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Berlin's New Subway Trains Too Wide for City's Tunnels

(National Corridors Initiative report via BZ newspaper, Tagesspiegel, Deutsche Presse-Agentur) Stretches of Berlin’s U-Bahn subway network will have to be rebuilt after the city bought new trains too wide for the tunnels, although the Berlin transport authority BVG claims the work needed doing anyway.
Wide ride – a partial mock-up of the new Stadler subway trains for Berlin transit operator BVG on display in Berlin. (BZ newspaper)

Two new train-sets from Stadler Rail were designed to be roomier for passengers, but these extra 10 cm (4 inches) of wiggle-room are proving a logistical nightmare, as the trains do not fit in older, narrower stretches of the underground rail network.

Safety regulations state that there has to be at 50 cm gap between the train and the wall of the tunnel, in order for people to be able to escape in an emergency, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Thursday.

A section of the U2 line between Wittenbergplatz and Bismarckstraße will be widened, meaning passengers will have to take replacement buses from the middle of August to the end of November 2014 during the week after 9 p.m. Other lines will be affected, but these have not yet been confirmed, the Tagesspiegel said.

Tunnels on newer lines such as the U5 and the U9 were built with more room, meaning they can take the new trains. U-Bahn network operator BVG plans on ordering 24 more of the trains from Stadler by 2015 – costing around €158 million (US $205 million) total.

A spokeswoman for BVG said the cost of widening the tunnels was included in the company’s maintenance budget. She said: “Even without the new trains we would have to rebuild the walls [of the tunnels] because in these places we have already reached the set safety distance,” the BZ newspaper reported.

(Posted by John Maybury, Pacifica Riptide, Pacifica, California)


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