potsdamer Platz - Friedrichstraße - Gesundbrunnen - Bornholmer Straße - Pankow - Blankenburg - Karow - Buch - Bernau||Bernau||RAL 6001|
|Teltow Stadt||Teltow Stadt - Lichterfelde Ost - Südkreuz - Yorckstraße - Potsdamer Platz - Friedrichstraße - Gesundbrunnen - Bornholmer Straße - Schönholz - Karl-Bonnhoeffer-Nervenklinik - Tegel - Hennigsdorf||Hennigsdorf||RAL 6001|
|Erkner||Erkner - Friedrichshagen - Karlshorst - Ostkreuz||Ostkreuz||RAL 5017|
|Südkreuz||Ringbahn||Südkreuz (clockwise)||RAL 8004|
|Südkreuz||Ringbahn||Südkreuz (counter-clockwise)||RAL 8021|
|✈ Berlin-Schönefeld||Südkreuz - Tempelhof - Neukölln - Baumschulenweg - Schöneweide - Schönefeld||Südkreuz (↔ Bundesplatz)||RAL 1011|
|Königs Wusterhausen||Westend - Messe Nord/ICC - Südkreuz - Tempelhof - Neukölln - Baumschulenweg - Schöneweide - Grünau - Zeuthen - Königs Wusterhausen||Westend||RAL 1011|
|Spindlersfeld||Schöneweide - Spindlersfeld||Hermannstraße||RAL 1011|
|Spandau||Spandau - Olympiastadion - Westkreuz - Charlottenburg - Zoologischer Garten - Hauptbahnhof - Friedrichstraße - Alexanderplatz - Ostbahnhof - Warschauer Straße - Ostkreuz - Lichtenberg - Friedrichsfelde Ost - Wuhletal - Mahlsdorf - Hoppegarten - Strausberg - Strausberg Stadt - Strausberg Nord||Strausberg Nord||RAL 2008|
|Ahrensfelde||Ahrensfelde - Springpfuhl - Lichtenberg - Ostkreuz - Warschauer Straße - Osbahnhof - Alexanderplatz - Friedrichstraße - Hauptbahnhof - Zoologischer Garten - Charlottenburg - Westkreuz - Nikolassee - Wannsee - Potsdam Griebnitzsee - Potsdam Hauptbahnhof||Potsdam Hauptbahnhof||RAL 4005|
|Wartenberg||Wartenberg - Springpfuhl - Lichtenberg - Ostkreuz - Warschauer Straße - Osbahnhof - Alexanderplatz - Friedrichstraße - Hauptbahnhof - Zoologischer Garten - Charlottenburg - Westkreuz||Westkreuz||RAL 4005|
|(Zeuthen ↔) Grünau||Zeuthen - Grünau - Schöneweide - Baumschulenweg - Treptower Park - Ostkreuz - Schönhauser Allee - Bornholmer Straße - Pankow - Blankenburg - Bergfelde - Hohen Neuendorf - Birkenwerder||Birkenwerder||RAL 6018|
|(Grünau ↔) Schöneweide||Not in Service||Waidmannslust||RAL 6018|
|✈ Berlin-Schönefeld||Schönefeld - Schöneweide - Baumschulenweg - Treptower Park - Ostkreuz - Schönhauser Allee - Bornholmer Straße - Pankow||Pankow||RAL 2003|
Also, not every train reaches the nominal terminus of a line. For example, every other train on S1 runs only to Frohnau, five stops before Oranienburg, and the last stop on S3 towards Erkner which is reached by every train is Friedrichshagen. Similarly, some of the S2 trains terminate northwards only at Gesundbrunnen, and most of S5 trains run only to Strausberg or even Mahlsdorf, rendering Strausberg Nord the least frequented stop on the whole network.
On 31 August 2009 a few permanent changes to the line routes were applied. Due to renovation of the Ostkreuz station, which includes dismantling tracks connecting the Stadtbahn and the Ringbahn, S9 (formerly ✈ Berlin-Schönefeld ↔ Spandau) cannot turn west at this station any more. The line thus follows the Ringbahn and then branches northwards past Schönhauser Allee, like S2 and S8, and terminates at Pankow. To compensate for the diminished throughput on the Stadtbahn, the S3 (formerly Erkner ↔ Ostbahnhof) was extended westwards to Spandau. Due to the progress achieved in the Ostkreuz-Renovation, the S3 now operates only Ostkreuz-Erkner. As a replacement, the S5 is now driving to Spandau and the S75 operates every 10 Minutes between Westkreuz and Wartenberg.
