Why Berlin is losing its direct connection to Sylt

by time news

Berlin – In just four hours to Cologne, a new ICE sprinter connection to Munich, more trains to Warnemünde and Rügen: The new Deutsche Bahn (DB) timetable, which comes into force on December 12, has numerous improvements in store for Berliners. But it no longer includes a traditional connection that already existed at the time of the Wall. The direct train from Berlin to Westerland (Sylt), which had to be suspended in September due to construction work on the Hamburg railway, will not be re-included in the DB Fernverkehr program. If you want to take the train from the capital to the North Sea island, you have to change trains in Hamburg every time. The railway has tripped itself, say experts. Sylt Marketing GmbH criticizes the attitude.

“After the important flight connection Berlin-Sylt was canceled by Easyjet, unfortunately the direct connection by rail is also lost, at least in the direction of travel from Berlin to Westerland on Sylt,” said Bruno Pischel of the Berliner Zeitung. He is the spokesman for Sylt Marketing GmbH, which advertises the island. The fact that Sylt can no longer be reached directly by train from Berlin is astonishing. “From the point of view of Sylt Marketing GmbH, we rate the elimination of this convenient connection as a major loss, as Berlin has been an important source market on the island for a long time,” said Pischel. This was not due to low passenger numbers – on the contrary.

“The train was a cash cow”

That’s right, it says internally at Deutsche Bahn. The Intercity called “Uthlande”, which connected Berlin with Westerland, was well booked until the end. “He was a cash cow,” confirmed one observer. After all, Sylt is a popular holiday destination for many Berliners. The train was not only practical for tourists on Sylt. In order to save travelers to Amrum having to change trains in Niebüll, the train carried passing wagons to Dagebüll during the summer season. The journey ended there at the ferry terminal – it couldn’t be more comfortable. The Sylt train also offered good connections to other holiday destinations, for example to Büsum and St. Peter-Ording.

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In spite of the recently rather scraped-off wagons, it was a popular “product” of the Deutsche Bahn, and one with a long tradition. Because as early as the 1970s, when the GDR’s Deutsche Reichsbahn was still responsible for train traffic in West Berlin, there was a direct connection – admittedly not for GDR citizens who did not have a visa.

Most recently, the Sylt-Intercity began its journey to the sea in Dresden. In Berlin it stopped shortly after 9 a.m., and the passengers were in Westerland just under five and a half hours later. But then construction began on the Hamburg railway. Since September 2021, Deutsche Bahn has had trains running between Berlin and Hamburg on a different route. Because the diversion does not have enough capacity for all previous journeys, the railway stopped the Berlin – Sylt train. Now one thing is certain: He will not come back.

Rail fans have noticed that in the new timetable, an Intercity Express (ICE) runs from Berlin Central Station to Hamburg shortly after 9 a.m. instead. This means that the old route is occupied and there is no more space for the Sylt train at that time. DB Fernverkehr therefore wanted to deploy it an hour earlier. But at 8:05 a.m., a train operated by the private operator Flixtrain is already rolling from Berlin to Hamburg. Flixtrain had already operated earlier at this time and received the route again in accordance with the regulations.

Passenger Association Pro Bahn: “A wrong sign for the future”

This means that there is no space between Berlin and Hamburg either earlier or on the date requested by DB Fernverkehr. That is why the train, which will start at Südkreuz in the future, has to depart as IC 2070 from the main station to Hamburg-Altona at 7:06 a.m. It ends there, pausing for exactly one hour. At 10:23 a.m., the train set rolls on as IC 2074 to Westerland, which, according to the timetable, will be reached at 1:37 p.m. After all: contrary to what observers feared, the locomotive and wagons do not have to drive empty to Hamburg, travelers are welcome. But passengers to the North Sea can no longer use the train set as a direct connection. The bottom line is that the railway itself has made a decisive contribution to the dilemma, say experts.

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However, there is also good news: At least in the opposite direction, there will be a direct Intercity from Sylt to Berlin again from December 12th. The IC 2075 starts at 2:20 p.m. in Westerland, stops at 7:55 p.m. in Berlin Central Station and, after a winding detour, reaches its final destination, Berlin-Lichtenberg station, at 9:05 p.m. This is what you can find out at bahn.de.

What remains? If you want to travel to Sylt by the climate-friendly rail transport and save car traffic on the island, you always have to change trains. The passenger association Pro Bahn criticizes the fact that the railway has not managed to maintain the traditional connection. “The Berlin-Brandenburg regional association is horrified to note that from December 2021 it will no longer be possible to travel from Berlin to Westerland on Sylt without changing trains,” said state chairman Peter Cornelius. “For many years, the direct train to Westerland has been a permanent fixture for Berlin holidaymakers on the island. That makes the rail for the trip to the North Sea vacation less attractive for Berlin, and is therefore a wrong sign for the future. “

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