The train lines that go West-East right through the middle of downtown have been a big part of our first five months in Berlin as we lived right near a station on that line. It’s also very nice to ride with the great views on the Tiergarten, Chancellory, Reichstag, government buildings, Museumsinsel, etc. it provides.
When we get on the train heading East from our station there are three lines that all run on the same tracks, the S5, S7, and S75. The destinations of where these lines are heading mean/meant nothing to me at all. No associations with Wartenberg, Ahrensfelde or Strausberg. I couldn’t even tell whether these places are inside of Berlin or in the surrounding country side. That’s in part because they are East and my mental map still has lots of white spots in the East, but it’s also because they are suburban.
So, I had long thought that I should ride the train to the end of the line to see what’s there and G came along.
Off to Strausberg
When we got to our station we decided to take the first train that would come and ride it to the end. Assuming that we’d leave Berlin proper, we bought the add on fare required. It turns out that if it hadn’t been the S5 that arrived first, we wouldn’t have needed those, but for that destination we did need the add on tickets. So, we were off to Strausberg!
The ride all through the downtown core was very familiar, of course, though always fun to see. Past Alexanderplatz there are lots of railyards along the track and some bigger stations that are often surrounded by warehouses. Lots of lofts in those areas, but also some – unusual for downtown Germany – big box stores.
Lichtenberg is the last big stop on that line, a station that was also a jumping off point during East German times for long distance trains. In Lichtenberg, everything still looks very urban with the classic Berlin apartment buildings and their six-storey shape lining all streets.
Past Friedrichsfelde Ost, the S7 and S75 branch off. Very shortly thereafter, open fields start and we even spotted a donkey by the side of the train tracks. Friedrichsfelde Ost is 16min on this train from Alexanderplatz, the centre of East Berlin downtown. A donkey!
Now the stations start that I’ve never even heard of. And I mean, never! Not even mention. After some more stops, most of the station names have explanatory parentheses like b. Berlin (near Berlin) or Mark (in the Mark Brandenburg).
Between stations it’s all woods or fields now. Many of the houses on the side of the tracks seem to have been recently painted or renovated, it’s mostly free-standing houses here.
At the very end of the line, we pass through Strausberg proper to get to the terminus at Strausberg Nord. This is a Kopfbahnhof, i.e. a dead end, with a single track running into it.
Trains leave every 20min from here. The full stretch of the S5 runs 1h31min, all the way to Spandau, the far Western end of Berlin and a place that helped E understand what the expression Der Arsch der Welt (“the butt of the world”) means.
Strausberg is a city in its own right with a medieval history and all that. But it is close enough to Berlin to have been sucked into the metropolitan orbit. The S-Bahn has connected it to the city since 1948. A number of East German military bases were located nearby as was the Ministry of National Defense.
When we arrive at Strausberg Nord and find a cafe, it’s clear that there are a lot of 1960s-era housing developments all the way out here that must have served military employees and other industrial activities in the area.
We’ll see whether we’ll ride to the end on some other lines…