Here is a link to a nice article about the wonders of the S-bahn:
Berlin's transport system fascinates me in that it is so intricately entwined and offers such a reliable and comprehensive service. Berlin is a true model for the rest of the world for how to provide an efficient and far-reaching public transportation network.
On a personal note, I love the sounds of the S-Bahn. The announcements, the warning tones, the noise the trains make as they pull away from a station or pull in. The same is true of the U-Bahn, the buses and the trams. It is all part of the Berlin experience.
Quite funny post. The S-Bahn in Berlin has made the news lately with huge problems, delays, interruptions, strikes, outdated trains and so on. Even the administration is very upset with the service that Deutsche Bahn (which operates the S-Bahn) provides.
Yes, the S-Bahn is going through a difficult patch, but in principle I agree that it's a great system. I'm glad it was restored to the brilliance it had in the 1920s/30s. When I first moved to Berlin, the S-Bahn (owned by East Germany's rail operator) was a clanking, soot-covered 1940s relic with wooden seats.
@LondonParisBerlin: "offers such a reliable and comprehensive service. Berlin is a true model for the rest of the world for how to provide an efficient and far-reaching public transportation network." were have you been? It was not Berlin ;-)
Or is it just kidding?
I have travelled to Berlin every year, sometimes twice a year, for over ten years. The transport network of the city has never let me down. OK, there have been occasional diversions on the network due to engineering works, most notably at the Gleisdreieck junction of the U-Bahn, but there is always an alternative route to your destination, so partial line closures have never really bothered me.Edited: 15 June 2012, 16:23
Yes, ironcally the S-Bahn has had quite some problems the last couple of years but agree that normally Berlin's transport system is great for covering longish distances relatively quickly. Although you do have to watch out, last month i discovered once I was on the platform at Alexanderplatz for the "Airport Express" (as I thought) that because of building work it wasn't running so it was back to the U8 and then S-Bahn from Hermannstrasse to SXF.
I like the fact that the article starts by telling you how useful the Ringbahn is. We've certainly discovered that it's great to get from Northen Mitte/Prenzlauer Berg to Tegel airport and Charlottenburg Palace quicker than going cross-town.
The article is rather dated though or if written recently the author is not keeping abreast of developments eg in Tränenpalast. As one commentator points out it now houses (since last autumn) an exhibition on its role as a "Grenzübergang",; it's not been a cabaret venue for quite some time!
And not mentioned but there's also a Südkreuz, renamed from Papestrasse. i'm waiting to see if Gesundbrunnen becomes Nordkreuz but I suspect that change is less likely to happen!
The renaming of Gesundbrunnen to Nordkreuz was debated during its renovation a few years ago, but Deutsche Bahn ultimately decided to keep the current name.
Right now I can't say that Berlin offers a brilliant public transport system even though it is much better than in other places. ;-)
I have to rely on the S-Bahn to get to work and in the past 3 years it often was a nightmare, especially in winter. So often I was close to tears because I was stuck on some S-Bahn station with no train coming in freezing temperatures.
Berliners, you have no idea how lucky you are! The article's comparison with London's underground vis a vis the ease of getting from A to B was spot on. And we who have to struggle with London's creaky, overstressed, problem-fraught, under-funded, frequently failing system are painfully aware of the difference between a just-barely-coping transport infrastructure and one that WORKS (even if doesn't work absolutely perfectly all the time).
My only problems in six spells in Berlin in the past two years, three of them long-ish ones, have been on the U-2. I've had no issues with the S-bahn - perhaps that's still to come, but it has been completely satisfying so far. I love the ringbahn, which since I discovered it has transformed my understanding of the entire system and made so many journeys quicker and easier (from Gesundbrunnen - and please don't let them change that beautiful name). And I adore this schematic chart, that shows the whole circle with the length of the time each quadrant of the journey takes, and all the points of connection.
The imminent Olympics is going to bring thousands of visitors to London, and TFL (Transport for London) estimate millions of extra journeys. As the system is already daily strained to collapsing point (and has actually collapsed twice, rather badly, in the last couple of weeks) we are anticipating disaster.
Madrid's metro is pretty efficient, and Athens's metro is new, spotlessly clean, and adorned with little archaeological museums - but no system that I'm familiar with is as comprehensive and as far-reaching as Berlin's. It took me a while to get to appreciate it properly, but now that I understand it better it seems almost miraculous to me, and what stands out particularly is the ease of making connections between the various modes of transport.
As I said - you Berliner's really have no idea how lucky you are.Edited: 18 June 2012, 01:04
I second that Alabastron !