Okay, time for another confessional. Yes, I realize that we used to sneer at people interested in trains when we were kids (this was an interest associated with West Germany for us, since we didn’t have much occasion to observe/ride trains in West Berlin. Even worse were the dads that had basements dedicated to model trains, but I digress.
So now, as I’m enjoying the freedom and convenience of Berlin public transit, I find myself more and more interested in the history and operation of the system.
There’s all kinds of interesting history to the BVG, of course, some of which I’ve been exploring whenever the fantastic murder mystery series about 1920s/30s Berlin by Volker Kutscher (Der nasse Fisch and onward) point me to features of the pre-war network for example. The riding-to-the-end-of-the-line mini-series is another version of my interest.
Even as kids we got excited when new models of buses or subways arrived. In the pre-Wikipedia days we might not have been able to recite buses by their model years/numbers, but we did know the different types. That continues. Here my recent tweet when I happened to ride a new subway train that is being tested.
Allererste Fahrt mit der IK @BVG_Ubahn (U2 Rchtg Ruhleben)
Viel Platz, aber zu viele Bildschirme, Innenraum zu busy.
— Julian Dierkes (@Schaumkroenchen) March 1, 2017
Late last year the S-Bahn announced that it had a model of the new trains that would be starting to show up around 2023. There was a bit of discussion in the newspapers about the “updated” colour scheme (brighter reds and sand tones, a smaller red belt at the bottom, the upper red belt gone, etc.). The model was introduced to the interested public (hello, fellow BVG geeks!), but the events quickly sold out.
Obviously, when another event was announced, I signed us up.
We headed out to Schönweide on a Saturday afternoon. Another S-Bahn line we had never used.
We then got a 1 1/2h tour of the model of the new train.
Kind of an amazing project to bring together all the needs and desires of a very diverse city of passengers, from the seeing-imparied to bike riders, seating slouchers, wheelchair riders, security-concerned, etc.
We all agree that the new trains suffer somewhat from all the tech that is being stuffed into them and thus encroaching on the open space in the cars. The S-Bahn so far, unlike especially the narrow-gauge U-Bahn has a very airy feeling to it, but now there are big overhead tech compartments that make the inside feel smaller. Compared to all the little Berlin symbols on the BVG, the S-Bahn feels fairly generic. This even though the guide emphasized that a Berlin S-Bahn can’t be bought off the rack as Berlin is too special (widespread agreement among the crowd!).
Some years from now we’ll get to ride these trains and will casually mention that we’ve known what they would look like for years!