A Series D train on special service in 2004 (Jcornelius/CC 2.0)
By Feargus O’Sullivan
This story first appeared in City Lab and is published here with kind permission from the author.
For senior Berliners, there may be something strangely familiar about the latest batch of trains destined for the Berlin subway system. They actually first served the city back in the 1950s. In an unlikely decision-making twist, the system has decided to delve into its history, renovating trains constructed to run on its tracks before the city was cut in two in 1961. So old are the D and DL series trains — affectionately known as “Doras” — that there’s only one city where they are still in daily use. That’s the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, to which Berlin sold 105 trains at the end of the 1990s.
The idea of recomissioning 60-year-old carriages will no doubt get train-spotters drooling, but there’s a pragmatic reason why the trains are coming back. Berlin has a desperate shortage of rolling stock. City transit body BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe) wants to avoid the costs of buying more engines and reckons it can renovate and re-kit three of the old trains for just €1.9 million — a snip compared to what three entirely new trains would cost. Three trains won’t make a whole lot of difference across an entire city, of course, which is why the refitted wagons will be confined to a single line. This is arguably the smartest part of the plan. By running on Berlin’s Line U55 from spring 2017, the 1950s trains should attract tourists to what could be Berlin’s biggest transit white elephant.
Read more here.
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