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Berlin's confusing subway system

Yantai
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Berlin's confusing subway system

I know we all have different perspectives, but after Beijing and Shanghai, I found Berlin's subway system very confusing and difficult to navigate. I found the signs vague and it took a while before I worked it out. Some extra signs to direct us to major stations like the Hauptbahnhof etc, would be useful. Connections are also not clear as in other cities. It may be fine for the locals, but as a short term tourist, I'd like to see a little more clarity with more directions displayed. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

London, United...
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1. Re: Berlin's confusing subway system

No. The system is complex, certainly, but it isn't confused. Since my first visit I've found it optimally user-friendly.

I don't know the systems in Beijing and Shanghai: perhaps they aren't as complex? Perhaps they have fewer lines, fewer connections? The great thing about the Berlin system IS its complexity, and the fact that all its elements - S-bahn, U-bahn, Ring-bahn, buses, and trams link up. I come from New York, live in London, and know the Paris, Madrid, and Berlin systems pretty well, and for me the Berlin system is the best. The only drawback I've noticed is the closure of sections of lines when maintenance works are being carried out - but that happens everywhere.

Edited: 14 July 2013, 14:27
PARIS
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2. Re: Berlin's confusing subway system

I think you can't beat the Paris system.

I would argue that the map of the U bahn/S bahn system in Berlin isn't very clearly presented.

Munich, Germany
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3. Re: Berlin's confusing subway system

I don't understand your problem. You just take a map and find out what might be the best connection. Then, there are three sings you might have to follow: U, S and DB (for subway, S-Bahn, and trains). And they have different colors as well - U is blue, S is green, DB is read.

Ok, the Beijing subway was alright to navigate as well. Once you had found the station. It was much more crowded, though.

Germany
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4. Re: Berlin's confusing subway system

Berlin U-Bahn opened in 1902

Berlin Hauptbahnhof opened in 2006

The network is certainly not like one would plan it today. And the station layouts as well. A historically grown system. And the tasks changed from time to time. Before WWII the big terminal train stations like Anhalter Bahnhof were important. During the Cold War this changed to Zoologischer Garten for West Berlin and Ostbahnhof for East Berlin. Now it's Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Which is indeed not integrated in the network very well. In 2015 Hauptbahnhof will be connected with the tram network. In 2018 with the U-Bahn network (U5). A further integration into the S-Bahn network with a north-south S-Bahn line is at the moment not beyond the planning stage. But Hauptbahnhof has at least platforms and tunnel plug-ins for this.

PARIS
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5. Re: Berlin's confusing subway system

Please! Let no one take it personally!

Finding one's way is half the fun!

London, United...
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6. Re: Berlin's confusing subway system

Perhaps it's because I've never had to use the Hauptbahnhof that I've had no problems navigating the system!

As for age, well, the New York and Paris systems are historically grown systems too, and as I've already said, I don't think either of them compares with Berlin's. When you consider the upheavals that Berlin - and its transport system - have been through, it's a miracle.

And there is nothing whatever wrong with the map, seanbee. :-)

Boston...
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7. Re: Berlin's confusing subway system

The S and U maps look pretty straightforward but always different when youre on the spot :-)

II was wondering.... how do you find the right train?

Do you look at the last stop on the map for the direction you wish to go, and look for a train that says that on the front?

Thank you

London, United...
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8. Re: Berlin's confusing subway system

>The S and U maps look pretty straightforward >

They are.

>Do you look at the last stop on the map for the direction you wish to go<

Yes.

>and look for a train that says that on the front?<

No. Just follow the signs onto the platform. There are indicator boards that tell you which of the two platforms your train will arrive on, and how many minutes you have to wait for it.

London, United...
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9. Re: Berlin's confusing subway system

I ran out of editing time.

Some of the larger stations are more complex, with more than one level: e.g. Potsdamer Platz, Gesundbrunnen, Alexanderplatz, but the signing is usually quite clear.

Incidentally, the BVG Journey Planner is extremely useful while you're in Berlin. If you have a laptop, iPad, etc and an internet connection, a few minutes spent at the start of the day pays off handsomely. It takes everything into account: delays, line closures due to maintenance, and wait times for trains, as well as giving you the best options for the journey and the travel times - even walking times from your starting point to the transport and to your end destination.

fahrinfo-berlin.de/Fahrinfo/bin/query.bin/en

Houston, Texas
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10. Re: Berlin's confusing subway system

The Regional Train or RE 5 is that the DB?