Lonely Planet Writer

Vintage trains from the 1950s set to run on the Berlin underground

Berlin will travel back in time from next spring as the city’s Transport Company (BVG) revamps its 1950s vintage crop of trains to run on the U55 underground line.

A young British soldier on a train in Berlin in the 1950s.
Young British soldiers on a train in Berlin in the 1950s. Image by John Chillingworth/Picture Post

The transport authority has spent almost €2 billion in transforming old rolling stock from sixty years ago into operational trains instead of museum-ready artefacts.  The Local reports that two old vintage locomotives will soon follow down the tracks. It is understood that the renovated trains will operate between the central station and the Brandenburg Gate on the U55 line.  The trains were originally constructed to ferry people across the city as part of the redevelopment of the city following WWII. Part of the refurbishment work carried out was to ensure that the trains are adapted to meet with modern safety regulations.

Like most rail compartments being used today, buttons will replace handles on doors. Flashing lights and warning sounds have also been introduced to the trains to let passengers know whenever doors are closing or opening. Cameras will also be installed as part of security for customers and rail staff. The good news is that the original green seats remain but are being reupholstered, while an advert from the original era is being planned to create a sense of nostalgia.

Berlin train station 1956
Berlin train station 1956 Image by Pressefoto Kindermann/ullstein bild

Two of the trains have been out of operations for 12 years and were due to houses museum exhibitions; the space in the third train was used to store up rail material.  The city’s U-Bahn train shortage has spurred the BVG into using the vintage stock as a way of reducing the demand. The plan is to use the old trains on the U55 line, allowing the authorities to switch the modern ones onto the U6 line. It is hoped that this measure will go some way towards satisfying the demand on the north-south route between Alt-Tegel and Alt-Mariendorf.

Train in Berlin
The trains will be adapted to have the same safety standards of modern trains. Image by Getty Images

The BVG department head for U-Bahn trains, Martin Süß, says he is happy that the refurbished vehicles will do the job for the company on the 1.8 kilometres-long U55 line.  Once the U5 joins up with the U55 line, connecting Hönow to the main train station in four years time, the old stock will be allowed to become museum pieces.