I've visited Germany several times. My
wife and I bought a VW camper in Hamburg and saw much of West Germany
(and some live steam) in 1963. I returned on a Eurail Pass in 1983 and
then again, with Carol, in 2003.
Like many countries, Germany is struggling with what to do about a
very, very expensive and complex rail system, complicated by the
integration into the system of the one from East Germany after
reuinification. Take the train from Rostock to Berlin, as we did in
2003, and one sees signs of long-standing neglect -- and efforts to
upgrade infrastructure and stations. And, of course, before
reuinification there were relatively few rail links between the two
parts of Germany, with much modernization in West Germany taking place
on north-south routes. Today's national system, of which 'Die Bahn' is
the government owned piece, is a complex one of many different
services, all of which are expected to be profitable. Germany has also
opened up its tracks to private services, with Connex now providing
inter-regional services (as we noticed in Sweden).
There are three sets of photos here. Two steam photos from 1967, a
handful from my trip in 1983, and several from 2003. As noted above the
2003 visit featured a ride (with late arrival) from the former East
German Hanseatic port city of Rostock to Berlin. We only spent a
couple of days in Berlin and so rail photography had to be sandwiched
between a lot of other sightseeing in this magnificent city. I was able
to spend a couple of hours at the Ost Bahnhof (the East Station in the
former East Berlin), with a side trip to the Warschauer Street Station,
not too far from the Ost Bahnhof.
To some extent Berlin is a perfect rail fan site. Station personnel are
friendly, as are rail fans from around the world who gather to
photograph a vast variety of rolling stock from all over Europe. Trains
are colorful -- the red ones in these photos are regional or local
trains -- and frequent. Main InterCity Express (ICE) trains are
beautifuly sleek, and articulated NachtZug overnight trains alluring.
They are complemented by UBahn and SBahn subway trains. Ost Bahnhoff,
like the West Berlin Zoo station, are vast cities, with innumerable
One is always thinking of lessons to be learned in light of the
struggles we face in the USA to have a decent intercity rail system.
Germany is not the US. It is a relatively compact country with a long
history of nationalized rail services, and high gasoline prices -- and
many people do not own cars. But more than that there are vast
investments in simply making it more cost- and time-effective for
business people to travel by rail, and making trains that provide
amenities to add to speed. Being in the center of Europe
Germany is a transportation axis (and Berlin is building an immense new
station for international rail). Of course, Germany is light years
ahead of the auto-addicted US. I can't wait to return.
Click on each image to enlarge
For photo enthusiasts note that all images on this page were
either scanned or photographed with an Olympus 2020z digital camera.
The thumnails were done with Ifranview and post-processing with Adobe