Service hours 
The normal daytime service runs fundamentally between 04:00 and 01:00 Monday-Friday, between 05:00 and 01:00 on Saturdays and between 06:30 and 01:00 on Sundays. However, there is a comprehensive nighttime service on most lines between 01:00 and 05:00 on Saturdays and 01:00 and 06:30 on Sundays, which means that most stations enjoy a continuous service between Friday morning and Sunday evening. One exception to this is the section of the S8 between Blankenburg and Hohen Neuendorf which sees no service in these hours. Most other lines operate without route changes, but some are curtailed or extended during nighttime. Particularly, the S1, S2, S25, S3, S41, S42, S5, S7 are unchanged, and the S45 and S85 have no nighttime service. Westbound lines S46, S47, S75, and northbound S9 terminate at stations Südkreuz, Schöneweide, Lichtenberg and Treptower Park, respectively.
With individual sections dating from the 1870s, the S-Bahn came into existence in 1924. It was formed as the network of suburban commuter railways running into Berlin was converted from steam operation to a third-rail electric railway. The resulting network was primarily above-ground but with some subsurface tunnels.
Services on the Berlin S-Bahn were at first provided by the German national railway, the Deutsche Reichsbahn. Electrification of the existing suburban lines was completed around 1929, and thoughts turned to a new project: a tunnel that would join two spur lines that protruded into the city centre from the north and south. This tunnel, to be known as the Nord-Süd-Bahn, was a prestige project for the Nazis, and was opened in two sections. The first, from the north to Unter den Linden, opened in time for the 1936 Berlin Olympics; the final section, via Potsdamer Platz, opened the month after the Second World War began, in October 1939.
During and after World War II 
Many sections of the S-Bahn were closed during the war due to enemy action. The Nord-Süd-Bahn tunnel was flooded on 2 May 1945 by retreating SS troops during the final Battle of Berlin. The exact number of casualties is not known, but up to 200 people are presumed to have perished, since the tunnel was used as a public shelter and also served to house military wounded in trains in underground sidings. Service through the tunnel commenced again in 1947.
After hostilities ceased in 1945, Berlin was given special status as a "Four Sector City," surrounded by the Soviet Occupation Zone, which later became the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The Allies had decided that S-Bahn service in the western sectors of Berlin should continue to be provided by the Reichsbahn (DR), which was by now the provider of railway services in East Germany. (Rail services in West Germany proper were provided by the new Deutsche Bundesbahn.)
During the war, Berlin S-Bahn cars were overhauled at Luben to the east of Berlin. Since that town, now known as Lubin, was ceded to Poland under the terms of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, 84 cars currently in the works were thus lost for Berlin. Further cars were sent east as war reparations, and eventually at least 287 cars were sent to the Soviet Union where they were converted for use in Moscow, Kiev, and Tallinn. Additionally at least 80 two-car sets were retained in Poland, where they were used on suburban services in the Gdańsk-Gdynia region until 1976. Some of the latter cars were then converted for use in overhead line maintenance trains, and some still exist in that role. One set is preserved in its Gdańsk-Gdynia condition at a museum at Kościerzyna near Gdynia.
Cold War 
As relations between East and West began to sour with the coming of the Cold War, the Berlin S-Bahn soon became a victim of the hostilities. Although services continued operating through all occupation sectors, checkpoints were constructed on the borders to East Berlin and on-board "customs checks" were carried out on trains. From 1958 onward, some S-Bahn trains ran non-stop through the western sectors from stations in East Berlin to stations on outlying sections in East Germany so as to avoid the need for such controls. East German government employees were then forbidden to use the S-Bahn since it travelled through West Berlin.
The western sectors of the city were physically cut off from East Germany on August 13, 1961, by what was later called the Berlin Wall, in a well-prepared plan to separate the two halves of the city – and at the same time, to divide the Berlin public transit network into two separate systems. Stadtbahn services were curtailed from both directions at the Friedrichstraße station. This station was divided into two physically separated areas, one for eastern passengers and one for westerners. Although the station lay within East Berlin, western passengers could transfer between S-Bahn lines or to the U-Bahn without passing through border checks, much like passengers changing planes at an international airport. The GDR also operated an Intershop in the portion of the station with services to and from West Berlin, where persons arriving from West Berlin (again without passing through border controls) could buy luxury goods such as tobacco and alcoholic beverages at discounted prices (compared to prices in West Berlin), provided they paid in hard currency, owing in part to the fact that Intershop customers did not pay West German taxes on their purchases. The West Berlin authorities were aware of this situation but did not impose stringent customs controls on such purchases out of political considerations. The Friedrichstraße station also became the main entry point for train and subway riders from West Berlin into East Berlin. Service on the Nord-Süd-Bahn was operated for western passengers only. It passed through a relatively short stretch under East Berlin territory in the city center, and trains did not stop at the underground East Berlin S-Bahn stations, which were called ghost stations. Similarly, the Ringbahn services in the north of the city were curtailed at Gesundbrunnen from the west and Schönhauser Allee from the east, in the south-east of the city at Sonnenallee and Köllnische Heide from the west, and Treptower Park and Baumschulenweg from the east.
