A TRANSPORT HUB ONCE AGAIN
LIKE MANCHESTER, BERLIN GREW strong through industry, aided by the various modes of transport, including canals, railways, roads and air routes. The post-war division severed many of Berlin's long distance rail routes - the former network of lines radiating out in all directions was reduced to a single east/west railway. Berlin, like Manchester (but for different reasons), lost several of its main terminals. Part of the present building work is on the site of the former Potsdamer Station, which was obliterated in the war. Nearby are the sad remains of another former station, the Anhalter Bahnhof.
But Berlin will soon, once again, become a major European transport hub, using the technology of the future. Underneath the Potsdamer construction site, a new north-south railway line is being built. And in the next decade, a futuristic monorail, the "Magnetbahn" will link Berlin and Hamburg. It will hover silently on magnets and travel at greater speeds than conventional trains. All over Berlin, severed railway lines are being joined up again. The most recent one is the extension of the U-Bahn (underground) line across the river Spree to Warschauer Strasse.
I remember when the bridge, the Oberbaumbrücke, was used as a foot crossing to the West for old age pensioners. Now, it's back in use again as a combined road/rail bridge, and has been magnificently restored.
Renovated trams, S-Bahn (city suburban) trains, including double decker carriages, newly renovated stations, new stretches of railway line are all evidence that Berlin is again going to be a great transport metropolis, just like it was 70 years ago. And using the system is not necessarily expensive - I bought a day ticket, valid on all buses, trams and trains in the vast central area of Berlin for 7.80 Marks, (£2.75 or $4.40).
If like me, you're travelling by car, then you'll be interested to find that petrol is cheaper than in the UK (though not as cheap as in the US). As seen here at the Agip petrol station, near Wannsee, it's 55p, 57p and 58p a litre for regular, super and super plus unleaded, that's about 4 to 4.20 US dollars a gallon. Diesel is 41p a litre, or around 3 dollars a gallon.