Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
After months of planning and many failed attempts we finally managed to visit Berlin´s U-Bahn Museum located at U-Bhf Olympia-Stadion in Rossiter Weg 1, Berlin-Charlottenburg.
The museum, opened in 1997 as the third of its kind in Europe (after Moscow and Budapest), is run by a group of U-Bahn enthusiasts from the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Berliner U-Bahn. Its members effectively saved the building which houses the museum today: in 1983 the historical railway control centre was meant to receive a final make-over with the help of a wrecking ball.
Luckily, the headstrong group put their collective foot down and the rooms remained standing. Today they are home to what was once the largest electromechanical switching station in Europe: between 1931 and 1983 this Stellwerk monitored and controlled 616 U-Bahn trains and nearly 100 signals. As befits its status (and size), it occupies the centre of the largest museum room.
A series of smaller rooms hold an array of old U-Bahn station name plates, historical ticket vending machines, all sorts of technical equipment which would surely make a railway technology fan´s heart skip a beat and come to a sudden halt. You will also find there a collection of early Hoch- and Untergrundbahn carriage lamps, seats and even doors (still actually used as such).
The museum might be on a small side and perhaps appear a bit chaotic to an untrained eye (if you want to learn about the history of Berlin´s U-Bahn network in a chronological manner, you should perhaps try your luck elsewhere) but it offers you a very good insight into a long-gone world of railway technology. Technology which you can actually touch and operate, including using the famous announcement microphone to hear your voice inform the gathered crowds that they better step back ´cos their train´s departing NOW.
For lack of space, the original Berliner Hochbahn/U-Bahn trains are not on display at the museum – which is perhaps a blessing in disguise considering how many people would love to get on board of the 1902 train the group renovated. The train was surely built to last but the 1902 idea of “crowds” might have been a slightly different than today.
The museum, which is run by volunteers, opens once a month only (here´s why it took us so long to get there): on every second Saturday in a month from 10.30 AM until 3.30 PM. To get there, take an U2 train direction Olympia-Stadion and let yourself be carried away: literally and metaphorically speaking:-)
Tickets: 2 EUR (adults), 1 EUR (children up to 12 and BVG Club members)