Because the S-Bahn was operated by the DR, West Berliners vented their frustration at the building of the wall by boycotting it since its fares were seen as subsidizing the communist regime in the East. "Keinen Pfennig mehr für Ulbricht," or "not a penny more for Ulbricht," became the S-Bahn opponents' chant. Within days of the Berlin Wall being built, the BVG, with assistance from other transit companies in West Germany, began providing "solidarity with Berlin buses" – new bus services which paralleled the S-Bahn lines and therefore provided an alternative. After many years of declining passenger usage and difficult industrial relations between the West Berlin workforce and their East Berlin employers, most of the western portion of the S-Bahn was closed down in September 1980 following a strike. A 20-minute service was still provided on the Stadtbahn from Westkreuz to Friedrichstraße as well as services on the Nord-Süd-Bahn between Frohnau, Friedrichstraße, Lichtenrade, or Wannsee.
By contrast, during the same period, services on the S-Bahn in East Berlin were increased and new lines built as housing projects expanded eastward from the city center. With most of the U-Bahn located in West Berlin, the S-Bahn became the backbone of the East Berlin transit network.
The 1980 incidents turned media and political attention toward what was left of West Berlin's S-Bahn network. The city government decided to enter negotiations with East Germany which were finally successful. On January 9, 1984, the BVG took over the responsibility for operation of S-Bahn services in West Berlin. After further closedowns that same day, a limited service was restored, initially comprising only two short sections without direct interchange between them. In the years between 1984 and 1989, several sections were gradually reopened, resulting in a network of 71 km (44 mi) and three lines - with one line running on the Stadtbahn and two on the Nord-Süd-Bahn - comprising about 50% of West Berlin's original network. This development brought West Berlin's S-Bahn back into public awareness and restored its popularity.
Until 1984, all Berlin S-Bahn routes were allocated letters as a means of identifying the route of the train. These letters were occasionally followed by Roman numerals to indicate a shortworking or bifurcation in the service (e.g., A, BI, BII, C,) and are still used internally by the Berlin S-Bahn GmbH for timetabling and in conjunction with radio call-signs to each train unit. When the BVG took over the responsibility for operation of S-Bahn services in West Berlin in 1984, it introduced a new unified numbering scheme for both the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn, which it also operated. Existing U-Bahn route numbers were prefixed with the letter U, while the new S-Bahn route numbers were prefixed with the letter S. This system of numbering routes was used in other West German cities and was extended to the S-Bahn service for the whole city after reunification.
After the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, the first broken links were re-established, with Friedrichstraße on July 1, 1990, as the first. The BVG and DR jointly marketed the services soon after die Wende. Administratively, the divided S-Bahn networks remained separate in this time of momentous changes, encompassing German reunification and reunification of Berlin into a single city, although the dividing line was no longer the former Berlin Wall. DR and BVG (of the whole of reunified Berlin from January 1, 1992, after absorbing BVB of East Berlin) operated individual lines end to end, both into the other party's territories. For example, S2 was all BVG even after it was extended northward and southward into Brandenburg/former GDR territory. The main east-west route (Stadtbahn) was a joint operation. Individual trains were operated by either BVG or DR end-to-end on the same tracks. This arrangement ended on January 1, 1994, with the creation of Deutsche Bahn due to the merger between DR and the former West Germany's Deutsche Bundesbahn. All S-Bahn operations in Berlin were transferred to the newly formed S-Bahn Berlin GmbH as a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, and the BVG withdrew from running S-Bahn services.
Technically, a number of projects followed in the steps of re-establishing broken links in order to restore the former S-Bahn network to its 1961 status after 1990, especially the Ringbahn. In December 1997 the connection between Neukölln and Treptower Park via Sonnenallee was reopened, enabling S4 trains to run 75% of the whole ring between Schönhauser Allee and Jungfernheide. On June 16, 2002, the section Gesundbrunnen - Westhafen also reopened, re-establishing the Ringbahn operations.
Service reductions 
On 20 July 2009, known locally as "Black Monday," the S-Bahn service was significantly reduced due to safety checks on the trains ordered by the German Federal Railway Authority. These checks were ordered because of an accident on 3 May 2009, involving an S-Bahn train. Maintenance for this train was delayed by 2 years, symptomatic for the strategy to cut spendings in the Deutsche Bahn subsidiary. Having so many trains taken out of service for inspection left less than 30 percent of the system's rolling stock available for revenue service. Eight routes, including most through services on the Stadtbahn, were closed, and on other lines headways were reduced to 20 minutes and trains shortened.
