U55 (Berlin U-Bahn)
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Line of the Berlin U-Bahn
U55 is an U-Bahn line in the German capital city of Berlin. It connects the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof, or main railway station, to an interchange with the S-Bahn at Brandenburger Tor. Currently, it has only three stations, does not connect to any other U-Bahn line, and is operated as a shuttle line using a single train.
The line is the newest U-Bahn line, and was constructed as part of an extension of the U5 that was subsequently postponed due to financial difficulties. As much of the work on this disconnected section of the extension had been completed, it was decided to complete the section and open it as a separate line. The line was opened in 2009, and work is now under way on the missing section needed to unite it with U5.
The unusual nature of U55 reflects Berlin's troubled finances. When the German government decided to move from Bonn to Berlin under the Chancellor of West Germany Helmut Kohl that also announces the reunification of Germany in the 3 October 1990, it was decided to refurbish the area around the Bundestag into a modern government complex. As part of this effort, there were plans to extend the U5 from its current western terminus at Alexanderplatz through the city centre, past the Brandenburg Gate and the Bundestag, to the new central train station, Berlin Hauptbahnhof. This Kanzlerlinie (Chancellor Line), so nicknamed because it passed through the government quarter, was originally planned since the 200km plan as a diagonal line through central Berlin, continuing to Turmstraße in Moabit, where it would link with the U9, and on to Jungfernheide, where it would connect with the S-Bahn ring and U7. Beyond the S-Bahn ring, the line might continue to Berlin Tegel Airport or — if the airport is closed as planned — to the new neighbourhoods to be built in its place, Scharnweberstraße and Rathaus Reinckendorf. As this was a long-planned route, short tunnels exist at both Jungfernheide and Turmstraße to accommodate the new line. However, these plans were cut back for financial reasons before construction began. For now, the line is only approved to terminate at the Hauptbahnhof, with the route to Jungfernheide and beyond to be built later.
In the late 1990s, construction began on the western end of this extension. However, around that time the city council suffered a major financial crisis, and in 1999 completion of the partially built extension was postponed indefinitely.
However, the city had accepted money from the German federal government for the construction work already finished, and by the terms of the agreement, the city would have had to return the money if there were no operating trains on the line. In 2004, the city and federal governments reached a compromise: the city would complete the short section of line that was largely complete between Berlin Hauptbahnhof and Unter den Linden S-Bahn station (renamed "Brandenburger Tor" in 2009) and run it as a single-track shuttle with a single train, without any signaling. Although transit planners projected that such a shuttle would not attract a significant ridership, the city determined that the cost of building and operating the line would be less than the cost of returning the money to the federal government.
The opening of the line between Berlin Hauptbahnhof and Brandenburger Tor was delayed owing to extreme groundwater problems at the site of the latter new station. It was finally opened on 8 August 2009.
|Berlin Hauptbahnhof||S5, S7, S75|
|Brandenburger Tor||S1, S2, S25|
With the opening of the U-Bahn station, the existing Unter den Linden S-Bahn station was renamed Brandenburger Tor (for the nearby Brandenburg Gate). The title "Unter den Linden" has been given to a station (under construction) further east at the junction with Friedrichstraße, where the U5 will intersect the U6.
Because the U55 is not physically connected to the rest of the U-Bahn system, any trains being delivered to the new line will need to be taken by low loaders on the street and set on track through a tunnel opening located north of Hauptbahnhof station. There is also a provisional workshop for basic maintenance and cleaning of carriages.
Linking U55 and U5
The designation of the line as U55 indicates that it is ultimately intended to become part of the U5 line. Construction of the link to enable this commenced in April 2010 and is expected to be completed by 2017. The link will be 2.2 kilometres (1.4 mi) in length, and connect the Brandenburger Tor terminus of the current U55 to the Alexanderplatz terminus of the current U5. Along its route it will serve new U-bahn stations at Berliner Rathaus, Museumsinsel and Unter den Linden, with the last providing an interchange with line U6. This new interchange station will replace the current U6 station at Französische Straße, located a little further to the south on Friedrichstraße, which will then be closed.
- "Verkehrsmittel & Linien - U-Bahn - U-Bahnlinie U55" (in German). BVG. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
- "Große Premiere für kleine "Kanzler-U-Bahn"" [Big Premiere for small "Chancellor's U-Bahn"] (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
- "Urban rail news in brief - May 2010". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
- "Lückenschluss U5" [Closing the U5 gap] (in German). Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
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