Some minor restorations in service were made on August 3, 2009. Due to new inspection troubles the S-Bahn network was again reduced dramatically on September 8, 2009. As of that date, three quarters of the trains were withdrawn from the network due to inspection and faulty brake cylinders. There were again no trains on the Stadtbahn between Westkreuz and Alexanderplatz and no S-Bahn trains to Spandau. Trains on the circle lines, S41 and S42, were running at 10-minute intervals. Other routes were running with extended intervals and reduced distances.
In late 2009, the Berlin Senate expected that normal operations would only resume in 2013. In January 2010, DB announced that they expected the system to resume normal service in December 2010 and employed 300 new staff in their workshops. In the same month, the Berlin transport Senator Ingeborg Junge-Reyer rejected an extension of the traffic contract with the operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) which is due to expire in December 2017. Different routes for the operation of the S-Bahn from 2018 are being examined. These include gradual tender lines, splitting the system up into subnetworks, or the acquisition of the S-Bahn by the Berlin state.
By spring of 2011, some 420 train sets were in service, a considerable improvement over the situation in 2009 but still insufficient compared to the 500 needed to provide a normal full service. The S-Bahn announced it was to invest 120 million euros (157 million dollars) in order to achieve 500 train sets in service by December 2011. Rüdiger Grube, the head of the DB, announced that losses due to the S-Bahn crisis had reached 370 million euros (482 million dollars) at the end of 2010. He expected them to reach 700 million euros by the end of 2014, with no operating profits to be made before the end of the contract in December 2017.
Infrastructure work 
Rolling stock 
- BVG Class 480 (since 1986, in use on lines S46, S47 and S8)
- DB Class 481/482 (since 1996, in use on all lines, but also occasionally on lines S3, S46, S47 and S8)
- DR Class 485/885 (since 1987, in use on lines S3, S5 and S9)
- DR Class ET 125 (from 1935 until 2003)
- DR Class ET 165 (from 1928 until 1997)
- DR Class ET 166 (from 1936 until 2000)
- DR Class ET 167 (from 1938 until 2003)
- DR Class ET 168 (from 1926 until circa 1962, some units converted to train type EIII for the Berlin U-Bahn)
- DR Class ET 169 (from 1925 until 1962)
- DR Class ET 170 (from 1959 until 1970)
Excursion trains 
- DB Class 488.0 (Panorama train, converted from former DB Class ET 167 coaches from 1997-1999)
- Museum train Class ET/ES 165
- Tradition train Class ET/ES/EB 165
- Viertel train Class ET/EB 167 (built in 1938, converted in 1991)
See also 
- Fender, Keith; Bent, Mike (February 2011). "Old Berlin/Gdansk S-Bahn cars in museum and in use". Today's Railways (Platform 5 Publishing Ltd). p. 61.
- "Klaus Kurpjuweit: S-Bahn prüft nach Unfall Konsequenzen. In: Der Tagesspiegel. 4. Mai 2009". Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 23 Oct 2012.
- "Klaus Kurpjuweit, Lars von Törne: S-Bahn stellt Ost-West-Verkehr komplett ein. Züge ab Montag nur noch bis Zoo und Ostbahnhof. Bahn leiht sich Regionalzüge für Innenstadtverkehr". Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 23 Oct 2012.
- "Chaos in Berlin. Eisenbahn-Bundesamt legt S-Bahnen still". Spiegel Online. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
- "Berliner S-Bahn droht neues Chaos". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "Wie die S-Bahn in Schieflage geriet" [As the train ran into difficulties] (in German). Der Tagesspiegel. 2009-12-12. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "S-Bahn fährt frühestens 2013 wieder normal" [S-Bahn not back to normal until at least 2013] (in German). Der Tagesspiegel. 2009-12-28. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "Deutsche Bahn: 70 Mio. Euro zusätzliche Entschädigung für S-Bahn-Kunden – Normalisierter Betrieb bis Ende 2010" [Deutsche Bahn: € 70 million additional compensation for S-Bahn customer - Normalized operating by end 2010] (in German). S-Bahn Berlin.
- "Berlin S-Bahn-Chaos "Ich glaube der Bahn nichts mehr"". Süddeutsche Zeitung. 2010-12-07.
- "Worldwide Review - Germany - Berlin". Tramways & Urban Transit (Ian Allan Ltd / Light Rail Transit Association). May 2011. p. 193.
- "Berliner S-Bahn-Chaos kostet 700 Millionen Euro" [Berlin S-Bahn chaos will cost 700 million euros] (in German). Spiegel-Online. 2010-01-10.
- "Railway Gazette: Berlin S-Bahn control update". Retrieved 2010-08-18.
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